NSU Home  The Qualitative Report
An online bi-monthly journal dedicated to qualitative research since 1990

Volume 16 Number 3 May 2011
    Ronald J. Chenail, Ph.D., Sally St. George, Ph.D., Dan Wulff, Ph.D., Maureen Duffy, Ph.D., Laurie L. Charles, Ph.D., and Karen Wilson Scott, Ph.D., Editors
Robin Cooper, Ph.D., Managing Editor | Laura Patron, Production Editor | Adam Rosenthal, TQR Web Site Coordinator

ISSN 1052-0147

Table of Contents


Stressful Life Events and Behavior Change: A Qualitative Examination of African American Women's Participation in a Weight Loss Program (pp. 622-634)
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Tiffany L. Cox, Christie Zunker, Brooks C. Wingo, Wendy K. Jefferson, and Jamy D. Ard

Abstract: We qualitatively assessed how life stressors affected African American women's participation in a weight reduction program. A sample of 9 women, who completed a behavioral lifestyle intervention, participated in individual, structured, in-depth interviews. Life stressors, ranging from personal illness to changes in employment status, had varied effects on participation. Some women coped with life stressors by using them as a motivational tool to improve their own health, while others reported limited ability to devote time to attend meetings or engage in the prescribed lifestyle changes due to life stressors. A critical key to improving weight loss outcomes for African American women may be using intervention strategies that teach positive coping skills to alter maladaptive responses to life stressors. Key Words: African American Women, Life Stressor, Weight Loss, Coping, and Qualitative Research

Mixed Methods Research of Adult Family Care Home Residents and Informal Caregivers (pp. 635-656)
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Guy C. Jeanty and James Hibel

Abstract: This article describes a mixed methods approach used to explore the experiences of adult family care home (AFCH) residents and informal caregivers (IC). A rationale is presented for using a mixed methods approach employing the sequential exploratory design with this poorly researched population. The unique challenges attendant to the sampling strategy with this population, and an iterative approach of data collection and data analysis are discussed. A summary of the data integration process and outcome is presented. Key Words: Adult Family Care Home, Sequential Explanatory, Sequential Exploratory, Mixed Methods Paradigm, Exclusion Criteria, Inclusion Criteria, and Grounded Theory

The Phenomenon of Collaboration: A Phenomenologic Study of Collaboration between Family Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology Departments at an Academic Medical Center (pp. 657-681)
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David R. Brown, Cheryl D. Brewster, Marina Karides, and Lou A. Lukas

Abstract: Collaboration is essential to manage complex real world problems. We used phenomenologic methods to elaborate a description of collaboration between two departments at an academic medical center who considered their relationship to represent a model of effective collaboration. Key collaborative structures included a shared vision and commitment by leaders, rigorous quality improvement, clear delineation of roles with built-in flexibility, ongoing commitment to formal and informal communication channels and conflict resolution, relationship development grounded in respect and responsiveness, and shared training in a supportive learning environment with legitimate participation fostering skill development. This study reveals the complexity and resources required for collaboration which both explains why collaboration is not as easy to achieve and identifies processes that foster collaboration. Key Words: Collaboration, Phenomenology, Family Medicine, and Obstetrics

Dialogic Exchanges and the Negotiation of Differences: Female Graduate Students' Experiences of Obstacles Related to Academic Mentoring (pp. 682-710)
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Sharon Hayes and Mirka Koro-Ljungberg

Abstract: This study, framed by social constructionism, investigated the dialogic exchanges and co-construction of knowledge among female graduate students, who met to discuss the ways in which the differences between mentors and mentees might be negotiated in order to develop and maintain mentoring relationships that benefit both partners. Ten female graduate students, with qualitative research experience, participated in individual interviews and focus groups. Findings indicated our participants were open to the differences expressed, focusing on commonalities, rather than accentuating or suppressing stated differences. This negotiation of difference enabled our participants to co-construct more complex and legitimate understandings of mentoring. Collectively, our participants expressed a need for mentoring that addressed psychosocial, as well as career functions and mentoring relationships that supported the development of both mentor and mentee as scholars and researchers. Key Words:Academic Mentoring, Female Doctoral Students, Qualitative Research, Social Constructionism, and Discourse Analysis

The Vulnerable Researcher: Some Unanticipated Challenges of Doctoral Fieldwork (pp. 711-729)
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Patricia Ballamingie and Sherrill Johnson

Abstract: This paper draws explicitly on the field experiences of two doctoral researchers in geography to elucidate some of the challenges and issues related to researcher vulnerability that are especially acute for graduate students. In spite of significant differences in context, both researchers experienced an unanticipated degree of professional vulnerability during their doctoral fieldwork that warrants further exploration, including a theoretical interrogation of the complex (and shifting) terrain of power relations within qualitative research projects. This paper addresses the lacuna in the qualitative methodological research literature on the topic of researcher vulnerability (in contrast to the well-developed discussion of participant vulnerability). Throughout, the authors suggest possible strategies for mitigating researcher vulnerability while protecting the overall integrity of the research process. Key Words: Researcher Vulnerability, Doctoral Fieldwork, Qualitative Research, and Power Relations in Research

