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Doing Qualitative Research
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Doing Qualitative Research

Sixth Edition
  • David Silverman - Visiting Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney and King’s College, London, Emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths’ College and Adjunct Professor at Queensland University of Technology
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Other Titles in:
Qualitative Research

640 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Need practical advice on how to do your first qualitative research project? This book will guide you through each step of the research process: from brainstorming ideas and working with your supervisor to navigating the field to writing up your results.

Driven by examples from other students’ projects, the book features discussions on translating social problems into research topics, collecting data in the wake of a pandemic, and guidance from Qualitative Data Analysis Software expert Christian Schmieder to help you summarise, categorise, and review qualitative data. A new chapter on how much data you need answers the age-old question: ‘how many interviews or case studies are enough?’


It also includes:
- Articles and websites to build your bibliography
- Questions to test your knowledge
- Videos from world-leading qualitative experts
- Activities to dig deeper into key concepts and think critically about research
- Lessons-learned discussions with other researchers
- Exercises to help you choose the right path for your project.  

Key features: in addition to the online Silverman Workshops, the book includes top tips, end-of-chapter checklists to test your understanding, and annotated further reading so you can develop your knowledge further.
 
Part One: Introduction
 
Chapter 1: How To Use This Book
 
Chapter 2: What You Can (and Can’t) Do with Qualitative Research
What is Qualitative Research?

 
Why Do Some Researchers Prefer Qualitative Methods?

 
Are Qualitative Methods Always Appropriate?

 
Should You Use Qualitative Methods?

 
 
Chapter 3: Focusing a Research Project
Moira’s Research Diary

 
Sally’s Research Diary

 
Simon’s Research Diary

 
 
Part Two: Starting Out and Project Foundations
 
Chapter 4: Formulating a Research Question
Challenges

 
Solutions

 
Some Cautions

 
 
Chapter 5: Ethical Research
The Standards of Ethical Research

 
Why Ethics Matter for Your Research

 
Ethical Guidelines in Practice

 
Complex Ethical Issues

 
Research Governance

 
Conclusion: Managing Unfolding Ethical Demands

 
 
Chapter 6: Research Design
Interviews

 
Ethnographies

 
Texts

 
The Internet

 
Audio Data

 
Visual Data

 
Mixed Methods

 
 
Chapter 7: Using Theories
How Theoretical Models Shape Research

 
The Different Languages of Qualitative Research

 
Theories, Models and Hypotheses

 
Examples

 
 
Chapter 8: Choosing a Methodology
Qualitative or Quantitative?

 
Your Research Strategy

 
Choosing a Methodology: A Case Study

 
Naturally Occurring Data?

 
Mixed Methods?

 
 
Chapter 9: Writing a Research Proposal
Aim for Crystal Clarity

 
Plan Before You Write

 
Be Persuasive

 
Be Practical

 
Make Broader Links

 
A Caution: Misunderstanding Qualitative Research?

 
 
Part Three: Getting Support
 
Chapter 10: Making Good Use of Your Supervisor
Supervision Horror Stories

 
Student and Supervisor Expectations

 
The Early Stages

 
The Later Stages

 
Standards of Good Practice

 
 
Chapter 11: Getting Feedback
Writing

 
Speaking

 
The Art of Presenting Research

 
Feedback from the People You Study

 
 
Part Four: Collecting and Analysing Data
 
Chapter 12: How much data do you need?
The Quantitative Model of Generalization

 
How many interviews do you need?

 
Purposive Sampling in interview research

 
What is a case study?

 
The Rationale of Case Study Design

 
Case Study Research in Practice

 
Theoretical sampling

 
 
Chapter 13: Collecting Your Data
Collecting Interview Data

 
Collecting Focus Group Data

 
Collecting Ethnographic Data

 
Collecting Internet Data

 
Collecting Your Data in the Wake of a Pandemic

 
 
Chapter 14: Developing Data Analysis
Kick-Starting Data Analysis

 
A Case Study

 
Interviews

 
Fieldnotes

 
Transcripts

 
Visual Data

 
 
Chapter 15: Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software: An Introduction
What is Qualitative Data Analysis Software?

 
Software for Qualitative Analysis? Great - so will it do analysis for me?

 
OK, so how can this software help me?

 
If I decide to use QDAS, do I have to use the program for all aspects of my analysis?

 
You continue to mention writing - why is that so important?

 
Will QDAS help my teamwork?

 
Hopes and Fears connected to using QDAS

 
What hardware do I need to run QDAS?

 
What are some strategies for learning to use QDAS, and to see if a specific software will work for my project?

