Rationale for and Potential Bias in Qualitative Research

Assume the role of a chief researcher for the state Department of Education who is
examining two groups with similar educational deficiencies. One group involved in the
study is a rural, ethnically-defined, aboriginal group with a high rate of health issues
including diabetes, vision impairment, and heart disease. The other group is also a rural
group living on family-owned farms (as opposed to corporate farms) that are in severe
decline as a result of years of decreasing rainfall and drought. Both groups exhibit
achievement test scores that are more than one standard deviation below the mean at all
grade levels, and excessive high school drop-out rates.
Use the scenario presented above to write a paper of 1,000-1,250 words that addresses the
use of qualitative research as a means of studying the two groups in the scenario. Include
the following in your paper:
A rationale for using qualitative research methods instead of quantitative research.
A statement of how the worldviews and paradigms of the researcher may create bias when
applying qualitative research to the given scenario.
30.0%Rationale for Using Qualitative Research Methods Instead of Quantitative Research:
A thorough rationale for using qualitative research methods instead of quantitative
research is presented. Information presented is from current scholarly sources.
35.0 %Statement of how the Worldviews and Paradigms of the Researcher May Create
Bias When Applying Qualitative Research to the Given Scenario
A thorough statement of how the worldviews and paradigms of the researcher may create
bias when applying qualitative research to the given scenario is presented. Information
presented is from current scholarly sources.

Rationale for and Potential Bias in Qualitative Research

The key purpose of educational research is the acquisition of new knowledge. The two
major approaches adopted in this research are the qualitative and quantitative research. This
paper delineates on the rationale as well as the potential bias of using qualitative research in two
scenarios. One of the scenarios is a study that involves a rural, ethically defined and aboriginal
community with high rates of health issues such as vision impairments, diabetes, and heart
disease while the other group comes from rural area and live on family owned farm and in severe
decline due to decrease in rainfall and drought.
Qualitative research methods inquire into a given issue such as human or social problems
through the building of complex presentations which are reported based on detailed views of the
informants to enhance understanding. The research is usually conducted in a natural setting. This

research method heavily depends on interviewing techniques which disclose the respondents’
feelings, meaning and understandings. Trust and rapport are some of the important aspects in
data collection. The researcher must be able to communicate well and establish rapports based on
trust to solicit information from the people (Haahr, Norlyk & Hall, 2014). Qualitative research
begins with a systematic review of the literature review as an indication of the significance of the
topic. It takes various forms such as focusing on existing data from archives, interviews and
media reports. There are various reasons as why many researchers opt to adopt qualitative
research as opposed to quantitative research. One of the rationales for adapting to qualitative
research is that it allows in-depth examination of a given phenomena. It also uses subjective
information gathered from interviews and other sources and is not limited to rigidly definable
variables. Other rationales includes allowing the researcher to explore new areas of research and
to build new theories. Furthermore, researchers have the opportunity to examine complex
questions that quantitative research methods cannot provide an answer for.
Despite the benefits and the continued wide adoption to qualitative research methods,
researchers hold varied worldviews, and paradigms about the methods that are likely to create
bias when using qualitative research method (Mehra, 2001). The major issues of debate
concerning qualitative research includes, labor intensive nature of the method, the validity of the
qualitative research, generation of the context and time specific interpretation rather than
generalization across the population, moderator, questions and sample bias. The issue of validity
arises from the fact that this method does not rely on tests of reliability and credibility that are
external to data collection and analysis. The intensely personal respondent –researcher
relationship may alter the quality of the research making it fail to meet validity thresholds that
have been put in place.

Qualitative research is labor intensive and time consuming. The researcher immerses
himself in the culture being studied and it requires the researcher to conduct different
interviewees to collect information to understand the norms and practices of the community
(Sinkovics & Alfoldi, 2012). In these two scenarios, the researcher may become biased in
selecting the sample size hence leading to skewness of the results. Generalization of contexts and
time specific interpretations rather than generalization across populations is yet another point of
contentious that tends to create biasness (Nuttall, Shankar, & Beverland, 2011). The results or
findings from one given study are not applicable to other contexts as it is limited to one area of
study. Because of this, there is a high chance of a researcher becoming subjective and
opinionated in coming up with their conclusions and findings.
The qualitative research paradigm believes that researcher is an important part of
research processes. The researcher cannot separate himself from the topic or people he or she is
studying as it is an interaction process between the researchers and researched that the
knowledge is created. Consequently, bias enters in the picture even if efforts are made by the
researcher to stay out of this dilemma. A researcher can therefore make some subjective
decisions and adjust the same to favor them. For instance in these two case scenarios, the
researcher can make personal self judgments based on the existing conditions. For instance,
drought is a problem that causes various effects and one of it is that it affects the learning process
of students. Therefore, in this study, the researcher can assume that indeed the severe decline in
the number of students attending to school is because of the drought and decreasing rainfall.
In a qualitative research, the researcher as the moderator can impact on the quality of the
data because of bias. The facial expressions, tone, body language the manner of dressing and
style of language can cause biasness (Daly & Lumley, 2007). One way through which bias can

be experienced in these scenarios is when the researcher becomes harsh in a way to compel the
interviewee to respond to answers in a given manner. Biased questions also will lead to biasness.
For example, the way the questions are framed will contribute to biasness, as the interviewee will
answer them in a particular manner. Biased reporting and samples are also manifested through
qualitative research. The sample selected in most of the times may be subjective impacting on
the quality and objectivity of the research findings.
In conclusion, qualitative research is one of the more widely used methods of research.
Despite its benefits, it has also received criticism on various aspects especially on its subjectivity
nature. Most of the qualitative researchers can influence the research finding through various
ways including, asking biased questions, using biased samples, researcher themselves being
biased in their presentation. In these two scenarios, it is evident that the researcher adopting to
qualitative research methods is likely to influence the study findings. However, it is important for
the researchers who use qualitative method to use strategies that will help them reduce the level
of biasness to ensure that they achieve high levels of objectivity.



Daly, J., & Lumley, J. (2007). Bias in qualitative research designs. Australia and New Zealand
journal of public health, 26(4): 1-2. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-
Haahr, A., Norlyk, A., & Hall, E. (2014). Ethical challenges embedded in qualitative research
interviews with close relatives. OC. Nursing Ethics, 21(1):6-15
Mehra, B. (2001). Research or personal quest: Dilemmas in studying my own kind. In B. M.
Merchant & A. I . Willis (Eds.), Multiple and intersecting identities in qualitative
research (pp. 69-82). Mahwah, NH: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Nuttall, P., Shankar, A., & Beverland, M. (2011). Mapping the Unarticulated Potential of
Qualitative Research. Journal of Advertising Research, 51:153-163

Sinkovics, R., & Alfoldi, E. (2012). Progressive Focusing and Trustworthiness in Qualitative
Research, Management International Review (MIR), 52(6): 817-845.