If you’re considering analyzing open-ended content or participant responses in order to produce the results and findings for your dissertation research, then a qualitative research design may be for you. Especially for clients who lack extensive doctoral research training, our advice is to use simpler approaches such as phenomenology, case studies, and general qualitative inquiries.

In terms of the data collections process and the data analysis procedures, each research design is not too different in that they often share common sources of qualitative data including interviews, focus groups, and other archival data. Our qualitative research consultants have been devising personalized doctoral research methodologies and research designs for many years, and as soon as you can let us know what access you have to your participants, we can help with the entire research design and data analysis.

Often times, you might be required to identify a research design for your dissertation research prior to the commencement of any research or writing. As a part of our assistance for the Topic Approval, we will be able to make sure that you’re working with a valid methodological approach for your thesis research; and of course, that we will have no problem satisfying your reviewers with this aspect of your Introduction, Literature Review, and Methodology sections.

We will also be able to provide comprehensive support with the Data Analysis after the approval of the IRB process and data collections. In this realm, our Qualitative Research Consulting Team understands what it takes to produce quality research content even under the shortest turnaround times needed.

Here are some of the most commonly used types of qualitative research designs and when they should be considered for your doctoral research:

As many of our dissertation consultants will inform you—if you’re looking for a simple study involving minimal number of participants for data collections, it may be smart to consider a phenomenological research design for your dissertation methodology. This research design is suitable for students needing to complete their doctoral studies under a very short timeframe, since only a sample size of 6-10 can often be enough to produce meaningful themes, categories, and patterns describing the experiences and perceptions of individuals. However, this potential shortcoming in sample size is compensated by the fact that the data collections protocol often involves lengthy interviews lasting 45 minutes or longer.

A case study provides context for phenomena that can be best understood through analyzing experiences of certain groups of individuals. According to Yin, one of the most cited case study researchers, we are able to study individuals or organizations, interventions, relationships, communities, and programs through various sources of qualitative data. Due to the ease and flexibility of setting up the design, case studies are one of the most common forms of qualitative dissertation research found at our firm. The case study approach is very similar to phenomenology, but there is less emphasis on deep, lived experiences and perceptions of participants. Compared to a phenomenological study, the interviews tend to be substantially shorter, but this also means that larger sample sizes are needed to produce the most robust findings.

In grounded theory research, our objective is to develop a theory using collected data. This is perhaps at odds with the traditional meaning of “theory” which researchers often understood as ideas that are developed prior to any data collection and analysis. It was not until 1967 when Glaser and Strauss outlined an empirical approach for developing theory based on systematically collected data.

Deriving its roots from the discipline of Anthropology, ethnography is a qualitative research method that seeks to provide detailed, in-depth exploration of daily practices across different cultures. Ethnography at the most professional level might involve a cultural anthropologist observing a foreign culture through being completely immersed in the everyday life of a target population. At the doctoral level, culture can be more conveniently defined based on the fact that a typical PhD student may not have the access to the same level of participants for data collections and analysis. However, ethnography research is still a bit more complex when compared to phenomenology and case study, and this approach is typically reserved for our clients from rigorous brick-and-mortar institutions.

The Delphi method of qualitative research typically involves a panel of experts who participate in multiple rounds of questionnaires. Delphi is very popular in both academic and corporate realms due to the solution that the approach offers in finding issues to prioritize and making better decisions within an organization. The anonymous responses from experts are aggregated at the end of each round of data collections, and the questionnaires continue until there is a convergence of opinion. We recommend the Delphi approach in research settings where there may be limited research available and consensus among experts can be argued to be the best possible source of information.

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