Convince Any Stats-Lover with Your Qualitative Method Section

You have done a cutting-edge piece of qualitative research that is ripe for publishing… but your subject matter means that targeting traditional, quant-based journals makes more sense for your beloved paper. Do you know how to get your paper ready to submit to a potentially stats-favouring audience?


Sending your paper to someone who does this all day? Don’t quake in your boots… we’ve got you covered!
 
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Lots of publications have quantitative researchers reviewing qualitative work and you want to make sure that your reviewer has no doubts about the value of your fabulous paper.

Fear not – here are some top tips on how to get your methodology section looking ravishingly rigorous and ready for submission.

1. Check the journal’s conventions for qualitative research.

Many journals that accept qualitative papers have specific conventions or guidelines for qualitative submissions.

There are also journals that do not accept qualitative papers (sad but true!), although they don’t always let you know this. If you can’t find any specific conventions for qualitative papers in the publication in question, have a look to see if they have any lovely qual papers in their archives. If they don’t, it’s probably a waste of your time to send your paper to this journal, so cut your losses and move on to the next journal on your list.   

2. Recognise and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the qualitative approach.

One sure-fire way to put off reviewers is to ignore the weaknesses of your approach. Of course, you want to emphasise why your approach is fantastic and perfect for addressing your research question (as well as why quantitative research is not suitable for your study). However, discussing the disadvantages will give strength to your argument.

Talking about the strengths of your approach is obviously important, but don’t forget about its weaknesses!

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3. Discuss validity and reliability.

One concern of quantitative researchers is that qualitative research lacks validity and reliability. Emphasise the rigour of your approach, using examples.

4. Put all the right information in your methods section.

The structure of your methodology section will depend on your specific piece of research. Qualitative methods sections are not as cut and dried as quantitative methods sections. There are, however, some essential ingredients!

  • Research question: Be sure to clearly include this.
  • Design, methodology, approach and philosophy: Your theoretical assumptions need to be made explicit. Many researchers trained in quantitative methods are not aware of the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research. Also, be mindful that approaches such as TA and IPA might need more explanation for quantitative researchers.
  • Researcher information: Also known as reflexivity – ensure you talk about your background, its relevance to the study both in terms of usefulness and potential bias
  • Sample, recruitment and drop-outs: Quantitative reviewers can sometimes be put off by small sample sizes. If you have spoken to a small sample, or if any participants have dropped out, explain why.
  • Procedure: Say what you did and why you did it. Make it relevant to your research question. What do the reviewers need to know about the research setting? How did you collect your data?
  • Ethics, including consent and confidentiality: Although ethical issues for quantitative and qualitative research can be similar, highlight any other issues, such as ongoing informed consent for case studies or additional means of protecting participant anonymity.

Just like the lovely cocktail you might celebrate with after your submission, your methodology section needs to have the right ingredients.
 
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5. Make sure it looks top-notch!

Don’t give the reviewer any chance to get off on the wrong foot. Your references should be perfect and your paper needs to be free from mistakes. Need an eagle eye to check over your paper? The Post-Graduate Proof-Reader can help!

Six Reasons You Should Work with a Proof-Reader

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