Custom «Methodological and Methods» Sample Essay
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Research is a process through which data is gathered in a systematic fashion with the intention of gaining information about a particular concept. According to Dane (2011), it is through this process that a significant amount of knowledge increment takes place. Further, research makes it possible to establish and confirm facts and undertake the reaffirmation of the results of previous work on a given issue. Qualitative research is one way that this can be carried out. Haiying (2014) opines that a research approach that is employed in various academic disciplines facilitates the understanding of the phenomenon or a situation in a broad sense. Some of the most essential concepts that can be detected from this type of research are methodology and methods. Hyett, Kenny, and Dickson-Swift (2014) affirm that, in this regard, methodology is a term that can be understood as research techniques as well as theoretical assumptions that drive research. On the other hand, methods are the specific tools, processes, and ways that are utilized to obtain data in a research study. In trying to further gain a deeper understanding of the difference between these two research concepts, this study seeks to assess focus group research. In analysing focus group research within a phenomenological framework, this paper determines whether this focus group research is methodological or simply a method.
Focus Group Research Is Methodological
Focus group research is widely used in nursing studies. At the same time, phenomenological-based research is also quite dominantly applied for nurse researchers around the world. de Chesnay (2014) explains that over time, a number of nurse researchers came to combine the two forms of research, resulting in the concept of the phenomenological focus group. Therefore, given that phenomenological research is congruent with focus group research, this makes them essential in research. In the views of Gopaldas (2016), this is more so given the fact that group interviews in phenomenology are actually beneficial because they stimulate discussions and presents new viewpoints. It should be noted that considerable confusion has arisen with regard to the nature of this type of research. Kersten and Zaner (2013) observe that various texts, academic journals and articles have referred to focus group research as a method while others have referenced it as a kind of methodology. It is vital that its specific nature is identified and agreed upon. According to Wilson (2015), this can best be achieved by researchers developing critical awareness in relation to research methodologies and methods they employ during their research. This study takes the stand that focus group research within the phenomenological framework is methodological as opposed to being a method. Some of the main reasons that support this kind of research as being methodological as opposed to being a method include the following as described in the bottom line.
The first reason why focus group research within the phenomenological framework is methodological is the fact that it entails gathering of comprehensive information and perceptions. Such scholars as Verdinelli and Scagnoli (2013) note that this data gathering process takes place through inductive and qualitative methods. In relation to inductive methods, the research tends to develop premises, which are perceived as providing strong evidence for the truth of a given conclusion (Northcote, 2012). Further, this has the meaning that the research receives general principles from specific observations made during the research process as suggested by Kersten and Zaner (2013). Thus, in this regard, this type of research is methodological since it progresses from particular instances to much broader generalizations. Wertz et al. (2011) postulate that the qualitative methods are mentioned as essential elements of this type of research include the use of interviews, discussions, and participant observation. In this sense, the information gathered is usually represented from participants’ perspective. This is a process that is quite methodological, thus, serving as evidence of this type of research being regarded as methodological instead of being perceived as a mere method.
Another relevant reason that supports focus group research within the phenomenological framework as being methodological is its overlap with other qualitative approaches applied in the phenomenon research. According to Vagle (2014), some of the most notable qualitative approaches that this type of research overlaps with include ethnography, hermeneutics, and symbolic interactionism. In this regard, the fact that the use of the phenomenological framework is aimed at essentially describing rather than explaining further enhances its methodological nature as opposed to being a mere method in research (Vagle, 2014). This describing tendency of this research type commences from a perspective that is free from hypotheses or preconceptions. Lisle (2011) reiterates that it is for this reasn that researchers that are more recent have strongly refuted the possibility of beginning a research without preconceptions, which have, otherwise, been also perceived as bias. Instead, increased emphasized has been placed on the significance of making clear how various interpretations and meanings can be placed on findings. This concept further goes on to demonstrate this research type as being methodological in nature. In addition, following this same line of thinking about the focus group research under the phenomenological framework its methodological nature is also brought out by the following fact. Its use in research usually makes a researcher visible in the frame of the research. Taylor and Francis (2013) point out that this visibility is realized through a researcher being an interested and subjective actor as opposed to being a kind of detached and impartial observer. Furthermore, given that this type of research has the capacity to add on an interpretive dimension to research, it is evident that it is more methodological as opposed to being simply a method.
Additionally, group focus research within the phenomenological research is methodological as a consequence of the fact that it encompasses the concept of sampling, which is an essential part of the research process. In this sense, the phenomenological framework can be applied to deliberately selected samples as postulated by Robinson (2014). Moreover, while single case studies have the ability to effectively identify issues which demonstrate discrepancies and system failure as well as illuminate and draw attention to various differing situations, positive inferences are less easy to reach in the absence of a sample of participants (Robinson, 2014). Thus, within this element of participant research, the strength of inference, which can be developed, has the potential to increase rapidly. This is more so once factors begin to recur with more than one participant of a research study. Therefore, this brings about the concept of statistical and qualitative validity in this type of research, which further demonstrates that it is more than a method of research in the views of Smith (2012). In all this, it is vital to note that phenomenological research is quite robust when it comes to indicating the presence of factors and their impact on individual cases. In this sense, it is essential for it to be tentative in suggesting its extent as it relates to the population from which participants have been taken from or where the cases have been drawn. Scotland (2012) cautions that it is critical to remember that the selection of a sample is advised when it comes to this kind of research. This is because large samples tend to be cumbersome compromising the purity of the data to be collected.
