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Fundamentals of Qualitative Research


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Table of Contents

Using This Book

1 Unit 1: Meeting Qualitative Methods

Intentions of This Unit

Truth, Reality, and Meaning in Research

Objectivist and Constructivist Ways of Knowing

Elements of Research

Qualitative Research and Culture

Qualitative Research and the Research Process

2 Unit 2: Terrain and Types of Qualitative Research

Intentions of This Unit

Terrain of Qualitative Research

Academic Rigor in Qualitative Research

Common Types of Qualitative Studies

3 Unit 3: Conceptualizing Qualitative Research

Intentions of This Unit


Change Your Language, Change Your Paradigm

Thinking about Research Purpose

Thinking about Research Questions

Data Sources in Qualitative Research

4 Unit 4: Working with Theoretical Frameworks

Intentions of This Unit

Positivism and Postpositivism


Symbolic Interactionism



Critical Theories

Critical Race Theory


5 Unit 5: Methodological Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry

Intentions of This Unit

Methodological Approaches

Narrative Inquiry

Types of Narrative Inquiry

Designing a Narrative Inquiry Study: Using Our Wiki Example

Phenomenological Inquiry

Types of Phenomenological Inquiry

Designing a Phenomenological Study: Using Our Wiki Example

Grounded Theory

Types of Grounded Theory Inquiry

Designing a Constructivist Grounded Theory Study: Using Our Wiki Example

Case Study

Types of Case Study Inquiries

Example of a Multiple Case Study

Data Analysis


Types of Ethnographic Research

Considerations for Ethnography

Example of a Mini Virtual Ethnography Study

Data Analysis Process for a Mini Virtual Ethnography

6 Unit 6: Data Collection Methods

Intentions of This Unit

What Are Qualitative Interviews?

The Interview Process

Types of Interview Questions

Tips and Strategies for Conducting Qualitative Interviews

What Are Observations?

The Observation Process

Tips and Strategies for Conducting Participant Observations

What are Documents in Qualitative Research?

The Process of Collecting Documents

Example of Documents Collected in Wiki Study and Trivia Study

Tips and Strategies for Collecting Documents

7 Unit 7: Data Analysis, Interpretation, and Re-Presentation

Intentions of This Unit

What Does Data Analysis Mean?

What Is Inductive Analysis?

An Approach to Inductive Analysis

Do Themes Really Emerge?

An Example of Inductive Analysis

Mapping as Inductive Analysis

Interpretation and Data Re-Presentation in Qualitative Research

Cautions about Choosing Re-Presentations

Re-Presenting Your Study

But Writing Is Hard

8 Unit 8: Pulling It All Together

Intentions of This Unit

Revisiting Your Research Interest

Expand Your Thoughts about Your Research Project

Research Design and Theoretical Alignment

Methods of Data Collection

Data Analysis Methods

Representation of Your Work

Appendix A

Appendix B


About the Author

Kakali Bhattacharya, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Kansas State University.


This book provides an excellent approach for the entry level qualitative research methods course. The book provides needed guided activities for both instructors and students that focus on the basics as well as the complexities of qualitative research methods. What a great resource!

Paul Schutz, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Texas at San Antonio

This text provides key concepts to students that support their foundational knowledge of QUAL including thinking through theoretical paradigms, different methodologies, and various fieldwork and analytical methods. But this text is different from the typical "Intro to QUAL" text; this one is personal, inviting readers to interact with the pages, take notes, write about the self, and consider the content in terms of "what would your own research look like." The author cares about the individual researcher and their progression of learning, engaging readers by asking questions and challenging them to think deeply, which is evidenced through the interactive lesson examples and real data provided from which students can practice various analyses. The author includes meaningful opportunities for readers to consider every aspect necessary for insightful, in-depth qualitative inquiry from initial conceptualization to representation and delivery of the work. This is a text I can't wait to use in my own classroom.

Lauren Moret, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Qualitative Research Methodology, University of Tennessee

Fundamentals of Qualitative Research introduces students of qualitative research to the vast range of theories and methods used by qualitative researchers across disciplines. Written in a reader-friendly style, Kakali Bhattacharya's book provides novices to qualitative research an up-to-date, informative, and accessible entree to a range of ways to engage in qualitative research. Packed with practical activities, teaching tips, suggestions for additional reading, and reflective questions to help students make informed decisions as they design their projects, this book is an excellent resource for both newcomers to qualitative inquiry and their teachers.

Kathryn Roulston, Professor & Program Coordinator, Qualitative Research Program, Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy, University of Georgia

This is one of the most wanted pedagogical texts in qualitative research. Bhattacharya has masterfully put her imagination at work to create such an indispensable textbook for both fledgling qualitative researchers and teachers of qualitative research. The book thrives on the confluence of the dialectical nature: succinct but substantive; programmatic but theoretically grounded; structured but imaginative and inspirational. It is a must have for all of us in qualitative research.

Jeong-Hee Kim, Ph.D., Professor of Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Texas Tech University

"As someone who has been working to wrap their mind around qualitative inquiry for the past five years, I feel like this book is the inside track. In 204 pages, Bhattacharya accomplishes a descriptive overview, complete with a multitude of examples and thoughtful cautions, which seems to take other authors hundreds of pages. For the student who is new to this field, the length and manner of the book is inviting. This is certainly a text that would hold
central position in any class I teach focused on qualitative research, and enough cannot be said for the of the way Bhattacharya sets up a ladder for us on the side of the ivory tower, and the focus is always on the meaning we derive from the work we do."

Jason D. DeHart, Appalachian State University

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