To study the identified problem, it has been chosen to apply the qualitative research methodology because the latter is considered suitable when investigating a new field of research or intending to ascertain and theorize prominent issues. Because the study plans to deal with data acquired from real participants, interviewing is the most appropriate format of data collection within the qualitative research methodology. Qualitative research begins from a fundamentally different set of beliefs, or paradigms, compared to those underpinning quantitative studies (Antwi & Hamza, 2015). While quantitative research is based on positivist beliefs, qualitative studies are associated with constructivist and post-positivist views. The latter entails agreeing with the positivist paradigm while also believing that environmental and individual differences, such as culture or social structures, influence the reality of each individual. The former further the idea that there is no unified reality. Instead, the researchers are expected to elicit the views of study participants on reality (Teherani et al., 2015). Qualitative research implies developing scholarly work based on post-positivist and constructivist beliefs using different approaches.
Phenomenology is the approach that has been chosen for the study. It is a form of qualitative research focusing on the study of individuals’ lived experiences within the world. Developed by Edmund Husserl, phenomenology was intended as a new philosophical method lending “absolute certainty to a disintegrating civilization” (as cited in Huifang, 2018, p. 33). However, in modern research, it is used for the purpose of description, thus allowing scholars to describe the studied phenomena as accurately as possible, avoiding any pre-conceived frameworks and notions while also staying true to facts. Current phenomenologists are concerned with getting a grasp of social and psychological occurrences from the standpoint of the individuals involved.
Therefore, the appropriateness of phenomenology as applied to the problem, purpose, and research question is linked directly to the possibility to study the identified issue from the perspective of people and their experiences. Not any individual is eligible for being interviewed for the current phenomenological study. Only those who have knowledge associated with the lack of African American women in upper echelon positions within the public and private sector. The proposed method and design will help accomplish study goals because of the connection between the intention of the researcher to shed light on the experiences of people related to African American women being in positions of authority and the real-life stories of participants.
A qualitative interview represents a type of framework in the standards and practices are not only recorded but also achieved, challenged, and reinforced. Considering that there are several types of interviewing, it is chosen to implement semi-structured interviews. The particular data-gathering technique is represented by semi-structured interviews, which are in-depth methods of data collection in which respondents are asked to answer pre-determined open-ended questions (Gani, Rathakrishnan, & Krishnasamy, 2020). However, they are given opportunities to elaborate on their answers, thus allowing them to reveal potential themes and issues that an interviewer could not have discovered without communicating with interviewees directly. To achieve optimum use of time during semi-structured interviews, guides serve the useful purpose of exploring a wide range of respondents more comprehensively and systematically while also keeping the process focused on the desired line of action (Gani et al., 2020). To effectively capture interview data, the conversations will be recorded with the consent of respondents.
Semi-structured interviews are expected to be analyzed with the help of thematic analysis (TA). It is an approach to detecting, analyzing, and reporting themes in data. It is the minimum form of “organization and description as a set of data that is widely used” in the analysis of qualitative interviews (Javadi & Zarea, 2016, p. 35). It is considered highly exciting because TA allows researchers to uncover themes and ideas on the basis of interviews that they have had with study participants. One of the main advantages of thematic analysis is its flexibility, thus the possibility to adjust the process of analysis to the data itself. A well-done TA can be very helpful in both reflecting and clarifying reality. When it comes to the current study, inductive thematic analysis is proposed. In inductive TA, the identified themes are closely associated with the data that has been collected during interviews.
Regarding the size of the sample, it is expected that the number of participants will be lower than in quantitative design studies. According to Moser and Korstjens (2018), phenomenological studies require up to ten interviewees. While this number is usually tentative, the choice of ten participants implies that ten interviews will have to be analyzed with the help of thematic analysis. Since the proposed study has wide potential for expansion, including at least ten participants in interviews is a firm beginning for a framework on which the researcher will build. Larger sample size is likely to occur when a researcher employs rapid qualitative approaches or longitudinal qualitative studies. In the future, the research may involve a mixed-methods design to include a quantitative component, thus studying the issue from two different data standpoints.
Antwi, S., & Hamza, K. (2015). Qualitative and quantitative research paradigms in business research: A philosophical reflection. European Journal of Business and Management, 7(3), 217-225.
Gani, N., Rathakrishnan, M., & Krishnasamy, H. (2020). A pilot test for establishing validity and reliability of qualitative interview in the blended learning English proficiency course. Journal of Critical Reviews, 7(5), 140-143. dx.doi.org/10.31838/jcr.07.05.23
Javadi, M., & Zarea, K. (2016). Understanding thematic analysis and its pitfall. Journal of Client Care, 1(1), 34-40. doi: 10.15412/J.JCC.02010107
Moser, A., & Korstjens, I. (2018). Series: Practical guidance to qualitative research. Part 3: Sampling, data collection and analysis. The European Journal of General Practice, 24(1), 9-18. doi.org/10.1080/13814788.2017.1375091
Teherani, A., Martimianakis, T., Stenfors-Hayes, T., Wadhwa, A., & Varpio, L. (2015). Choosing a Qualitative Research Approach. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 7(4), 669-670. doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-15-00414.1