Qualitative References: Justifying Your Decisions


Posted December 7, 2017

One of the most difficult parts of putting together a qualitative methodology is justifying your choices. While so many of the decisions that go into your study are ultimately yours to make, it can be difficult to find the foundational pieces that help you prove that those decisions make sense and have the necessary justification. Most schools will turn down any Creswell references in the paper, even though that may be the only source of dissertation info that you have been exposed to so far! In this blog, we will give you a few useful references that we tend to use often when justifying common aspects of qualitative research. You might not need to use all of them, but hopefully these help you get out of a pinch or two if you are having trouble figuring out references to look for to demonstrate that your study follows best practices.

Generic Qualitative: The first category of references includes generic qualitative methodological decisions. These include things like taking the qualitative direction in the first place, choosing a data collection method, or even just deciding on how to implement the steps of your research. Merriam (2014) and Tracy (2013) go in depth about a lot of the more generic qualitative things, but also have some particular tidbits that are very useful.

Merriam, S. B. (2014). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San

Francisco, CA: Wiley & Son.

Tracy, S. J. (2013). Qualitative research methods: Collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Phenomenology: Justifying a phenomenological approach is not difficult, but making sure that you discuss bracketing, hermeneutics, and all the inner workings takes a certain level of expertise. Moustakas (1994) is the go-to for that expertise, as he is known as the father of modern-day phenomenology. If you are looking for a more up to date source to compliment this, Sloan and Bowe (2014) also cover the approach in great detail with some good examples.

Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sloan, A., & Bowe, B. (2014). Phenomenology and hermeneutic phenomenology: The philosophy, the methodologies, and using hermeneutic phenomenology to investigate lecturers’ experiences of curriculum design. Quality & Quantity, 48(3), 1291-1303. doi:10.1007/s11135-013-9835-3

Case Study: Case study research is another very common approach, and Yin (2014) is a typical go-to, covering single-case studies, multiple-case studies, different uses of the approach, triangulation, and several other aspects of the many forms of case study research. Stake (2010) is another heavily used reference, and covers many of the same points as Yin.

Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Stake, R. E. (2010). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

If this helped you out, let us know, and we will keep adding to the list!


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