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Why a Guide to Qualitative Research?

To demonstrate principles of research design, interviewing and analysis

Students gain first-hand experience investigating the type of data set used in major qualitative research projects. They learn principles of research design and interviewing techniques by example, as well as through practice. They develop interview skills by critiquing how questions are asked, how narratives are received in the interview process, and how dynamics of interaction develop between the interviewer and respondent.

To provide a common set of primary data in digital format

Students working with a common data set can work individually or in groups to understand the process of inductive research through steps of open coding, focused coding, identifying themes, developing research questions, and writing a final paper. The common interview set brings to the fore issues of interpretative integrity, as several student researchers in the class analyze the same data. The digital format facilitates comparisons between researchers.

To optimize instructional time in courses on qualitative research methods

In the timeframe of a course, it is difficult for students to gather original interview data, especially of this scope and quantity. Instructors may assign students to conduct supplemental interviews, but the availability of a set of interviews in digital format will reduce the lengthy and intensive processes of data collection. The data set will eliminate the need for lower order tasks such as transcription and free up class time for teaching higher order skills of analysis and critical thinking.

To examine important substantive issues

Use of the data set will significantly advance how substantive issues relating to family, ethnicity and immigration are currently taught and learned.

Sociology of the family

The family focused content of this data set fills a gap in the existing literature, which has a bias toward using the individual or ethnic group as the unit of analysis. This data set strongly supports the study of social relationships that are critical to migration and resettlement experiences of families.

Immigration studies

In these interviews family members describe their experiences upon coming to Canada. They discuss how certain of the family's beliefs, cultural traditions, roles and structures may have changed in Canada, and how other beliefs, traditions, roles and practices may have been preserved. The format of the interviews covers demographic information, family background and migration history, cultural identities, relations to spouse, children, adults' parents and other relatives, community ties and attitudes towards the ethnic group norms.

Canadian studies

The data set fills a need for Canadian studies of immigrant families, particularly of new immigrant groups such as Sri Lankans. It also allows students to undertake cross-cultural comparisons.

To create the opportunity for primary analysis

Conventional undergraduate research assignments involving library work tend to encourage students to merely summarize existing literature. Such assignments are not conducive to students developing critical perspectives on the existing literature based on their own analysis. By making primary data available, this project allows students to bring primary data to bear on their evaluation of secondary sources and existing theories.

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