The purpose of the proposed qualitative study is to explore a 21st century policy to protect citizens’ civil liberties because the country is struggling to balance between freedom and security since the terrorist attacks of September 2001. This study will also identify citizens’ willingness to forfeit their civil liberties in substitution for greater national security. Furthermore, the study will also highlight how U.S. intelligence agencies are violating citizens’ civil liberties in this era and how establishing a comprehensive policy will limit the government power from curtailing civil liberties for the sake of national security.
In order to provide answers to those research questions that related to restrictions of civil liberties, researchers cannot just read quickly across the surface, instead they must dig deep to obtain full understanding of the issue being investigated. One effective way to do this is conducting a qualitative study in which researchers collect various forms of information and assess them from different angles to create an important and meaningful picture of a comprehensive situation (Creswell, 2009). According Leedy and Ormrod (2010) researchers conduct qualitative research as a way of exploring phenomena that happen in natural settings and they study those phenomena in all their complexity. Qualitative research studies serve many reasons, such as they expose the nature of certain situations, they allow researcher to obtain new perspectives about a particular phenomenon, establish new theories or theoretical insights about the experience and determine the issues that are present within the phenomenon. Moreover, qualitative research studies also enable researchers to examine the validity of certain broad assumptions, theories, claims or generalizations within real natural settings. At last, they serve as a means through which a researcher can evaluate whether or not a certain policy is effective within an organization (Leedy & Ormrod).
Another important part when conducting a qualitative study is to choose the qualitative research design that is more suitable to answer the research questions. The proposed research questions that are related to the phenomenon must be aligned with the purpose statement. Also, all qualitative research questions should be open-ended questions and reflect the nature of the research design. Leedy and Ormrod (2010) have pointed out five common qualitative research designs that researchers tend to choose from when conducting qualitative research: case study, ethnography, phenomenological study, ground theory study, and content analysis. Each of those designs will enable researchers to provide an understanding to a particular phenomenon.
Secondary Data and Ground Theory
This qualitative research is intended to use secondary data and the ground theory design. Secondary data is data which was previously collected and may be analyzed by individuals other than the researcher for reasons other than the original purpose. Calantone and Shawnee (2009) emphasized that secondary data can be retrieved from data from government agencies (census data, labor statistics, new housing starts), large surveys conducted by other researchers, and from existing archives. In this research, information about civil liberties and terrorism will be collected from various research archival databases such as Proquest, Ebrary and Gale Academy Onefile using the keywords of civil liberties and terrorism. Only articles published within the last 10 years will be selected for this research to produce a significant contribution to the field of knowledge. The PATRIOT Act of 2001 will also be investigated thoroughly to underline some of its shortcomings about civil rights violation and the leeway that it provides to government officials.
In addition, the ground theory approach will be used which uses a prescribed set of procedures for analyzing data and constructing a theoretical model from them
(Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). A ground research study primarily focuses on people’s actions and inactions related to a particular topic, with the main goal of creating a theory about the process which was undertaken. Given the fact that only secondary data will be used in this study, the ground theory approach is the most appropriate research design because it allows researchers to use interviews, observations, historical records, videotapes, and any documents that relevance to the interested research question (Creswell, 2010). This paper aims to identify the strengths and weaknesses of using secondary data and the ground theory research design and justify why this chosen research method and design are suitable for the proposed research.
Strengths and Weakness of using Secondary data
According to Calantone and Shawnee (2009) using secondary has immense benefits, such as, it cost effective and required less time because the original researcher has already spent the time and money to collect and analyze the collected data. In addition, secondary data is also accessible to a large number of scholars allowing for true re-search as well as duplication and validation studies. Moreover, when compare to primary data, secondary data obtained from archival databases tend to be more objective because it is free from contamination by respondent perceptions and/or memories of the phenomenon of interest (Calantone & Shawnee, 2009). Furthermore, using secondary data can enhance the veracity of a research study by eliminating the likelihood that the purpose of the research could have manipulated the survey instrument, the design of the research questions, or population(s) sampled. Calantone and Shawnee further stated that “secondary data can be combined with other types of data to investigate phenomena more thoroughly or in an information setting using tools such as Bayesian inference” (Calantone & Shawnee, 2009, p.96).
