Self Report in Research Qualitative Research (I)

Afza.Malik GDA

Types of Qualitative research Report

Self Report in Research Qualitative Research (I)

Self Report in Research Qualitative Research (I) Qualitative Self-Report Techniques,Types of Qualitative Self-Reports, Glaser and Strauss (1967),Spradley (1979),Semi-Structured Interviews.

 What is Self Report 

    Self-report is the most widely used data collection method by both qualitative and quantitative nurse researchers. Self-report data can be gathered either orally in an interview, or in writing in a written questionnaire. 

    Interviews (and, to a lesser extent, questionnaires) vary in their degree of structure, their length and complexity, and their administration. We begin by reviewing various options and procedures for collecting qualitative self-report data.

Qualitative Self-Report Techniques

    Unstructured or loosely structured self-report methods provide narrative data for qualitative analysis. Qualitative researchers usually do not have a specific set of questions that must be asked in a particular order and worded in a given way. Instead, they start with some general questions or topics and allow respondents to tell their stories in a narrative fashion. 

   Unstructured or semi structured interviews, in other words, tend to be conversational. Unstructured interviews encourage respondents to define the important dimensions of a phenomenon and to elaborate on what is relevant to them, rather than being guided by investigators' a priori notions of relevance. Researchers in virtually all qualitative traditions gather unstructured or loosely structured self-report data.

Types of Qualitative Self-Reports

    Researchers use various approaches in collecting qualitative self-report data. The main methods are described here. Unstructured Interviews When researchers proceed without a preconceived view of the content or flow of information to be gathered, they may conduct completely unstructured interviews. Unstructured interviews are conversational and interactive. 

    Unstructured interviews are the mode of choice when researchers do not have a clear idea of what it is they do not know. Researchers using unstructured interviews do not begin with a series of prepared questions because they do not yet know what to ask or even where to begin. 

    In conducting unstructured interviews, it is critical to let participants tell their stories, with little interruption. Phenomenological, grounded theory, and ethnographic studies usually rely heavily on unstructured interviews.

    Researchers using a completely unstructured approach often begin by informally asking a broad question (sometimes called a grand tour question) relating to the research topic, such as, “What happened when you first learned you had AIDS?” Subsequent questions are more focused and are guided by responses to the broad question. 

    Some respondents may request direction after the initial broad question is posed, perhaps asking, “Where should I begin?” Respondents should be encouraged to begin wherever they wish. 

    Van Manen (1990) provides suggestions for guiding a phenomenological interview to produce rich descriptions of the experience under study:

• “Describe the experience from the inside, as it were; almost like a state of mind: the feelings, the mood, the emotions, etc.

• Focus on a particular example or incident of the object of experience: describe specific events, an adventure, a happening, a particular experience.

• Try to focus on an example of the experience which stands out for its vividness, or as it was the first time.

• Attend to how the body feels, how things smell(ed), how they sound(ed), etc.” 

    Kahn (2000), discussing unstructured interviews in hermeneutic phenomenological studies, aims for interviews that resemble conversations. If the experience under study is ongoing, Kahn suggests obtaining as much detail as possible about the participant's daily life. 

        For example, a question that can be used is, “Pick a normal day for you and tell me what happened” (p. 62). Repeated interviews over time with the same participant are essential in this prospective approach. If the experience being studied is primarily in the past, then Kahn (2000) uses a retrospective approach.

    The interviewer begins with a general question such as, "What does this experience mean to you?" , and then probes for more detail until the experience is thoroughly described.

    In grounded theory, the interviewing technique changes as the theory is developed. At the outset, interviews are similar to open-ended conversations using unstructured interviews. Glaser and Strauss (1967) suggested researchers initially should just sit back and listen to participants' stories. Later, as the theory emerges, researchers ask more direct questions related to categories in the grounded theory. 

    The more direct questions can be answered rather quickly, and so the length of an interview tends to get shorter as the grounded theory develops. Ethnographic interviews are also unstructured. Spradley (1979) describes three types of question used to guide interviews: descriptive, structural, and contrast questions (Spradley, 1979). 

    Descriptive questions ask participants to describe their experiences in their own language, and are the backbone of ethnographic interviews. Structural questions are more focused and help to develop the range of terms in a category or domain. Last are contrast questions, which are asked to distinguish differences in the meaning of terms and symbols.

Semi-Structured Interviews

    Researchers sometimes want to be sure that a specific set of topics is covered in their qualitative interviews. They know what they want to ask, but cannot predict what the answers will be. Their role in the process is somewhat structured, whereas the participants' is not. 

    In such focused or semi -structured interviews, researchers prepare in advance a written topic guide, which is a list of areas or questions to be covered with each respondent. The interviewer's function is to encourage participants to talk freely about all the topics on the list, and to tell stories in their own words. 

    This technique ensures that researchers will obtain all the information required, and gives respondents the freedom to respond in their own words, provide as much detail as they wish, and offer illustrations and explanations. 

    In preparing the list of questions, care needs to be taken to order questions in a logical sequence, perhaps chronologically, or perhaps from the general to the specific. (However, interviewers need to be attentive because sometimes respondents spontaneously give information about questions that are later on the list.)

    The list of questions might include suggestions for follow-up questions or probes designed to elicit more detailed information. Examples of such probes include, “Please explain what you mean by that,” “What happened next?” and “When that happened, how did you feel?” Care should be taken not to include questions that require one- or two-word responses, such as “yes” or “no.” 

    The goal is to ask questions that give respondents an opportunity to provide rich, detailed information about the phenomenon under study. In deciding whether to use a semi- structured or unstructured interview, it is important to consider not only the research tradition, but also the state of knowledge on a topic. 

    Gibson (1998) conducted a study of the experiences and expectations of patients discharged from an acute psychiatric hospital using, and compared the richness of data yielded by the two approaches. Gibson found that unstructured interviews resulted in greater depth and detail than semi- structured interviews, and that respondents preferred unstructured interviews.

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