Lugano, Switzerland

Introduction to Qualitative Research Designs

when 22 August 2022 - 26 August 2022
language English
duration 1 week
fee CHF 700

At its core, a research design is a basic strategy that guides the research process, from data collection, analysis, interpretation and discussion of results. But it is much more than simply a descriptive chronological sequence: research design is about engaging in difficult trade-off decisions that will inevitably present themselves in any empirical research. Quantitative research has enjoys fairly standardized reporting conventions, with clear guidance re. transparent, reliable, and ultimately rigorous data collection and analysis procedures (e.g., Appelbaum et al., 2018). Research designs in qualitative work are much less codified. Part of the problem is that the two use different criteria for assessing rigor, and that these criteria have been studied separately for decades, with only limited cross-fertilization (e.g., Aguinis et al., 2019, Gibbert et al., 2008; Gioia et al., 2013). And yet, rigor matters especially in qualitative research as a predictor of article citation impact (Hoorani et al., 2019).

As such, the basic premise of this course is a conundrum: one of the weaknesses of qualitative research is that it tends to be ‘messy’, which is why we need a clear research design. At the same time, the strength of qualitative methods is that it is ‘flexible’, i.e. allows for a variety of designs, and even accommodates changes of the research design along the way, in iterative cycles of data collection and analysis (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005; Yin, 1994; Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Gerring, 2007).
The neuralgic problem of qualitative research therefore are its designs. As such, a certain versatility is needed when it comes to designing qualitative research along the way, i.e. before and even during the entire research process, from empirical data collection and analysis all the way to write-up and responding to reviewer comments. I like the label research ‘design’ (from the latin designare , to ‘mark out, point out; devise; choose, designate, appoint) as it essentially implies a creative act. I therefore prefer to see the ‘design’ of research-design more like a verb than a noun, and nowhere would the need for active, creative (re-) designing of research be more appropriate than in qualitative methods.

This versatility can stem only from a minimum level of sophistication in using individual designs both in isolation and in combination. And this sophistication is based on a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of individual designs in terms of quality criteria from nomothetic and idiographic approaches. This course therefore starts off with an introduction to, and application of, individual research designs be they exploratory or explanatory (days one through four), with a strong emphasis on their strengths and weaknesses in view of answering a given research question. The final day is then dedicated to balancing strengths and weaknesses across designs by combining different designs, and we use two generic pathways for illustration, an inductive strategy and a deductive strategy.

Pedagogy and Scope

The class is divided into two main parts. In the first part, we introduce the relevant tool for the day. In the second part, we apply the tool both to existing material (published articles) as well as to your own research project.

Participants will be not be required to do the ‘theory’ readings in preparation of each class. Instead, we will explore them on a rolling basis in the sessions. WE will practically work in small groups with specific methodological approaches during class, always with an eye on their own (PhD- or other research-) projects. The emphasis in the group work is learning from the best (and sometimes, apparently ‘worst’) practices published in reputable journals.

N.B. that this course is specifically on research design, including the implications for data collection (e.g. via interviews, archival material, participant or direct observation, ethnography) and analysis (be it with or without the help of software such as Atlas.ti, NVivo, be it a thick description, co-variational, process-based, longitudinal or cross sectional). At the same time, it does not engage in the actual practice of individual data collection or analysis strategies, for which there are separate courses at the summerschool.

Course leader

Michael Gibbert, Università della Svizzera italiana

Target group

Everyone who is interested; there are no formal requirement. Note that many workshops have some prerequisites.

The Summer School workshops are conceived for those who need to deepen and widen their methodological knowledge and skills for their work, research projects and (PhD) theses: students, junior and senior researchers, practitioners from academia and outside academia at any stage of their careers whenever the need for further training in methodology arises.

Course aim

This course therefore starts off with an introduction to, and application of, individual research designs be they exploratory or explanatory (days one through four), with a strong emphasis on their strengths and weaknesses in view of answering a given research question. The final day is then dedicated to balancing strengths and weaknesses across designs by combining different designs, and we use two generic pathways for illustration, an inductive strategy and a deductive strategy.

Credits info

The Summer School cannot grant credits. We only deliver a Certificate of attendance, i.e. we certify your presence

If you consider using Summer School workshops to obtain credits (ECTS), you will have to investigate at your home institution (contact the person/institute responsible for your degree) to find out whether they recognize the Summer School, how many credits can be earned from a workshop/course with roughly 35 hours of teaching, no graded work, and no exams.

Make sure to investigate this matter before registering, if this is important to you.

Fee info

CHF 700: Reduced fee: 700 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for students (requires proof of student status).
These fees includes also participation in one of the preliminary workshops (two-day workshop preceding the Summer School).
To qualify for the reduced fee, you are required to send a copy of an official document that certifies your current student status or a letter from your supervisor stating your actual position as a doctoral or postdoctoral student. Send this letter/document by e-mail.
CHF 1100: Normal fee: 1100 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for all others.
These fees includes also participation in one of the preliminary workshops (two-day workshop preceding the Summer School).

Scholarships

As the Summer School is financed through participant’s fees alone and has no funds of its own, it cannot offer any scholarship, grants or financial aid.