The familiarization study in qualitative research: From theory to practice
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Working Paper Series 05:01
This paper seeks to bridge a perceived gap in the literature on the methodology of qualitative research. The audience in mind are business and management students who are required to carry out field research as a part of their masters or doctoral degrees. After submitting a research proposal or candidacy, which sets out the research strategy in broad terms, students are characteristically faced with field work involving the collection of data from participants or respondents. Whatever thought and planning has been given to interviewing and questionnaires in theory, it is a necessity in qualitative research to adapt to the situation on the ground which is unique for every research.The paper argues that this situation is not specifically addressed in the qualitative research literature. This activity is termed a ?Familiarization Study?. The elements of a familiarization study ? procedures, content and theories ? are discussed. The paper concludes with two cases of a familiarization study as a part of doctoral research. In the first case familiarisation focussed on the necessity for the research to interview in an unfamiliar and potentially hostile environment. The second case the researcher was faced with the task of developing practical procedures for the collection of data according to the exacting protocols of the discourse research method known as conversation analysis.
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