Schmuttermaier and David Schmitt (2001) 'Smoke and
Mirrors: Modernist Illusions in the Quantitative versus
Qualitative Research Debate.'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 6, no. 2, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/6/2/schmuttermaier.html> ;
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Received: 2001/1/29 Accepted: 2001/7/15 Published: 2001/8/31
'...science is driven by the ways scientists think about things' (Nippert-Eng, 1996:283).
smaller, selective set of observations from all possible observations. It is called theoretical sampling because it is guided by the researcher's developing theory (Neuman, 1997 p.370).
After completing interviews with several informants, you consciously vary the type of people interviewed until you had uncovered the full range of perspectives held by people in whom you are interested. You would have an idea that you had reached this point when interviews with additional people yielded no genuinely new insights (Taylor and Bogdan, 1984:83).
An important step in all of these replication procedures is the development of a rich, theoretical framework. The framework needs to state the conditions under which a particular phenomenon is likely to be found (a literal replication) as well as the conditions when it is not likely to be found (a theoretical replication). The theoretical framework later becomes the vehicle for generalizing to new cases...if some of the empirical cases do not work as predicted, modification must be made to the theory.
...research methods are probably much more autonomous and adaptable than some epistemologists would like to believe...it makes more sense to consider all the available tools and not leave one half of the toolbox locked...epistemological and ontological arguments are more useful if they examine knowledge as a practical accomplishment - how research works in practice - than if they indulge in prescriptive wrangles about how we really ought to proceed (p.267).
'Examination of cases, redefinition of the phenomenon, and reformulation of hypotheses is repeated until a universal relationship is shown'.According to Silverman, analytic induction is the 'equivalent' of the Hypothetico-Deductive approach of quantitative statistical testing for random error variance. However, Silverman notes that in qualitative analysis random error is non-existent. Any exceptions, or 'deviant cases', are systematically removed by continually reformulating the hypotheses 'until all the data fit' (p.161). However, this form of processing sounds very much like the researcher has moved from induction to deduction. This notwithstanding, Silverman, like Strauss (1987a), and Strauss and Corbin (1990), advocates combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to grounded theorizing as a means of validation. At the end of the day this is what actually occurs; a construct is a construct no matter how elaborate or simple the process.
...enable the researcher to think systematically about data and relate them in complex ways. The basic idea is to propose linkages and look to the data for validation (move between asking questions, generating propositions and making comparisons).
...plays down its role in relation to the testing of theory may be missing an important strength that qualitative investigations possess. In other words, there is nothing intrinsic to the techniques of data collection with which qualitative research is connected that renders them unacceptable as a means of testing theory (p.123).
...sometimes dissimilarity sampling is done by choosing additional sites that have contrasting circumstances and interviewing people in each site who are in similar roles. Your reasoning is that if you change the context or setting but the same themes emerge from your interviews, you believe that what you have learned can be generalized to people in similar roles (pp.74-75).
Unlike the usual meaning of the term generalization, an extrapolation connotes that one has gone beyond the narrow confines of the data to think about other applications of the findings. Extrapolations are modest speculations on the likely applicability of findings to other situations under similar, but not identical, conditions. Extrapolations are logical, thoughtful, and problem-oriented rather than purely empirical, statistical, and probabilistic. (p.289)
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