Major Assignment 1

Major Assignment 1: Overview: Developing a Research Topic for a Qualitative Study

Developing an idea for a research study is a process, where a topic of interest or social problem gets translated into a research problem that can be explored using accepted systematic procedures for recruiting participants, collecting data, and analyzing and interpreting results.

In this week’s Discussion, you considered what you might want to study. In your first Major Assignment, you will have the first-hand experience of translating that idea into a viable research problem that is a good fit for a qualitative approach. But, before you begin this Assignment, please consider the following concepts:

  1. Ontology is defined as the assumptions one makes about the nature of reality. In qualitative studies, researchers assume that “reality” is constructed from personal experience and context.

    Example: If four people see a car accident from different points of view, they will see it differently depending on their position (context) and personal experience.

    So consider a topic where the experiences of participants will be one of your primary sources of data, and your “job” as a qualitative researcher is to do your best to understand your sources’ unique experiences.

  2. Epistemology is defined as the assumptions one makes about the relationship between the researcher and the object of study.

    Example: If the researcher collects survey data from an accident witness, it is different than if the researcher engages with the witness in person using an open-ended interview format.

    So, consider a topic where you will be able to be part of the data gathering experience, and that your “job” as a qualitative researcher is to distinguish your experience from your sources.

  3. A research problem emerges from an understanding of what prior research studies have found, and what, according to that body of literature, needs to be done next.

    Thus, before you commit to a topic for this Assignment, it is essential to review published research studies on your topic.


The purpose of this Major Assignment is for you to gain experience in taking a topic of your interest and considering it as a possibility for a qualitative research study.

Major Assignment 1 is composed of three parts, as described further in the Overview and Assignment Guidelines document. You will work on one part each week, so that you can submit your Assignment at the end of Week 4. Your Instructor will provide feedback by Week 6. By Week 8, you will revise your Assignment based on the feedback from your Instructor, and you will also submit the revised Assignment.

Part 1

  • Create a title page for your Major Assignment 1. Use the Major Assignment 1: Developing a Research Topic for a Qualitative Study Assignment Overview and Guidelines for proper formatting of your paper.
  • Write a problem statement based on your topic of study. Develop a 1- to 2-paragraph statement that is the result of a review of the articles you located on your topic.
    1. Briefly describe the phenomena you are interested in studying.
    2. Briefly summarize the key findings or what is understood about this phenomena based on the three articles you reviewed.
    3. Briefly identify the “gap”—what do you see as an important, relevant, next step in learning more about this topic that would be appropriate for a qualitative study.
  • Include your Annotated Bibliography section.

No Assignment submission for this week.

For this week’s Assignment:

  • Review the expectations of the Major Assignment 1: Developing a Research Topic for a Qualitative Study Overview and Guidelines. (Note: Make sure you review it in its entirety before you begin.)

Part 2

  • Write a purpose statement using terminology of qualitative research. The purpose statement should contain:
    1. A statement using the following template: The purpose of this qualitative study is to[choose one: explore, describe, understand, explain] the meaning/experience/culture/stories of [phenomenon of interest] in [population/setting].
    2. A justification of why the purpose of your study is suited for the qualitative approach in terms of:
      • The phenomena you choose
      • The “fit” with a constructivist epistemology and ontology
      • The relevance of the naturalistic setting or context to the phenomena of interest
    3. Based on your knowledge of reflexivity, explain your relationship to the problem; and the issues of bias and positionality to be addressed. Include a brief description of the setting and possible sources of data.

  • Write a research question using terminology of qualitative research. (Note: This could be the same research question you created in your Discussion 1 for this week ONLY if it applies to your topic of study for this Assignment.)

    The research question should incorporate and mirror the purpose statement using the following template: What is the meaning/experience/culture/stories of [phenomenon of interest] in [population/setting]?

  • Include your updated Annotated Bibliography section.

Submit your Major Assignment 1: Developing a Research Topic for a Qualitative Study by Day 7 of Week 4.

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