Genre Features – Qualitative Research

Hey all,

From what I gathered while reading, Understanding The Genre Features of Qualitative Research: A Case Study by Guo, Y-H, is that this case study has a very meta-component to it, in which the case study follows and documents the process of Lin – a Taiwanese graduate student majoring in English Education – and his progression into a qualitative research community (119). Essentially, this is a qualitative case study being done on a novice research student conducting and compiling qualitative field work data to understand how his limited interpretative writing skills paired with the lowly formulaic style of qualitative data retrieval, will impact his research journey and thesis formation attempts (Guo, 115). A qualitative research study, studying another qualitative research study – OoOo, cool, yo!

Anyway, the design of this case study can easily appeal to and initiate a research learning curve for both students and professors regarding the importance of teaching and conducting qualitative research as a genre. If novice researchers were pushed by their research professors or advisors to steer away from relying on model-imitation techniques of academic research writing, and rather encourage them to study their own naturalistic writing processes – whether it be academic, creative, free-writing, or drafting – they would essentially be practicing and refining their interpretative writing skills on a more simpler level, which differs from that of research-related skills like decoding, or categorizing. Likewise, Guo even asserts that, “[. . .] in transforming naturalistic data into words, the students are actually engaged in the process of writing. Studying their research processes means to study their writing processes” (115).

This way, graduate students can learn how to effectively transform naturalistic data into comprehensible categories of words and meaning in relation to their qualitative inquiry research question(s). Especially, since the qualitative data collection and thesis proposal process entirely revolves around the process of writing and reflecting; otherwise, referred to as interpretive writing skills (Guo 115).

We’ve discovered that qualitative research involves self-centered reflection, as to clear the mind for meaningful, and purposefully driven inquiry questions that drive an effective thesis proposal. We’ve also discussed how research involves interpretive writing skills, which seem to be left out of the curriculum in favor of quantitative research (Guo 122). However, the beginning-inquiry stage of the qualitative research process is seldomly discussed in terms of its genre features and preferred writing styles; thus, leaving students stuck in doubt about their chosen research topic and process (qualitative), which is supposed to feel “freer” than that of the quantitative data collection process. Lin even struggled to find purposeful and meaningful inquiry at the very beginning, He did not know what to investigate specifically and did not follow traditional research procedure by starting from the review of literature” (Guo 118). 

Sometimes, though, too much freedom becomes overwhelming, especially if there is no academic support or training on the complexities of qualitative research as a writing genre. Although Lin chose to conduct his qualitative research through a top-down approach, I don’t think he was ever really taught on how to effectively manage and observe the continual streaming flow of gathering on-site data (Guo 118). Ultimately, I think – after reading about the outside contextual forces – that the qualitative research disconnect is rooted solely on researcher preferences, which in turn, impacts what university students learn; or perhaps, even the fear of getting lost in the written and verbal data observations; or maybe, the avoidance is due to student-homework laziness or an unwillingness to commit through the frustration of interpreting the data and carrying on with it until the end. This is unfortunate in terms of academia and the infinite knowledgeable truths awaiting to be researched and discovered.

I also wonder how professors expect college students to follow through with the multifaceted nature of qualitative research if they: 1) HAVE NOT considered their students’ preexisting knowledge on research implementation; 2) NEVER provide opportunities to learn about qualitative research as a genre, and do not offer enough classroom time to practice writing the qualitative conventional surface features; and 3) DO NOT discuss the recursive, circular nature of qualitative data, and how to avoid becoming overly frustrated.

 This lack of education on the qualitative research process makes it appear more intimidating for college students; therefore, it makes sense to why most of the students chose the quantitative approach (Guo 120). University research institutes and English departments can help to combat the prejudiced attitudes from some science research communities by embedding more qualitative curricular activities or assignments that would be thoroughly guided, step-by-step with the help of the processors’ in-depth explanations. Considering Lin’s Eastern Asian origins and Taiwanese ethnic-identity, I can image that he had to face immense resistance or confront faces of confusion from his classmates, who all chose the easy route in terms of data collection – conducting quantitative research because the data happens to seem more tangible and digestible. So, I applaud Lin for volunteering to be qualitatively observed and analyzed on conducting a form of research that he knows so little about. Go, Lin!!!

