This email is a follow -up invitation to all those who have examined qualitative research theses (full theses or minor theses, postgraduate diploma, master's or doctoral level) to participate in a research project on the issue of recognizing good qualitative research. If you responded to my earlier request, or this is of no interest to you, accept my apologies for taking your time (especially for those who will get cross-postings).
For those who would like to participate, the background of this project is as follows:
I have been wrestling in various ways with the starting question of what constitutes good analysis of qualitative data. One of the difficulties is, of course, that 'good' means different things in different parts of the research world. Health researchers will probably have some rules for goodness in common with cultural anthropologists and educational researchers, and some differences.
It dawned on me late one night (after writing an examiner's report) that people who examine theses must have articulated to themselves the rules and heuristics they use to evaluate research. So if I can get examiners to spell out the characteristics that represent good data analysis I will get some answers my starting question.
Here's what I am asking you to do:
1) Reflect on the question what are the signs by which you recognize good qualitative data analysis when you examine a thesis?
2) Email your answer to the discussion list before 30 September 2003. Please add a note on:
· your discipline or specialization (e.g. 'sociology of health', 'evaluation research', etc)
· the number of qualitative theses you have examined (as best you can recall it)
· what type of theses you have examined (e.g. 'all minor theses for coursework degrees or about 5 research PhDs and about 10 research Masters')
I think that a public discussion will create interesting synergies, and so encourage you to use the list rather than a reply to me direct, but if for some reason you prefer not to make a public response, please email me direct at [log in to unmask]
This research project has been approved by the Ethics committee of the faculty of The Constructed Environment, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Responding to the question about signs by which you recognize good analysis constitutes agreement to participate in the project.
Here is what I will do with your data in the first instance:
I will copy all email responses, and edit them to remove your name and any identifying details except for your specialization and experience as examiner. Once the copy is made, I will delete the original email.
I will use NVIVO for data management. I seek your permission to quote from the text of your email in publications resulting from the project. I undertake to post to the list a brief description of the findings of the project in October 2003.
Data storage and later use
I will keep the NVIVO file for five years, and may use it during that time in teaching qualitative methods. I hope to include use material from the project from it in a monograph on qualitative data analysis, and to generate at least one conference paper from it. Although your original responses are identifiable to the e-list like any other public communication, they will be anonymous in the context of my research project and any publications or teaching arising from it.
I thank those of you who have already participated, and apologize to those who will receive cross-postings. I look forward very much to discussion around the question "what are the signs by which you recognize good qualitative data analysis when you examine a thesis?"
Dr Helen Marshall
Coordinator of context Curriculum
School of Social Science and Planning
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
email [log in to unmask]
Double click on www.rmit.edu.au/tce/ssp
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