Sarah elsie baker middlesex university

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Sarah Elsie Baker, Middlesex University. Rosalind Edwards, NCRM, University of Southampton Introduction by Sarah Elsie Baker and Rosalind Edwards. sampling and cases in qualitative research Sarah Elsie Baker, Middlesex University. Rosalind Edwards, NCRM, University of Southampton. 1 How many. sarah elsie baker middlesex university Before she moved to New Zealand, she lectured in media and cultural studies at Middlesex University and the University​.

sampling and cases in qualitative research Sarah Elsie Baker, Middlesex University. Rosalind Edwards, NCRM, University of Southampton. 1 How many. Sarah Elsie Baker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Coordinator at Media and cultural studies at Middlesex University and the University of East London. Baker, Sarah Elsie and Edwards, Rosalind () How many qualitative interviews is enough. Discussion Paper. NCRM. (Unpublished).

Sarah Elsie Baker from Middlesex University and Rosalind Edwards from NCRM decided to tackle this subject and produced a paper How many qualitative. Andrea Abbas University of Teesside Lisa Adkins University of Newcastle, University Sarah Elsie Baker Middlesex University Anna Barford University of. Sarah Elsie Baker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Coordinator at Media and cultural studies at Middlesex University and the University of East London.

She also worked in middlesex marketing and was involved sarah a number of major exhibitions baker the Baker Gallery, London. Sarah Elsie Baker sarah elsie baker middlesex university. Expert voices and early career reflections on sampling middlesex cases in qualitative research Sarah Elsie Baker, Middlesex University Rosalind Edwards, NCRM, University of University Abstract Baker conducting a piece of elsie research frequently ask how many interviews is enough?

We hoped that the paper would be popular, university were surprised to observe just how well it took off on Twitter. Through knowledge and practices they change the value of items from Students conducting a piece of qualitative research frequently ask how many interviews is enough? Early career researchers and established academics also consider this question when designing research projects.

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This includes advice about assessing research aims and objectives, validity within epistemic communities and available time and resources. Downloads from ePrints over the past year.

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How many qualitative interviews is enough? We hoped that the paper would be popular, but were surprised to observe just how well it took off on Twitter. Not the Magners variety, mind you, but a local brew thatll put hairs on your chest. If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice.

Simply select your manager software from the list below and click on download. Lester V. Such a case can turn out, often for theoretical reasons, to be central to the analysis. For me, the most important issue in deciding how many qualitative interviews are enough concerns the purpose of the research — the type of research question to be addressed and the methodology it is proposed to adopt. If a decision is made to focus on one case, then so be it. It may be that this is sufficient as the case is unique and it is not comparable with other cases.

A complex case may indeed take all the resources available. If however we want to study many cases and to select purposively so that we can compare particular groups, we may have to spread the net more widely.

In The Edwardians, Paul Thompson set out to establish the key dimensions of social change in the early twentieth century and the contributions that ordinary people made to change in their everyday life.

He devised a quota sample drawn from the census totalling persons, representing six major occupational groups, though in practice the sample exceeded this number. He was able in this research to draw upon the resources of a large team of interviewers to assist him.

But in the main resources for in depth qualitative research are much more limited, even for funded research teams. If a case study design is chosen for a study the case may include many persons. Here cases must be systematically selected based upon a sociological logic see Brannen and Nilsen Cases are not only selected for the purposes of interview but also, most importantly, for the purposes of comparison in the analysis.

We must select cases which are not only relevant to specific research questions but should seek out those cases that are likely to prove our assumptions wrong in the analysis. In addition, it is worth bearing in mind that not all cases can be presented in the final presentation of the work. Here transparency and rigour are equally important, as in the recruitment of the sample and in carrying out analysis.

While on the one hand, more cases to analyse and choose from may be preferable, this is counterbalanced by the sheer size of the task. In addition, the process of increasing the size of the sample may not increase the opportunity for addressing biases in the sample, for example the methods may not succeed in targeting the difficult to reach. References Brannen, J. London: Tavistock.

Brannen, J. London: Unwin Hyman. Thompson, P. It reflects the fact that there is little definitive and unambiguous guidance in the qualitative research community regarding how large a sample should be.

In both my book on social research methods Bryman and in offering guidance to students, I tend to prefer to point to a number of factors they should consider see also Morse I know this tactic is sometimes disappointing to students, but given the lack of agreement on this issue among practitioners and methodologists, it is the only responsible guidance that can be supplied.