 Particularly, because this case study delves deep into Lin’s qualitative writing challenges, and his interactions with his academic advisor and other professors throughout his research endeavors. We are given insight on Lin’s personal struggles conducting, gathering fieldwork data, and writing and editing his data analysis procedure section – over, and over, again. As a graduate student, I felt for Lin and became overly frustrated for him considering there was little-to-no emphasis on the practice and importance of qualitative research (as a genre in inquiry and writing), lack of instruction on academic discourse diversity and “the conventional surface features of thesis writing” (Guo, 122). 

That’s all for this week ~~ I hope whatever I wrote made sense because I did this blog post and skimmed through the reading with a 100-degree fever ~~ woot, woot!!!

Life do be like that sometimes ~~ what ya gonnna do, tho ~~


Francesca Di Fabio 

Case Study Lin

There are surely a lot of do’s and don’ts to take away from Case Study Lin. Furthermore, I pride myself on what I learned thus far from some amazing past professors who I believe have taught me well. I am grateful to Dr. Kim-Le Downes, Dr. Dean Casale, and Dr. Samina Ali for having been very instrumental in assisting me and not taking neglectful Lin steps in UNDERSTANDING THE GENRE FEATURES OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A CASE STUDY By Yi-Huey Guo. Case and Point:

Introduction from the beginning: “Some Asian researchers consider the time-consuming and labor-intensive process of qualitative research writing to be the factors discouraging them from doing it” (p. 115). Well, this is surprising news. I had no idea what some Asian researchers thought about qualitative research with negative connotations. That goes to show how different cultures think as A, B, C, 1, 2, 3.

Writing Qualitatively as a Genre: “Qualitative researchers collect data and analyze it to understand existing realities better” (117). This is such an interesting concept to follow. A good step in collecting data and analyzing findings to understand better and receive optimum results. I surely took the stage in great consideration and when I begin my incredible research process in the past.

The Multifaceted Nature of Qualitative Research Writing: “Some students struggle with the identification of “salient features” (117), which Dr. Roman-Lantzy defines salient features as, “the defining elements that distinguish one target from another.” She continues, “They are key pieces of distinct information that facilitate recognition of an image, object, environment, or person.” She has developed an approach to teach people with CVI to recognize distinctive information about something in order to be able to identify it.  As such, there is no single “right” salient feature for something, and this will be based on the individual.  For example, my child may have a cup with a handle, and that handle might be the salient feature for her.  Another child may have a sippy cup, and that spout may be a distinctive feature for him.  Each person is drawn to specific information about something, depending on interests, needs, strengths, and circumstances” (Paths To Literacy, 2024). This example does seem to coincide quite clearly with the multifaceted nature of qualitative research writing to take under deliberation.

Research Method: “What not to do in following Lin. The objective is to understand whether or not learning qualitative research as a research method could suffice a novice’s writing of it” (118). Here’s a great starting point as to what not to do in following Lin. Slowing down and taking time to weigh the possibilities of whether qualitative research is a good method for a novice researcher to choose or rule it out for research writing purposes.

With The Discussion: “Lin’s case shows that teaching qualitative research merely as a research method may result in a novice’s unawareness of “rhetorical situations” in the writing process” (122). To mean, The rhetorical situation can be described in five parts: purpose, audience, topic, writer, and context. These parts work together to describe better the circumstances and contexts of a piece of writing, which, if understood properly, can help you make smart writing choices in your work. Thus, Treating Lin’s qualitative research writing as a genre practice may also assist other novice researchers in interpretive writing of the epistemological elements.

