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  • 00:00


  • 00:16

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR: My name is Jillian Farquhar.I'm Professor of Marketing at Solent Universityand a Research Associate at the University of Pretoriawith an interest in researching processes and interactionsin marketing strategy.I also have a deep interest in research methodsto enable a better understanding of how we know things.

  • 00:37

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: If we understand how we know, it enablesus to disentangle good informationfrom that of poor quality, for an example, an abilityto detect fake news.My expertise lies in qualitative research.And I have worked for many years in the marketingand financial services analyzing data usually obtainedfrom senior financial services managers.

  • 01:03

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: My informants have enabled me to advance theory and knowledgein the marketing of financial servicesand which has been published in research journals, books,and book chapters.I have become very familiar with qualitative research skillsand now write about them nearly as much as marketing.I teach research methods and haveheld workshops in many countries,as well as supervising a great many dissertationsat undergraduate, master's, and doctorate level.

  • 01:32

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: So I believe I can offer some good advice to studentsembarking on dissertations.We have talked already about how we select sources of datafor our research project.And now we're moving onto what weare going to collect from these sourcesand how we're going to collect these data.We're going to cover three key points in this tutorial,firstly, something called the list,following protocols of qualitative data,and thirdly and finally, getting on top of qualitative data.

  • 02:05

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: So we shall begin with the list.What is the list?Qualitative data are data that cannot be measured.They are rich and can be quite difficult to manage.They become less difficult to manage if you as a researcherhave a very clear idea of the questionsthat you're seeking to answer.

  • 02:30

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Qualitative data usually address questionsabout exploring, understanding, discovering, illustrating,or revealing.If your research questions are about determining, identifying,or defining, then it is possible that your studymay be best served by collecting quantitative data.Stop and think very hard about this at this point.

  • 02:52

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: And perhaps you'll consult your supervisor.If your research questions and proposed methods are in line,then you can begin to map out whatit is that you need to find out as suggested by your literaturereview or your summary of existing research in the area.A drawing or sketch of the key pointsthat have emerged from the review or the summaryis very valuable at this point and shouldbe added to the research log that I have urged you to keep.

  • 03:23

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Once you have this figure or drawing,then you can begin to draw up a list of pointsthat you need to collect further information about.This list of points is the bedrock of data collection.And it is vital at this stage you stop and thinkhard about whether this list captureseverything you need to answer in your research questions.

  • 03:46

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: This research list is probably notgoing to be very long, which may initially be a concern.But it's just a framework.And your aim is to put some detail onto this frameworkthrough your research.The sources for accessing this informationhave been covered in a previous tutorial,so the means of data collection will obviously dependupon what those sources are.

  • 04:09

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: So now we move on to key point two--following the protocols of collecting qualitative data.There are many ways of collecting qualitative data.You can use primary data sources, such as interviews,focus groups, observation, or youmay consult sources of secondary data,such as internet posts, newspapers,or a firm's internal documents.

  • 04:37

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Whichever you choose, it is essentialthat you follow the protocols, that is,the prescribed ways that are set out here and in the researchmethods literature.Before we proceed though, some wordsof warning from someone who has markedand examined a great many dissertations at all levels.Although you may be tempted to followa more innovative and exciting route,do remember that this research maybe your first attempt at engagingin this sort of independent study.

  • 05:08

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: The only maxim here is to keep it simple.Research projects at any level have a very nasty habitof becoming a lot more complicated than initiallyanticipated.The more complicated the research is,the greater the likelihood of hittingsome unwanted difficulties, whichmay cost marks or damage the quality of the research.

  • 05:31

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Your project or dissertation shouldhave a clear theme running through it,which is supported by your researchobjectives, your literature review, your method,discussion, and conclusion.Each phase of your research is linked.And at each phase, which you can see here on the research loop,you have the opportunity to check the direction that you'regoing in, and it's the one that'sgoing to yield the results that you need.

  • 05:59

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Flexibility is a characteristic of qualitative research.But it is highly recommended to have a well-thought-out planin the first place.It is useful to look at academic articles you are usingin your literature review also to seewhat data those authors have collectedand the rationale supplied in the research methods section.

  • 06:20

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Secondary data are overlooked in much marketing research, whichis really inexcusable since they may well providethe answers that are needed.We are going to concentrate in this tutorial on twotypes of data collection--interviews and posting from rail users.

  • 06:41

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Interviews are very common and an effective methodof collecting qualitative data.As we've discussed before, your informants, i.e.the people whom you've selected to provide the data,have been chosen specifically because theyhave that information.For example, to gain some in-depth informationabout rail users' experience of buying and using e-tickets,you choose to interview a selection of these users.

  • 07:11

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Building from the list that you have already compiled,you create a research guide.It might consist of a search for ticketsonline, the purchase of those tickets,the online interface, getting through the station barriers.Yes, I use e-tickets.It's important the guide is structured in such a wayso that the informant can talk about his her experience,perhaps revealing something quite unexpected,at the same time enable you the researcherto be consistent in the collection of the data.

  • 07:48

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: This type of interview guide is oftenreferred to as being semi-structured in that itpermits flexibility.Before beginning the interviews, itis worthwhile trialing this research guide with someone whois familiar with the subject under investigationso that refinements can be made, interview skills honed,and an idea of the length of the interview gauged.

  • 08:11

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: As part of the ethical process that all research hasto conform to, informants need to beadvised of the nature of the researchand given some idea of the questions thatwill be asked in advance.All research informants and participantshave the right to change their mindand to withdraw from the research.It is highly advisable to record the interviews,but consent must be gained before any recording takesplace.

