Crafting Qualitative Research Questions - Deep Inquiry Meets Flexible
Aug 12, 2009 Writing 2593 Views
John Creswell is recognized as a leading authority in the development of doctoral level research questions. Over the course of many years of discussion and research he has identified the following general procedure and considerations for crafting qualitative research questions.
1. Ask one or two central questions followed by no more than 5 to 7 sub questions
2. relate the central question to the specific qualitative strategy of inquiry
3. begin the research questions with the words what or how to convey an open and emerging design
4. focus on a single phenomenon or concept
5. use exploratory verse that convey the language of emerging design such as Discover, seek, explore, described or report
6. use exploratory verbs that are nondirectional
7. expect the research questions to evolve
8. use open-ended questions without reference to literature or theory
9. specify the participants and the research site for the study
These questions and this general procedure can be used to help organize your initial venture into a qualitative research program and are particularly well-suited if you are going to apply an iterative research process like participatory action research or grounded theory in the tradition of Kathy Charmaz.
What makes this procedure especially effective in multiple iterative research cycles is that they explicitly allow for an evolution in focus, approach and scope as you go along. Participatory action research in general is designed to conduct just these kinds of exploratory inquiries as you go through a process of diagnosis, act, measure and reflect.
It is in the process step of reflection that the insights which emerge from your initial round of questioning will help you determine the next step to take.
If you have adopted the action research principle of making your participants actual code researchers, you would report out the results of your reflections as the first stage of input into the new research cycle.
The structure of the questions you see noted above give you maximum flexibility in allowing the research to unfold based on the common consensual wisdom of the entire research group. This is the special power that this form of qualitative research has.
By linking up this iterative research cycle with the storytelling power of narrative inquiry, as a researcher you have the ability to conduct deep and meaningful research and then relate it to the target audience in an especially meaningful way.