Qualitative Research Design


Despite the importance of research design for both qualitative and quantitative research, there has been little systematic investigation, in the literature on research design, of the concept of “design” itself. This entry addresses the different ways in which design has been understood in qualitative research and the implications of these for designing and conducting qualitative studies. A key difference is between design as a plan or model for conducting a study and design as the actual structure and interrelationships of the research “on the ground.” These differences have important implications for how the design of a research study is planned, implemented, and modified, for how the different components of a design (including the goals, conceptual framework, research questions, and methods) are conceptualized and developed, and for how validity and ethical issues are addressed. Two specific tools, memos and visual displays, are discussed that can be useful in designing a study.

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