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Qualitative Research in Sport and Physical Activity

Qualitative Research in Sport and Physical Activity

240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Designed especially for students in sport and physical activity, this book provides a detailed guide to planning, undertaking, and writing up qualitative research. Opening with a discussion of the main traits of qualitative inquiry and its use in sport and physical activity, the authors provide a coherent and accessible overview of qualitative research using numerous examples to bring research alive. The book is divided into five parts informed by stages in the research process with chapters on:
  • Early steps in the research process
  • Ethics
  • Choosing an approach
  • Methods of data collection
  • Analyzing the data
  • Writing up and disseminating your findings
This is essential reading for undergraduate and graduate students carrying out a qualitative research project in sport and physical activity and for PhD students looking to refresh their knowledge.
Qualitative Research and Its Use in Sport and Physical Activity
The Main Characteristics of Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research in Sport and Physical Activity

Ethical Considerations in Research
Recruiting Participants

Informed Consent

Confidentiality and Anonymity

Avoiding Harm

Developing the Research Question and Writing the Proposal
The topic and Research Question

Writing the Proposal

The Role of the Literature in Qualitative Research
The Literature and the Proposal

The Literature Overview

The Inductive Approach

The Ongoing Dialogue with the Literature

Keeping Track of References

Purposive Sampling

Sampling Types

Sampling Decisions

Accessing the Sample

Referring to the Sample

Types of Interview

Variety of Interviews

Asking Questions

Interviewing Skills

The Relationship Between Interviewer and Participants

Practical Sspects of Interviewing

Potential Problems in Interviewing

Focus Groups
The Origin and Purpose of Focus Groups

Choosing the Sample: Size, Number and Composition

Conducting Focus Group Interviews

The Involvement of the Interviewer

Analysing Focus Group Data

Ethical Issues

Advantages and Limitations of Focus Groups

Participant Observation
The research Setting

Types of Observation

Getting Started

Keeping a Record

Using Documentary Sources of Data

Problematic Issues

Grounded Theory
The Origins of Grounded Theory

The Main Elements of Grounded Theory

The Process of GT: Data Collection and Analysis

The Developing Theory

Problems in Grounded Theory


A Focus on Culture

Ethnographic Methods

Sample and Setting

The Ethnographic Record

Analysis and Interpretation

Problems in Conducting Ethnographic Research

Descriptive and Interpretive Phenomenology

Eliciting Life-World Descriptions

The Use of Bracketing and Sensitising

The Findings of Phenomenological Research


Phenomenological Interviews

Analysis in Descriptive and Hermeneutic Phenomenology

Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)


Narrative Research
Stories and Their Structure

Types of Story

The Functions of People’s Stories

Collecting Data

Narrative Analysis

The Distinctive Nature of Narrative Research

A Critique of Narrative Research

Mixed Methods Research
Adopting Mixed Methods Research

Designing Mixed Methods Research

The problems Inherent in Mixed Methods Research

Data Analysis
Managing the Data

Transcribing and Writing Memos

Data Reduction and Conceptualisation: Codes, Categories and Themes

Computer-aided Analysis of Qualitative Data

Interpreting the Data

The Quality of Qualitative Inquiry
Validity and Reliability

Alternative Criteria for Qualitative Research

How to Ensure Trustworthiness

Writing Up Qualitative Research
Writing in the First Person

The Format of the Report

Checklist Before Submission

Telling the Tale: Creativity and Originality

Publishing and Presenting the Research


This is a 'must have' book for aspiring qualitative researchers in the field of sport and physical activity. The book is well structured, providing the researcher with a step-by-step guide to the processes that need to occur to undertake methodologically sound qualitative research. It is intellectual and yet pragmatic which makes this a book that I will recommend to my PhD students and colleagues alike.
Murray Drummond
Professor in Sport, Health and Physical Education, Flinders University

This text provides students with an excellent foundation for understanding qualitative research studies and for conducting their own qualitative inquiries, in fields ranging from sport management and marketing to sport sociology and psychology.
Paul M. Pedersen
Professor and Director, Sport Management Doctoral Program, Indiana University-Bloomington

This book, whilst fairly basic, gives a good overview of qualitative research methods for sport and exercise. This works very well for this introductory research methods module.

Dr Janine Coates
School of Sport & Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University
September 14, 2016

This text provides all the relevant details our students will need when planning their research projects. The ethical considerations will be a must for them as it sets out the project in small concise steps.

Mr Andy Petch
School of Sport, New college Pontefract
May 27, 2016

wonderful book. Focuses on an interesting angles

Dr Ilan Tamir
school of communication, Bar-Ilan University
September 29, 2015

A useful text that provides learners with relevant information when starting a research project. Further reading would be recommended to explore factors in greater depth. However much of the content is subject specific allowing readers to apply to there own research project.

Mr Mark Treagust
Dept of Applied Health Sciences, Farnborough College of Technology
March 23, 2015

Very useful book.
Split in to easily manageable sections.
The students comment it helps them in their assignments.

Mr Stuart Priestley
Sport, Myerscough College
January 7, 2015

I have given this book as good overview on Qualitative research methods for students during their independent studies. It allows them to consider the type of methods available to them when making decisions on their research methodology.

Mr Peter Gilliver
Outdoor, Countryside, adventure and ecotourism, University of Derby, Buxton
November 18, 2014

I would recommend this text to students searching for a comprehensive overview of appropriate techniques to qualitative research from all levels of degree study. Especially useful for independent projects, a good read.

Mr Mark Treagust
Dept of Applied Health Sciences, Farnborough College of Technology
October 28, 2014

Really interesting, clear and structured nicely. Will be informing the library to acquire a copy.

Dr Adam Benkwitz
Sport and Physical Activity Quality Group, University of Cumbria
October 7, 2014

This is a useful text in addition to other Research Methods texts. Offers expertise and good views on Qualitative Research as well as providing learners with an alternative angle from which to understand the topic. Excellent to use for further reading due to the plethora of references throughout the text.

Mr John Harrison
Care, Sport and Leisure, Tyne Metro College
July 10, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Ian Jones

Ian Jones is the Head of the Department of Sport and Physical Activity/Associate Professor in Sport at Bournemouth University.  More About Author

Lorraine Brown

Dr Lorraine Brown is Associate Professor in Qualitative Methodology at Bournemouth University. More About Author

Immy Holloway

Immy Holloway teaches Qualitative Methodology at the University of Bournemouth.  More About Author

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