 
Tips for doing analysis with QD

 
 
Chapter 16: Quality in Qualitative Research
Validity

 
Reliability

 
 
Chapter 17: Effective Qualitative Research
Keep It Simple

 
Do Not Assume That We Are Only Concerned with Subjective Experience

 
Take Advantage of Using Qualitative Data

 
Avoid Drowning in Data

 
Avoid Journalism

 
 
Part Five: Writing Up Your Research
 
Chapter 18: What Counts as ‘Originality’?
Originality

 
Being a Professional

 
Independent Critical Thought

 
 
Chapter 19: Considering Your Audience
The Policy-Making Audience

 
The Practitioner Audience

 
The Lay Audience

 
 
Chapter 20: The First Few Pages
The Title

 
The Abstract

 
Keywords

 
The Table of Contents

 
The Introduction

 
 
Chapter 21: The Literature Review Chapter
Recording Your Reading

 
Writing Your Literature Review

 
Practical Questions

 
Principles

 
Do You Need a Literature Review Chapter?

 
 
Chapter 22: The Methodology Chapter
What Should the Methodology Chapter Contain?

 
A Natural History Chapter?

 
 
Chapter 23: Writing Your Data Chapters
The Macrostructure

 
The Microstructure

 
Tightening up

 
 
Chapter 24: Your Concluding Chapter
The Concluding Chapter as Mutual Stimulation

 
What Exactly Should Your Concluding Chapter Contain?

 
Confessions and Trumpets

 
Theorizing as Thinking Through Data

 
Writing for Audiences

 
Why Your Concluding Chapter Can Be Fun

 
 
Part Six: The Aftermath
 
Chapter 25: Managing an Oral Examination
Viva Horror Stories

 
Preparing for Your Oral

 
Doing the Oral

 
Outcomes

 
Revising Your Thesis after the Oral

 
A Case Study

 
 
Chapter 26: Getting Published
The Backstage Politics of Publishing

 
Strategic Choices

 
What Journals are Looking For

 
Reviewers’ Comments

 
How to Write a Short Journal Article

 

Supplements

Click for Online Resources
Whether you’re at your desk planning your project, gathering data, or writing it all up, your instant supervisor, David Silverman, is here to help with resources he has curated and created to support you through every phase of your project.

Read – Chapters, Journal Articles, and Research BlogsFind top research articles to cite and enrich your reading with your ready-made bibliography of qualitative research from SAGE books, journals, and other credible sources.

Watch – Videos: Take masterclasses from other researchers--avoid common pitfalls, get encouragement, and ensure you’re going in the right direction with short videos that explore key terms and processes in qualitative research.  

Explore – Smartphone-based Activities: Put your investigative skills to the test with these quick interactive activities. Dig deeper into key concepts and understand how they might relate to your own research project via guided website searches and online discussion questions.

Practice – Multiple Choice Questions: Test your knowledge with quick questions in-text and double-check your answers and logic online.

Collaborate – Think Critically: Learn from researchers who have been in your shoes—use their examples and experiences to explore how their ‘lessons learned’ can improve your own research approach. 

Apply – Your Exercise Workbook: Revise, reflect, and take notes with a series of exercises designed to help you brainstorm your own project and apply your newfound knowledge to real-world research examples.

There is no doubt that “Doing Qualitative Research” is a Bible for all qualitative researchers. Unlike the Bible, however, it is constantly updated, taking into account both new methods and new circumstances in which research takes place. A classic, but always relevant.

Barbara Czarniawska
Professor of Management Studies, University of Gothenburg

Doing Qualitative Research has evolved and deepened over its six editions as a result not only of the many conversations between its author and its readers over the years, but also the changing circumstances of the contexts in which it has been written and read. For instance, changes to research methods as a result of policy measures designed to deal with a pandemic are discussed in this edition. There is no better guide to the practical issues of doing qualitative research and getting it published than this book by Silverman, the leader in the field.

Stewart Clegg
Emeritus Professor, UTS Business School, Management Department

A wide-ranging and highly distinctive introduction that addresses the practices and practicalities of undertaking different forms of qualitative research.  It powerfully explores the contributions of particular methods and discusses how one can address and resolve the challenges that arise at the different stages of a research project. It is an important resource for students and teachers alike.

Christian Heath
King’s Business School, King’s College London

David Silverman notes that ‘qualitative research is a contested domain’. This is something of an under-statement, and students in particular need clear and concise guidance when seeking to grasp the complexities and harness the rich potentials of qualitative research. In his extensive writings and edited collections, Silverman provides precisely what is needed. New editions of Doing Qualitative Research have come thick and fast since 2000, each succeeding edition offering clear and incisive engagement with key aspects of qualitative research and the ways in which it, and researching generally, have developed. This new edition takes account of the global upheavals and transformations that have occurred since 2017, including the new challenges posed in data gathering and engaging in the chosen research context. The result is an invaluable resource not only for early-career but also seasoned researchers.

Anthony Bryant
Professor of Informatics,Leeds Beckett University

David Silverman

David Silverman is Visiting Professor in the Business School, University of Technology, Sydney, Emeritus Professor in the Sociology Department, Goldsmiths’ College and Adjunct Professor in the School of Education, Queensland University of Technology. He has lived in London for most of his life, where he attended Christ's College Finchley and did a BSc (Economics) at the London School of Economics in the 1960s. Afterwards, he went to the USA for graduate work, obtaining an MA in the Sociology Department, University of California, Los Angeles. He returned to LSE to write a PhD on organization theory. This was published as... More About Author