Similarly, Lockwood (2006) highlighted that when using secondary data, a researcher can compare between groups, societies and nations. This research method provides the researcher the opportunity to replicate research studies. For example, in her study, Lockwood used secondary data to investigate common source of care for cervical cancer screening and to investigate cervical cancer screening differences from a national perspective. Using secondary data, Lockwood (2006) was able to analyze the data and established a theory which can provide nurse inquirers with greater knowledge about cancer. Nevertheless, Lockwood also pointed out that when using secondary data, researchers may not have sufficient data collection to provide answers to their interest research questions. Such information is extremely important because it allows researcher to identify errors, bias, or problems with external or internal validity (Lockwood, 2009).
Furthermore, Christopher (2008) has highlighted one primary benefit and shortcoming of secondary data, such as cost effective and loss control. As previously mentioned, it is less expensive to conduct research using secondary information than primary data because the original researcher has paid for the costs. Thus, the costs will be minimized but it is not a free ride because using secondary data does come with a penalty which is that researchers cannot exercise any control over their generation. Thus, researchers need to become knowledgeable about the process which was used to collect the data because they were not involved in the gathering of the data. In addition, Christopher (2008) pointed out that by not having total control over the generation, researchers may find it somewhat difficult to manipulate the collected data into a suitable form because the data was produced for another purpose. Overall, Christopher concluded that using secondary data is beneficial because it strengths the researcher to reflect more closely about the theoretical aims and substantive issues of the study rather than the practical and methodological problems of collecting new data (Christopher, 2008).
Strengths and Weaknesses of Ground Theory Design
The ground theory research design has been used as a qualitative approach in many studies, such as, to investigate how parents who children are incarcerated in state penitentiaries deal with their feelings of uncertainty. Also, researchers have used it to conduct studies on how people live with HIV and manage their illness (Byrne, 2010). According to Leedy and Ormrod, the ground theory is originated in sociology and it has been in the field of geography, anthropology, nursing, education, psychology and social work to conduct studies when current theories about a phenomenon are either unexplored or under explored. The sole purpose of ground theory is to create theory from the collected data.
Additionally, ground theory consists of many steps that if analyzed and executed careful is thought to “guarantee” a good theory as the outcome. Those steps include open coding, axial coding, and selective coding (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). In this research project, data will be analyzed using the foresaid steps to develop a theory which will provide an understanding to why the government is really curtailing citizens’ civil rights and a 21st century policy will be introduced to protect those rights. Leedy and Ormrod stated that the theory should be based on the data collected and it should show the developing nature of the experience and explains how certain conditions direct to certain actions or interactions, how those actions or interactions lead to other actions, with the typical sequence of events being laid out (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010).
In study about research methodologies, Suhonen (2009) identified some of the strengths using ground theory, such as; it identifies the situated nature knowledge, as well as the dependent nature of practice. Ground theory also provides a substantial description that properly acknowledges areas of conflict and contradiction and it is more likely to reach a determination of what really happens. On the other hand, Suhonen also highlighted some weaknesses of using ground theory. For instance, ground theory saturates the researcher with too much data which make it difficult to control. In addition, it provides no standard rule to follow and the researcher needs to be well skilled with the method.
Nevertheless, Leedy and Ormroad (2010) pointed out that ground theory study is an effective way to tackle a research problem. For example, by using the ground theory design, this proposed study will provide a description of the research question, a review of the literature will be conducted not to provide a theory but to give a justification and context for the study. Furthermore, a description of the methodology and data analysis will be carried which include the specifics methods that was used such as interviews documentation, observations, or archival information and how the collected data was driven by the data analysis. Then the theory will be presented along with a discussion of implications that will depict any similarities or dissimilarities from other theoretical perspectives (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010).
Overall, using secondary data and the ground theory design are the most appropriate method to address the research questions. For example, the ground theory provides a structure and relatively systematic way to boiling down a huge body of data into a concise conceptual framework that describes and explains a particular phenomenon (Leedy& Ormrod, 2010). Also, secondary data can be very attractive to graduate students who have insufficient funds to conduct research. Cotton (1998) implied that secondary data not only offer advantages in terms of cost and effort, but also that in certain cases their use may triumph over some of the difficulties that particularly cause problems for researchers when collecting primary data. Furthermore, by using secondary data in this proposed research project, the researcher will avoid some of the ethical concerns surround research with human participants. Jackson (2008) emphasized that when conducting research with human or nonhuman subjects, the researcher is ultimately responsible for their welfare and it is the researcher’s responsibility to protect them from any potential harm.
