Quality and Quantity

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 393-409

First online:

Effect Sizes in Qualitative Research: A Prolegomenon

  • Anthony J. OnwuegbuzieAffiliated withHoward University

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The American Psychological Association Task Force recommended that researchers always report and interpret effect sizes for quantitative data. However, no such recommendation was made for qualitative data. Thus, the first objective of the present paper is to provide a rationale for reporting and interpreting effect sizes in qualitative research. Arguments are presented that effect sizes enhance the process of verstehen/hermeneutics advocated by interpretive researchers. The second objective of this paper is to provide a typology of effect sizes in qualitative research. Examples are given illustrating various applications of effect sizes. For instance, when conducting typological analyses, qualitative analysts only identify emergent themes; yet, these themes can be quantitized to ascertain the hierarchical structure of emergent themes. The final objective is to illustrate how inferential statistics can be utilized in qualitative data analyses. This can be accomplished by treating words arising from individuals, or observations emerging from a particular setting, as sample units of data that represent the total number of words/observations existing from that sample member/context. Heuristic examples are provided to demonstrate how inferential statistics can be used to provide more complex levels of verstehen than is presently undertaken in qualitative research.

effect sizes qualitative research quantitize meta-theme inter-respondent matrix intra-respondent matrix