Practice Paper 3 – Observation of Hospitals – EXAMPLE ANSWERS

adminAssessment (IB), Qualitative Research Methods, Research Methodology, Revision and Exam Preparation

One of the best ways of preparing for Paper 3 is to try lots of practice exams.

The following are some sample answers to THIS PRACTICE PAPER THREE.

Paper Three: Example Answers

 The following are example answers to the practice three paper found on pg.

 1.(a) Identify the research method used and outline two characteristics of the method.

  • Method = covert participant observation
  • Observations in qualitative studies like this one tend to happen in naturalistic environments, like hospitals.
  • A participant observation involves the researcher becoming a member of the group they’re observing (in this case they were a member of those needing treatment)
  • Covert observations are conducted without those being observed being made aware that they are being observed

(b) Describe the sampling method used in the study.

  • Method = purposive sampling
  • A purposive sample is a non-representative sampling method. In this case, it’s not hoped that the sample represents all hospitals, but is only showing a small group in a particular area that have something in common.
  • Purposive sampling is when researchers find participants because they have specific characteristics that are suitable for studying (in this case it was the hospitals and staff that were treating uninsured people)

(c) Suggest an alternative or additional research method giving one reason for your choice.

  • One possible additional method would be to conduct an interview after the observations.
  • This could be done to triangulate findings – the researcher could double-check that her conclusions drawn from the observation are consistent with the perspectives of the staff and maybe other patients.
  • Having two methods reduces chance of researcher bias having an effect. For example, the researcher might have been biased when interpreting the hospital staff’s behaviour and interviews give the staff a chance to share their experiences and perhaps explain their side of the story

Writing in bullet points is fine for Paper 3 answers.

2.Describe the ethical considerations in reporting the results and explain additional ethical considerations that could be taken into account when applying the findings of the study.

Reporting the results

One consideration is anonymity. The researcher should keep the names of the hospitals (and any people, like Samuel) anonymous. This protects their privacy.

A second consideration is disclosure. The researcher had experience in this field of study, so the ethical thing to do when reporting the results is to disclose this information so people are aware of the potential for bias in the study.

A final consideration is the right to withdraw data. Sometimes researchers may give participants the opportunity to withdraw their data from a study. As these results could have significant effects on the hospital patients and staff, the researcher may have considered this before reporting the results. However, if the hospitals did withdraw their data that may be lots of time wasted and chances for improvement in hospitals could be missed, so it might be more ethical in the long-run to not offer them the chance to withdraw data.

Applying the findings

One possible ethical consideration in applying the findings is replicability – before the findings of this study are applied in any way, it should be replicated to make sure the findings are reliable. It could be considered unethical to make change to something as important as hospital care based on the outcome of one study.

It could be argued that covert observations have ethical issues because participants don’t know they’re being observed. However, they can be justified if the findings can be applied to make people’s lives better. In this case, if findings from this study are applied to improve the care of marginalized people, then the covert observation is justified.

The right to withdraw – these findings may be used to make changes to how the hospitals are organized. It might be an ethical consideration to have the hospitals allowed to withdraw their data from this study if they do not want to be involved in this (but this has other ethical implications – is it OK to withdraw from studies if they show negative results?)

Another possibility is cultural considerations – if the findings of this study are being applied in other cultures, cultural differences need to be taken into consideration or else the applications might make things worse.

3.Discuss the possibility of generalizing/transferring the findings of the study. [9]

There are a number of possible factors that influence the transferability of the finding of this study, including triangulation, the nature of the sample and bias. Transferability is the extent to which we can transfer the findings from one study to another context.

Firstly, there was only one researcher, although she did gather data from multiple perspectives. Using a combination of methods can increase validity of findings and influence the transferability. In this case she made observations and also carried out informal interviews with people like Samuel. Gathering data from a number of sources like this could increase the accuracy of the findings and thus influence transferability.

On the other hand, the sampling method was non-representative sampling (purposive sampling) so there is no original intent of generalizing. The sample was very small (only 9 hospitals – only 1 interview reported), and usually the larger the sample size the more likely it is to generalize the findings. The study also took place in New York City. This is a unique city in a particular country and it might not be possible to transfer findings across other cultures. For example, NYC is a very racially and ethnically diverse city. This means that there is a high probability people are interacting with people from different racial groups. The same bad treatment might not occur in more racially homogenous cities were people are more similar to one-another. NYC is also a very large city. Studies have shown (e.g. Levine) that bigger cities are less helpful than those in smaller areas so these same results might not be expected in a smaller place. America is also an individualistic country, so perhaps treatment for people might be better in collectivist cultures where there is more concern for the welfare of the group and group harmony. These are all factors that influence generalizability.

Finally, there was a real chance for researcher bias to influence these results as the researcher had “long been concerned about inequities in the allocation and distribution of health care resources.” This may affect the accuracy of her findings and conclusions, which affects transferability. Having a second researcher observing and triangulating the findings could have reduced bias and improved the possibility of transferring these findings to different contexts. 

In conclusion, triangulation, bias and the nature of the sample are all factors to consider when assessing generalizability of this study. (400 words, approx.)

These were sample answers to THIS PRACTICE PAPER THREE.