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One more reason that supports focus group research within the framework of phenomenological research as being methodological as opposed to being a simple method is the fact that it is composed of a number of steps. According to Hammond and Wellington (2012), a phenomenological study tends to compose of four main steps: bracketing, intuiting, analysing, and describing. Bracketing facilitates identification and, subsequently, holding in abeyance various forms of preconceived beliefs and opinions that a person may have regarding a phenomenon that is under research (Hammond & Wellington, 2012). In this sense, a researcher performs the act of bracketing out presuppositions that they may have in order to protect the purity of data collected. Keyes (2010) identifies intuition as a concept that occurs when a researcher chooses to remain open to the meaning linked to a given phenomenon by individuals who have already experienced it. Because of this, it becomes necessary for a researcher to creatively vary the data (Keyes, 2010). McGregor and Murnane (2010) find that analysis is a process that encompasses coding, categorizing, and attempting to make sense of the vital meanings of the phenomenon that was under research. In most instances, this is a process that involves a significant amount of immersion by the researcher in a bid to preserve the purity of data collected. Finally, in the descriptive step, a researcher slowly comes to gain an understanding and definition of the phenomenon. The goal in this case is to communicate and provide critical description of the phenomenon in written form.
In the same way, another reason as to why focus group research within the phenomenological framework is methodological is it allows for the analysis of data gathered. Soares et al. (2014) note that this is despite the problem nature of this kind of research in the sense that it generates a large quantity of data from interview notes, tape recordings, jottings, and other available records on the data collected. This process of data analysis is one of the four steps of a typical phenomenological study. All this data needs to be analysed, and this analysis makes this form of research to be methodological. According to Suri (2011), this is supported by the fact that data analysis is a process that can only take placce in a methodological manner. This will guarantee that a researcher gets as much information from it as possible. Another challenge likely to be met during this process of analysis is the messy nature of the process. Patton (2015) finds that this is due to the fact that data does not fall into any kind of neat category. This brings about the concept of there being many ways of linking different parts of discussions and observations made in the research as reiterated by Matua and van der Wal (2015). It is piece of information that acts to further enhance the notion that group focus research is methodological. Failure of this research type to be methodological will make it almost impossible for a researcher to successfully analyse data collected given its messy nature.
Further, the reporting process of this research type also goes along in proving that it is methodological rather than being a simple method as suggested in other quarters. In this regard, phenomenological research has a tendency to make detailed comments on individual situations. In most instances, these kind of situations do not lend themselves to direct generalization in the same as survey kind of research does. This brings about the concept of the development of general theories, which are advanced by Creswell and Plano (2011). It is essential to note that these theories usually apply to situations that are beyond the participants of a research or cases that have already been studied. Because of this, there is a need for this kind of research, and its related findings to be conducted in a rather transparent manner if it is to have any form of validity. O’Brien, Harris, Beckman, Reed, and Cook (2014) point out that this will in the end imply that the reader of the findings should be in a position to be able to work through these findings to the theories and come to see how the researcher was able to arrive at their interpretations. All these requirements serve to confirm that focus group research within the framework of phenomenological research is methodological.
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In continuing with the above discussion related to the reporting process, the final piece of evidence that supports focus group research within the phenomenological framework as being methodological is as follows. The presentation of information tends to take the form of various chapters that discuss the findings of the researcher. According to Kafle (2011), in the first place, this goes to show that focus group research cannot be considered to be a method since it cannot exist on its own. That is, it cannot be without any kind of support. Hyett et al. (2014) opine that this is one of the reasons why it is methodological. In continuing with the discussion on presentation, three main chapters composed of summary, discussion, and implications should be considered for the reporting process. The chapter of summary provides a brief summary of the findings. Based on his research, Yin (2011) suggests that these findings can be arranged according to themes and topics with the intent of drawing out various key issues. The findings can then be reported. The discussion chapter is useful in assisting a researcher to delve more into the research. This is through making relevant interpretations and linkages that are connected to previous research. Robinson (2014) cautions by postulating that it is critical at this point for a researcher to refrain from passing off interpretations and theories that have been developed as being more concrete than they really are. In the implications chapter, the research refrains from asserting the notion of a conclusion since it implies some form of finality. Thus, in this chapter, a researcher points out the ways forward.
Focus group research within the phenomenological framework is methodological, implying that it is not a simple method in research. In addition, this study correspondingly illustrates that it is vital for the nature of this kind of study to be ascertained. This is essential in preventing confusion as well as conflict that might emerge among different researchers when it is viewed as being both a method and a methodology. In some respect, these two terms have come to be used interchangeably, implying that they are synonyms of each other. This study has acted to reveal some vital reasons that support this type of research as being methodological as discussed above. The first reason offered is in relation to the data collection method, which highly comprehensive. This process can take place through inductive and qualitative methods. The second reason for this type of research tends to overlap with other qualitative approaches used in research. The third reason supporting this research, as being methodological is that it composed of sampling. The fact that this research takes place through a number of steps is similarly a reason as to why it is methodological. Other essential reasons covered in this paper include the possibility of data analysis, its detailed nature, and the methods of reporting and presentation.
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