The intent of qualitative research is to understand a particular social situation, role, group, or interaction (Locke,Spiduso&Silverman,1987 in Creswell,1994)
Qualitative research is an investigative process where the researcher gradually makes sense of a social phenomenon by contrasting, comparing, cataloguing and classifying the object of study(Miles &Humberman, 1984 in Creswell, 1994)
Qualitative research is a paradigm in social science which includes anthropology, education,
Economy, political science management, psychology and communication.
The goal of the scientific activities is to give explanations and precise predictions for the
Human behaviors (Marom, 2001)
Research intends to explore phenomenon in order to enrich the humane knowledge and as so, we call it science research.
It is important to define what is the meaning of science research?
- The goal of a science research is the widening of the human knowledge and understanding of processes in nature and in human world.
Although there is an academic freedom, research that deal with people, has to comply with
Moral limitations on the way we manage it, in order to protect the rights of the people
Involved in the research, directly or indirectly, meaning the researchers have to be cautious
As far as research impact on societies. (Ethical rule of scientific research in
- Research means to develop and find new ideas and knowledge that help us to understand different processes in better way than we understood it before. (Yezraeli,—–).
- Science mean all knowledge collected by means of scientific methodology (Nachmias&Nachmias,1996)
Definition and principal features of Qualitative Research
- Qualitative research is a naturalistic, which consider people as its ultimate goal.
The researcher in qualitative research has to understand, and to interpret the human behavior so he /she has to document all the data collected.(Yezraeli).
- Qualitative study defined as an inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem based on building a holistic picture by words, detailed views of informants, and conducted in a natural setting. (Creswell, 1994)
- The qualitative paradigm is a naturalistic approach (Lincolen &Guba ,1985 in Creswell,1994);Interpretative approach(Smith,1985 in Creswell,1994).
- According to the qualitative approach, reality constructed by the individuals involved in
- In qualitative approach multiple realities exist in any given research situation: the
Researcher and individuals whom he or she investigates.
Therefore, the researcher needs to report faithfully these realities relying on voice and
Interpretations of informants.
- In qualitative study, researchers interact with those they investigate and minimize the
Distance between him/herself and the people they study.
- In qualitative approach, the researcher admits the value- laden nature of the study and
Reports his or her values and biases.
- The researcher’s language in qualitative research is first person or personal.
- In the qualitative research the inductive logic prevail and categories emerge from
Informants rather than identified a priori by the researcher. (Creswell, 1994)
- The qualitative research derive its dada from natural settings, and the researcher, he or
She is the researches principal instrument. He uses different tools like note book, camera tape recorder and video camera. The researcher as the researches instrument
Determines the research quality by his or her sensitivity openness and interpretation
- The qualitative research is descriptive one whose data collected by tapes and cameras
Moreover, its out- comes are written as transcript of interviews, field notes and pictures.
- In qualitative study researchers interested in processes more than out comes, means
They interested how things happened on reality like negotiation
- Qualitative researchers tend to analyze their data in inductive way. They do not try to
Approve or disapprove hypotheses they wrote at the beginning, but they build their
Conclusions according to the data accumulated, and construct their theory systematically
On the base of testimonies and evidences, which collected in a dynamic process of building
- The qualitative approach attach consideration to the meaning of the data given by the
Investigators. They want to understand how people think, in what they believe, what are
Their preferences, so they can understand internal processes, which are not visible to
spectators.(Bogdan& Biklen, 1982 in Sabar,1990)
- Qualitative evaluation tend to rely on unstandardized interviews and on observations,
And their analysis and reporting is verbally and interpretative (Friedman,2005 )
- Qualitative research involves fieldwork. The researcher goes physically to the people,
Setting, site, or institution to observe or record behavior in its natural setting.(Merriam,
1988 in Creswell, 1994)
- Qualitative approach refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, symbols and descriptions of things.
- Qualitative research provide measures that can capture things that cannot be
Meaningfully expressed by numbers (Berg,1995)
The research question
The qualitative researcher starts his /her research from a specific point with tentative
research questions that should be defined during the research process.
Tentative questions could be, according to Guba &Lencoln( 1981) in Sabar (1990):
- Conceptual question: a question that stem from ambiguous situation or a logical one.
An example could be a situation after unsuccessful plan, which cause to define a new research question.
