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Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation, 4th Edition by Elizabeth J. Tisdell, Sharan B. Merriam

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Chapter OneWhat Is Qualitative Research?

This book is about qualitative research—what it is, and how to do it. But before we get into qualitative research, it's important to define what we mean by research itself. There are many definitions of research, but what they all have in common is the notion of inquiring into, or investigating something in a systematic manner. In everyday life we talk about “doing research” to inform our decisions and to decide on a particular course of action. For example, when it comes time to buy a new car, you might do some “research” by consulting Consumer Reports and a number of Internet sites that rate cars on quality, customer satisfaction, safety, and so on. All of this “research,” in addition to test-driving several cars, will enable you to make your decision.

You as a reader probably found your way to this text because you have a more formal interest in research. Research is typically divided into the categories of basic and applied. Basic research is motivated by intellectual interest in a phenomenon and has as its goal the extension of knowledge. Although basic research may eventually inform practice, its primary purpose is to know more about a phenomenon. Al Gore, in his award-winning movie An Inconvenient Truth, shares quite a bit of basic research (such as the rate at which the polar ice caps have been melting) as evidence of global warming. This basic research of course has implications for what people might do to stem global warming. ...

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