Saturday, May 22, 2010

Validation in Qualitative Research

There are different ways to validate one's research. Getting help from a peer can help. A peer review is a good way to find out if someone similar to you feels the same way. When they look at your data do they come up with the same observations and conclusions? If so, then the researcher can look at this as an affirmation of their study.
Another way is to do member checking. After gathering information from your study and analyzing it, it is good to check with the participants to see if they agree with you. Can the members validate what you said? If the members of the study think that you are on the right track then the researcher can feel good that they are drawing the proper conclusions.
Is there a pattern in your data and observations? If there is, then that can be seen as a way to validate your data. Triangulation is possible if the data frequently points to the same conclusions.
Before a study a researcher tries to predict the outcome of research or what the study is hoping to find or reinforce. But the results might point to something else. If it appears often enough, then this 'rigor' points to another conclusion. The researcher did not initially expect this result but it has been found often enough to now be deemed important.
The researcher should look at this closely and see why an unexpected pattern occurred. There may have been a flaw in the methodology. There could be an unexpected result that requires more attention and analysis. The researcher should step back and try to explain why an unexpected result occurred. This could help the researcher find a new insight.
Validation is important so that the researcher can feel confident that their study is an accurate picture of the world around them. If the study is an accurate portrayal of the results that came from their research then it might provide insights that are useful and practical.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Interpretation of Culture by Clifford Geertz

I read the first chapter of Interpretation of Culture by Clifford Geertz. It is actually a collection of essays that he wrote over a number of years. He says himself that it is a very roundabout way to make a book. First, he wrote the essays and then he came up with the title.
That is kind of how he does ethnographic research. He observes and then makes a thick description. He is weary of theories that can be stifling or that oversimplify.
So that is the dilemma of the anthropologist. How do they keep an open mind when they have to pass judgement upon a subculture or a people group?
Well, they write and write and write and hope that that will shed light upon what is happening. They try and make sense of the cultures around them.
But as soon as they try and come up with an all encompassing theory then they are in a bit of trouble. They are not dealing with a hard science. They are dealing with human behavior which is very complex. The origins of someone's actions are hard to pinpoint.
As the author says, "Finding our feet, an unnerving business which never more than distantly succeeds, is what ethnographic research consists of as a personal experience; trying to formulate the basis on which one imagines, always excessively, one has found them is what anthropological writing consists of as a scientific endeavor."
The author goes on to say, "The ethnographer "inscribes" social discourse; they write it down. In so doing, they turn it from a passing event, which exists only in its own moment of occurrence, into an account, which exists in its inscriptions and can be reconsulted."
I hope to record some of my experiences in Korea and make some observations. Then I will hopefully learn more about this fascinating country.