- An action question: a question that stem from a necessity to choose between two
Alternatives. An example: to choose between a formative or summative assessment
- According to creswell(1994), qualitative researcher use the model of grand tour question
Followed by sub questions. Questions that employ appropriate qualitative language.
Literature review and use of theory
After developing an idea for the research, one should examine how others have thought about and researched the topic.
The next step is to visit the library to start literature review and to think about
Topics related to your research question.(Berg,1995)
Researchers use literature to present results of similar studies, to relate the
Present study to ongoing dialogue in the literature, and to provide a
Framework for comparing the results of the present study with other studies
Writing a theory in qualitative research is difficult because there is no standard
Terminology about placement.
The term (theory or pattern), the researcher uses vary according to the
All qualitative studies employ an inductive mode of development and therefor
The placement of theory tends to be toward the end of the study.
Creswell (1994) suggests using the following format in using qualitative theory:
- use it inductively so that it does not become something to test, but to
Develop and shape through the process of research.
- Create a visual model of the theory as it emerges.
- When used at the end of the study, compare it with other theories.
The research design and boundaries
The design for a research project is the plan for how the study will be conducted.
In making a study, the researcher must decide whether to use one data- collection strategy or combine several strategies (Data triangulation)
The researcher has to decide, will he undertake the study alone or with assistance of others
To consider whether the study will be framed by one theory or by several related theories.
How much will the project cost in time and money and how much he/she can actually
The researcher has to decide what population will best serve the study purpose and how
The data will be organized and analyzed. (Berg, 1995)
Researchers use definitions, delimitation and limitation, and statements about significance to place boundaries on their study plan.
Researchers need to define terms that may not be understood outside the field of study.
The terms should be defined at the first instance they appear in the research plan.
The terms defined tentatively because the meanings of the words will emerge from the informants.
Finally, the study’s significance should describe the importance of it for selected audiences
The research maybe extended or restricted according to the research problem.
According to Hymes(1978) in Sabar(1990),there are three kinds of ethnographic research
Which define its extent.
- Comprehensive research: It is a research that intend to document a way of life, variety of
Traditions, positions, opinions and so on.
For example investigating unknown tribes.
- Topic oriented research: Exploring some aspects of the way of life in a family, or the way
Decisions taken in a school.
- Hypothesis oriented research: here the explored problem is a specific hypothesis or issue.
Guba (1978) in Sabar(1990)talks about four reasons who define the research boundaries as
Follows: 1. The research question (problem): the research boundaries extend according to
The problem definition.
- The reasons who caused the research.
- Looking for solution serving the researcher conceptions. The process of looking for
Possible resolutions define and restrict the study range.
- The definition of the possible out comes
Creswell (1998) in shkedi(2003) describe the data collection as related actions who intend to collect valuable information in order to answer developing research questions
How qualitative data organized depends in part, upon what they look like.
If they are in textual form, such as field notes, or could be made in textual form
Like transcriptions of a tape –recorded interviews, they may organized in one
However, if they are video films, photographs or drawn materials, they will
Need different form of organization and analysis. (Berg, 1995)
According to Sabar(1990), there are two principal stages in collecting data in a
Qualitative research: 1. an openness stage in which the researcher found in
The research setting, observing, listening, taking part and behave like one of
The inquired group.
In this stage, the researcher is open to receive plenty of different information.
- In the second stage, the researcher moves from openness to focus in issues
Emerged during the first stage.
In the second stage, the researcher uses variety of collecting data tools such
Observations and interviews.
The data are crude materials for analyzing.
According to Goetz & compte(1984) in Sabar(1990) ,there are three sorts of
Information:1. Base information, which include sociological, psychological,
Cultural, demographical and physical of the research setting and the
These are information, which could help in evaluating the impact of specific
Treatment or for forming parameters, which could help in the generalization
- Process information: these are information that reflect what is going during
The implementation of a plan and how they perceived by thy people who took
Part in it.
- Valuable information: These are information about the values of the
Investigated people, the people who running the plan, and policy makers.
In addition, how these values affect the investigated phenomena.
