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Chapter

Cover How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

12. Collecting Qualitative Data  

This chapter deals with qualitative data. While everyone is familiar with the idea of interviewing and observing, actually collecting qualitative data is not as easy as it might first appear to be. In fact, when doing qualitative work, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information collected. However, with some purposeful planning, piloting, and practice, the student can avoid some of the pitfalls associated with qualitative data collection. Focusing on qualitative interviews and participant observation, the chapter introduces some of the common issues that arise when gathering qualitative data and offers useful advice concerning the planning and practice of collecting data ‘in the field’.

Chapter

Cover How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

14. Analysing Qualitative Data  

This chapter discusses the analysis of qualitative material. There are many types of qualitative analysis. Some approaches are related to specific forms of data, whereas others are more generic in nature. There can also be considerable differences between some forms of qualitative analysis to the extent that they have very little in common with one another. Given this diversity, it is not possible adequately to address every type of analysis, or provide highly detailed instructions for the more common techniques. Hence, the chapter introduces the iterative processes of coding and categorization as well as some of the major types of qualitative analysis. It shows how to identify key concepts in data, and how those concepts can be connected to theory.

Chapter

Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Thematic Analysis  

An Accessible and Flexible Approach for Qualitative Analysis

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan

This chapter evaluates thematic analysis (TA), which is one of the oldest and most widely used qualitative analytic method across the social sciences. TA is a flexible method for identifying and analysing patterns of meaning — ‘themes’ — in qualitative data, with wide-ranging applications. The method has a long, if indeterminate, history in the social sciences, but seems likely to have evolved from early forms of (qualitative) content analysis. TA is now more likely to be demarcated and acknowledged as a distinct method; however, confusion remains about what TA is. The popularity of TA as a distinct method received a considerable boost from the publication of Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology by social psychologists Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke in 2006, which has become one of the most cited academic papers of recent decades.

Book

Cover How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

Tom Clark, Liam Foster, and Alan Bryman

How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation looks to help readers to navigate research for a project or dissertation. It starts with an introduction to the research process and how to get started. It examines the process of developing an idea. It reviews the available literature. It then considers how to build upon the project idea, the ethical issues, and how to write a proposal. Next it considers sampling, and collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data. Finally, it describes how to evaluate the project and the process of writing up.

Book

Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Edited by Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan

Research Methods in the Social Sciences features chapters that cover a wide range of concepts, methods, and theories. Each chapter begins with an introduction to a method, using real-world examples from a wide range of academic disciplines, before discussing the benefits and limitations of the approach, its current status in academic practice, and finally providing tips and advice on when and how to apply the method in research. The text covers both well-established concepts and emerging ideas, such as big data and network analysis, for qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Chapter

Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Process Tracing  

Tracing the Causal Pathways between Independent and Dependent Variables

Jochem Rietveld and Seda Gürkan

This chapter illustrates process-tracing (PT), which is a qualitative within-case data analysis technique used to identify causal relations. Although there are several distinct definitions of the PT method, scholars largely agree that the process-tracing method attempts to identify the intervening causal process (or the causal chain or causal mechanism) between an independent variable and the dependent variable. The PT method can be used for theory testing and theory-building. When it is applied to theory testing, a hypothetical causal mechanism is tested against empirical evidence. The research goal is to test whether a theorized mechanism is present in a given case, or whether the mechanism functions as expected in the selected case. When tracing is applied to theory-building, the goal is to identify causal processes for which there is no available prior theoretical hypothesis in the literature. Here, the aim of the research is to develop theory.

Chapter

Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Boolean Algebra  

Jasmin Hasić

This chapter addresses Boolean algebra, which is based on Boolean logic. In the social sciences, Boolean algebra comes under different labels. It is often used in set-theoretic and qualitative comparative analysis to assess complex causation that leads to particular outcomes involving different combinations of conditions. The basic features of Boolean algebra are the use of binary data, combinatorial logic, and Boolean minimization to reduce the expressions of causal complexity. By calculating the intersection between the final Boolean equation and the hypotheses formulated in Boolean terms, three subsets of causal combinations emerge: hypothesized and empirically confirmed; hypothesized, but not detected within the empirical evidence; and causal configurations found empirically, but not hypothesized. This approach is both holistic and analytic because it examines cases as a whole and in parts.

Chapter

Cover Political Research

9. Comparative Research  

This chapter explores the principles of comparative research design as well as the issues and problems associated with different aspects of the approach. In particular, it considers the issue of case selection, the common sources of error that are associated with comparative research, and what can be done to try and avoid or minimize them. The comparative method is one of the most commonly used methods in political research and is often employed to investigate various political phenomena, including democratization, civil war, and public policy. The chapter discusses the three main forms of comparison, namely case study, small-N comparison, and large-N comparison. It also describes two main approaches used to select cases for small-N studies: Most Similar Systems Design and Most Different Systems Design. It also evaluates qualitative comparative analysis and concludes with an analysis of issues arising from case selection and data collection in large-N comparative research.