Conclusion: Indeed, To sum up, first, there is a need to teach a qualitative research method course as a specific genre to qualitative novices like Lin, who not only had limited interpretative writing skills but were immersed in a research community where doing qualitative research received less support (124). For future research, this study suggests researchers highlight the students’ practice of each aforementioned qualitative genre element for further investigation: DON’T BE A LIN.

Instead, let’s attempt to improve further was made to make accurate use of collected writing samples as data. Unfortunately, even after Lin later submitted his second draft, he still left the part of the data analysis procedure unrevised. With his second draft, he wrote something different instead. According to him, he searched several published full-length research articles for extensive reading in addition to the sample his advisor attached (120). Howbeit, this attempt did not work as effectively as he expected because the case study gives clarity that Lin did not carry out the advisor’s input.


This text shows the case study process for a student. My initial reaction was a concern for the translation of the case study. I can only imagine how tough that can be. The idea of writing a case study is overwhelming in its, at least I think so, so adding on the struggle of a language barrier would make it even more stressful.

The part that stuck out to me the most was the “Results” section of the text. I was curious to see what the student actually found.  I found it interesting and absolutely relatable that the student felt as though they were pushed towards one type of research method. In the text it says, “As a result , the professor’ favored research methods had a great influence on the students’ selection of methodological design: Most of his classmates conducted quantitative research of their theses research” (120). I thought this was interesting on both a teacher and student level. I know when I am teaching there are definitely ways or options I give the students that I would prefer for them to choose, but I show them multiple ways because I do not want to cater to any certain learning style or way of thinking. I hope that in my teaching, I am not being biased towards what I prefer and in turn neglecting my students. I do not want them to walk away feeling like they do not know or understand other ways of doing things just because it is not what I prefer. That would stifle their creativity and ability to learn. As a student I can definitely see how frustrating that is.  It is obvious when an educator favors a topic or way of doing something and it makes s student feel weird or wrong to go against that. 

Another point I found interesting was the results from the interviews. I did not realize how much can affect an interview and throw off or prolong results. The author mentions how one of the student interviewees did not take him seriously because he was a peer. I never thought about how your relationship to the interviewee could determine what type of results you get, how they get the information, and even how long it takes. 

Case Studies!

Hey Everyone,

For this blog I wanna try something different so I’m gonna use a bullet point list format.

Let’s see how it works.

  • This whole case study is a step by step guide on how to do a case study.
  • Guo tells us how they found the student, why they wanted to study the topic, how long they studied the student, what data they used.
    • Is one person really enough to generalize conclusions?
      • When we consider sample size, there are about 7.888 billion people on Earth so how can one single person be used to generalize results to a larger population?
      • This was actually a question I had during the reading and it was addressed at the end by Guo. She said the results are not generalizable and it’s about what we learn from the case.
      • I’m still wondering if it is a worthwile investment to study 1 person for a whole year if the end result can’t be applied to a larger population.
    • Not comfortable with the idea that because one thing is true, that “allows” the study to do something. Treating research attempts as composing acts. How can we say or not say what is a composing act? Research needs to be a composing act for the purpose of this study so would the author justify it anyway they need to because it is important for the study?
      • “In this study, the term “writing” is emphasized; a conceptual scheme based on the perspective of writing studies allows this study to treat Lin’s research attempts as composing acts.” (Guo 118)
    • Tips for interviews?
      • Again, I was making these notes as I was reading and this was addressed towards the end.
      • There is a great list of different types of questions and general tips for interviews towards the end of the article.
      • Remember to think like a journalist!
    • The following part is really useful for us in the class because it gives us an idea of when to try qualitative research:
      • “When the following situations apply, the students should be encouraged to try qualitative research: first, when the purpose of their research is to understand a phenomenon performed by a particular group of people; second, when the purpose of their research is to revise the existing theory or to establish a new theory” (Vivar, McQueen, Whyte, & Armayor, 2007, p. 64). (Guo 122)
    • When the researcher tells us what the student did wrong and should have done, this is good stuff. It helps us see mistakes that we will make as researchers and shows us solutions:
      • “Theoretically, his collected writing samples together with other forms of data (e.g., the interviews, observational field notes, and the recorded teacher-student writing conferences) should be coded and compared/contrasted, through which analytical patterns would be developed for discussing the affected factors of his participants’ English writing motivation.” (Guo 122)
    • What’s it like to read this case study for the student and see all the details of their research work put under a microscope? Did Lin even read this case study? Would they want to?
    • What do you do in a situation where like Lin, you can’t study them anymore. If you don’t have enough data was the whole 1 year study period a waste?




