Loading...

POLSC251: Research Methods in Political Science

Unit 7: Qualitative Methods   Not all research in political science is suited for quantitative analysis. More often than not, quantitative analysis is reserved for large-n research, or research in which political scientists take a large sample from a population and make generalizations about that population. Sometimes political scientists use small-n research, where the number of cases included in the study is much smaller. This small-n research is often times qualitative; it provides a different outlook on political phenomena than does large-n quantitative research. In the first subunit, you will explore the benefits and drawbacks of using small-n, qualitative research. This unit will also cover three forms of qualitative analysis: participant observation, in-depth interviews, and focus group analysis. As with all forms of research, these approaches have their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 12 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4: 3 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you should be able to - describe the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research; and - discuss the primary qualitative approaches used in political science.

7.1 Qualitative Research in Political Science   - Reading: Qualitative Research in Political Science The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)
  • Reading: William M.K. Trochim’s Research Methods Knowledge Base: “Qualitative Measures” Link: William M.K. Trochim’s Research Methods Knowledge Base: “Qualitative Measures” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read the articles from “Qualitative Measures” to “Qualitative Validity.” Also, click on each of the hyperlinks in the assigned article and read those as well. You can then click your back button to get back to the original article. You do not need to click on the hyperlinks in the articles that were linked to the original article. Just click back to the original article. You may access each article by clicking the “next” link at the bottom of the webpage or by clicking on each article’s title in the table of contents on the left side of the webpage.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.1.1 Qualitative Scientific Research   - Lecture: iTunes U: East Tennessee State University: Dr. Blake Snider’s Research Methods: “Qualitative Research” Link: iTunes U: East Tennessee State University: Dr. Blake Snider’s Research Methods: “Qualitative Research” (iTunes U)

 Instructions: After clicking the above link, scroll to the lecture
titled “Qualitative Research,” and click on “View in iTunes.” Listen
to this lecture, which is approximately 11 minutes long, for an
introduction to qualitative research.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

7.1.2 Types of Qualitative Research   - Lecture: iTunes U: East Tennessee State University: Dr. Blake Snider’s Research Methods: “Qualitative Methods” Link: iTunes U: East Tennessee State University: Dr. Blake Snider’s Research Methods: “Qualitative Methods” (iTunes U)

 Instructions: After clicking the above link, scroll to the lecture
titled “Qualitative Methods,” and click on “View in iTunes.” Listen
to this lecture, which is approximately 13 minutes long, for a
description of various qualitative methods.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

7.2 Participant Observation   - Reading: William M.K. Trochim’s Research Methods Knowledge Base: “Qualitative Methods” Link: William M.K. Trochim’s Research Methods Knowledge Base: “Qualitative Methods” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read this article. Also, click on each of the
hyperlinks in the assigned article and read those as well. You can
then click your back button to get back to the original article. You
do not need to click on the hyperlinks in the articles that were
linked to the original article. Just click back to the original
article. The material covered in this article is applicable to
7.3.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA): Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs: Anyarat Chattharakul’s “Thai Electoral Campaigning: Vote-Canvassing Networks and Hybrid Voting” Link: German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA): Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs: Anyarat Chattharakul’s “Thai Electoral Campaigning: Vote-Canvassing Networks and Hybrid Voting” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please read this article. This article is an actual example of research using a participant observation method.

    Terms of Use: This article is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 License. It is attributed to Min Xia and the original version can be found here.

7.3 In-Depth Interviews   - Reading: University of Florida: Dr. William Marsiglio’s “Conducting Qualitative In-Depth Interviews” Link: University of Florida: Dr. William Marsiglio’s “Conducting Qualitative In-Depth Interviews” (HTML)

 Instructions: After clicking the above link, scroll down to the
section on the page labeled “Option B: Interview-based Project:
worth 370 total points (proposal=50, paper=320).” Below this
section, you will find a link titled
“conducting.qual.interviews.PDF.” Click on that link and then read
this article. This article describes in detail the basic process of
conducting an in-depth interview.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Music and Arts in Action: Bob Edwards’ “White Power Music and the Mobilization of Racist Social Movements” Link: Music and Arts in Action: Bob Edwards’ “White Power Music and the Mobilization of Racist Social Movements” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please read this article, which provides an actual example of research using in-depth interviews. Please note that this report covers a sensitive topic, but was chosen based on the research conducted. Social movement theory and research is quite pervasive in political science. This research provides a good example of such research while also highlighting the ways in-depth interview methods are used.

    Terms of Use: The material above has been reposted with permission by Bob Edwards. It can be viewed in its original form here.

7.4 Focus Groups   - Reading: Iowa State University: Nancy Grude-Schuck, Beverlyn Lundy Allen, and Kathlene Larson’s “Focus Group Fundamentals” Link: Iowa State University: Nancy Grude-Schuck, Beverlyn Lundy Allen, and Kathlene Larson’s “Focus Group Fundamentals” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please scroll down and click on the link under “Focus
Group Fundamentals” under the heading “Selected Publications.” This
article describes in detail the basic process of executing a focus
group.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Sustainability: Shane Fudge and Michael Peters’ “Behaviour Change in the UK Climate Debate: An Assessment of Responsibility, Agency and Political Dimensions” Link: Sustainability: Shane Fudge and Michael Peters’ “Behaviour Change in the UK Climate Debate: An Assessment of Responsibility, Agency and Political Dimensions” (PDF)

    Instructions: Click on the link above and then click on “Download PDF Full Text” in the middle of the webpage to access the PDF. Please read this article. This article is an actual example of research using a focus group method.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.5 Further Study Suggestions   - Reading: Explorable: Martyn Shuttleworth’s “Qualitative Research Design” Link: Explorable: Martyn Shuttleworth’s “Qualitative Research Design” (HTML)

 Instructions: This is an optional article. Please read this article
detailing the unique characteristics and qualities of qualitative
research design.  

 Terms of Use:Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Nova Southeastern University’s The Qualitative Report: “Qualitative Research Resources” Link: Nova Southeastern University’s The Qualitative Report: “Qualitative Research Resources” (HTML)

    Instructions: This is an optional resource. Read this webpage, which offerslinks to sites that provide resources to qualitative researchers.

    Terms of Use:Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.