Chapter 6 of Creswell’s Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design is all about writing the best introduction to your study as possible. It gives an overview of the introduction section and then goes into details about the subparts that make it up. A good qualitative introduction begins with the identification of a clear problem that needs to be studied. It then advances the primary intent of the study, called the purpose of the study. It sets the stage for the entire article and conveys what the author hopes to accomplish in the study. Of all parts of a research project, the purpose statement is most important.
The Research Problem Statement
Qualitative studies begin with an introduction advancing the research problem or issue in a study. The purpose of a research problem in qualitative research is to provide a rationale or need for studying a particular issue or problem. An example of various research problem statements can be found on page 132 figure 6.1, the 5 elements of a good introduction: the topic, the research problem, the evidence, and the importance of the problem for select audiences. At this point the introduction proceeds onto the purpose statement.
The Purpose Statement
The purpose statement provides the major objective or intent, or “road map,” to the study. The purpose statement needs to be carefully constructed and written in a clear and concise language. An example of a purpose statement script is found on page 135.
On page 136 table 6.1 contains a chart with “Words to use in Encoding the Purpose statement” as well as several examples of purpose statements that illustrate the encoding and foreshadowing of the 5 approaches to research on page 137.
The Research Question
The intent of the qualitative research question is to narrow the purpose statement into several specific questions that will be addressed in the study. Qualitative research questions are open-ended, evolving, and nondirectional. It restates the purpose of the study in more specific terms and typically start with a word or how rather than why.
The Central Question
The author recommends that a researcher reduce her or his entire study to a single, overarching central question and several subquestions. Examples can be found on page 139-140.
Subquestions further specify the central questions into some areas for inquiry. Suggestions for writing these subquestions can be found on page 140-141.
If you follow the directions in this chapter, your study’s introduction should be interesting, informative, and provide a backdrop for the rest of the research report. Good luck!
— by Benjamin Young, Christina Markoski, & Marissa Levitan