When you’re looking for help and wondering how to write a qualitative research paper, here is a short list of instructions that will help you. You can use those recommendations to prepare an ideal work for your university assignment.
A qualitative research paper requires a wide range of research that employs different ways of collecting data (for example, interviews, fieldwork, questionnaires, etc.). It is a serious job, so you need to consider some actions and answer a range of questions before the start. So, how to write a qualitative research paper step by step and how to begin?
1. Pick the question to be studied.
The first thing to do when writing a research paper is to decide which question has to be studied.
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One of the most important parts of the project is a topic of the research paper. It determines the object and subject of your research work, and it also helps you to focus on the study and ignore all unimportant questions. The main question also determines the way of conducting a study, since the nature of question requires different research techniques.
You should pick the right question between a very interesting question and a searchable question. The first type of question addresses the theme you’re really interested in and can be quite broad. The second type can be researched quickly, using available research methods and tools.
2. Bibliographic review.
After you’ve decided on the question to be studied, make a bibliographic review.
In the bibliographic review, you should outline the conclusions that other people have already developed about the subject of research and the main problem. You should read a lot about the field of your research and analyze studies related to your topic. It is good to prepare an analytical report with synthesized and integrated findings of research. And it’s not a very good idea to present a separate summary of every study that you’ve analyzed.
A bibliographic review should help you to determine whether you are truly interested and engaged in the topic and the research question and find out all gaps in existing studies that you would like to fill with your research work.
3. Collect the data.
Basically, all the data collected during the research can be divided into primary and secondary data.
Primary data are the facts that the researcher obtains directly from reality, collecting them with own instruments. Secondary data are written records that also come from contact with the practice, but that has already been processed by other researchers.
The primary and secondary data are two parts of the same sequence: all secondary data have been primary in their origins, and all primary data, from the moment the researcher concludes them in his work, become a secondary data for others.
There are two main techniques of primary data collection:
- The observation. It consists of the systematic use of one’s senses oriented to the capture the reality that has to be studied.
- The interview. It consists of an interaction between two people, in which the researcher formulates certain questions related to the subject under investigation, while the interviewed person provides verbal or written information that is requested.
There are also other procedures for collecting primary data. For example, the so-called self-application questionnaire, tests, sociometric diagrams, scales and semantic differentials, etc. However, all have their origin, ultimately, in the two main techniques mentioned.
The best source of secondary data, except the internet, are libraries. The libraries are often the best option presented to the researcher, especially as the research process requires analysis of books, journals, and newsletters. Other places to find secondary data are archives, organizations, and institutions.
4. Analyze the data.
The analysis of qualitative data is defined as the procedure through which the information collected by the researcher is structured and managed to establish links, extract meanings and conclusions. At this stage of the research process, the researcher should proceed to rationalize the collected data in order to explain and interpret the possible relationships that express the variables studied.
The analysis and interpretation of data are usually made after you’ve collected all the results of your research. This activity mainly consists of establishing inferences about the relationships between the variables studied in order to develop some conclusions and recommendations. The analysis and interpretation of data are usually carried out in two stages:
- a) Interpretation of the relationships between the variables and the data that support them based on some level of statistical significance;
- b) Establishing the broader meaning of the research, that is, determining the degree of generalization of the results of research. The two previous stages are based on the degree of validity and reliability of the research. This implies the ability to generalize the results obtained.
It is important to highlight that within the analysis of qualitative data, and the researcher may face certain difficulties. Some of them are the polysemic nature of the data collected, due to the complex meanings that can be found, for example, in a video or audio recording. It is necessary for the researcher to have a clear understanding of the issue or point which has to be extracted from the analyzed data.
5. Form the text.
After you’ve analyzed the data, you can proceed to form a coherent paper.
When you work on the qualitative research paper, you should take into account the required style of the paper. Usually, it’s APA or MLA.
Let’s take a look at how to write a qualitative research paper apa style quick instructions:
- add your header to the top of all pages. A shorter version of your title (in uppercase) should be included in the upper-left corner of the page;
- add page numbers into the upper right corner;
- the font is usually Times New Roman size 12. Some works also require Arial font size 10 or 12;
- all text of your research paper should contain a double spacing;
- begin your paper with an abstract. The abstract in APA usually consists of 150 or 250 words contained in one paragraph.
Now you are ready to finish and submit your paper. Good luck!