Interviews and Focus Groups

RCH 7302, Doctoral Writing and Inquiry Into Research 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VIII Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

6. Develop a working thesis based on issues identified in academic literature. 6.1 Implement steps to create a working research document.

7. Synthesize academic literature to form a researched argument.

7.1 Compare common reasons for performing research.

Course/Unit Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity

6.1 Unit Lesson Unit VIII Assignment 1

7.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 13, pp. 371–375 Unit VIII Assignment 2


Required Unit Resources Chapter 13: Other Methods of Inquiry: Interviews and Focus Groups, pp. 371–375

Unit Lesson

Creating an Idea Sheet In this lesson, we explore the reason people perform research and, primarily, implement what you have learned in this course by creating an idea sheet. Why Do Research? There are many views on the reasons to do research (Byrne, 2017; Collis & Hussey, 2009; Creswell & Creswell, 2018; Leedy & Ormrod, 2019; Yin, 2018). Greene and Lidinsky (2018) provide four common reasons:

 to increase one’s ability to read critically,

 to increase one’s research skills,

 to broaden one’s scope of inquiry, and

 to contribute to a conversation of ideas. As a student attempting to earn a terminal degree, all four reasons apply. As you move through the four stages of understanding (naïve, novice, apprentice, master), you increase your ability to read critically by synthesizing the thoughts of others to create knowledge of your own (Mansilla et al., 2009). Second, as you read academic articles, you begin to see patterns in not only writing but approaching research. Third, you sift through the different research methods and designs you have learned in the didactic portion of your program to begin to apply them in real-life situations. This step will help you broaden your scope of inquiry. Finally, as you develop your proposal and complete your study, you contribute to a conversation in your domain with your results and ideas.


Interviews and Focus Groups as Inquiry Methods




RCH 7302, Doctoral Writing and Inquiry Into Research 2



The Idea Sheet The purpose of an Idea Sheet is to help you articulate the goals of your research and why the research is needed or important (Greene & Lidinsky, 2018). Greene and Lidinsky provide a five-step approach to developing what they describe as an “Idea Sheet” (p. 373):

 Explain the topic.

 Detail personal reasons.

 Identify what is at issue.

 Describe the application to the discipline.

 Develop issue-based questions. Relating to the development of your research proposal, an idea sheet helps readers (in your case, the committee members) understand why you are raising this issue. Contextual information, such as newspaper, trade journal, or government reports, can help a reader understand the magnitude of an issue. However, your explanation of a problem in your discipline will need to be supported with evidence (e.g., prior academic research, detailed description of a situation where information is not publically available). Relating to prior academic research, as a novice researcher in a chosen domain, you may not be aware of research that has been conducted through the years. Your faculty, though, may know about research, and they can share that experience with you—experience that may result in you revising your idea sheet. For example, a student might wonder about components of job satisfaction and propose a qualitative study to explore the phenomenon. A learned faculty in industrial and organizational psychology may point this student to the work of Locke and Whiting (1974) and Locke (1976), which focused on the sources, nature, and causes of job satisfaction. The faculty could also point to the work of Spector (1985), who developed a 36-item, 9-dimension instrument that measures the components of job satisfaction. In this situation, the student has demonstrated a naïve understanding in the discipline and needs to perform more research in the topic area to understand the topical area and eventually narrow the focus of the research (Leggett & Jackowski, 2012; Mansilla et al., 2009) Explaining the personal reasons for your research can help the committee understand your view or “where you are coming from.” Stating personal reasons can also help to identify any preconceived notions or bias that might cause problems later in your study. Proposing to perform a phenomenological study, which is by nature interpretive, where a researcher also has experienced the phenomenon can be fraught with bias—bias that could come through in your interpretations. A committee may propose a student in this situation does not study that phenomenon but another where they can be objective. By focusing on a research issue under dispute (or the fundamental tension described in Unit IV), a reader can evaluate the support you provide and the conclusion you made. Your committee may not agree with your characterization of the evidence you provide or your conclusion; this begins the iterative process between a novice researcher and their mentors. By describing the proposed research application to a discipline, the committee can examine whether the proposed research topic aligns with the program and their discipline expertise. In some cases, a doctoral student may have to change their topic focus or angle to conform to a program or university requirement to continue. In other cases, a doctoral student may be forced to leave a program and pursue another program or university. Still, in other cases, committee changes may be required due to alignment of faculty expertise or research interest. When a situation arises that relates to the discipline of a doctoral student’s research, it’s often not clear. For example, consider these three focuses:

 examining macroeconomic policies that influence business decisions (economics? public policy? decision science?);

 exploring people’s viewpoints on crime in the workplace (public opinion? criminal justice? human resource management?); and

 examining process efficiency in a government operation (operations management? information systems management? public administration?).





RCH 7302, Doctoral Writing and Inquiry Into Research 3



When faced with a committee critique relating to discipline, a doctoral student must then ask themselves:

 Do I have enough knowledge in the disciplines to perform the study? If not, how can I learn, and how long will it take?

 Do I understand how to perform the appropriate research method? If not, how can I learn, and how long will it take?

 Where will I get my data? How long will it take? Will it cost additional funds?

References Byrne, D. (2017). Project planner. SAGE. Collis, J., & Hussey, R. (2009). Business research: A practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate

students (3rd ed.). Palgrave. Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods

approaches (5th ed.). SAGE. Greene, S., & Lidinsky, A. (2018). From inquiry to academic writing: A practical guide (4th ed.). Bedford/St.

Martin’s. Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2019). Practical research: Planning and design (12th ed.). Pearson. Leggett, T., & Jackowski, M. (2012). Developing and narrowing a topic. Radiologic Technology, 83(4), 405–

410. Locke, E. A. (1976). The nature and causes of job satisfaction. In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of

industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 1297–1343). Rand McNally. Locke, E. A., & Whiting, R. J. (1974). Sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction among solid waste

management employees. Journal of Applied Psychology, 59(2), 145–156.

Mansilla, V. B., Duraisingh, E. D., Wolfe, C. R., & Haynes, C. (2009). Targeted assessment rubric: An

empirically grounded rubric for interdisciplinary writing. The Journal of Higher Education, 80(3), 334– 353.

Spector, P. E. (1985). Measurement of human service staff satisfaction: Development of the job satisfaction

survey. American Journal of Community Psychology, 13(6), 693–713.

Yin, R. K. (2018). Case study research and applications: Design and methods (6th ed.). SAGE.

Suggested Unit Resources To review the common steps in proposal development, review Chapter 13 of our textbook, pp. 376–379.


  • Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VIII
  • Required Unit Resources
  • Unit Lesson
    • Creating an Idea Sheet
      • Why Do Research?

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