Summary of Readings
Qualitative research provides soft research data. Unlike quantitative studies, the qualitative approach does not deal with measurable empirical phenomena but with observable facts. Brennen (2013) argues that a qualitative research aims at analyzing various meanings of people’s experiences. This paper strives to analyze and summarize the main themes from Brennen’s “Qualitative Research Methods for Media Studies” and provide new insights that are related to the central topic.
Summary of the Main Points
Communication is a complex process; in order to comprehend it completely, one should consider two different perspectives. According to Brennen (2013), the transmission and rituals of communication reflect some peculiarities that serve as metaphors for illustrating the main differences between the quantitative and qualitative research. The quantitative approach helps in studying various aspects of the human reality with the help of hard facts with the view to providing empirical proof. Such research utilizes closed-ended questions that the respondents can answer with either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This approach can help measure numbers, specific actions, and opinions with the help of closed-ended questions. The data received in the quantitative analysis provide valuable information that can be of utmost importance in achieving a research objective. On the other hand, a qualitative approach helps in studying different aspects of observable facts in soft branches of science. The qualitative research considers the meaning through the orientation of social actions (Brennen, 2013).
Qualitative research usually takes place in the form of interviews. According to Brennen (2013), the language is the most important thing in a qualitative research. The way researchers communicate information and their ideas matters a lot when conducting a qualitative research since it focuses on the meaning of words, ideas, concepts, and contexts, as well as various communication traditions (Brennen, 2013). Furthermore, the primary goal of conducting a research is learning more about the social life and criticizing one’s moral behavior using images, ideas, and metaphors that help people live with dignity and understanding. Thus, Brennen (2013) suggests that qualitative scholars should strive to use a language that is clear and understandable to the intended recipients. He further adds that readily available work allows all interested parties to join in and participate in the interviews (Brennen, 2013). Therefore, the goal of conducting any qualitative research is providing credible information to every interested party.
Using the most suitable words in the research is also advantageous to scientists. Brennen (2013) notes that the utilization of the most appropriate language in the qualitative research is significant. It helps researchers to develop a proper explanation to their work in a precise, correct, and clear manner since the qualitative methodology focuses not only on the connotative but also on the denotative meaning of words. This point distinguishes the qualitative research from quantitative studies. The qualitative methodology digs deeper into the meanings of words and actions since researchers understand that words and concepts have essential denotative meanings, as well as vital connotative interpretations (Brennen, 2013). Thus, qualitative researchers incorporate both denotative and connotative meanings of words in their language. Furthermore, it is important to note that qualitative researchers, unlike quantitative ones, neither construct a hypothesis, identify variables, measure data, replicate findings, nor conduct experiments. Rather, they ask questions and search for hidden meaning in answers while looking for useful ways of talking about certain experience in a particular context.
Any qualitative research should be conducted in an ethical manner with a clear understanding that all interviews are fundamentally subjective. Additionally, qualitative researchers should put to use various strategies in order to help develop ethical ways of handling interviewees and other participants during the research (Brennen, 2013). Maintaining ethics is vital in qualitative studies because all individuals that participate in the process are important elements of the research. In such a manner, they should be allowed to decide whether to take part in the research or not without any psychological and physical pressure. Brennen (2013) argues that all participating individuals should receive accurate information from researchers especially on the goal of the survey. The ethics of the research methodology insists on no deception at all cost regarding the intent of the study.
Opinion and New Insights
In my view, a qualitative research seeks to comprehend a given research problem by providing information regarding the personal side of the issue. Qualitative research methods produce data for the analysis in the form of words and not numbers. However, sometimes, a qualitative research may be imprecise. I believe that samples used in the qualitative research are too small to represent a broader population; thus, it is difficult to know how to generalize the results. As a rule, there are a few interviewees in the focus group, and the participant observation is rather scarce. Generalizing the results of findings from these groups would not give back a correct and workable assumption of the broader population. The findings also lack severity in that the researcher is required to deduce the extent of the bias caused by own opinions. A scientist may interpret conclusions according to personal beliefs and ideas without considering the genuine intent of the study.
Moreover, many research projects use different kinds of questions, and some require both quantitative and qualitative tools in order to find right answers. The best way to get the most appropriate solutions is using quantitative methods in answering quantitative questions and vice versa. Therefore, through interviews and focus groups, one can identify the main factors of the study, while a qualitative approach can be used in determining the extent of phenomena in the entire population. For that reason, the first step of conducting a research is determining whether qualitative or quantitative method is the best approach to answering the question at hand.
Therefore, I suggest a more strict qualitative research in order to enhance people’s confidence in the findings. Qualitative researchers need to clarify situations that determine the choice of qualitative research methods. Since the general intent of using the qualitative approach is understanding the attitudes and experiences of people, it is the most appropriate option if compared to the quantitative research method (Brennen, 2013). It can be used in assessing people’s experience of healthcare and their health needs. Moreover, it can help in comprehending perspectives of various individuals, as well as how their attitudes, life circumstances, and experience influence their behaviors. More importantly, a researcher has responsibilities not only before the research participants but also before own colleagues and other people that want to receive the findings. It is vital for every qualitative researcher to consider all ethical concerns.
There is neither right nor wrong choice in terms of method of carrying out a research. A scientist may prefer one approach to another, while another may opt to utilize both qualitative and quantitative tools. It is not of great importance whether it is a one-type methodology or a mix; everything that matters is the stringency and dependability of findings. After all, only a researcher can decide the method that fits the research questions and hypotheses best. Therefore, quantitative and qualitative research methods are essential in conducting investigations, and scientists should consider the use of both in their work.