Qualitative Approaches to Research

Example of a Field Research and its Findings

Several studies suggest that creative human beings sometimes utilize bodily movements to overcome mental blocks as well as lack of inspiration. Such studies contend that physical exercises can play significant roles in enhancing creative thinking.  For this reason, Colzato et al. (2013) conducted a research titled, “The impact of physical exercise on convergent and divergent thinking” to investigate whether acute as well as intense physical activities among athletes and non-athletes affected creativity in convergent as well as divergent thinking tasks. (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00824/full). The researchers found that physical exercise affected divergent thinking among both athletes and non-athletes.  The impact on people’s convergent thinking, a task that requires more cognitive control, majorly depended on an individual’s level of training. Whereas in non-athletes the performance was impaired by physical exercise, athletes showcased a significant benefit (Colzato et al., 2013). The findings suggest that acute physical exercise may affect the convergent as well as the divergent thinking.

Preparing for a Field Research

Conducting a successful field research study like the one mentioned above requires adequate preparation. According to Neuman (2014) there are three important preparation elements for a successful field research, namely, self-awareness, conducting a background investigation and practicing observation plus writing. A successful field researcher is a highly self-aware individual who does not only understand him or herself but also reflects on personal experiences. He or she understands the significance of emotional makeup, cultural experiences as well as personal biography in a field research. As a result, a good field researcher understands his or her limitations, inner conflicts plus personal commitments. Apart from self-awareness, a field researcher must conduct a background investigation to choose a suitable site that is easily accessible.

Neuman (2014) indicates that a researcher may encounter challenges accessing some sites because of legal as well as political hindrances. Also, institutional review board can sometimes limit field studies on ethical grounds. Hence, it is important to perform a background investigation before engaging in a field research. Finally, it is important to improve on observation and writing skills before embarking on a field research. Neuman, in his support, describes the four roles a filed researcher as: a complete observer-that is- assuming the role of an eavesdropping janitor; and observer as participant- that is he or she is known from the start but maintains limited contact. Other roles include: participant as observer, in which the researcher establishes an intimate friendship with the participant; and complete participant, where he or she acts as a member and shares the insider’s secret information. Last the researcher must learn writing skills for effective data gathering and reporting (Neuman, 2014).

Personal Opinion on the Greatest Ethical Dilemma Faced by Researchers

Even though field researchers are playing important roles in enhancing other people’s social lives, this direct personal involvement with people’s welfare may introduce ethical dilemmas. In my opinion the greatest ethical dilemma revolves around publishing of field reports. The knowledge that field researchers obtain and report can lead to a dilemma between the right to know as well as the right to privacy. Fouka and Mantzorou (2011) indicate that researchers cannot reveal all the information they learn without infringing the participant privacy rights. Yet, failure to publicize the information may infringe the audiences’ right to know. Also, others may question the credibility of a study that omits significant details.

Factors Affecting the Choice of a Field Site

There are four important factors that a researcher must consider before choosing a site for field research: containment, richness, unfamiliarity and suitability. In as far as containment is concerned it is easy to study a field site with small groups that is engaged within a defined or bounded small rather than a large group in an open space. From the richness perspective, researchers can obtain useful data from sites with overlapping social connections. The third issue is unfamiliarity, that is, despite the initial uneasiness researchers can quickly spot cultural events as well as relations in a new setting.  Finally, from the suitability point of view, a researcher must take into consideration practical matters like personal characteristics as well as feelings before he or she can choose a field site (Neuman, 2014).

References

Colzato, L. S., Szapora, A., Pannekoek, J. N., & Hommel, B. (2013). The impact of physical exercise on convergent and divergent thinking. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7(824), 1-6.

Fouka, G., & Mantzorou, M. (2011). What are the major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between the research ethics and the nature of nursing? Health Science Journal, 5(1), 3-14.

Neuman, W. L. (2014). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. (7th ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Limited

Can you describe in more detail how this setting represents a good site for field research study?  You also described the importance of the researcher to have great awareness of his or her presence and influence on the study, and how might this have been a factor in the example that you provided in the post?

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