Student Review: Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology: Combining Core Approaches

November 3, 2011

Author: Nollaig Frost

Edition: First

Publisher: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill Education

Pages: 384

Price: £70.00 and £26.99

ISBN 9780335241507, 41514 and 41521 (e-book)

A text on research methods seldom makes an exciting read. The contributors to this volume, however, draw on interesting examples and make the process relatively appealing. The focus of the book's first part is on four qualitative approaches: grounded theory, interpretative phenomenological analysis, discourse analysis and narrative analysis. The authors provide a good overview of the history, development and applications of each tradition.

In part two, the book explores pluralistic approaches, guiding the reader through ways of combining different methods of qualitative research. Each stage is systematically unpacked: from choosing an appropriate mixed-methods approach, to implementing it and writing it up. The researcher is urged to assess each method closely and carefully, and consider critically how they may complement each other. The volume shows clearly how different methodological and analytical styles can generate distinct interpretations of the data.

Nevertheless, I have a couple of caveats. In part one, issues (regarding ethics, recruitment and data management, for example) arising from the use of one approach may also be relevant to others, and this is not always flagged up. This is potentially problematic given that most students, I suspect, will simply dip in and out of the book in an effort to expand their knowledge of particular areas. Getting the right balance between the general and the specific in a textbook is always tricky, but in this case readers are likely to require some prior knowledge of qualitative research if they are to avoid confusion and potential misinterpretation.

More generally, although Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology reads well on the whole, it occasionally employs terms that may be unfamiliar to undergraduate students (such as ethnography, hermeneutics and ontology). Researchers must become familiar with these concepts, but some further introduction and elucidation is perhaps warranted. That said, the concise glossary is helpful.

This text will be useful to psychology students, but more experienced researchers will also gain from its in-depth examination of qualitative methodologies - in particular, those who wish to undertake a pluralistic approach.

For complete novices, something a little more general might be appropriate before moving on to this more complex text.

Who is it for? Psychology students with some prior knowledge of qualitative research methods.

Presentation: Clear and consistent.

Would you recommend it? Yes; to students wanting to further their knowledge of qualitative research methods, particularly with regard to pluralistic approaches.

Highly recommended

Positive Psychology: Theory, Research and Applications

Authors: Kate Hefferon and Ilona Boniwell

Edition: First

Publisher: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill

Pages: 288

Price: £24.99

ISBN 9780335241958

Recommended

Introduction to Applied Psychology

Author: Graham Davey

Edition: First

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Pages: 692

Price: £34.99

ISBN 9781444331219

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry