I'm hoping someone can help with some references that i can use to "justify" or "defend" a small number of research participants in a qualitative PhD.
I'm sure this must be a regular occurrence but despite a good google, can i find anything? (down)
Be v. grateful for your help. Thanks
are your participants of a particular type?
There must be something in Cassell and Symon's book about this. I have a pdf copy if you need it.
======= Date Modified 13 Oct 2010 18:41:19 =======
They are all in a certain type of occupational field, yes.
I referred to the Cassell book in my work already along with other generic references ie Patton who says size doesn't matter, Denzin and Lincoln etc. I guess what i'm looking for is big name studies that have "only" used small sample sizes.
be great to say, for example Mrs Bigg did this, Mr Important did that.
i'll carry on looking there must be some... must be
My research is all qualitative and there are some good books on it out there. I don't know what method you are using or what field you are in, but 'Introducing Qualitative Research in Psychology: Adventures in theory and method' by Carla Willig is very good (or anything else by her), as well as 'An Introduction to Qualitative Research' by Uwe Flick. Good luck!
Are you able to share info on the particular methods you used within your qualitative approach? That could be another avenue to go down. Citing papers in your field with the same method (and similar small sample sizes) could be an additional way to support the choices you made - supported by the wider methodology references being discussed here.
You mention 'defending' your choices but I think smaller samples are (in general) taken for granted in a qualitative approach and I think it may as easily be the method - as opposed to a quals / guants distinction - that justifies that.
Hope that makes sense and doesn't sound like I am being too picky :$
This is a good section in a nice book on sample sizes for qualitative research...
thanks for all the replies.
15 participants, purposeful sampling of employees in a specific field. Average of 1 hrs 30mins interviews - so lots of data, i'm happy that saturation point was reached. "just" need to firm it up a bit.
I'll have a look at the links. i've been skimming through journals in my field tonight and have found one or two studies with similar samples.. so i'm getting there. No Mrs Bigg yet though.
You need to think about why sample size "matters" ( or not). Sample size is used to show that the data is representational of a certain group, and that there is sufficient statistical validity in the results--to show reliability and validity. ie, how do you defend the outcomes of the research. However, that is often the way that quantitative, not qualitative, methods demonstrate the qualities of reliability and validity. There are parallel measures in other kinds of quals methods---depends on the method you used. If your sample size is not meant to bring up a representational result, then say so upfront in your discussion of the results, and explain what the intention of the interviews was, as well as how you defend the outcomes ( if not reliability and validity, use the alternate measures)--and in your discussion give a great deal of detail on how you actually employed the methodology. Its not enough to say "I did such and such"--you need to show through discussion, charts, graphs, etc, how you used the methodology--as in the end, this is how the value of research is judged, and something examiners will certainly be looking for. I hope that helps.
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