Blog 2. Developing Qualitative Research Questions: A Reflective Process by Jane Agee
Order of operation is the best phrase that comes to mind after reading this article. Qualitative research isn’t about already having a prediction of the outcome, its more about planning first then working your way up to the outcome. Then one must be prepared to structure research by starting with a question or some sort of curiosity to begin to develop a question. Bottom line is “most qualitative researchers need specific questions for a proposal.” (p.434) Which is only helpful to narrow down your search in the long run. Also discussed was the importance of how the question needs to be framed, yes or no answers just won’t cut it. The good questions will allow an invitation of exploration and discovery throughout the process. The importance of what good research questions and developing sub questions look like were heavily discussed, giving examples of the type of question, how the researcher will be able to properly succeed and developing the research.
“Qualitative inquires involve asking the kinds of questions that focus on the why and how of human interactions.” (p.432) There is no secret that I have been having a little trouble jumping right into Qualitative and Quantitative research since day 1 of class. This might sound odd to some, but that sentence above might have helped my perspective a lot. During my time at William Paterson University, in my journalism course, the midterm paper was to tell a story, through another person’s narrative. I decided to tell a story about my friend’s mother who suffered from a cocaine addiction, that led her in jail. My story was so detailed that my professor highlighted my paper to the class and made a huge deal about me being able to ‘paint the picture, with my words’ as she would put it. At the time I had no idea that while I was gathering my information in interview form, I was conducting Qualitative research. Being able to listen and write about a person’s interactions who lived a life under the influence of drugs, which landed her in a completely terrifying environment (jail). All while experiencing withdrawal while dealing with culture shock, was beyond a wakeup call for her. “ With a qualitative study, a researcher is inquiring about such topics as how people are experiencing an event, a series of events, and/or a condition.” (p.434)
“Janesick (2000,382) suggests beginning with a self-question: What do I want to know in this study?” (p.433) With my journalism paper I wanted to know everything, I didn’t necessarily start off with a specific question, I just had her tell me her story while I wrote. I wanted to be able to see and feel things in the eyes of an addict. I wanted to understand how a drug could be a priority over her own children. At the time of that particular research, I didn’t have just one main question, but since reading this article I now understand during the interview I had many sub questions that narrowed her individual experience vs everyone’s experience while going through those events. However, those questions came while the research was being conducted, while I was listening, questions were being developed. I can’t say that I fully agree to need to have a question before hand when it comes to someone narrating. Considering she isn’t the first and won’t be the last woman who has been to jail, and have a cocaine addiction. I will say that with the research tools I am gaining now I will start off with self-questions, and let that lead itself.
A question that I always have when it’s time to conduct research are, ‘what is my question’ what is the actual purpose of my research? What exactly am I trying to find out? Then those questions are followed up with, instructing myself to do research to ensure that the research I am looking to conduct hasn’t already been done. During my undergrad, in my first year I remember using Google Scholar and other school-based programs to find accurate research that would be acceptable for my professor. I also recall always doing research in the library, like actually using physical books. These days when conducting research, not only is thinking of a question that hasn’t been thoroughly answered already the most difficult part but finding sources ( for me at least ) is super overwhelming.
I don’t believe any time before this I was told that research can or should be able personal interests, I think I was just giving an assignment and to research that topic. Moving forward to make my research make more sense I will focus on actual things that I want to learn more about. As of right now qualitative is the way to go, for me.