    Thought On Case Study

    At first, when I scanned the reading once, I felt a little confused and thought that is this article really related to the case study topic? However, after completing my reading, I figured out that this story about Lin’s research process is a typical example of case study method.  The article helped me to understand what case study is. Case study is an in-depth research method about a person, a group, or an event that happened and is real, helping people understand and be able to visualize research object. In a case study research, nearly every aspect of the subject is analyzed to look for patterns and causes of behavior.

    I can see every aspect of Lin’s research being analyzed through the reading. It also helped me to comprehend more clearly how Lin considering as someone who had no expertise in qualitative methods conducted a research by using qualitative method. The reading brought out the reasons for his failed research and draws conclusions.

    To conduct a research, researchers need to reinforce their knowledge by participating in related courses. Moreover, researchers need to develop interviewing skills to collect data thoroughly. It can be said that this reading supported me to make sense more deeply because it was a real-life example of the qualitative research process conducted by a non-specialist. This real-life case gained me interest in reading the article. Unintentionally, I noticed the importance of case studies through the reading. Firstly, it is considered to increase practicality. In wholly fields, gaining and updating knowledge plays an extremely important role, but specialized theories are often numerous, difficult to understand and not easy to acquire. Therefore, Case Studies method will appear on practical scene, assist reader to provide easier-to-understand and more realistic examples. Secondly, it is such a boost to the interest in reading. Combining theory with specific Case Studies will help increase reader interest. Because, those are actual cases that have happened in the past or present. Compared to learning theory in a dry way, the combination will be more vivid, then apprehend well.

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    Case Study: The Fate of Lin

    This week’s reading was “Understanding Genre Features of Qualitative Research: A Case Study” by Yi-Huey Guo. The purpose of this case study was “to understand Lin’s qualitative research process from the perspective of writing studies.” I think that the author should have used a different case study to achieve this goal. This paper ends up cataloging Lin’s failures while pointing out that the very thing the author sought to better understand, Lin’s qualitative research process, is flawed and  incomplete. Overall, I found it painful to read about this guy, Lin, who was struggling to do this big thing in his life–write a master’s thesis–and failing, all the while getting lukewarm support from his professors and advisors. There was a part of me that wanted to yell at Lin and tell him to try harder, but I most often felt sympathetic toward him.

    It seemed like Lin wasn’t getting enough training from his professors. For example, he lacked certain interviewing skills that would have contributed greatly to his success and streamlined his process. It just seems to me like he wasn’t even ready to write his master’s thesis. It’s no wonder that the author replaced the subject’s name with a pseudonym–to write this paper without one would have been cruel.

    Given all of the setbacks and obstacles with which Lin struggled, I wonder whether it might have been easier for Lin to have chosen a different approach. The descriptions in the article make it sound like life would have been a lot easier for Lin if he had chosen a quantitative approach to his thesis, but I think that it might have been more effective if Lin had turned his focus onto himself and used autoethnography. Since Lin had set out to research what motivated the selected students to write and his own motivation to write lagged in certain areas, he could have explored why some parts of the research process were easier for him than others, what skills he wished he had, where things went off track when interviewing, how the academic culture affected his choices, and even how his feelings about his failures were affecting his research and writing processes. Perhaps by turning the lens on himself, he might have gotten closer to answering his question.

