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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 FourDesigning Your Study and Selecting a Sample

Rarely would anyone starting out on a trip just walk out the door with no thought of where to go or how to get there. The same is true when beginning a research study. You need some idea of what you want to know and a plan for carrying it out. This map, or research design, is “a logical plan for getting from here to there, where here may be defined as the initial set of questions to be answered, and there is some set of conclusions (answers) about these questions” (Yin, 2014, p. 28, emphasis in original).

This chapter begins with how you select a topic for a research study, followed by how to focus this topic and shape it into a research problem. The research problem reflects your theoretical framework. We explain what a theoretical framework is and what the role of a literature review is in establishing this framework and forming the problem statement. Although defining the research problem, identifying the theoretical framework, and reviewing the literature are explained in sequence here, in reality they are very much interactive processes, as we hope to make clear. Once the research problem is defined, your next task is to select the sample to be studied—a process also covered in this chapter.

Selecting a Topic

How do you select a topic for a qualitative research study? The first place to look is your daily life—your work, family, friends, community. What are you curious about? What is happening or has occurred at work ...

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