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What Is Ethnographic Interviewing

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Interviews yield a great deal of data in a short amount of time. Ethnographic interviewing occurs in a natural setting and seeks to describe the culture of a community. Ethnography does this by identifying and describing participant’s practices and beliefs (Characteristics of Qualitative Research II). By using numerous data sources, ethnographic provides a holistic explanation of background and cultural themes (Ary et al., 2019). Researchers can also take a historical approach where data that is systematically collected and evaluated is compared to past incidences. The characteristics of a historical approach is that none of the variables are manipulated nor controlled. Instead, the researchers examines and interprets relevant documents, relics, and other data sources. Action research is a systematic examination completed by educational personnel to collect data and study it to help understand and improve practice through critical reflection and open-mindedness (Ary et al., 2019).

Grounded theory research is a cyclical process of inductively building a theory and testing it against the data (Ary et al., 2019). With roots in sociology, this method uses a coding process that ends in description and presentation of theory and propositions (Ary et al., 2019). Focus groups are used for generating information on collective views, and the meanings that lie behind those views (Gill, 2008). Focus groups are also useful in generating a rich understanding of participants’ experiences and beliefs. In a multi-method design, the focus groups can explore a topic or collect group language or narratives to be used in later stages (Gill, 2008).

According to Anderson (2010), the first step in completing a qualitative study is to state the reason for choosing a particular research method. Standards for choosing study participants are described, justified, and recruitment procedures are stated (Anderson, 2010). The system for gaining consent from the participants is described along with details of who chose not to participate (Anderson, 2010). The process of recording data and processes for transcribing data are described. All methods used are outlined and the decision of when to stop data collection is described and justified. Data analysis and verification are described.

Methods for identifying and extrapolating themes and concepts from the data are discussed. It is important to look for opposing themes and descriptions after the patterns, connections, and probable explanations through inductive analysis have been described (Patton, 1999). Validity and Reliability “The variety of methods used to support the validity and reliability of qualitative data and their interpretation include peer review, member checks, triangulation, maintaining an audit trail, seeking negative case evidence, and keeping a reflexive journal” (Ary et al., 2019, p. 453). Whether a qualitative research study is trustworthy refers to whether a study is rigorous, credible, confirmable, dependable, and transferable (Ary et al., 2019). For a study to have credibility, the findings must be accurate and truthful. Strategies used to achieve credibility include triangulation, peer review, participant feedback, extended fieldwork, and reflexivity (Ary et al., 2019).

The transferability of a study also determines whether the study is trustworthy. Transferability is whether the findings in a study can be applied through judgments and comparisons to other similar groups (Patton, 2002). In qualitative studies, descriptive adequacy, similarity, and limiting reactivity are approaches to enhancing (Ary et al., 2019). The dependability of a qualitative study can be increased with documentation, consistent findings, coding agreements, and corroboration (Ary et al., 2019). One way to establish dependability is to have an outside researcher conduct an external audit. The researcher will confirm the accuracy of the study’s findings by examining the data collection, data analysis, and research results (‘What is dependability in qualitative research and how do we establish it?”, 2018).

According to Ary (2019), an audit trail is another way to establish dependability. Rigorous techniques and approaches for gathering high-quality data that are analyzed, with consideration to questions of validity, reliability, and triangulation, are used to determine whether a qualitative study is credible (Patton, 1999). In qualitative studies the criterion for enhancing credibility is structural corroboration, consensus, adequacy, and control of bias (Ary et al., 2019). Patton (1999) also states that the credibility of a qualitative research design is dependent upon the “training, experience, track record, status, and presentation of self” of the researcher. Triangulation is based on the premise that no single method ever adequately solves the problem of rival explanations.

Triangulation is ideal especially if it uses a combination of interview, observation, and document analysis (Patton, 1999). Triangulation can be costly. “Studies that use only one method are more vulnerable to errors linked to that particular method than are studies that use multiple methods in which different types of data provide cross-data validity checks” (Patton, 1999). The point of triangulation is not to demonstrate that different data sources yield the same result but instead that the results are consistent. Therefore, if multiple researchers agree in their description of the context, events, and reporting, internal validity, or credibility, is heightened (Ary et al., 2019). “Qualitative researchers must attempt to rule out most threats to validity after the research as begun by relying on evidence collected during the research process itself in order to effectively argue that any alternative explanations for a phenomenon are implausible” (Spalding University Library: EDD-904: Understanding & Using Data: Qualitative Methods, 2018).

As the primary instrument of investigation, qualitative researchers are often embedded in the cultures and experiences of others (Spalding University Library: EDD-904: Understanding & Using Data: Qualitative Methods, 2018). “Qualitative research is often criticized as biased, small scale, anecdotal, and/or lacking rigor; however, when it is carried out properly it is unbiased, in depth, valid, reliable, credible and rigorous” (Anderson, 2010). There are several ethical considerations when completing a qualitative study. The interactions between researchers and participants can be a challenge because they are personally involved. Maintaining confidentiality of the participants is a challenge also. Whether the researcher gives something back to the participants for their time and cooperation is another issue (Ary et al., 2019).

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