Collection data principles
Creswell (1998) in shkedi(2003) describe the data collection as related actions who intend to
Collect valuable information in order to answer developing research questions
The human being as a research tool: Lincoln&Guba(1985) in shkedi(2003)argue that
The human being is the best instrument for data collection, because of his ability to understand concepts and to connect between fractions and make them a new holistic
The human being has the ability, at the same time, and understand implicit and explicit
The researcher in a qualitative study is a part of the research and he/she involved in the
Research as participant observer, in- depth interviewer and as a guide in the research group.
Data collection according to different qualitative strategies
Shkedi (2003) says that to understand the data collection process in qualitative research,
There is a need to check and examine the two traditional qualitative dada collection
Methods, the phenomenological and ethnological approaches.
The Phenomenon is the object, which phenomenologists explore. Phenomenologists use
The construct “phenomenon” to portray the real understanding of real events exist in our
Phenomenon is an event that objects experienced. When talking about a phenomenon, we
Talk and express issues like conceptions, memories and cognitions (Creswell, 1998 in Shkedi,
In phenomenon studies, the researchers focus in understanding how people understand
Meanings and processes (Maykut&Morehouse, 1994 in Shkedi ,2003).
In phenomenological research, the collecting data process focuses in in-depth interviews
And collecting diaries.
The researchers collect the data from the investigated people whom experienced the
Explored phenomena. They intend to study the meaning of the experienced phenomenon
From the people themselves (Creswell, 1998 in Shkedi, 2003)
Ethnography is a process of describing and interpreting cultures. Instead of studying people,
Ethnography is a process of learning from people.
Researchers choose the ethnographic approach when they want to study the behavior of
Group with common culture (Sparadley, 1997 in Shkedi ,2003).
Ethnography is a study of culture or social group (or person from social group) via
Observations and prolonged stay of the researcher in the research setting.
The ethnographer listening and taping the sound of the informant in intention to create a
Profile of the explored culture.
Data collection methods
There are two types of data collecting tools: interviews and Observations (Shkedi, 2003)
The concept “interview” compass a wide range of practices. From one side there are the
Highly constructed interviews, which use for research surveys.
These are designed strictly interviews with standardized closed questions. This type of
Formal interviews is an inevitable in order to insure uniformity.
In the other side, there are the open interviews (in- depth interview), which look like an
Open conversations (ibid).
There are formal and informal interviews. Informal interviews are primary conversations, which helps the researcher to receive a general idea and plan his/her formal interview (Freidman,2005)
- The open (in- depth) interview: The objective of the in-depth interview is to understand
The meaning people give to their experiences. This kind of interviews gives accessibility to the cultural context of the people behavior, and therefore help researchers to understand
The meaning of that behavior (Seidman, 1991 in Shkedi , 2003 ). This kind of open (in- depth)
Interview looks more like a conversation than a constructed interview.
In the open interview, the researchers focus in general topics in order to help the
Informants to expose their tale meaning and to reveal their opinions and positions.
In this kind of interviews the interviewers respect the way the informants build their
Answers and do not interfere in the interviewees intentions (Seidman, 1991 in Shkedi ,
In this kind of interviews, the interviewers must develop, adapt and generate questions and
Follow up probes appropriate to given situation and the central purpose of the
Investigation (Berg, 1995)
- The standardized interview: Uses structured questions, which the investigated has to
There is a need here to ask each interviewee the same question with the same stimulus, so
The responses to the questions will be comparable (Babbie, 1983 in Berg, 1995).
The researchers who use this kind of interviews assume that the questions in their
Interviews are sufficiently comprehensive to elicit from the subjects all the needed
Information (Berg, 1995).
According to Freidman (2005), the questions in the standardized interviews are prepared in
Advance, and there are little chances the conversation could slide beyond the planed
- The semi- standardized: In the semi-standardized interviews, the researcher uses
Implementing questions for his predetermined questions.
That mean the interviewers allowed to probe for beyond the answers to their prepared and
According to Sabar(1990),the observation is the principal tool for gathering information in
The qualitative research.
The observations could be open in whom the researcher could took impression from all the
Objects in the research setting.
The researcher starts, generally, in open observations and later, after deciding upon his/her
Central investigated issue he/she moves to focused observation.
It is important to emphasize that the open observations are expensive in comparison with
Sabar(ibid), says that there are many types of observation, whom we may classify according
To the involvement of the researcher in the research process. It changes from external
Observer, not taking part via all the stages tell full involvement.
