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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 TwoSix Common Qualitative Research Designs

In fields from education to social work to anthropology to management science, researchers, students, and practitioners are conducting qualitative studies. It is not surprising, then, that different disciplines and fields ask different questions and have evolved somewhat different strategies and procedures. Although qualitative research or qualitative inquiry remains the umbrella term, writers of qualitative texts have organized the diversity of forms of qualitative research in various ways. Patton (2015) discusses sixteen “theoretical traditions”; some, like ethnography and grounded theory, are familiar classifications, whereas others, such as semiotics and chaos theory, are less common. Creswell (2013) presents five “approaches”: narrative research, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and case study. Tesch (1990) lists 45 approaches divided into designs (such as case study), data analysis techniques (such as discourse analysis), and disciplinary orientation (such as ethnography). Denzin and Lincoln (2011) include a number of chapters on major “strategies of inquiry” (p. xi), such as, among others, case study, ethnography, grounded theory, and participatory action research. As this brief overview suggests, there is no consensus as to how to classify “the baffling numbers of choices or approaches” to qualitative research (Creswell, 2013, p. 7).

Given the variety of qualitative research strategies, we have chosen to ...

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