Compatibility between Text Mining and Qualitative Research in the Perspectives of Grounded Theory, Content Analysis, and Reliability (pp. 730-744)
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Chong Ho Yu, Angel Jannasch-Pennell, and Samuel DiGangi

Abstract: The objective of this article is to illustrate that text mining and qualitative research are epistemologically compatible. First, like many qualitative research approaches, such as grounded theory, text mining encourages open-mindedness and discourages preconceptions. Contrary to the popular belief that text mining is a linear and fully automated procedure, the text miner might add, delete, and revise the initial categories in an iterative fashion. Second, text mining is similar to content analysis, which also aims to extract common themes and threads by counting words. Although both of them utilize computer algorithms, text mining is characterized by its capability of processing natural languages. Last, the criteria of sound text mining adhere to those in qualitative research in terms of consistency and replicability. Key Words: Text Mining, Content Analysis, Exploratory Data Analysis, Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics, Grounded Theory, Reliability, and Validity

Themes of Identity: An Auto-Ethnographical Exploration (pp. 745-763)
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Peruvemba S. Jaya

Abstract: The study is focused on understanding identity construction through combining my own experience with the theoretical underpinnings of postcolonial theory, social identity theory and through the examination of two films. The central question that I am interested in is understanding the identity construction and formation process especially as it relates to individuals who have crossed borders and immigrated or moved to countries other than their home countries. The methodology I am employing is auto-ethnography; I am integrating this by using two films as sites of inquiry. Through this introspective, reflection combined with the theoretical framework of identity I uncover themes of identity. These themes include nation, foreignness, community, and home. Key Words: Identity, Postcolonial Theory, Memory, Social Identity Theory, and Autoethnography

Support Network Responses to Acquired Brain Injury (pp.764-781)
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Steffany Chleboun and Karen Hux

Abstract: Acquired brain injury (ABI) affects social relationships; however, the ways social and support networks change and evolve as a result of brain injury is not well understood. This study explored ways in which survivors of ABI and members of their support networks perceive relationship changes as recovery extends into the long-term stage. Two survivors of ABI and members of their respective support networks participated in this case study integrating information from interviews, field notes, and artifacts. Inductive data analysis revealed themes of adjustment to impairments and compensations, connection changes with other people, feelings of protectiveness toward the survivor, emotional intensity, and the influence of personality traits on the recovery process. Application of these themes to intervention suggests health care professionals might benefit from shifting their focus from the survivor alone to the survivor functioning within a social support network. Key Words: Acquired Brain Injury, Social Support Networks, and Relationships

"Every Word is True": Stories of our Experiences in a Qualitative Research Course (pp.782-819)
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Janet C. Richards

Abstract:There is a sparse body of literature about students' and instructors' experiences in graduate qualitative courses. In this study, 11 doctoral students and one instructor employed a narrative framework to uncover our perceived truths about our experiences as we interacted, studied, pondered, and journeyed through a qualitative research methods course. Data were my chronologically ordered notes documenting my thinking and perceptions about my students and me and the doctoral students' chronologically ordered e-mail stories to their peers and to me. The inquiry illuminated the doctoral students' growth as researchers and highlighted the power of shared stories. Our narratives captured our lives, and illuminated our joys, worries, intentions, and beliefs. Key Words:Introductory Qualitative Research Methods Course, Narrative Inquiry, and Shared Stories as Truth

Consistency and Change in Participatory Action Research: Reflections on a Focus Group Study about How Farmers Learn (pp. 820-829)
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Fred P. Piercy, Nancy Franz, Joseph L. Donaldson, and Robert F. Richard

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to reflect on our efforts to balance consistency in our multi-year participatory action research study with the need to adapt our research protocol to what we are learning along the way. While both are important, we share several examples of how our flexibility and openness to adapt our protocol to our research findings has lead to methodological refinements and serendipitous learnings. We discuss implications for both agricultural education and research. Key Words:Participatory Research, Focus Groups, Agricultural Education, and Extension Education

Public Opinion and the Death Penalty: A Qualitative Approach (pp. 830-847)
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Diana L. Falco and Tina L. Freiburger

Abstract:Strong public support for capital punishment is arguably the number one reason why the death penalty continues to be used as a form of correctional policy in the U.S. criminal justice system. Therefore, it is fundamental that the measure of death penalty opinion be heavily scrutinized. Utilizing a methodological approach not typically employed in this area, the current study conducted six focus groups to gain a better understanding of the complexity of these opinions. During the focus groups, participants were asked to state their general beliefs concerning the death penalty, respond to scenarios, and respond to research findings regarding the death penalty (i.e., costs, deterrence, wrongful convictions, race, etc.). The findings suggest that participants' views regarding the death penalty are more multifaceted than previously believed. This study further suggests that current methods used to measure public support of the death penalty fail to capture the complexity of sentiment on this issue.Key Words: Death Penalty, Public Opinion, and Focus Groups