- Participant observation: In this case, the researcher is a full part of the investigated
Population, taking part in all its daily activities, writes things close to their occurrence in the
Same words used by the investigated people (ibid).
One of the principal advantages of participant observation is the possibility to feel the real
Daily lives. Probably, researcher can perceive authentic information when he/she
Stays and be involved directly and personally in the investigated people daily lives.
The potential for misunderstanding and inaccuracy rise in observations when the researcher
Stay physically faraway and socially from the investigated people.
Participation and involvement in researched settings intensify the possibility of direct access
To what people thought and doing from many point of view (Mason, 1996 in Shkedi ,2003)
- Involved observation: This kind of observations used when the researcher cannot stay
for long time in the investigated surroundings.
Involved observation means highly involvement but without long presence in the studied setting.
- Nonparticipant observation: In nonparticipant, the data collection done with minimum
Contact with the participants.
In this case, the researcher has to be capable to make sensitive and precise watching.
In this kind of observations, there is no interrelations between the researcher and the
Investigated people, but his/her presence makes nonverbal relation system (Sabar, 1990)
The implementing interview: Shkedi( 2003) says that this kind of interview is useful after
Observations. There are two ways to use implementing interview based on protocols of
- To present the protocol of the observation (or the video film) to the informants and ask
them to explain their point of view about what happened.
The week point of this method is the long time it needs.
- Another efficient, useful, saving and focused way of using this type of interview is to
Choose some parts of the observation protocol and present them to the informants during
The implementing interview. This process needs preparation ahead of the interview.
The interviewers present the relevant parts and ask for explanations.
Methods of documenting observations
In an open observation, the researcher has to documents what happens in the research
Setting, to describe persons, objects, events, activities, conversations and behaviors.
The success of the qualitative research depends in the detailed, precision and richness
Of the field notes.
In the observations protocol, the researcher has to write in first person language and
Everything seen and heard.
The field notes include two sorts of data: 1. Descriptive data, which gives verbal picture of
The place, people, activities and conversations (The protocols)
- Reflective data: these are the researcher’s thoughts, comments, concepts and focus of
Interests (field notes).
Lofland & lofland (1984) in Berg( 1995) suggest that the first step and the foremost in the
Analyzing process is the establishment of some kind of filing system.
By filing, they mean a physical means of maintaining and indexing coded classifications.
They add, that filing involve placing materials into boxes file cabinets, envelops or floppy
The purpose of filing system is to create a mean that ease the access to the filed data.
In filing, the researcher has to look for similarities in the data.
Typically, a systematic indexing process means that the researcher set up several sheets of
Paper with major topics of interest and under them subtopics (ibid)
After the interviews, the researcher has to examine potential patterns to see what findings
Emerge from the collected data, such as grounded findings, whom are the most interesting
Results obtained during the research (Glaser&Strauss, 1967 in Berg, 1995)
Sabar (1990) says there are two methods to interpret ate data.
- Interpretation during the data collection. This method is used during the data collection and finishes with its completion.
Experienced researchers use this method.
- The principal part of the data collection done before the analysis. Researchers prefer this method because they fear that the analysis during the collection process may affect the validity and reliability of the data.
She says it is not preferable to do all the analysis only after the data collection, because the paradigm strength is field analysis .
She adds that the researcher has to adapt the field analysis, because without doing that he/she may find that the data is not essential enough to start an analysis process.
The researcher has to accomplish the formal analysis after the data collection, because it is
Impossible to do continuous analysis without knowing the theories related to constructs
That emerge during the research process, and this cannot be done in the setting itself.
According to Goetz&Compt(1984) in Sabar (1990) there are 5 strategies for data analysis :
- Analytic induction: Include: a.developing primary explanation for specific phenomena
And defining it according to small number of events.
- collecting data to establish the primary explanation .
- adding new information which not fitting to the primary explanation and designing it to
include additional events.
d.looking for events which not appropriate to the explanation.
- redefining and widening the explanation in order generalize the theory.
- Ongoing comparison
- A. collecting and analyzing data
- analyzing data in order to find topics, returning events, behavior styles or activities
appropriate to create the research focus.
- collecting another new data from many events.
- delineating the information in order to create theory and looking for new data.
- widening the theory in order to present processes and connections.
