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Qualitative Research Designs

Discussion

Although the qualitative research design has not been used extensively in forensic psychology in the past, its utility for helping to flesh out specifics within various forensic psychology areas is now being realized. For instance, the qualitative approach is recommended during the initial phases of research because it provides a more detailed description of a topic. However, it does not lend itself to the typical statistical analysis. Also, with the qualitative approach, data usually is in descriptive form, not numerical as in quantitative design.
There are several qualitative research approaches. Among them are the case study, ground theory, phenomenology, ethnography, and the historical approach. The case study looks at a single case in depth, whereas the ground theory approach is developed in reverse by collecting data prior to forming a hypothesis. The phenomenology approach is a narrative about the experiences of the researcher as they are observed without the constraints of an overriding theory. The ethnographic approach uses field observation of sociocultural events and implies a sociological meaning to the observations. This approach has typically been used on large groups of people. Finally, the historical approach uses objective criteria and a systematic approach of data collection related to historical events. It often tests hypotheses by looking at past events so that future predictions about the phenomena can be made.

To prepare for this Discussion:

Review ? Descriptive Research: Assessing the Current State of Affairs? on pages 14?16 in Chapter 1 of your course text, Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences, focusing on the differences between qualitative versus quantitative research.

Review the article, ?From Single Case to Database: A New Method for Enhancing Psychotherapy Practice.? Pay particular attention to the differences between quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Using the Walden Library, choose and review a research study dealing with an area of forensic psychology in which you are interested and which uses quantitative analysis.

Consider how you might design the study you selected using a qualitative approach (e.g., case study, action research, etc.) and why you would do so.

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