Book by David Silverman & Amir Marvasti
Review by Jamie Reynolds
First Year Advising Center, Academic Advisor
Kent State University

Conducting research can intimidate and overwhelm the novice researcher. When beginning the journey to conduct a research study, it is often difficult to clearly identify where to start. The burgeoning researcher might experience uncertainty and anxiety in regards to the various phases of the research process.  Doing qualitative research: A comprehensive guide provides insight into the steps encompassing the research journey and the manner in which would-be researchers can effectively conduct a qualitative research study. Here Silverman and Marvasti intended to create a text to provide researchers with a “singly authored, hands-on, practical guide to the business of doing qualitative research, writing it up, and making use of it” (p. 3). The authors achieved this goal with the creation of this truly comprehensive guide.

Doing qualitative research: A comprehensive guide is designed specifically for the novice researcher.  Silverman and Marvasti assist the reader in developing a full understanding of the qualities, uses, and limitations of both qualitative and quantitative research. With this knowledge, the researcher can make an informed decision about appropriate methodology based upon the relevance of the research topic.  

The processes of data collection and analysis are delineated in a manner that helps the researcher effectively and efficiently collect data. A common misconception is that data collection should be completed prior to start of the data analysis. Silverman and Marvasti encourage qualitative researchers to analyze the data as it is collected. The authors review the utilization of various computer software programs designed for qualitative data analysis and note strengths and limitations of each; this helps inform researchers on whether the utilization of computer software programs is appropriate and useful for their studies.

Although this text is quite lengthy, the chapters are individual and self-contained. The structure of the text allows readers to select chapters relevant where they are in the research process. This is a definite strength of the text and provides flexibility and time-efficiency for readers. The authors include exercises at the end of each chapter where acquired knowledge can be applied to the readers’ own research studies. Case studies assist readers in making connections between the information in the chapter and various scenarios.  

Silverman and Marvasti gear this book toward doctoral students. The text includes suggestions on how to select a committee chair and makes recommendations for preparing for qualifying exams. Techniques for defending both the research proposal and the dissertation help put doctoral students at ease. Job search strategies provide closure to the final phase of the doctoral journey. The tips provided give doctoral students insight and clarity about the future.

Doing qualitative research: A comprehensive guide supplies guidance to individuals embarking on their initial research journeys. It also provides more experienced researchers with a detailed reference resource that can be used throughout the research process. As a novice researcher and doctoral student myself, I found this text basic, resourceful, and encouraging. I now feel that my research journey has been segmented into individual steps that are both manageable and practical. 

Doing qualitative research: A comprehensive guide, (2008). Book by David Silverman & Amir Marvasti. Review by Jamie Reynolds. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 576 pp. $49.95 (paperback). ISBN 9781412926393

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