  • 08:39

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: And willingness to be recorded is not a given.I once supervised a Middle Eastern studentwhose informants refused to be recordedso that the poor student had to try and ask questions, makenotes, and to capture quotable extracts from the interviewsall at the same time.It is important in all research to respect your researchsources and to try and understandand indeed to allow for their perspective.

  • 09:09

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: If your informants prefer not to be recorded,then ask for them if you can takea companion for note-taking.Or you could consider supplementing your interviewdata with secondary.How long should the interview last?I'm afraid there's no short answer to that question.

  • 09:29

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: As we've mentioned before, the aim of qualitative researchis to gain in-depth insight, so the interviewwill be as long as it takes to cover all the pointson the interview guide with extra timefor putting the interview at ease,encouraging the informant to speak freelyand revisiting those points which might need clarificationor further probing.

  • 09:54

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: The internet enables researchers to conduct interviewsin ways other than face-to-face, for example, Skypeor associated voice-over internet protocols.Research suggests that this type of interviewcan be an effective means of data collection providingthat the connections are good with the considerable benefitof being able to access informantsin a wide range of settings.

  • 10:18

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: The interview setting is now not under control.And there may be some interruptions over whichyou have no control whatsoever.There is the rather famous instanceof a news interview with a professor whichboth his children rather spectacularly gate crashed.Nonetheless, there are many benefits of online interviewingthat enable the researcher to access informants more easily.

  • 10:43

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: The researcher will need to provide a full explanationof how the interviews were conductedwith reference to the admittedly rather limited literatureon this topic.Moving on to the second type of data collection coveredin the session, we return to the idea of collecting datafrom internet posts.We mentioned in the session on selectionthat to gain further information on rail users and e-ticketing,researchers could look at postings on various rail userfora.

  • 11:13

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: These fora differ from social mediain that the posts are made publicly so that they do notinvite the ethical issues that bound informationon private social media sites.These, for example, take the form of an online discussion,where posters can hold conversations in the form ofposted messages.

  • 11:36

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: They differ from chatrooms in that messagesare often longer than one line of textand are at least temporarily archived.Nonetheless, it's advisable to ensure that confidentialityis protected by removing the names or online namesof the posters that can include the content.Researchers may come across the term netnography, whichdescribes a style of research in which the researchers activelyparticipate in sites.

  • 12:04

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: But this is for quite advanced researchers.And it's a lot more difficult to gain ethical approval.My favored research strategy is case research,where primary data is usually supplemented by secondary data.As I said previously, secondary datacan play a very important role in supporting or eveninterpreting primary data.

  • 12:26

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: The same principles of collectionapply so that your research list becomes the toolfor making sense of what could be large quantitiesof secondary data.You might want to develop from your lista set of search terms for trawlingthrough these databases of secondary information.Again, keeping a research log of sites visited,data elicited, will strengthen the analysis process.

  • 12:54

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: So this takes us on to key point three,getting on top of your qualitative data.The researcher has captured the data.And now they're rather like sheep milling around in a pen.The research might have been quite straightforwardup till now.But unlike quantitative data, qualitative datatake quite a bit of managing.

  • 13:16

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Those researchers who kept a research logwill find this next stage a lot lessonerous than those who may have omitted this crucial practice.All the data sources have been logged.Notes will accompany the collection of data.And patterns may already be emerging.

  • 13:37

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: The penned sheep should even havesome distinguishing characteristics on themthat enable further sorting.It's an extremely good idea to haveone of those reflective moments mentioned in the research loop.The researcher will have megabytes of recordings,screenshots of posts.

  • 13:59

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: And it's extremely valuable to checkat this stage that everything is where it should beand in a format that will allow analysis,although we'll talk further about thisin the next tutorial.Don't be tempted to feel that you needto press on with the analysis.It has, in fact, already started.And this stage of checking and thinking repays the effort.

  • 14:22

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: It's a sad truth that qualitative research cannot bedone in a hurry.Unlocking those new insights involves an investmentof time and intellectual effort.At this point, I would like to pose some reflective questions.Are you considering the perspectiveof the informants or the contributorsduring the data collection process?

  • 14:44

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: You should be.Even if you find the views or opinions of your informantsare not in line with your own, are you respecting them?What is the process of data collectiontelling you about yourself?For example, how organized are you?How do you relate to your informants?How are your listening skills?

  • 15:05

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Watch the interviewers on TV and appreciate their talents.This tutorial has aimed to provide some essential basicsbut as always needs to be accompaniedby some serious reading.Again, the health warning--research methodologists do not always agree.Be prepared for some differences.

  • 15:27

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: It's vitally important to reference fully and correctly.We have covered three main points--firstly, the list, secondly, how importantit is to follow the protocols of collectingqualitative data, and finally, getting on topof qualitative data.

  • 15:49

    JILLIAN FARQUHAR [continued]: Data collection is a vast topic.And the purpose of this tutorial was to provide an overview.There is no substitute for engagingwith the extensive literature covering qualitative datacollection.And I have provided some suggestions.As you've heard, online data collectionoffers some very interesting possibilities,but the skills involved more or lessremain the same as with conventional data collection.


In part 2 of a 3-part series on qualitative research methods, Jillian Farquhar, Professor of Marketing at Solent University and a Research Associate at the University of Pretoria, provides an overview of qualitative data collection in marketing research.

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Collecting Qualitative Data in Marketing Research

In part 2 of a 3-part series on qualitative research methods, Jillian Farquhar, Professor of Marketing at Solent University and a Research Associate at the University of Pretoria, provides an overview of qualitative data collection in marketing research.

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