The Rationale for Choosing the Methods Considered
The rationale for choosing each of the three main types of methods for a study (quantitative, qualitative, mixed) as given in the video “Musings: Aligning Research Question and Methodology” (n.d.) is summarized below.
If enough research on the topic already exists, possible factors related to the issue in question can be identified, the relationship between them can be studied; a quantitative study will allow for obtaining very precise information.
A quantitative study does not depersonalize, but describes a large number of people.
Qualitative methods can be used if not enough research in the area exists, and it is impossible to properly formulate questions on a survey; it will allow for understanding how people feel and what they think. Qualitative studies can yield in-depth results related to the area of the study, and permit for creating appropriate surveys that can be used in quantitative studies later.
It is easier to select a smaller group for a qualitative study than to choose a large group for a mixed methods study or a quantitative study. A qualitative study, allowing for creating an in-depth picture of what is happening with a small group, can help one find enough information to identify a larger population for subsequent studies.
Mixed methods can allow for identifying a small subgroup of the population and interviewing it in detail.
Mixed studies permit for combining both qualitative and quantitative methods; however, both methodologies need to be applied properly so that they do not form two separate studies, but are tied together and support one’s research question.
Mixed methods can provide both breadth and depth for a study.
Qualitative and Mixed Methods
The amount of data from a mixed-methods study (or a qualitative study) may be large, but it does not have to be overwhelming, for such data can be managed properly and conveniently with qualitative data analysis software packages such as NVivo.
The Key Questions Raised in the Video When Comparing Methodologies
- What is it that one really wants to know?
- What methodology best suits one’s research questions?
- Does one have enough knowledge to ask appropriate questions on a survey, or does one need to investigate the area further before this is possible?
- Can one identify a group to be studied in their research?
- What can be done not to be overwhelmed with data while conducting qualitative research?
- Which methods are more favored and respected by researchers in a given field?
Questions Pertaining to My Research Area
My topic is the relationship between HIV treatment adherence and social support among HIV-infected African American women. It is known that higher social support is associated with better treatment compliance (Edwards, Irving, Amutah, & Sydnor, 2012). So, it is possible to ask: “How does the perception of higher social support motivate African American women with HIV to better comply with HIV treatment guidelines?” Such a qualitative study might allow for uncovering the feelings and perceptions of the target population that cause them to adhere to the treatment guidelines (such as a greater desire to live, better perspectives in life, having someone to live for, etc.).
On the other hand, a quantitative study answering the question “Does the perceived social support influence HIV treatment compliance among African American women with HIV stronger for immigrants or those who were born in the U.S.?” could help compare the role of the perceived social support in the two populations in question.
Edwards, L. V., Irving, S. M., Amutah, N. N., & Sydnor, K. D. (2012). Am I my mother’s keeper? Children as unexpected sources of social support among African American women living with HIV-AIDS. Journal of Black Studies, 43(5), 571-595. Web.
Musings: Aligning research question and methodology. (n.d.). Web.