Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yonghwan's Questions

1. Ethical issue seems important in qualitative methods. For example, when we conduct participant observation, especially in case other subjects in a specific setting do not know there is an observer-as-participant, it seems pretty unethical. For our participant observation assignment, should we let people know about what we’re going to do before or after observation? If we conduct a real research project, do we need to get IRB approval and consent form from subjects we’re going to participate and observe?

2. Interviewing method also raises ethical issues as stated that “The techniques and tactics of interviewing are really ways of manipulating respondents while treating them as objects or numbers rather than individual human beings. Should the quest for objectivity supersede the human side of those whom se study?” Other than ethical issue, however, concern about validity of qualitative interview (other qualitative research methods as well) seems important. In this sense, it seems to me that the techniques and tactics of interviewing are really important. I had a chance to see one of my colleagues conducted interviewing a subject. After the interviewing I’ve heard from the interviewee that the interview was a kind of obvious to know what the researcher want to, which may affect interviewee’s answer and damage research validity. How can we cope with this issue?

3. I understand that group interviewing or focus group interviewing in not meant to replace individual interviewing, but it is an option that deserves consideration because it can provide another level of data gathering or a perspective on the research problem not available through individual interviews (Fontana & Frey, pp. 53-54). Although the article touches on how group interviewing is used in this field, it seems still blurring to see distinct advantages of focus group interviewing, especially comparing with individual interviewing. Other than the advantages of being inexpensive, data rich, flexible, stimulating to respondents, recall aiding, and cumulative and elaborative, over and above individual responses (p. 55), what else can be group interviewing or focus group interviewing’s advantages. In other words, what’s the advantage of the group interviewing if otherwise (e.g., individual interviewing) can not get?

4. Putting it our focus group interview assignment, if I have a (rough) research question that how colleague student or young adults use new media and how they feel about those newly emerging media technologies, which interviewing, individual or focus group, would be better? If I do focus group interview, what can I get more?

5. It seems very unique and interesting that during a participant observation, at any point in the process, observers are free to alter the problems and questions they are pursuing as they gain greater knowledge of their subject; and compared with more structured methods, then, observation has the flexibility to yield insight in to new realities or new ways of looking at old realities (Kidder, 1981, as cited in Adler & Adler, p. 89). However, this rigor of participant observation method seems to conflict with one of the ways that enhance the validity of the research, which is using multiple observers or teams. While this may make it possible to cross-check each other’s findings and eliminate inaccurate interpretations, it may also limit the flexibility to yield insight. How can we cope with this issue? If our observation team ends up splitting into two or three focuses or the problems and questions, does it indicate low validity of the research?; or can we write two research papers?

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