- Topologic Analysis
The researcher, classifying the data to categories or topics and subtopics, and using them
Analyzing or for classifying others and for examining their frequencies.
- The quantitative method
Researchers use this method to validate the research categories.
- Using standardized protocols and observations.
Content analysis as analyzing data technique
Sabar(1990) defines the content analysis as research technique for validated systematic
Conclusions which researchers can repeat.
There is an understanding between researchers upon number of content analysis features
- The content analyzing process directed by articulated rules in order to minimize the
There is a need to establish rules, analysis procedure, analysis categories in order to allow
Others to repeat the process and achieve the same conclusion.
- Systematic analysis process: according to this method they build collection of analysis
categories which according to them they systematically accept or reject categories.
- The analysis deals with the content in two interpretation levels.
- primary interpretation level in which the researcher analyzing the direct and explicit
Collected contents, drawing up categories for classifying, choosing analysis units and draw conclusions.
- In the second interpretation level, the researcher can rely on his own understanding and
Intuitive to explain the received conclusions.
In this interpretative level, the researcher uses his subjective notes about the investigated
- The goal of the analysis process is to achieve a general explanation which means that his
/her explanation relates to existing theories or has to build a basis for a new theory.
- quantifying information
There is an argument between the researchers upon this feature.
There are some who support quantifying and others who reject it.
Although, quantification can lead to the anticipated accuracy, but it may cause a loss of the
Truth if do not do deep analysis.
The above five feature of the content analysis show that it is a useful tool (Sabar, 1990)
Designing categories for content analyzing
The content analyzing process is a process of looking for important prominent components
That repeated themselves in the collected information.
The researcher chooses categories according to the research question. A starting point for
Formulation categories is disputed issues or issues causing concern (Guba, 1978 in Sabar, 1990)
When categories emerges from the data itself, it means that there a need to look for
Systematic and repetition.
At beginning emerge the principal categories with frequent repetition and after wards,
Emerge Important Categories even with less repetition.
The reliability of the categories checked according to the following discerns:
- The categories have to reflect the research goals, and their last formulation has to contain
Concepts definition according to the research questions
- The categories have to be well defined in order to contain the hall collected information.
- They have to be defined unequivocally so that every piece of information that can be
Fitted to one category only.
- They have to be independent from each other so that any piece of information that
Classified to one category does not influence the classification of other information pieces.
- The categories system has to be reliable internally and externally.
Means, that internally there has to be consistency in every category, and externally the
Categories system have create complete and clear picture.
- The categories have to be reconstructed so that any other experienced researcher could
Confirm that the categories are meaningful for the research data(Sabar, 1990)
Krippendorff (1980) in Sabar(ibid)says that most of the content analysis uses the following
- The analysis units defined according to physical dimensions like books, chapters, articles, and television programs.
- According to social dimensions like words, sentences, titles and so on.
- According to events, activities, and concepts which related to the content directly.
- Units which are sentences from the analyzed content.
- Topics Defined according to their contents.
Data analysis and outcomes presentation
The goal of analysis process is to: 1. Present directions, models or important and unique
Relations in the researched entity (reality).
- To relate the directions and the relation that emerged from the analysis to other theories
Or to build new theories (ibid).
Validity and reliability of the qualitative research
The authenticity of the scientific research depends on its validity, reliability and objectivity.
The criticism against the qualitative research directed to the fact that they cannot withstand in validity and reliability criterion(Sabar,1990).
Validity is defined as suitability of the scientific descriptions and explanations to the researched phenomenon.
This suitability depends on two criterions:
- Internal validity which means, are the researchers examining what they intended to check? In another wards what is the suitability between the collected data and the researched phenomenon?
The internal validity examining to what extent the explanations given by the researcher are correct according to the researched context.
Moreover, are the categories representing the studied phenomenon?
- External validity refers to what extent the research hypotheses are feasible in other settings.(ibid)
Reliability means to what extent, the usage of the same method and tools, in another research gives equal results?(ibid)
External reliability means that repetition of the same study by another researcher gives the same results or equal result(ibid).
In qualitative research impossible to expect that other researchers will receive, even in
Equal situations, exactly the results of any another research (Merrick, 1999 in Shkedi 2003)
Researchers in qualitative research can check their personal reliability via formal and explicit
Stages of collecting and analyzing their data. This they can do on the base of the following
Three conditions: 1. creating a data bank which available for others to examine the
resources on which the research was based.
