Conducting the Pilot Study: A Neglected Part of the Research Process? Methodological Findings Supporting the Importance of Piloting in Qualitative Research Studies: Methodological findings supporting the importance of piloting in qualitative research studies

Richard Rose, Johan Malmqvist, Kristina Hellberg, Gunvie Mollas, Michael Shevlin

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    During the development of research to compare the processes and impact of inclusive education in Sweden with results obtained from a study undertaken in Ireland, a pilot study was conducted and documented. The pilot study had three aims: (1) to gather data to provide guidance for a substantive study adapted to Swedish conditions through modification of Irish research proceduresand instruments, (2) to critically interrogate how we as researchers could most effectively conduct a pilot study utilizingobservational and video-recorded data, and (3) to use the Irish theoretical model as a tool of analysis for studying inclusion in twoSwedish schools. Although pilot studies are frequently conducted to assess the efficacy of research instruments for use inqualitative research projects, few publications have drawn upon empirical findings related to such studies. Additionally, while methodological texts recommend the use of pilot studies in qualitative research, there is a lack of reported research focusing onhow to conduct such pilot studies. We argue that our methodological findings may contribute to greater awareness of theimportant role that a pilot study may have for full-scale qualitative research projects, for example, in case study research wheresemi-structured qualitative interviews are used. This argument is based on the assumption that researchers, and especially novice researchers, having conducted a pilot study will be better informed and prepared to face the challenges that are likely to arise in the substantive study and more confident in the instruments to be used for data collection. A proper analysis of the proceduresand results from the pilot study facilitates the identification of weaknesses that may be addressed. A carefully organized andmanaged pilot study has the potential to increase the quality of the research as results from such studies can inform subsequentparts of the research process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1609406919878341
    Number of pages11
    JournalThe International Journal of Qualitative Methods
    Volume18
    Issue number1
    Early online date25 Sep 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2019

    Keywords

    • case study
    • mixed methods
    • interpretive description
    • methods in qualitative inquiry,
    • qualitative evaluation

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