    Early on in this course, I wrote in a blog post expressing that perhaps I needn’t be afraid of starting down a research path with a wrong question guiding me, because starting over in that situation would be similar to when I need to throw away my writing and start over. Similarly, Lin should have bravely acknowledged his weaknesses, discarded a plan that wasn’t working for him, and tried a new approach, like autoethnography. This case study has shown me that many factors can contribute to the success of a research project. Many of them are not in my control, but I can take charge of assessing my situation honestly and pivoting to a new method, when necessary. Above all else, I just hope that I can avoid the fate of Lin.

    Lin’s Great Folly

    This week’s reading “Understanding Genre Features of Qualitative Research: A Case Study” by Yi Huey-Guo details the ill-fated master’s thesis study conducted by a graduate student named Lin (pseudonym). Lin made several errors over the course of his data collection and research process which, unfortunately, brought his study to a complete halt. With that said, Lin had the odds stacked against him from the start given the fact that he was the only researcher in his class who was utilizing the qualitative method. Lin’s university (like most universities) placed a heavy emphasis on quantitative research while neglecting the value of qualitative research. For this reason, Lin had little support from his professors or tools and knowledge at his disposal to conduct his research.

    Lin’s topic was one that I found to be quite intriguing. He set out to determine the motivations of English major undergraduates to learn English in the first place (bear in mind that Lin was attending a Taiwanese university and all students in the English program were required to write their thesis in English). professors were not too impressed by his chosen topic given that it had been done many times by previous students and had become “stale” in their eyes. However, Lin set out to conduct his research qualitatively rather than quantitatively which set his methodology aside from his peers. Personally, I would have had reservations about such a daunting topic from the start given that it is very difficult to determine one’s motivations for anything–let alone something as complex as learning a second language and choosing it as one’s primary area of study. Nevertheless, Lin set out to determine just that.

    Unfortunately for Lin, he lacked the skills, preparation, and (more than anything) the support to conduct his qualitative study. He had an introverted personality and was unsuccessful approaching strangers, thereby limiting his pool of potential candidates to interview. The candidates that he did interview were fellow English majors whom he shared a class with which led to a number of problems including the aforementioned participants getting carried away in irrelevant side conversations or speaking informally since they viewed Lin as a peer rather than a researcher. Understandably, the data gathered from this approach was difficult to interpret and Lin did not have the necessary resources or guidance to draw any conclusions from his interviews. His professors harshly scolded his tactics and–before long–it was clear that Lin’s thesis was doomed.

    On the bright side, Lin’s failed research project contributed to Li-Huey Guo’s case study. By interviewing Lin and taking the time to research the errors he made, Guo both identified key mistakes that other novice researchers might make while also highlighting ongoing issues in the perception of qualitative studies.


    This week we read “Understanding The Genre Features of Qualitative Research: A Case Study”, by Yi-Huey Guo. Going into this reading, I was making my own assumptions as to what case study may entail. I figured the meaning is in the name. Study of cases? However, continuing to read this study, it was very helpful in understanding what really goes behind case study. I had to read the word “Genre” a couple of times due to the fact this study was not referring to the “Genre” we all grew up with. Now, we have a graduate thesis and genre practice that is essentially qualitative research that brings everything together for a purpose. On the topic of case study, I noticed that qualitative/quantitative research was very crucial in this reading and was mentioned almost on every paragraph. Which makes sense, as it helps researchers analyze their data and bring them into reality. As the reading mentioned “ They seek the ontological meaning of their studies by uncovering the research participants’ life experiences”. Ontological being the key word as this helps researchers understand their collected data better, rather than trying to “solve” it in a sense. Afterall, qualitative data is knowledge through personal experience; Why would someone want to measure this data, rather than truly trying to understand their participant? However, I can also understand why some researchers/students struggle to grasp the data they have collected through qualitative research. Researchers will interview numerous participants and analyze every single data collected and have to establish a conclusion at the end of this research. And, the conclusion of that has to be a similar “Pattern” established within the data. 