- Reserving the analysis documents: this gives other researchers the possibility to repeat
the analysis process in order to examine the research reliability.
In this way, researchers, expose their analysis to other colleagues in order to check it and
give them feedback on the research reliability.
The analysis process documenting is vital not only for examining what happened, but for
Advancing other analyses.(Pidegton, 1996 in Skedi,2003)
- Presenting chain of evidences in the final report: The report has to contain enough
Citations related to relevant issues.
The report has to indicate the circumstances in which the testimonies were collected and to
Show that the collected data is connected reasonably to the research questions.
Research in collaboration with other researchers or using experienced assistants is vital or
Even necessary if we want to achieve high reliability (Jorgensen, 1989 in Shkedi, 2003)
Sabar(1990) talks about the importance of choosing reliable informants for high reliability.
Generalization in qualitative approach
One of the big accepted criticisms on the qualitative research, even among its proponents, is
That it is very difficult to generalize its outcomes on other populations or other settings
Except those whom were investigated.
There are researchers, who believe that it is impossible to generalize qualitative outcomes,
And see that this is its limitation (Firestone, 1993 in Shkedi, 2003).
In the focus of the argument for generalization is the ability to duplicate the research
Outcomes to other populations or contexts.
It is obvious that many of the qualitative approach characteristics are not appropriate for
generalization as it accepted in the traditional quantitative research (Schofield, 1989 in Shkedi, 2003).
Strauss &Corbin (1990) in Shkedi( 2003) argue that one of the frequent criticisms against the
Qualitative research, from quantitative researchers, is wrong, because the norms of the
Quantitative research is not implementable in the qualitative approach.
Their criticism is that the collecting qualitative data, process produce information that
Cannot allow comparable, because not all the investigated were asked the same questions.
Stake (1995) in Shkedi (2003) suggests learning the uniqueness as a way for achieving generalization ability.
Simons (1996)in Shkedi(2003) argues that by learning the uniqueness of the private case, we
Can learn to understanding the universal.
Guba &Lincoln(1989) in Shkedi (2003) reject totally the advantage of the generalization,
And suggest abandoning it as the goal of research, and changing it by the concept transferability.
Shkedi(2003) suggests to follow the way of Stake(1995,1978) , and to prefer the
Three types of generalization
Firestone (1993) in Shkedi(2003) argues that there are three types of generalizations in the qualitative research: A. generalization from one case to another.
- Generalization according to a theory
- Generalization from a sample to population
- Generalization from one case to another
Generalization from one case to another is like a dialogue between the analysis of specific case and many other cases.
This process allow to anticipate ahead, not predicting, what is going to happen in similar
Cases (Geertz, 1973 in Shkedi ,2003)
- Analytic generalization (theoretical)
By connecting research questions to theories, researchers try to show that their research
Details help in explaining wide phenomenon.
The analytic generalization is of conclusion base rather than implementation.
- Generalization for population
Generalization from limited sample to a bigger population is one of the restrictions of the
The bigger the sample is the bigger the potential for generalization.
If the researcher can show that part of the many investigated cases characteristics similar to
Other cases it can make the generalization more confident.
To considerate the categories contextual of the investigated cases, means their
Characteristics context, intensify the research potential to generalize from one case to
Means that the research readers can refer to specific characteristics group, but not to cases
As a hall, and find similarity between the investigated and reported cases and the cases they
Try to understand (McClintock et al., 1983 in Shkedi, 2003).
Berg (1995) says research is not for the sake of doing, because doing research alone does
Not benefit the scientific community or the existing body of knowledge.
Research is not complete until it has been disseminated.
In this short referat , I gathered and summarized the distinguished features of the Qualitative Research, its methodology Including research question, collecting data process, analyses and outcomes.
I also mentioned validity, reliability and its problematic generalization.
Ethnography is a process or describing and interpreting cultures
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4.Nachmias, Ch.F.&Nachmias ,D.(1996),Research Methods In The Social Sciences.(3rd edition) Arnold .
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6.Shkedi, A.(2003),Words of Meaning: Qualitative Research- Theory and Practice.Ramot
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