Denzin and Lincoln (2000a) believe that qualitative research is guided by 3 principles: assumptions, values and beliefs. These work against, alongside or within positivist and post-positivist models. Quantitative research is the use of numerical measurements and analysis that involves measurable ‘quantities’ by Gratton and Jones (2004). Quantitative data is collected through closed questions as it is in place to provide facts. While qualitative data, on the other hand, predominantly uses open styled questions to gain more information through follow up questions, extensive answers and debates. There are many differences between the two paradigms with the researcher being objective, and ‘detached’ from the subject under investigation within quantitative data said by Gratton and Jones (2004). Moreover, qualitative research is rather the opposite, with the researcher being in place to gather more information from the participants in question. In addition to the previous, Morse, Swanson and Kuezel (2001) believe a quantitative research requires the researcher to carefully define variables that may be quantified with numbers. On the other hand, qualitative research is a more holistic perspective rather than a hypothesis confirmation. Berg and Latin (2008) believe qualitative research allows an open-ended and flexible approach to assessment. Within the qualitative paradigm there are several different data collection methods such as open questionnaires, interviews, observation, visual and textual analysis. I will be outlining and evaluating the use of interviews within the academic study of sport; this will be focused mainly on focus groups.
Culver (2003) states that interviews are undoubtedly the most common method for collecting qualitative data within the study of sport. Pettigrew (1990) and Pettus (2001) also state ‘interviews offer a depth of information that permits the detailed exploration of particular issues in a way not possible with other forms of data collection’. Within this type of research method there are 4 different types of interviews; structured, semi-structured, unstructured and focus group.
Structured interviews are face-to-face (researcher & participant), consist of closed and pre-determined questions in addition to the structure being formal. Semi-structured interviews can be altered so that the participant(s) in question can ether clarify or elaborate on a particular topic/statement. The approach to data collection is flexible, with probes being used to gather additional information. Unstructured interviews have a set theme with the respondent leading the interview. The questions are developed throughout, as they are not pre-determined. These questions are open and flexible. A negative point to this interview structure is that there’s a chance the interview will lack focus. Focus groups lean towards being semi-structured with a discussion thesis being used within an open environment; focus groups consist of more than one person. John Amis (2005) believes ‘focus groups allow members to challenge each other, develop positions of consensus, and build on each other’s ideas’. In addition to this previous statement, Gratton and Jones (2004) believe that this can become a negative point if the researcher doesn’t keep the participants on topic, stating that ‘participants may be tempted to provide false data to make an impression upon others in the group’. This can be potentially avoided if you use either a random, or stratified random sample which has a divided population. Furthermore these participants won’t know one another.
Within focus groups there is a large quantity of strengths; participants are able to elaborate on the particular subject(s) especially when the researcher uses probes. In conjunction to this Yin (1994) notes that the interviewer ‘provides perceived casual inferences’ from the actor’s, rather...