In this short note, I will refer to five factors. First, there is the issue of saturation. There, theoretical saturation is described as a process in which the researcher continues to sample relevant cases until no new theoretical insights are being gleaned from the data. Once saturation is achieved, the researcher would move on to a research question arising from the data collected and then sampling theoretically in relation to that question.

Such an approach to sampling is very demanding because it forces the researcher to combine sampling, data collection, and data analysis, rather than treating them as separate stages in a linear process. It also means that the researcher cannot possibly know at the outset how many cases he or she will need to collect data from, which causes problems when trying to formulate a research proposal or plan or when creating a budget. It is probably this pressure on the researcher that results in the common observation that saturation is often claimed when there is little evidence that it has been employed as a criterion for deciding when to stop sampling Bryman ; Guest et al.

Guest et al. This might appear quite a low figure but the sample was quite homogeneous women at high risk of HIV and the research was tightly focused on how the women discussed sex. Further, there have been few guidelines on how to establish whether one has in fact achieved saturation.

Bowen et al. They propose two stages which they employed in relation to two health-related projects: an initial sample of around ten cases followed by a further three cases to determine if any new themes emerge. This criterion is consistent with the findings of Guest et al.

A second factor is that it is sometimes suggested that there are minimum requirements for sample size in qualitative studies. Contrasting these figures versus strongly suggests that there is quite a lot of variety in what is believed to be the minimum requirement, so that it is unsurprising to find that actual sample sizes vary considerable in qualitative research.

For example, Mason reports that when he looked at the abstracts of doctoral thesis abstracts relating to interview-based qualitative studies in Great Britain and Ireland, he found that the range was 1 to 95 the mean was 31 and the median Mason also refers to an online article the link no longer works and I was unable to track it down which examined 50 articles based on grounded theory and found sample sizes to vary between 5 and see Bryman for more information.

Moreover, it is likely that what these figures conceal is that sample sizes will be significantly influenced by a third influence on sample size — the style or theoretical underpinnings of the study. Life story research or a study based on Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis is likely to entail a much smaller sample size because of the fine-grained analysis that is often involved.

What is almost certainly crucial is that the researcher must be prepared to justify the sample size with which he or she has ended up. A fourth factor that is likely to influence sample size is the heterogeneity of the population from which the sample is drawn. For some research questions, the population may be quite heterogeneous with a good deal of sub-group variability.

It is possible, if not likely, that a researcher will want to capture at least some of this variability in view of the likelihood that it will be associated with significant variability in experiences and world views of participants. Fifth and finally, the breadth and scope of research questions vary quite a lot in qualitative research and this too is likely to influence sample size. A fairly narrow research focus like the one involved in the research by Guest et al.

However, breadth and scope are not entirely objective attributes of a research focus, so there is likely to be some disagreement about appropriate sample sizes along this dimension. In this brief commentary, I have tried to sketch some considerations that might be taken into account when contemplating sample size for a qualitative study. I am aware that for some readers it may be a frustrating account, but it is better to give a candid point of view than provide numerical or other guidelines which are contentious and therefore likely to be misleading.

The five factors that I have mentioned can be used to springboards for thinking about and justifying sample size. The other crucial issue to bear in mind is not to make inappropriate inferences from the kind and size of sample you end up with Bryman ; Onwugbuzie and Leech References Bryman, A.

Oxford: Oxford University Press. Butler, T. Francis, J. Gerson, K. May ed. London: Sage. Glaser, B. Chicago: Aldine. Guest, G.

Mason, M. Morse, J. Warren, C. Gubrium and J. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Second, the question presupposes that experts can specify a concrete number of interviews and third, that they would agree on the same concrete number. All three presuppositions are problematic. Forming any answer to the question is more complex than it seems and raises a series of related questions. Fundamental questions about epistemology must be addressed.

What do you seek to know? What do you need to learn? How can interviews inform these questions? A paradox arises: you may not know what you need to find out until you grapple with analyzing your data. Important foci often remain implicit. Planning solid interview studies entails allowing for following emergent ideas and directions. A standard answer to the question of how many interviews is that it depends on your research purpose.

Might you have multiple purposes that complement or supersede your research purpose? Do you intend to meet a course or doctoral requirement and later present and publish papers from your study?

What are the norms of your discipline? Are you aiming for credibility within or across disciplines and professions? The number of interviews depends on the analytic level to which the researcher aspires as well as these purposes. When researchers pursue straightforward research questions to resolve problems in local practice in applied fields, a small number of interviews may be enough.

