creswell3.jpgAccording to Creswell

Definition and Background:

  • describes the meaning for several individuals of their lived experiences of a concept or a phenomenon

  • purpose is to reduce individual experiences with a phenomenon to a description of the universal essence

  • qualitative researchers identify a phenomenon of human experience eg: grief, insomnia

  • inquirer then collects data from persons who have experienced the phenomenon

  • develops a composite description of the essence of the experience

  • description consists of "what" they experienced and "how"

Four Philosophical Perspectives:

  • a return to the traditional tasks of philosophy

  • a philosophy without presuppositions (suspend all judgments about what is real until they are founded on a more certain basis

  • the intentionality of consciousness (reality of an object is related to one's consciousness of it)

  • the refusal of the subject-object dichotomy (reality of an object is only perceived within the meaning of the experience of an individual)

Types of Phenomenology:

  • Hermeneutic - research as oriented toward lived experience and interpreting the texts of life

  • researchers first turn to a phenomenon which interests them, reflect on essential themes, then write a description of the phenomenon maintaining a strong relation to the topic of inquiry and balancing the parts of writing to the whole

  • it is an interpretive process in which the researcher makes an interpretation of the meaning of the lived experiences

  • Psychological, transcendental or empirical phenomenology is focused less on the interpretations of the researcher and more on the description of the experiences of the participants

  • investigators set aside their experiences as much as possible to take a fresh perspective toward the phenomenon under examination

  • researchers identify a phenomenon, bracketing out one's experiences, collecting data, from several persons who have experienced the phenomenon, analyzes the data by reducing information to quotes and combines them to themes

  • the researcher then develops a textual description (what) and a structural description (how in terms of conditions and situations) and combines them to convey an overall experience

Procedures for Conducting Phenomenological Research:

  • the researcher determines if the research problem is best examined using the phenomenological approach

  • a phenomenon of interest is identified

  • researchers recognizes and specifies the broad philosophical assumptions of phenomenology

  • data is collected

  • two broad questions are asked What have you experienced in terms of the phenomenon? and What contexts or situations have typically influenced or affected your experiences of the phenomenon? (other open ended questions may be asked but these two are the focus)

  • phenomenological data analysis- highlight significant statements, sentences and quotes and develop clusters of meaning from themes

  • statements and themes are then used to write a textual and structural description

  • the researcher then writes composite description that presents the essence of the phenomenon


  • requires the researcher to understand the broader philosophical assumptions

  • participants need to be carefully choose the participants who have experienced the phenomenon

  • the researcher needs to decide how and in what way his or her personal understandings will be introduced into the study