Conceptualizing a Qualitative Research Question

Good research is driven by the synthesis of one’s passion or interest with a topic that has been under-studied in the professional literature. Out of that synthesis emerges a gap—an area in need of further study that is consistent with your interests—that defines the research problem. Clarifying the research problem takes time, effort, and thought.

Once you have developed your research problem, the research purpose and research question become self-evident.

What also becomes evident is your position with respect to the topic, the question, and what you hope to find. Qualitative research recognizes that the research “space” is shaped by both the participants and the researcher.

… the identities of both researcher and participants have the potential to impact the research process. Identities come into play via our perceptions, not only of others, but of the ways in which we expect others will perceive us. Our own biases shape the research process, serving as checkpoints along the way. Through recognition of our biases, we presume to gain insights into how we might approach a research setting, members of particular groups, and how we might seek to engage with participants (Bourke, 2014, p. 1).

For this Discussion, you will examine a research question based on the purpose for inquiry, a rationale for the study, and issues of positionality.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Consider the research topic you are developing for your Major Assignment 1.
  • Review Chapter 3 of the Ravitch and Carl text and use Table 3.1, page 69 to help you create a rationale using the questions as your guide.
  • Review Chapter 3 of the Ravitch and Carl text and specifically use pages 70–76 to create a positionality memo to reflect on your relationship to the topic.
  • Review the Fundamentals of Qualitative Research Methods: Developing a Qualitative Research Question media program as a guideline to help you create a research question.

By Day 3

Transform your notes from your preparation work into four paragraphs and briefly explain in your post the following:

  1. The research purpose of your inquiry
  2. The rationale
  3. Issues of positionality
  4. The research question


Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Qualitative research: Bridging the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

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