Q Methodology refers to a research method that is used for the study of people’s viewpoint or subjectivity. This research method was developed by an English physician known as William Stephenson (1902-1989). Over the years, the Q methodology has been an ideal tool applied in clinical settings for the assessment of patients and also in research settings for the examination of the views of different people on various topics. In developing this research method, Stephenson had an interest in the use of factor analysis for the correlation of people with their conceived views in order to reveal various points of view that could be prevalent in every situation.
In using the Q methodology, there are basic steps and procedures that must be followed with regards to how the research method was developed. The first step is drawing a Q sample from the concourse. This is followed by setting a group of respondents based on the given instructions. Besides, the participants should also be left to do this based on their own likes and dislikes. The resulting Q sorts obtained are then submitted to correlation and factor analysis. The interpreted results that will be obtained are subjective views of the respondents.
Today, the Q methodology is still being used in quite a number of situations. However, there are new and integrated software that has been developed to help the users in conducting various kinds of research more easily. The Q methodology is a DOS-based program that is designed purposely for statistical analysis of Q data and can be easily downloaded online from trusted providers. There are several providers of the software used for analyzing Q data that you can easily obtain online at your own convenience.
When applying the Q methodology, it important to note that the sample of statements of Q sort is drawn from and claimed to represent the sum of all views or thoughts expressed by different people on the issue that is being investigated. This sum of things is known as concourse. However, it should be noted that statements of people cannot be randomly drawn and there is no theory that would give a specification of an adequate sample. In most occasions, those who apply this research method use a structured sampling approach in order to give a representation of the full breadth of the concourse.
One of the strengths of the Q methodology over other research methodologies is that it uses fewer subjects. In fact, at times it is used with a single subject. Another benefit of this method over others is that it is less expensive. Since the Q methodology works with a small sample that is non-representative, the conclusions are only focused on those who took part in the study.
The Q methodology is an ideal research tool that has been applied in quite a number of niches including veterinary medicine, nursing, transportation, public health, rural sociology, education, mobile communication among others.
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