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Step-by-step guide to the theory and practice of qualitative research
on 1 November 2010
I would commend this book as an essential text for anyone who is new to the world of messy qualitative research, or for people who have been working in the field for many years but with little real rigour in what they do. The book is pitched perfectly and is accessible and readable, using consistent examples throughout the chapters to illustrate the points being made. It gives advice on the entire process involved in qualitative research, from research design through practical fieldwork tips to the analysis and write-up of the data.
In large part, this is all done extremely well. The only downside to this book is that it is now slightly out of date, and as such, it doesn't take account of the IT advances we have seen in recent years. For example, the book takes something of a purist approach to analysis of qualitative data, based as it is upon the National Centre for Social Research's (NatCen) Framework Analysis approach which - at time of writing - was very much based upon constructing a paper-based index of coded transcripts. However, developments in programs like MS Excel and NVivo in recent years means that it is now possible to combine use the Framework Analysis approach as a guide for the coding/indexing stage of working with transcripts, before turning to NVivo and/or Excel as a hugely useful tool in retrieving/organising the coded sections electronically.
That said, the book never claims to provide the last word in qualitative research methodology, but rather aims to disseminate the Framework Analysis gospel. This in itself is no bad thing, because the approach helps to bring structure and rigour to the daunting field of qualitative research, which for too long has been seen as lacking in credibility and objectivity. For people working in qualitative research, this book (along with Colin Robson's excellent "Real World Research") is incredibly helpful and instructive.