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Design Decisions in Research

4. The Design and Planning Phase

Research Design

Qualitative designs examine the subjective experience of a phenomenon or process holistically and thoroughly when little is known about the topic (Polit & Beck, 2004). Different philosophical perspectives have specific methodologies that are employed depending on the research question and investigator preference.

Table 6

Common Qualitative Research Designs

  Purpose
Phenomenology To understand the lived experiences of persons.
Grounded Theory To understand the social and psychological processes that characterize an event or situation.
Ethnography To describe and interpret cultural behavior.
Critical Theory To understand how people communicate and how they develop meaning within society; To evaluate how political, cultural, and social orders influence a phenomenon; To give voice to oppressed.
Generic To describe a phenomenon, experience, or situation.

Table previously published in: Whittemore, R. & Melkus, G. (2008). Designing a research study. The Diabetes Educator, 34, 201-216.

Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2004). Nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice (7th Edition). Philadelphia: Wolters Klower/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.