Socio-Cultural Challenges in Conducting Ethnographic Research among Ethiopian Street Youth (pp. 848-859)
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Patricia Guy Walls

Abstract:Little has been written on the personal experience of the researcher as it relates to data collection, data analysis and interpretation of results. Even more scarce has been knowledge that addresses the challenges and barriers faced by 21st century researchers engaged in ethnographic data collection amidst culturally diverse populations. The present work has addressed these gaps in the literature by detailing the personal, methodological and cultural challenges encountered by this researcher in a larger study which utilized a mixed method design to investigate homeless street youth in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Results indicated the need for social workers to possess an awareness of their own limitations and biases as it may relate to cultural differences. Key Words: Field Notes, Qualitative Research, Homeless Street Youth, and Addis Ababa

How-To Essays

Applying Grounded Theory to Weight Management among Women: Making a Commitment to Healthy Eating (pp. 860-880)
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Christie Zunker and Nataliya Ivankova

Abstract: In this study we developed a theory grounded in data from women who continued healthy eating behaviors after a weight management program. Participant recruitment was guided by theoretical sampling strategies for focus groups and individual interviews. Inclusion criteria were: African American or Caucasian women aged 30+ who lost > 5% of their body weight in a weight management program > year ago. Participants > 5% below their baseline weight were maintainers (n = 9); those above were non-maintainers (n = 14). We asked open-ended questions regarding healthy eating behaviors. The systematic design is described in detail, including categories from open coding, connection during axial coding, and integration into a theory, labeled Commitment to Healthy Eating, during selective coding. Procedures for establishing credibility are also included. Key Words: Grounded Theory, African American, Women, Systematic Approach, and Weight

Communicating Qualitative Research Study Designs to Research Ethics Review Boards (pp. 881-891)
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Carolyn Ells

Abstract: Researchers using qualitative methodologies appear to be particularly prone to having their study designs called into question by research ethics or funding agency review committees. In this paper, the author considers the issue of communicating qualitative research study designs in the context of institutional research ethics review and offers suggestions for researchers to consider in their communication of study designs to research ethics review boards. General information about the mandate of research ethics review boards is provided. In light of wide international variability with respect to research ethics regulatory environments and review board processes, specific considerations and suggestions about communicating qualitative study designs effectively are presented within a Canadian case study example. Key Words: Canada, Institutional Review, Qualitative Research, Research Ethics, and Research Methods

Book Reviews

Choreographing Intertextual Stories: Qualitative Inquiry Meets Oral History (pp. 892-896)
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Thalia M. Mulvihill and Amanda O. Latz

Abstract: In Oral History for the Qualitative Researcher: Choreographing the Story (2010), Valerie J. Janesick offers readers an engaging conversational exploration of oral history methods using the metaphor of choreography. Janesick weaves together the theoretical and practical dimensions of conducting oral history projects and generously shares valuable examples throughout the text. Key Words:Qualitative Inquiry, Methodology, Oral History, Metaphor, Social Justice

Research Praxis from Design to Completion: A Review of Designing and Managing your Research Project - Core Knowledge for Social and Health Researchers (pp. 897-901)
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Ronald R. Kumar

Abstract: Thomas and Hodges (2010) have written a very practical and indeed a valuable book on how to do research project design and management applicable to a wide readership. The book will be of particular importance to young researchers who are aspiring to hone the art of research and project management from design to completion. For the experienced, it's a book to read and reflect on. Discussing the critical elements involved in research, Thomas and Hodges use consultative-advising-coaching, empathy-towards-researchers and experienced-based approaches to reveal important core knowledge in research as a career whilst laying out the ground rules for effective research design and management. The practicality and utility of this book will benefit many researchers. Key Words: Research Design, Research Project Management, and Research Praxis

Narrative Research Methodology in Mobile Work Research (pp. 902-904)
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Li Jin

Abstract: This book review provides a summary of the content of the book "Mobile Work, Mobile Lives: Cultural Accounts of Lived Experiences" and a critical review of the methodological strengths of the articles included in the book. It also points out one structural weakness of the book. The appropriate readership is recommended as well. Key Words: Mobile Work, Mobile Lives, Narrative Research

The Challenges of Reflexivity (pp. 905-907)
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Sarah Flogen

Abstract:Perils, Pitfalls & Reflexivity aims to stimulate solutions to qualitative challenges that researchers encounter in countries with less research infrastructure and experience, and to expose to critical gaze the methodological and ethical assumptions that may be taken for granted in countries where there are more formal research processes. I read this book as a novice qualitative researcher with an active interest in reflexivity who lives in Canada, intrigued to learn from others' fieldwork, keen to encounter another point of view of ethics. Key Words: Reflexivity, Qualitative Research, Ethics

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