Guest, Bunce, and Johnson attempted to answer the question about how many interviews researchers particularly those in applied fields needed by conducting an experiment using their codebooks from an earlier qualitative interview study.

They aimed to discover the point in data collection and analysis when new data does not alter themes in the code book. Guest, Bunce, and Johnson argue that twelve interviews suffice for most researchers when they aim to discern themes concerning common views and experiences among relatively homogeneous people.

Twelve interviews may generate themes but not command respect. Numerous thematic studies involve synthesizing data and sorting them into recognizable general categories. Subsequently such studies remain descriptive. Heterogeneity among the research participants, variation of experience and circumstance, comparative analytic methods, and development of an abstract conceptual analysis of the data all point to expanding the number of interviews. The nature of the research topic can also foster increasing the number of interviews.

Opening secrets, silences, and liminal spaces likely increase the number of interviews needed, as does studying an area which does not come equipped with a widely-shared language. Researchers sometimes claim that their method of choice such as discourse analysis or narrative inquiry leads to a small number of interviews. They reason that the intense scrutiny entailed in using this method precludes conducting a large number of interviews.

Rationalization may serve as reason here. Similarly, some researchers mistake the efficiency of grounded theory as reason to shortcut data collection.

Grounded theory is efficient but that does not mean a handful of interviews produces a respectable study. Conversely, having a substantial amount of data does not guarantee an original contribution.

Is it? Not always. Sometimes researchers do not give themselves credit for observational, archival, and documentary research that they have done. Mixed qualitative methods can strengthen a study with a small number of interviews. A very small sample can produce a study with depth and significance depending on the initial and emergent research questions and how the researcher conducted the study and constructed the analysis.

In his classic study, Edward Speedling studied eight married men who had had heart attacks. The small sample belies a large effort. If you conduct a study that relies only on interviews, the following guidelines may help. Increase your number of interviews when you: 1 pursue a controversial topic, 2 anticipate or discover surprising or provocative findings, 3 construct complex conceptual analyses, and 4 seek professional credibility.

In short, my advice is to learn what constitutes excellence rather than adequacy in your field—and beyond, if your project portends of having larger import—and conduct as many interviews as needed to achieve it. References Guest, G. Field Methods, 18, Speedling, E. New York: Tavistock. The answer to this question, following Psathas , p. How many interviews are enough? An analogy may help. In discourse analysis "no utterance is representative of other utterances, though of course it shares structural features with them; a discourse analyst studies utterances in order to understand how the potential of the linguistic system can be activated when it intersects at its moment of use with a social system" Fiske, , p.

This is the argument for the method of instances. The analyst examines those moments when an utterance intersects with another utterance, giving rise to an instance of the system in action.

Psathas clarifies the meaning of an instance, "An instance of something is an occurrence An occurrence is evidence that "the machinery for its production is culturally available The analyst's task is to understand how this instance and its intersections works, to show what rules of interpretation are operating, to map and illuminate the structure of the interpretive event itself. The analyst inspects the actual course of the interaction "by observing what happens first, second, next, etc.

Questions of meaning are referred back to the actual course of interaction, where it can shown how a given utterance is acted upon and hence given meaning. The pragmatic maxim obtains here Peirce, The meaning of an action is given in the consequences that are produced by it, including the ability to explain past experience, and predict future consequences.

In the arena of an interview meaning is given in the responses one speaker-writer makes to another. Interpretation moves through two stages. In stage one the analyst examines how these meaningful utterances are directly and indirectly connected to one another as interactional accomplishments within a particular interpretive frame.

Here the focus is on the form, not the content of the event, for example the use of turn-taking, compliments and responses, greeting exchanges, closings, and so on. In stage two, the content of the event, as it operates within the interpretive frame is examined, for example a request for help within the frame of a face-to-face interview. There is an attempt to show how these occurrences in this context articulate matters of power, biography, self, gender, race, class and ethnicity.

Whether the particular utterance occurs again is irrelevant. The question of sampling from a population is also not an issue, for it is never possible to say in advance what an instance is a sample of Psathas, , p.

Indeed, collections of instances "cannot be assembled in advance of an analysis of at least one, because it cannot be known in advance what features delineate each case as a 'next one like the last'" Psathas,, p. Thus large samples are of little use until the analyst has exhausted the method of instances. This means there is little concern for empirical generalization. Psathas is clear on this point. The goal is not an abstract, or empirical generalization, rather the aim is "concerned with providing analyses that meet the criteria of unique adequacy" p.

