I found a few qualitative psychology Masters theses online (see below) but PhD theses and undergraduate dissertations seem more available electronically (I’ve also included some examples of each below). Perhaps there is gap for an online hub of Masters projects? If you know of one, I’d love to hear about it.
If you choose to take on a quantitative dissertation, go to the part of Lærd Dissertation now. You will learn more about the characteristics of quantitative dissertations, as well as being able to choose between the three classic routes that are pursued in quantitative research: replication-based studies, theory-driven research and data-driven dissertations. Upon choosing your route, the part of Lærd Dissertation will help guide you through these routes, from topic idea to completed dissertation, as well as showing you how to write up quantitative dissertations.
Another source of information that can be invaluable to qualitative researchers is analysis of documents. Such documents might include official records, letters, newspaper accounts, diaries, and reports, as well as the published data used in a review of literature. In his study of technology teachers in training, Hansen ( ) analyzed journal entries and memos written by participants, in addition to interviews. Hoepfl ( ), in her study of closure of technology teacher education programs, used newspaper reports, university policy documents, and department self-evaluation data, where available, to supplement data gained through interviews.
There are some specialized forms of qualitative research which rely solely on analysis of documents. For example, Gagel ( ) used a process known as to investigate the literature on both literacy and technology. Patton ( ) provides a good overview of the various theoretical orientations that inform the "rich menu of alternative possibilities within qualitative research" (p. 65).
They follow an emergent design, meaning that the research process, and sometimes even the qualitative research questions that you tackle, often evolve during the dissertation process.
The decision to use qualitative methodologies should be considered carefully; by its very nature, qualitative research can be emotionally taxing and extraordinarily time consuming. At the same time, it can yield rich information not obtainable through statistical sampling techniques.
With regard to objectivity in qualitative research, it may be useful to turn to Phillips ( ), who questions whether there is really much difference between quantitative and qualitative research:
Conventional wisdom says that research which relies on quantitative measures to define a situation is relatively value-free, and therefore objective. Qualitative research, which relies on interpretations and is admittedly value-bound, is considered to be subjective. In the world of conventional research, subjectivity leads to results that are both unreliable and invalid. There are many researchers, however, who call into question the true objectivity of statistical measures and, indeed, the possibility of ever attaining pure objectivity at all ( ).
Nevertheless, Lincoln and Guba do propose one measure which might enhance the dependability of qualitative research. That is the use of an "inquiry audit," in which reviewers examine both the process and the product of the research for consistency ( ).
Kirk and Miller ( ) identify three types of reliability referred to in conventional research, which relate to: 1) the degree to which a measurement, given repeatedly, remains the same; 2) the stability of ameasurement over time; and 3) the similarity of measurements within a given time period ( ). They note that "issues of reliability have received little attention" from qualitative researchers, who have instead focused on achieving greater validity in their work (p. 42). Although they give several examples of how reliability might be viewed in qualitative work, the essence of these examples can be summed up in the following statement by Lincoln and Guba ( ): "Since there can be no validity without reliability (and thus no credibility without dependability), a demonstration of the former is sufficient to establish the latter" (p. 316).
The aims of the assignment are:
• to familiarise yourself with the use of a qualitative method (in this case interviewing) for both data production and data analysis
• to develop your research interviewing and transcription skills
• to promote reflection on the process of doing qualitative research.
The assignment task is to use a semi-structuredor an unstructured interview process to discover your interviewee’s views and perspectives on the subject of their reflections on living in Lincoln as an international student.
The first assignment is to produce a research report (max. 3000 words) based on an analysis of qualitative data you will each collect by undertaking an interview. Your task is to conduct an interview, record it, transcribe a sample of your recordings, undertake some initial analysis of the content of the conversation and reflect on the process of collecting data this way. It is expected you will support this using insights gained by your wider reading on the subject of qualitative interviewing.
Smith and Heshusius ( ) sharply criticize those writers, like Lincoln and Guba, who they believe have adopted a stance of "detente" with rationalists. They are particularly incensed by Lincoln and Guba's use of "comparable criteria," which to their eyes look little different than the conventional criteria they supposedly replace. In either case, there must be a "belief in the assumption that what is known-be it an existent reality or an interpreted reality-stands independent of the inquirer and can be described without distortion by the inquirer" (p. 6). Smith and Heshusius claim that naturalistic research can offer only an "interpretation of the interpretations of others, " and that to assume an independent reality is "unacceptable" for the qualitative researcher (p. 9).