The purpose of "qualitative" or "naturalistic" research varies according to the research paradigm, methods, and assumptions. Generally speaking, qualitative researchers attempt to describe and interpret some human phenomenon, often in the words of selected individuals (the informants). These researchers try to be clear about their biases, presuppositions, and interpretations so that others (the stakeholders) can decide what they think about it all. Unlike conventional, positivist research, there is no single accepted outline for a qualitative research proposal or report (Morse, 1991). The generic outline that follows is suggested as a point of departure for qualitative research proposals, and it applies specifically to the research paradigm and methods that seem most applicable to the study of families and family therapy (e.g., post-positivist, phenomenological clinical observation and long interviews). The outline is intended to serve as a point of departure for researchers, who must decide how to organize their proposals (a) to best communicate their ideas to their intended audiences and (b) to satisfy the demands of the context.


This proposal was produced in collaboration with Brent J. Atkinson, Ph.D.

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