participant selection for qualitative research

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To prepare for this Discussion:

  • There are “rules of thumb” that guide each qualitative approach. Review Patton’s chapter on sampling types, and study sampling strategies in research articles on the approach you have chosen.
  • Review the articles on data saturation and theoretical saturation, and consider which criteria you will follow to estimate “how many.” Remember, in qualitative research, one case can be enough. If your phenomenon is complex or you are interested in a range of experiences, then you will need more cases.
  • Reflect on your research problem and question. What are the essential characteristics of participants that you want to recruit?

Research Question

What are the lived experiences of stable recovery through on-line rehabilitation services for women with substance use disorders living in rural north Georgia?

The nature of this study will be qualitative inquiry with a phenomenological approach that will focus on the lived experiences of women living in rural north Georgia who utilize online treatment for recovery from substance use disorder.

Sources and Types of Data

  • Data will be collected with semi-structured in depth one-on-one interviews.
  • Transcription of the audio recording used during the interview process of data collection will be used
  • Observations from the interviews

Prepare a Discussion post in which you address the following:

  • Present the most current version of your research question and state the phenomenon of interest.
  • Describe the criteria for inclusion and exclusion.
  • Describe in detail the choices for sample size, data saturation, and theoretical saturation. Justify your choices with citations of research studies that use the same strategy and/or of methodological articles that describe the rationale.
  • Put yourself in the participant’s position, and consider the assurances you would want to hear to ensure that your privacy is respected and that your identity will not be revealed when the study is published. Include those assurances in your invitation.

Required Readings

Patton, M. Q. (2015).
Qualitative research & evaluation methods: Integrating theory and practice (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

  • Chapter 7, “Qualitative Interviewing” (pp. 421–518)

Baker, S. E., Edwards, R., & Doidge, M. (2012).
How many qualitative interviews is enough? Expert voices and early career reflections on sampling and cases in qualitative research. Retrieved from National Centre for Research Methods website:…

Baker, S.; Edwards, R. (2012). How Many Qualitative Interviews is Enough?: Expert Voices and Early Career Reflections on Sampling and Cases in Qualitative Research. National Centre for Research Methods, 1–42. Used with permission of Sarah Baker and Rosalind Edwards.

Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability.
Field Methods,
18(1), 59–82. doi:10.1177/1525822X05279903

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Mason, M. (2010). Sample size and saturation in PhD studies using qualitative interviews.
Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research,
11(3), article 8. Retrieved from

Mason, Mark (2010). Sample Size and Saturation in PhD Studies Using Qualitative Interviews [63 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(3), Art. 8, Used under The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Seidman, I. (2012).
Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College.

Why Interview? Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences, 3rd Edition by Seidman, I. Copyright 2006 by Teachers College Press. Reprinted by permission of Teachers College Press via the Copyright Clearance Center.

  • Chapter 1, “Why Interview” (pp. 7–14)

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