SEES 0128 UCL A Comparison of Two Qualitative Studies Essay

DescriptionQualitative Methods
General guidelines about the final assignment – TYPE 1: AN ESSAY
COMPARING TWO QUALITATIVE STUDIES
The overall aim of the essay is to critically reflect on, compare and contrast two qualitative
studies. An assessment of research can take many different elements into consideration, as the
lit of criteria listed further illustrate.
Rather than holding the selected paper against a long list of rating scales or tick boxes, you are
encouraged to develop an integrated account of the papers that is focused on a particular
methodological topic.
A good way to start is to ask yourself: how do these studies connect? How do they work
together to form a good discussion, e.g. do they illustrate contrasting perspectives on the two
research methods, different ways of employing the same method?
You can choose to include 3 papers but 2 papers (research pieces) should normally give you
sufficient material to work with.
The total number of words is 3,000 excluding references. For specific guidelines see the module
handbook.
1. Suggested template for the assignment
Introduction
(About 300 words)
Explain what the focus of the critique is, which articles or pieces of research you have chosen
and why?
Here you need to make explicit connections between the specific qualitative methods used in
the papers that you are going to explore. At this point you can identify a substantive question
that each of the two papers addressed using different/ same methods, or focus on
methodological critique per se – formulate a methodological question that is relevant to both
papers, for example:
 What are the strengths and limitation of the interview technique used by both studies?
 How can reliability and validity be assessed with regard to these specific qualitative
methods?
 What are the advantages and disadvantages of the methodological choices made by the
two studies?
Explain how you are going to structure the assignment (paper)
Positioning yourself
(About 300 words)
I would like you to be reflexive about the pieces of research you are comparing/ contrasting and
link them with your own research interests/ professional career.



What are your professional research interests?
How do you position yourself in relation to the research approaches, paradigms, and
methods of data collection and analysis?
What evaluation and comparative criteria will you apply? These criteria need to match
the focus (points and questions) you have formulated in the introduction.
Summary of the papers
(About 2×450 words or 3×300 words)
Provide full references and info about the journal or edited volume it appeared in (e.g. peer
review process? Who is the journal/ edited volume for?)
Summarize the papers/ pieces of research:
 Use your own words (you can include quotes where relevant)
 Provide all the information required for the reader to be able to follow the rest of your
essay. You need to assume that the reader has not read the paper you are reviewing.
 Try not to give away your judgment of the research in this part of the essay – leave that
for the next section.
 The following information about the papers is likely to be included here:
– Aim/ research questions/ focus
– Background context
– Research design/ data collection methods/ data
– Analysis
– Main findings and conclusions
– Ethical issues reported.
Critique of the papers
(About 900 words)
This is where you present your critical reflections on the two/three pieces of research. You could
do this for each of the two/three separately, as long as you cross-reference and draw out
similarities and differences between the papers.
Organize the critiques according to the questions and criteria you have presented in the
introduction.
Always ground your claims about the papers in your text. Cite from the papers in the
conventional way.
Always make your reasoning explicit, explain what lead you to the judgment you made. It is not
enough to simply state, e.g., ‘the methods were not appropriate’.
Implications/ Discussion
(About 300 words)
Discus what are the theoretical, practical and/or policy implications of your comparative analysis
and findings. What implications might this research have for your own professional practice?
Conclusion
(About 300 words)
Highlight the strengths and limitations of the papers with reference to the evaluation criteria
used.
Suggest how they might be improved and why.
Come to an overall judgment of each.
References
(Not within the word count)
Provide a full list of references used in the essay.
2. Some possible criteria for comparative analysis/ evaluation
(As adapted from Punch 2014: 317-324)
Please treat these as suggestions for directions along which you could look at the papers, rather
than as definitive, complete set of criteria, you need to cover
Framing of the research

Is it clear what the research question is?
Is it clear what epistemological position the research is coming from?
Is the topic and research aims clearly identified?
Is the context appropriately set?
Is it clear what contribution this research intends to make? (Has gap in the literature
been identified?)
The Methodology
– Is this paper based on original empirical research?
– Has the methodology been explained (research design, data collection and data analysis
procedures reported in sufficient detail)?
– Have ethical issues, review been taken into account?
– Is the research design appropriate for the research questions?
– Are data collection instruments appropriate for the research questions?
– Are data analysis procedures appropriate for the research questions?
The quality of narrative and representations
– Have the research questions been answered?
– Are the findings reliable?
– How much confidence do we have in these answers? Have conclusions been put
forward?
Presentation

Are the papers clear and transparent?
Is the paper readable, is the text well structured?
Is the paper suitable for its intended audience?
Were you convinced by the claims it made?
Punch, Keith (2014) Introduction to Social Research. Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches,
London: Sage

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