Rationale for and Potential Bias in Qualitative Research

Rationale for and Potential Bias in Qualitative Research



Rationale for and Potential Bias in Qualitative Research

1. A rationale for using qualitative research methods instead of quantitative research

Qualitative research would be more appropriate in this scenario. This type of research involves going to the field and observing people and events. It involves being flexible in data collection and a willingness to take opportunity of emerging situations to collect as much data as possible. On the other hand, quantitative data requires a person to prepare the questions to ask in advance. This is not practical or possible in all situations (Newman, 2008). My objective as the chief researcher for the state department of education is to identify the reasons for the declining performance and increased dropouts among high school students. This requires interacting with the specific people. The issues involved are both personal and academic. To get the most out of my research, I will need to spend time with the people and interact with them on a social level.

Qualitative researchers are more concerned with the process of how they collect data. They focus on the meaning of the information they collect. They are more interested in the opinions and perspectives of the participants and they aim to understand their point of view. Quantitative researchers depend on statistics and this requires them to collect as much information as they can. They are not usually concerned with the deeper details of their subjects as they depend on the numbers they obtain to make their analysis and assertions. They need a larger sample, which they choose randomly, so that they can eliminate bias from their study (Marvasti, 2003). They would need more information than is currently provided in the given scenario. They will need more families facing the same situations in order to make a comparative analysis.

Qualitative research is more specific and it targets particular individuals. The researchers select the participants they want in the study. They are more concerned with details concerning the participants rather than with their statistical data.  The participants in this scenario are very specific. The case deals with only two rural groups, which have very particular and detailed characteristics. Qualitative research is more appropriate in this case because of its focus on fieldwork. The researchers have to interact with the concerned people, examine their environments, and observe their behavior (Newman, 2008). The researchers are not interested in proving any theories prior to the study. The study is inductive in that the researchers aim at using the information they get to build any hypothesis and details. This ensures that the researcher is not limited in the information he chooses to collect. He does not have to follow the exact requirements of particular data collection methods or use information from established theories to get the information he needs. Instead, observing the issues as they occur and recording detailed descriptions of the events ensures that the researcher gets to the root of issue.

As a chief researcher, I will be more concerned with the grades of the students and their performance in school. This will include examining many diverse aspects of the students’ life. I might be compelled to visit their homes and schools, make, and record what I see before interviewing the people concerned. The participants may not consider some aspects worth mentioning and they might not consider some factors important. Furthermore, they may consider some of the topics to be too disturbing or personal and they will not be comfortable with revealing the information. Therefore, by making my own observations, I might capture more data than is revealed from the interviews. In addition, when collecting data, I will not just be concerned with the opinions of other educationists or teachers in the area. I will also need to look for information from the students, their parents, and anyone else I will consider useful for the purpose of this research.

The situation in the scenario affects two communities and it is not possible to generalize the results, even between the two groups. The reasons that are causing a decline in performance and an excessive high school drop out rates are different for the two groups. They come from different backgrounds and they are affected by diverse socioeconomic and environmental factors. In the case of the first group, it would be wise to consider the effect that the health limitations have on the students’ performance. In the second group, the decline in performance can be attributed to the current economic factors that have arisen due to the environmental problems. These are wide ranging issues and they require the researcher to consider a variety of factors. Other issues such as culture and family life, beliefs, and traditions could be possible determinants in this situation. Therefore, although the researcher will be able to get the results he needs following the study, he or she cannot use them to generalize the situation. The causes for decline in performance in the first group will be different from those in the second group.

The scenario presents a situation whereby the researcher cannot predict the nature of information that will be provided by the participants. The people might have different reasons for their declining performance and their decision to quit school using quantitative research in this case would not be appropriate. This is because of the standardized nature of the data collection methods employed when conducting studies. Quantitative researchers prepare questionnaires and interviews in advance. They use the same questions for the participants and this leaves no room for deviations in the responses obtained. On the other hand, qualitative researchers are more flexible in their approach. They recognize that people will have different information and they might contribute more information if given the chance to do so. Therefore, they will use open-ended questions in their interviews. This will enable the researcher to ask more questions and to seek further clarification. The extra information obtained will go towards expounding on the results of the research.

Using quantitative data means depending on methods such as surveys, experiments, official statistics and records, generalized facts, and use of sample populations among others. This will not help the researcher achieve much as some of these methods are not practical or relevant (Jenks, 1998). It will not indicate the attitude of the respondents the same way open-ended interviews would. In addition, the nature of the given scenarios requires the concerned groups to give much of their perceptions concerning their situations in school and the family. As a researcher, I will be more interested in what the teachers and school administrators have to tell me more than what the official records indicate. This is because I know that the information received will concern the specific situation I am interested in at the time. Moreover, the information will help me to understand the situation. I am not just concerned with analyzing data and presenting it to the state department of education. I realize that the department may have more questions concerning the results of the study. I will be in a better and more qualified position to answer their questions when I have detailed information.

2. A statement of how the worldviews and paradigms of the researcher may create bias when applying qualitative research to the given scenario

Qualitative researchers are subjective in their approach and this may create bias especially in how they interpret the information obtained from the research. The knowledge that the researcher has concerning the aboriginal people and the farming community may be a potential source of bias. If the researcher has a negative perception of these groups, then he will attribute their declining performance to their way of life.


Jenks, C. (1998). Core sociological dichotomies. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

Marvasti, A. (2003). Qualitative research in sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

Newman, M. D. (2008). Sociology exploring the architecture of everyday life. Thousand Oaks, CA. Pine Forge Press

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