Q: What method of data collection (according to Creswell) am I following in my stylistic study?

Detailed Question -

Hi. I am conducting a stylistic study, that is, taking two novels and analyzing certain selected extracts by drawing on the adopted linguistic model. However, I am a little bit confused.

Out of the four data collection types according to Creswell (observations, interviews, documents, and audiovisual materials), I think document analysis is the one that fits because it includes "journals, diaries, letters, etc." Nevertheless, Creswell (2014) did not mention novels/stories.

I have tried to look at other books and articles. They all seem to have a similar typology. Do you think I have chosen the right data collection type? And are these methods fixed in the literature?

2 Answers to this question

Hi Safaa - great to see you back here so soon! This time though, we see that your queries are very specifically around literature. So, we have referred them to our Humanities team. We shall get back to you shortly. In the meantime, we see that you have also decided to pop your queries in the Researcher Voice group and have already received an input or two. That's great - the more, the merrier. :-)


Firstly, we believe you are referring to the book Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. If so, please note that we are not intimately familiar with the contents of book as we do not have ready access to it. However, we are familiar with its concepts. Which, so to speak, are quite universal.

So, while Creswell may have talked about four data collection methods, other scholars have talked of more, which is natural for any classification and grouping. However, they broadly fit or align with each other, with some amount of splitting and splicing between groupings. For instance, some may consider questionnaires and surveys as separate methods from interviews and focus groups, with others seek to distinguish focus groups from interviews. The reason for making these distinctions perhaps is due to the kind of information each method (or sub-method) yields. Interviews and focus groups, for example, are intended to provide richer, deeper insights than a five- or seven-scale survey.

Therefore, to answer your second question first, no, these methods are not fixed. That, incidentally, is also the beauty of the humanities. :-) As long as you are deliberating through your data collection method (as any thorough researcher or academic should), and provide neat rationale for that, you should be good to go.

To answer your first question, which is really the simpler one, yes, you are right in going with ‘documents’ or ‘document analysis’ as your method. Again, we are not familiar with what the author has to exactly say about ‘novels and stories’ (or not). But based on the broad and established understanding of primary vs secondary sources of literature, this would be the right fit.

A last but important point though. From our understanding of the book, Creswell seems to refer more to patients and conditions, which may not be directly or entirely transferable to your linguistic study. So, you will need to examine how much you wish to lean on this one source.

Hope that helps.

For more insights into research methods and data collection, you may refer to the following resources:

All the best for your study!