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Data collection process in qualitative research: Challenges and potential solutions


1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission06-Nov-2021
Date of Decision31-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance08-Jan-2022

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava,
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth - Deemed to be University, Thiruporur . Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpattu - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_871_21

  Abstract 


Qualitative research in the field of public health and medical education has immense scope and potential considering the richness of information that it adds to the existing literature. We completely acknowledge the in-depth information and the variety of viewpoints that qualitative research methodologies add to the existing pool of information, but the process of data collection has many challenges, which need to be appropriately addressed to enhance the overall quality of data. These challenges include investigator‒participant rapport, participant attributes, researcher attributes, and administrative and logistics constraints. To summarize, the conclusion in qualitative research immensely depends on the process of data collection, and thus it is very much important that all specific steps are taken to overcome these challenges and thereby produce meaningful and evidence-based inferences.

Keywords: Participants, qualitative research, researcher



How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Data collection process in qualitative research: Challenges and potential solutions. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2022 Dec 6]. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=339736




  Introduction Top


Qualitative research in the field of public health and medical education has immense scope and potential considering the richness of information that it adds to the existing literature.[1] Although quantitative research has not gained similar popularity as quantitative research, nevertheless it is definitely gaining popularity owing to the adoption of these methodologies by a number of researchers. Further, due to the availability of a wide range of methods, such as qualitative surveys, focus group discussion, in-depth interviews, key informant interviews, participant or nonparticipant observation, etc., for collecting data, the qualitative research methodology has attracted lots of attention.[1],[2],[3]

Focus group discussion is one of the most widely used qualitative research methods, wherein a small number (8–12 participants) of demographically similar people who are quite vocal and have common traits are invited to share their views on a specific topic to get an in-depth understanding. In-depth interviews are one-to-one interviews of a person by the research investigator and are being mainly employed to obtain data about sensitive topics that cannot be discussed in group settings. Key informant interview is also a one-to-one interview of a person and quite similar to in-depth interviews, just that in key informant interviews, the researcher aims to obtain information from a person who occupies a key position in the society (such as a priest, panchayat leader, etc.) or organization (like the Dean or Medical Superintendent, etc.). Observations are another qualitative research method, wherein the researcher can either become part of the discussion by actively being involved (participant observation) or by just being present and observing the ongoing discussions (nonparticipant observation).[3],[4],[5] Each of these methods has their pros and cons, and it depends on the researcher as well as the nature of the research question to select the most appropriate method for data collection.[2],[3],[4],[5]


  Challenges in Data Collection Top


We completely acknowledge the in-depth information and the variety of viewpoints that qualitative research methodologies add to the existing pool of information, but the process of data collection has many challenges, which need to be appropriately addressed to enhance the overall quality of data.[2],[3],[4] These challenges and the potential strategies to overcome the same have been mentioned below [Table 1].[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]
Table 1: Identified challenges and potential solutions

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Investigator‒participant rapport

The richness of the collected information is significantly influenced by the nature of partnership/rapport between the investigator and the study participants. All these identified challenges can be targeted by careful planning and understanding the study participants and their needs well in advance, and this can definitely be accomplished by spending some time with the study population prior.[2],[3],[4]

Participant attributes

There are no doubts that every person has their own commitment to fulfill and thus it becomes the responsibility of the investigator to look for the convenience of the participant so that the desired details can be obtained.[4],[5],[6]

Researcher attributes

The success of the data collection process is significantly determined by the researcher, their competence levels, and the ability to establish rapport with the participants. The researcher has to keep in mind a number of small things, which can make the process of data collection simple and feasible.[3],[4],[5]

Administrative and logistics constraints

A wide range of administrative or logistic concerns can interfere with the process of data collection in qualitative research, and thus it is vital to be aware of them and take necessary measures to prevent them.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]


  Conclusion Top


To summarize, the conclusion in qualitative research immensely depends on the process of data collection, and thus it is very much important that all specific steps are taken to overcome these challenges and thereby produce meaningful and evidence-based inferences.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Cypress BS. Qualitative research: Challenges and dilemmas. Dimens Crit Care Nurs 2019;38:264-70.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Mohammed MA, Moles RJ, Chen TF. Meta-synthesis of qualitative research: The challenges and opportunities. Int J Clin Pharm 2016;38:695-704.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Rimando M, Brace AM, Namageyo-Funa A, Parr TL, Sealy DA, Davis TL, et al. Data collection challenges and recommendations for early career researchers. Qual Rep 2015;20:2025-36.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Banerjee SC, Manna R, Coyle N, Shen MJ, Pehrson C, Zaider T, et al. Oncology nurses' communication challenges with patients and families: A qualitative study. Nurse Educ Pract 2016;16:193-201.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Khankeh H, Ranjbar M, Khorasani-Zavareh D, Zargham-Boroujeni A, Johansson E. Challenges in conducting qualitative research in health: A conceptual paper. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2015;20:635-41.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Irani E. The use of videoconferencing for qualitative interviewing: Opportunities, challenges, and considerations. Clin Nurs Res 2019;28:3-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Love B, Henderson J, Johnson A, Stephens-Lewis D, Gadd D, Radcliffe P, et al. The challenges of conducting qualitative research on “couples” in abusive intimate partner relationships involving substance use. Qual Health Res 2021;31:767-77.  Back to cited text no. 7
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1]



 

 
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