Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sung Woo's questions

This week’s readings dealt with two queries I had, since the early stage of this course. Are standards possible? How much interpretation should be allowed or required in writing? As excited as I am, I address more questions that came along.

1. Shouldn’t the qualitative researchers have a more formalized, or standardized way of evaluating methodology? In other words, would it not be helpful if we had sort of consensus about the meaningful standards of judging the quality of qualitative research?
-I concur with Altheide (1996) that one way to argue validity for qualitative research is to “share methodological decision or limitations.” (Potter, 200). But how can we share when we are presented with different standards of evaluating methodologies, or with the idea that every study is different, specific to authors? I think more works should be done about the methodological issues of qualitative studies in communications studies.

2. Is there anything like code of conduct for administering triangulation as a way of cross-checking? Shouldn’t the studies that are cross-checked valued more?
-I think for the purpose of establishing validity and reliability, triangulation should be used under specific guidelines. For example, multiple observers should have at least some contexts in common, such as time or questionnaire. I think respondent validation is also a good way or increasing reliability of qualitative works.

3. How do you distinguish between explanation and interpretation, in the real writing? Where is the place for explanation?
-I know this is explained in the book (p.165). Potter said, interpretation is more short-term whereas explanation is more long-term perspective and purposeful. However, when we did discourse analysis for assignments, I thought the distinction was blur. I thought interpretation should have been right beside the discourse, explanation should have separate place somewhere else in the writing.

4. Can you contain analysis and a meaningful action advocacy in one study? Should it not be separate?
-I think action plan for some cause requires another dimension of study. It needs to be treated as different study because action plan requires analysis of its own. For example, Schwichetenberg’s study showed that the TV series “Love boat” has a stereotyped bias. To provide academically responsible action advocacy for this phenomenon will require information gathering on the network, a feasible plan and projection on the possible outcome of such plan. Not just to sink the boat. Studying what action would be effective will take quite amount of time. I often see activist’s research works that are very irresponsible on this aspect.

5. Can standards of evaluation be extended to both qualitative and quantitative work? Could there be a general set of rules for evaluating all works?
-Denzin’s argument is to apply the standard of quantitative approach such as validity, generalizability, reliability as the major standard of qualitative work (196). I like the idea of applying the same yardstick.
Potter argued quantitative research can be viewed as vertical movement from specifics to abstract explanations, and qualitative research as horizontal, because it deals with variety of phenomenon. I oppose to this idea for the same reason.
I think all academic studies should be vertical, seek generalized truth that could be only termed abstractly.
-I think a qualitative study that is more objective, more valid, reliable and more applicable is possible. I would like to cite Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, 1946.The book is the result of a massive research on Japanese national culture supervised and funded by US government during the World War II. Methodology used is interviews with Japanese POWs and Japanese Americans, text analysis and historical analysis. Benedict was an anthropologist who has never been to Japan nor studied Japan before. Yet her work produced the two most influential predictions that lead to the success of US occupation after World War II. One is that Japanese will be very compliant after surrender, and continuation of Emperor will contribute to stability. Let’s just think of the numerous studies with statistical correlations that may had influenced US policy in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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