According to Creswell (2009) studies that involved the use of human subjects needs are carefully examined in order to protect the participants from any harm. As a result, researchers need to respect vulnerable populations and not put their participants at risk. Furthermore, researchers need to ensure that their participants signed an informed consent form which outlined any potential risks before they engage in the research. Creswell also highlighted that both participants and the researcher should benefit from the research study and no one should be coerced into any studies. Overall, Jackson (2008) concluded that the rights of those participating in any research studies and all risks should be listed in a language that is understandable to all participants. Nevertheless, the process is somewhat different when the researcher is using previously collected data.
For instance, Law (2005) outlined that there are major concerns that should not be overlooked when using secondary data, such as the potential for harm to the research participants and the lack of informed consent. However, obtaining research subjects’ consent to re-use previously collected data can raise other ethical concerns, including a breach of their privacy because the original researcher would have to identify the individuals before the second researcher could initiate contact with them. Other researchers have suggested that the original researcher should contact the participants and obtaining their consent about re-using the data because the participants may be unwilling to disclose any information to the secondary researcher since they do not have any rapport (Law, 2005).
Using a quantitative research method and the survey research design for this proposed study would produce a less desirable outcome. According to Leedy and Ormrod, researchers conduct a quantitative research when there is a need for conclusive answers to research questions. In addition, the sole purpose of a quantitative study is to “determine the relationship between an independent variable and a dependent or outcome variable in a population” (Creswell, 2009, p. 97).
In a quantitative research, the researcher chooses a sample that almost represents the population and they are allowed to test specifics hypothesis, and the results for each hypothesis may vary because some can be supported while others are not. This method and research design would not be the most appropriate for the research questions because the proposed research’s main objective is to identify the gaps existed in the literature about curtailing civil liberties and develop a theory which can be used to implement a policy that would protect citizens’ civil liberties in this post 9/11 era. Only the ground theory design would be suitable to carry out such task in a qualitative study.
Similarly, using the survey research design is deemed less desirable for the proposed study. Even though, the survey research design allows researchers to learn about a large group of people by surveying a sample of that population, the process of colleting such data can be costly and required a lot of time and energy. According to Leedy and Ormrod (2010) a survey research involves getting information about one or more groups of individuals by asking them questions about their opinions, characteristics, attitudes or previous experiences. Leedy and Ormrod further stated that when conducting a survey research, a researcher can use telephone interviews, face to face interviews or written questionnaires.
However, when conducting telephone interviews, the expense and time may be unreasonable if the needed interviewees live in a variety of countries, provinces or states (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). Jackson (2008) explained that although there immense benefits of conducting telephone surveys, there are also several disadvantages, such as they are more time-consuming than a mail survey because a researcher must read each of the questions and record the responses. Also, the researchers must call the participants or employ someone to place the calls; such method can be quite expensive. Thirdly, is the problem of interviewer bias and finally the participants may be more likely to give desirable responses over the phone than on a mail survey.
Additionally, Leedy and Ormrod have underlined different drawbacks associated with conducting survey research, such as, a low return rate because most people who receive questionnaires have a tendency to trash them without even opening them. Also, participants’ response will reflect their reading and writing skills, and may be their misinterpretation of one or more questions. Nevertheless, there are some advantages associated with using survey research design such as this design is cheaper because researcher will not need to travel to conduct interviews, which is extremely costly. Moreover, the mail survey has allowed the researcher to collect more sensitive information because participants many not be willing to give such information to a stranger on the telephone. Also, a mail survey is more accurate and complete because the participants tend to spend more time to answers the questions thoroughly without feeling the pressure of someone waiting for answer (Leedy & Ormrod). However, Creswell (2009) pointed out that a survey research design makes critical demands on the researcher to the point if not critically respected, may jeopardize the whole research effort.