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Abstract

Dr Waleed Serhan and Dr Katarzyna Wodniak Through this paper, we aim to present the practicalities of using qualitative research methods within a Qatari context. While we are not suggesting that we have formulated a regionally-specific research methodology, what we will present can assist current and future researchers in avoiding some of the practical shortcomings or inconsistencies of applying Western-based research methods within an Arab regional context. These practical recommendations have emerged during the first year of the research project “National Museums and the Public Imagination: A Longitudinal Study of the National Museum of Qatar”. This research project is led by Dr Karen Exell and is funded by the Qatar National Research Fund from 2016-2019. In its first year, it involved nine academics and eight research assistants. The project aims to examine the perceptions and attitudes of Qatari nationals and expatriates towards the new National Museum of Qatar, as well as what they imagine the museum will be in terms of content to be included or excluded. The study is divided into three stages including a pre-opening stage of the museum, immediate post-opening, and a longitudinal study one year from the opening. In the first year, or the pre-opening stage, the project's research team conducted 75 semi-structured in-depth interviews and four focus groups. The interviews included 44 Qatari nationals and 31 Expatriates. The focus groups included two Qatari groups and two expatriate groups. Conducting research on this scale allowed us to gain some practical insights on what may be considered best practice in the ethnically diverse context of Qatar, and possibly the wider region. It was not only the research respondents that were diverse, but also the researchers and research assistants themselves. The latter included Qataris, Arabs (non-Qatari), South Asians, North Americans, and Europeans. Through this non-intentional composition of the research team, we were able to recognize differences and similarities in responses depending on the combination of researchers-respondents. Moreover, we become aware of certain research questions that just do not work or more accurately work better in a Qatari or Arab context, and we have adapted our interview guide for the second year of research. This would have not been possible without initial “testing” in the field. Here again, we identified practical techniques to overcome barriers or respondent-aversion to certain research questions without having to reconsider the research approach in the midst of the research process. Finally, know-how was gained in terms of managing and analysing data originating from a diverse set of respondents as well as researchers. This know-how related specifically to the area of data triangulation. While this paper will only examine qualitative methods, the research project also included a quantitative dimension consisting in a telephone survey with 1500 Qatari and Expatriate respondents. Thereby, data emerging from different methods, diverse respondents, and diverse researchers was triangulated. Within the diverse and multi-layered Qatari context, this presented an additional challenge that the research team had to approach innovatively.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2018.SSAHPP536
2018-03-15
2019-11-19
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