"The degree to which the researcher involves himself/herself in participation in the culture under study makes a difference in the quality and amount of data he/she will be able to collect. GOLD (1958) has provided a description of observer stances that extend Buford JUNKER's explanation of four theoretical stances for researchers conducting field observations. GOLD relates the four observation stances as follows:
At one extreme is the complete participant, who is a member of the group being studied and who conceals his/her researcher role from the group to avoid disrupting normal activity. The disadvantages of this stance are that the researcher may lack objectivity, the group members may feel distrustful of the researcher when the research role is revealed, and the ethics of the situation are questionable, since the group members are being deceived.
In the participant as observer stance, the researcher is a member of the group being studied, and the group is aware of the research activity. In this stance, the researcher is a participant in the group who is observing others and who is interested more in observing than in participating, as his/her participation is a given, since he/she is a member of the group. This role also has disadvantages, in that there is a trade off between the depth of the data revealed to the researcher and the level of confidentiality provided to the group for the information they provide.
The observer as participant stance enables the researcher to participate in the group activities as desired, yet the main role of the researcher in this stance is to collect data, and the group being studied is aware of the researcher's observation activities. In this stance, the researcher is an observer who is not a member of the group and who is interested in participating as a means for conducting better observation and, hence, generating more complete understanding of the group's activities. MERRIAM (1998) points out that, while the researcher may have access to many different people in this situation from whom he/she may obtain information, the group members control the level of information given. As ADLER and ADLER (1994, p.380) note, this 'peripheral membership role' enables the researcher to 'observe and interact closely enough with members to establish an insider's identity without participating in those activities constituting the core of group membership.'
The opposite extreme stance from the complete participant is the complete observer, in which the researcher is completely hidden from view while observing or when the researcher is in plain sight in a public setting, yet the public being studied is unaware of being observed. In either case, the observation in this stance is unobtrusive and unknown to participants. "
(Barbara B. Kawulich, 2005)
Kawulich, B. (2005). 'Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method'. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/466/996
"Extracts from a lecture by Graham R Gibbs to postgraduate (graduate) students about thematic coding in qualitative data analysis. It includes a look at Alan Bryman's four stages of coding, the idea of thematic coding and what themes can be about, what coding can be used for and how to construct and use a coding hierarchy."
"Content analysis is a widely used qualitative research technique. Rather than being a single method, current applications of content analysis show three distinct approaches: conventional, directed, or summative. All three approaches are used to interpret meaning from the content of text data and, hence, adhere to the naturalistic paradigm. The major differences among the approaches are coding schemes, origins of codes, and threats to trustworthiness. In conventional content analysis, coding categories are derived directly from the text data. With a directed approach, analysis starts with a theory or relevant research findings as guidance for initial codes. A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywords or content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context. The authors delineate analytic procedures specific to each approach and techniques addressing trustworthiness with hypothetical examples drawn from the area of end-of-life care."
(Hsiu-Fang Hsieh, Sarah E. Shannon, 2005)
"The Mass Observation Project (MOP) is a unique UK–based writing project which has been running since 1981. ... [it] differs from other similar social investigations because of its historical link to the original Mass Observation and because of its focus is on voluntary, self–motivated participation. It revives the early Mass Observation notion that everyone can participate in creating their own history or social science. The Mass Observers do not constitute a statistically representative sample of the population but can be seen as reporters or 'citizen journalists' who provide a window on their worlds.
The material is solicited in response to 'directives' or open–ended questions sent to them by post or email three times a year. The directives contain two or three broad themes which cover both very personal issues and wider political and social issues and events.
"Qualitative research is concerned with nonstatistical methods of inquiry and analysis of social phenomena. It draws on an inductive process in which themes and categories emerge through analysis of data collected by such techniques as interviews, observations, videotapes, and case studies. Samples are usually small and are often purposively selected. Qualitative research uses detailed descriptions from the perspective of the research participants themselves as a means of examining specific issues and problems under study.
Qualitative research differs from quantitative research in that the latter is characterized by the use of large samples, standardized measures, a deductive approach, and highly structured interview instruments to collect data for hypothesis testing (Marlow, 1993). In contrast to qualitative research, in quantitative research easily quantifiable categories are typically generated before the study and statistical techniques are used to analyze the data collected. Both qualitative and quantitative research are designed to build knowledge; they can be used as complementary strategies."