III. THE DATA AND THE TREATMENT OF THE DATA
1. The Data Needed
This study intends meeting the intellectual, knowledge level, and abilities of the United States military chaplain corps in their diagnostic and treatment of those afflicted with combat related stress. The target population for the proposed study, thus, consists of two sample groups; (1) military chaplains, and; (2) members of the uniformed services who have served in hostile environments subjecting them to possible stress related (Unwin, Blatchley et al., 1999).
2. Data Collection
Understanding the intrinsic value of the empirical characteristics of qualitative research is core to its philosophical underpinnings fitting into the intention of this study. Through empirical methodologies, qualitative research permits interpretation of constructs of social reality and exploration of first-hand experiences of research participants forming the philosophical underpinnings of this research methodology (Booker, 2009, 389+). Within this framework are the influences on social science open-ended research questions as they align with the intent of the study for outcome data gathering. This paper further discusses these items and provides an example of how these philosophical underpinnings apply to a specific research design and methodology.
According to Booker (2009), “theoretical underpinnings” of qualitative research in researching and interpreting individual participation using empirical research methodology includes study tools of interviewing and observation. Her tenet as a teacher means assuring instruction of qualitative research has a philosophical framework of why and how qualitative research contributes to the study findings as equally as quantitative data (p 389+). In addition, according to Onwuegbuzie, Leech, Slate, Stark, Sharma, Frels, Harris, and Coombs (2012) philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research seeks data from such sources as “interviews, focus groups, surveys, observations, personal journals, diaries/memos, permanent records, transcription of meetings, photographs, audiovisual material, pictures, paintings, and field notes (p 16+)”.
Booker (2009), as a teacher of qualitative research finds instilling the why and how importance of this type of data gathering tool is sometimes an uphill challenge even with her under and graduate students. To this end, Booker explains thinking in terms of “qualitatively” assists in overcoming what she interprets as a “resistance”. Her challenge to teach the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research with its value to the social sciences and in particular educational research involves instruction of the changing nature of educational research using qualitative theories focusing on learner-centered instruction (p 389+).
Remaining true to the spirit and intentions of this study relates to qualitative research philosophical underpinnings influencing social science research. At the same time, this type methodology specifically affects research questions, data collection approaches, and data analysis according to Booker (2009) in the social science field of psychology. From their own experiences, participants of qualitative research engage in proactive input guided by its philosophical underpinnings for obtaining socially pertinent first-hand information relating to the thesis. This provides how the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research in the social sciences create pertinent questions for interviews, questionnaires, and other personal feedback of participants according to the type of data sought (p 389+).
In her professional experience Booker (2009) educational research – incorporates “approaches of phenomenology, critical race theory, feminist theory, grounded theory, and the case study approach”. These hold to the intrinsic value of the empirical characteristics of qualitative research permitting interpretation of constructs of social reality and exploration of first-hand experiences of research participants alongside the hard numbers/statistics provided through quantitative research data (p 389+).
Using the qualitative methodology of the phenomenology field shows the shift in education embracing the “philosophical focus on the individual” learner experience providing “in-depth description”. In this, Booker (2009) explains creating “significant and valid theories of learning and development” arise from this philosophical underpinning of qualitative research by incorporating use of “smaller scale observations and interviews” as a qualitative methodology. Booker incorporates the validity of qualitative research philosophy through learning from case studies (p 389+).
Walsh-Bowers (2002) conducted qualitative research using the methodology focusing on student and faculty participants as researchers in the field of psychology. Using interview feedback asking faculty participants describe “past and present research experience; how contextual features of the research relationship impinged upon their work; and their opinions concerning the potential for alternative methods, research relationships, and scientific-writing styles to gain legitimacy in the discipline (p 163+)”.
His student participants’ open-ended qualitative interview questions included “how they learned to do research with humans and to write scientifically. In addition, he asked “what exposure they had to alternative methods (e.g., QR) and to complementary writing styles, and what they believed needed to change in psychology, if anything, to legitimize these alternative approaches to research conduct and report-writing (Walsh-Bowers, 2002, p 163+)”.
Clearly, this example of qualitative philosophical underpinnings in a case study shows in Walsh-Bowers own definition is a process “characterized by inductive, flexible exploration of the phenomena of interest by which the investigator seeks to understand rather than predict and control these phenomena; careful attention to the quality of research relationships”. Within the framework of his focus, the feedback provided how “the inter-subjective nature of investigative processes; and cultivation of multiple and partial interpretations” affect the qualitative data gathering (Walsh-Brown, 2002, p 163+).
A phenomenological study is the most viable for this research with implementation in three stages, including a pretest, in-depth structured interviews, and a follow-up after analyzing the collected data conducting the pretest using an electronic questionnaire format of open-ended qualitative style questions. For security purposes, and to ensure confidentiality, participants will receive an individualized password to access the survey. Results of the survey will be sent directly to the researcher for analysis and thus not be posted anywhere on the site.
Conducting the follow-up of the participants will take place via telephone interviews and email correspondence. The researcher will also gather secondary data and collate published studies from various peer-reviewed journals. Noy (2011) adds, the phone follow up is not easily ignored by the respondents in the qualitative methodology of data gathering even to the extent of emails potentially ignored. In the phone conversation, the interviewer has “the opportunity to make a pitch tailored to your potential respondent, as well as to develop a personal connection”. In addition, Noy explains how phone interviews provide time saving methodology over meeting participants in person. The most important stage of the research endeavor is ensuring the validity of the accumulated data (Foss & Ellefsen, 2002).
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