Williamas Eds. Emotions in Social Life. London: Routledge. Denzin, Norman K. Thousand Oaks, Ca. Fiske, John. Denzin and Y. Lincoln Eds. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Pierce, Charles Sanders. Psathas, George. Conversation Analysis. It depends on how you theoretically and practically define a broad range of methodological and epistemological issues such as, for example, reliability and replicability, generalization, validity and verisimilitude, saturation, and sampling.

You need to be clear on what kind of evidence will satisfy your scholarly mentors, your colleagues, intellectual peers, and the readers who will evaluate your work. From there, you can make specific decisions about how to access, create, or shape your evidence.

This includes decisions on the appropriate number of interviews, as well as the best types of interviews, the size and diversity of the sample to provide interview data, and the ways in which you will extract meaning from and analyze those interviews e.

My response: 69 interviews with 23 couples which were carried out via 46 individual interviews, followed by 23 couple interviews. More recently, in my research project on primary caregiving fathers, I sought a fairly large and diverse sample of fathers. Initially, I thought I would include about 50 men, but I soon realized that this number did not give me the breadth I needed, so I increased it to the round number of Also, as an early career scholar, I aimed to make a more substantial contribution to the field and felt that I needed a larger range of data and evidence to do that.

As I detail in my book, Do Men Mother? These include your institutional and disciplinary location, your career stage and associated resources , and the epistemic communities who will evaluate your overall methodological approach in relation to your overall research problematic. References Doucet, A. Elgin, C. Ruggie, J. This is indeed a question that is asked so often that a standard response could seem attractive. But on what does it depend? A starting point is the research question: Is it a question asking for comparative answers with individuals or groups to be compared?

Or is the focus on a singular experience or expertise? Then a case study based on one interview can be the best way, in particular if this interview is embedded in other sorts of data about the single case. However, that may be a particular example.

From the inside of the study, it should be clarified, which dimensions are the basis for the intended comparison — gender, age, profession … — what else? My suggestion is to reflect on which of these or other dimensions should be included in the comparative structure of the study and in the sample — and which can be left out. The next step is to clarify how many cases for each dimension should be included. In my experience it is always easier to make comparisons when you have more than one case in every cell of a grid: Female and male participants in three biographical phases would mean to have six interviewees, but it would be better to have two interviews in every subgroup so that we end up with twelve interviews.

The outside determinants for defining the number of interviews are sometimes more important than those from the inside although the latter should be : How much time is given for the project? In particular student theses for obtaining a bachelor degree have often to be completed in six weeks.

This time limit defines the restriction of how many interviews in such research are possible. More than four to eight interviews then are unrealistic, if the interviews are not only to be organized and done, but also transcribed and analyzed in sufficiently systematic and comprehensive way.

Other determinants are experience with qualitative research, with finding interview partners, with transcription and with analyzing the material in the end. In general, the answer to the above question depends on several issues, which have to be balanced in finding the answer: The research question is one aspect, the accessibility of potential interviewees another and resources maybe a major aspect.

And finally the availability of potential interviewees is another context aspect. In particular when expert interviews are planned, the number of experts in the field may be very limited, so that is sometimes difficult to think of more than ten interviews.

Finally, the aspect of resources becomes relevant again, when participants are intended to be interviewed repeatedly in a longitudinal study or not only to be interviewed in a triangulation design. Both will produce limitations on the number of interview ee s that can be reasonably managed in one study.

All in all, the answer to our question is a matter of designing research. As I tried to unfold in more details elsewhere Flick , , research designing comprises more than sampling and methods. It has to do with research planning, on the level of available resources and with respect to overall ambitions with the research.

So the answer can only be: Reflect what you intend to find out and show with your interviews, put it in the context of which resources you have available for doing your research and how your interviews are embedded in the fuller outline of your study.

References: Flick, U. The answer, of course, is it depends! Researchers simply need to think carefully and critically about what the best options are in relation to specific projects and pieces of research.

The answer is that you need to think, to ask yourself difficult questions, and to work out what to do. It is possible, though, to identify some of the things that it depends upon, and hence what might need to be thought about and worked through. Here are some: What are you trying to get at? What kinds of phenomena are you exploring? What are your research questions? So you need to think through carefully what interviews would be capable of revealing about the phenomena you are interested in.