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Chapter 3

Research Approach, Design, and Analysis

Developing the Qualitative Research Design

There are various qualitative designs: case study, action research, ethnography, evaluative, interpretive description, grounded theory, narrative, phenomenology, and photovoice/visual.

Qualitative Research: Target Population, Sampling Frame, and Sample

The Target Population.

The target population is the population that the sample will be drawn from. It is all individuals who possess the desired characteristics (inclusion criteria) to participate in the dissertation.

The sampling design represents the plan for obtaining a sample from the target population. A sampling frame can be employed to identify participants and can provide access to the population for recruitment of the sample.

The Sampling Frame.

To identify all individuals in the dissertation population a sampling frame is identified and provides access to the population for recruitment of sample. Review Trochim's Knowledge Base at for more information. 

Exercise #1

Use the script below by replacing the italicized text with the appropriate information to state the study population.

"The study population for the proposed study is comprised of all (individuals with relevant characteristics), within (describe the sampling frame)."  

The Study Sample.

The study sample is a subset of the target population, which possesses the appropriate characteristics for the proposed study. Potential participants are then screened based on inclusion/exclusion criteria, and if met are then recruited into the sample. Review Trochim's Knowledge Base at for more information.

Exercise #2

Use the script below to state the sample.

"(sampling method) will be used to obtain (sample number) participants that meet the following inclusion criteria (list relevant characteristics needed to participate)."

Script for Purpose Statement in Qualitative Methodology

Creswell (2003) advised the following script for purpose statements in qualitative methodology:

“The purpose of this qualitative_________________ (strategy of inquiry, such as ethnography, case study, or other type) study is (was? will be?) to ________________ (understand? describe? develop? discover?) the _________________(central phenomenon being studied) for ______________ (the participants, such as the individual, groups, organization) at __________(site). At this stage in the project, the __________ (central phenomenon being studied) will be generally defined as ___________________ (provide a general definition)” (pg. 90).



Creswell, J. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (2nd ed.).  SAGE Publications.

Field Testing

What is field testing?  

  • Field testing is a process used to get expert feedback on a survey/questionnaire. 

How can it be done?  

  • Field tests involve asking peers or colleagues in your field of research for feedback and input regarding a proposed research instrument or tool while you are still developing the study. They do not require IRB approval, as they do not involve collecting data.  

Steps to initiate the process: 

  • This is not a formal process; you can simply email two to three professionals in your field and ask if they will look at your survey for you. They do not complete the survey. They provide feedback on whether the questions make sense, and it is clear, etc. Think of it as a peer review process.