    We now move on to Lin, who was a graduate student that was studied for his cultivated research writing process. Lin began his research process and from the get go, he lacked a plan for his research. As well as his knowledge on qualitative research, which did not go far. He decided to seek the approach of on-site data collection. Meaning, he physically went around interviewing participants. I think it was a very helpful understanding that Lin struggled when collecting data. I think instructors always make it seem that interviewing a vast amount of people can be overwhelming. Especially, just like Lin, having to put aside his thesis proposal because he wanted to gain even more knowledge for this research. After working on this study for a year, the study still went on. On page 119, the study added “ The researcher interviewed one of Lin’s course instructors to know how his qualitative research writing might be affected  by the situated research environment and interviewed his advisor twice to know how she reviewed Lin’s thesis proposal quality”. The consensus was that Lin was struggling with his interviewees. I think Lin taking this huge step in interviewing a bunch of people his first time was admirable but it lacked important data analysis. Since his interviewees gave him answers that he cannot work it, his analysis was not as strong as it should have been. A key suggested the study did provide is that in qualitative literacy research writing out data is very useful. For example, as mentioned in the study, writing out inductive research methods would be helpful as theories can be infinite. Making notes, and jotting things down from your own brain would make analysis so much more convenient. 

    Overall, I think Guo’s interpretation of a case study opened a new understanding for myself. Although, it is very overwhelming and you have to be very committed. . I’m not sure if case study is my route to take, but there are very important aspects. Such as having his questions clear to the participants so the researcher can collect proper data. As well as having questions be actual research questions, and not just q&a for fun.

    track 05. case study

    Yi-Huey Guo’s Understanding Genre Features of Qualitative Research: A Case Study is a case study on a graduate student’s (under the pseudonym Lin) qualitative writing process. Although he was one of three graduate students in this program, he claims “he was the only student conducting qualitative research in his program during the course of study” showing academia’s bias towards quantitative research (Guo 118). The case study continues to reveal the huge amount of stacked odds against Lin’s attempt at qualitative research: Lin’s advisor believes his qualitative research expertise is lacking, Lin’s introverted personality made it hard for him to find participants, and even after observing his participants for a year, Lin still couldn’t finish his thesis (Guo 118-119). This case study seems to highlight a lot of the pitfalls of qualitative research, but I feel it also intends to highlight where this genre of research can be bolstered in order to become more effective. Guo makes a point to mention that Lin is a novice at qualitative research, and spends a significant amount of time explaining why he fell into these pitfalls and even what could be done to avoid falling into these pitfalls. I think the sentence that succinctly summarizes this case study is what Guo writes at the beginning of the discussion section, “Lin’s immersion in a quantitative research-centered research environment had affected his selection of methodological approaches, implying a local research community’s need of accepting multifaceted academic discourses for the development of research paradigms” (121). If Lin was provided with more experience and resources in qualitative research, then this could have been a more successful endeavor. Guo even mentions that the development of qualitative research methods in some research communities is “[tardier]” than others, and it results in situations like Lin’s (124). Although Guo says Lin’s case isn’t meant to be representative, I believe it can be considering academia’s overall bias towards quantitative research rather than qualitative. Or maybe, I should say this would be a good starting point to find more case studies similar to Lin’s.

    As for the method of case study itself, its useful because of how it sort of compiles long stretches of research into a more digestible format for others to use the data. To actually oversee one though seems like a tremendous undertaking. Just for Lin’s case, Guo had to follow and keep in touch with him for a year in order to get all of this information. I do think this could be rewarding in its own right, but I also feel like its something that needs to be planned for in advance to make sure all the necessary and appropriate data is collected over the course of the case study. To be honest, I’d be willing to participate in one as a subject. It’d be fun, I think.

    As I wrote this blog post, I listened to J Dilla’s Donuts (2006). A personal favorite of mine, the familiar tunes helped my brain lock in with the work while my head nodded along to the beats.