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Quality-tative Research

Sunday, September 27th, 2009
Image of NAncy Baym from her web site

Image of Nancy Baym from her web site

I enjoyed Nancy Baym’s chapter “Finding the Quality in Qualitative Research” from Silver & Massanari’s edited collection Critical Cyberculture Studies. Since Tami will be covering background info on the author in her blog, I’ll just be offering my summary of the chapter and some reactions to it here. [Note: You can find/follow her on Twitter. She replied to one of my tweets about her chapter. So, she seems fairly accessible.]

I think the reason I enjoyed the chapter so much is the fact that she directly addresses what makes me most uneasy about this topic:

“Perhaps the biggest problem facing all qualitative research is that the standards for what makes qualitative research good are very unclear” (79).

“How are we to determine what evidence is good enough to make a claim or how may subjects are enough?” (80)

The answers to these questions appeal to my rhetoric background: Qualitative research (like quantitative) is a means of making an argument. The counterarguments may be harder to predict than in quantitative studies, but they should be considered as the research design is constructed and the findings presented. Her challenge to qualitative researchers: Be prepared to answer the question: “Am I convinced by the evidence?” (81)

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