Phenomenological methodology is used in qualitative research that attempts to better understand underlying meanings of experiences. It is also used as a means that eventually describes experience from the perspectives of those being interviewed (Wertz, Charmaz, McMullen, Josselson, Anderson, & McSpadden, 2011). Phenomenological methodologies are based upon the philosophical premise that people only know, or understand, what they experience and as such is not grounded in quantitative fact because it is not based on absolutes (Moustakas, 1994).
Procedures involved in the use of this method begins with an understanding of the philosophical perspective and how phenomena is experienced by individuals. Next, research questions are developed exploring the meaning of experience while also asking participants to describe them (Creswell, 2013). Data is then collected that contains participant descriptions of the phenomena, followed by data analysis that includes the following: research protocols are divided into statements; units described as clusters of meaning; both are combined to form a general description of the phenomena being experienced; the formation of a conclusion based upon a clarification of what was discovered (Creswell, 2013).
Both Moustakas (1994) and Creswell (2013) state that data analysis in phenomenological studies begins through reduction, which includes an analyzing the various themes and statements which eventually comprise potential meanings. Phenomenological methodology requires that researchers’ prejudgments be set aside and that their own experiences be bracketed, meaning any objective reality of the phenomena (Creswell, 2013; Moustakas, 1994). Bracketing also involves a number of steps meant to eventually interpret themes and key phrases that ultimately define the phenomena. In sum, the procedures involved when analyzing the phenomena is used to interpret the subject meaning of lived experiences which when utilizing phenomenological methodology ideally occurs in an organic fashion (Wertz, et al., 2011).
- Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five
approaches (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
- Moustakas, C. E. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Wertz, F. J., Charmaz, K., McMullen, L. M., Josselson, R., Anderson, R., & McSpadden, E. (2011). Five ways of doing qualitative analysis: Phenomenological psychology, grounded theory, discourse analysis, narrative research, and intuitive inquiry. New York, NY: Guilford Press.