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The paper looks at a study carried out by Kirby, Moran and Guerin (2011) on “a qualitative analysis of the experiences of elite athletes who have admitted to doping for performance enhancement”. Criticisms are drawn by evaluating various areas of the study.
The areas covered include the purpose of the study, the type of the research, review of the literature, methodology and quality control of the study, ethical considerations and its conclusion.
Purpose of the Study
According to Kirby, Moran and Guerin (2011:205), they carried out a research on the “qualitative analysis of experiences of elite athletes who have admitted to doping for performance enhancement”.
The study was purposefully carried out to carry out an ecological account of experiences of admitted dopers (Kirby, Moran & Guerin, 2011). The research had various research questions which were intended to attain various aims of the study.
For instance, there were questions on dopers’ goal setting practices and their personal ambitions in their specific sport.
However, the questions asked to the dopers included how they felt about their specific sports, what they liked about their sports, how they altered these feelings and if they felt a win at all costs (Kirby, Moran & Guerin, 2011). All these questions were based on achievement goal theory.
In relation to the purpose of the study, it can be acknowledged that it is practically impossible to carry out a research with such kind of a purpose and achieve it comprehensively.
This can be ascribed to the complex nature of the ecological account of experiences of dopers since it is practically impossible to fully explore their behavior in relation to their ecological account of experiences. This is so since a single research cannot explore relationship of dopers with each other and with the environment in which they live in.
Moreover, the study questions that were used were based on achievement goal theory which has various shortcomings in its applications. For instance, Leahy (2003) opined that the theory covers two conflicting approaches which should not be covered in a single study.
In addition, according to Patton (2002), the theory must cover the performance approach and performance avoidance when it is used in a study. However, this was not the case in this study.
Therefore, achievement goal theory should not be claimed to have been used. For that case, it can be affirmed that the purpose and research questions in this study were not good to address the study area.
The type of research
The study employed various research approaches. For instance, it used thematic analysis which is better used when carrying out a qualitative analysis. For that matter, it can be affirmed from the methods used in data collection that the type of research was qualitative in nature.
This is ascribed from the fact that interviews were the main tool of collecting data in the study. This is a core tool that is used in any qualitative research. Moreover, thematic analysis which was the sole method of analyzing data in the research is a method that is solemnly used when analyzing a qualitative research.
However, the qualitative research was the most appropriate method for studying this topic due to its nature. Imperatively, qualitative research is the most appropriate approach that can be applied when studying people’s behavior since it is concerned with exploring behavior of people in terms of their beliefs, fears or attitudes towards a given aspect.
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In relation to this type of research applied in this study, it can be affirmed that it was the most appropriate way of studying this subject. This is so since it the data collection tools (interviews) were capable of providing richer information that could be missed by other data collection tools.
This is due to their ability of probing for more answers on a given concept. Moreover, it was more appropriate since it sought to find out ‘why’ but not ‘how’ of the study topic.
Review of the Literature
The study reviewed various preceding research by looking at their contributions in the area of doping. However, the study quickly points out that the previous studies were ineffective in nature due to the type of research they applied in studying the concept.
For instance, it is provided that preceding studies were quantitative research where tools such as questionnaires were used. Therefore, it implies that previous studies used predetermined motives which were given to users for them to choose from.
However, these predetermined factors of researchers may not have been the case to all dopers. For that matter, the research sought to correct this by applying a qualitative approach where predetermined positions were not given to the subjects.
Notably, the literature review of this study is critical in nature which is commendable in a literature review. For instance, Kirby, Moran and Guerin (2011) affirmed that the previous studies did not differentiate between users and non users of prohibited substances.
Therefore, the kind of information in the study which was primarily based on the conjecture or fact could not be differentiated. For that matter, this kind of information triggers integrity issues on the previous studies.
Nonetheless, some of the citations used in the literature review can be termed to be obsolete since some of them are dating back more than ten years. For that matter, some source of information in this study may be having little relevance to the study.
According to Patton (2002), a good literature review should use current materials that relates to the area of the study in order to provide a clear and current state of the study area.
On the other hand, this literature review has tried to lead to a more researchable topic in the doping behavior. The review of literature has been successful in noting the current gaps in the study area.
As a result, the review leads to a new study area that seeks to fill in the gaps of the previous studies. For that case, it can be affirmed that the literature review was successful in identifying the current gaps in that knowledge area hence providing a platform of addressing these gaps.
Nonetheless, the summary of the literature review is insufficient since it does not provide any transition between the literature review and the research questions.
For that case, the reader is not able to connect between the literature review and the research questions. Therefore, lack of this transition brings a disconnection of the literature review and other parts of the study.
The study had five research aims. Therefore, in relation to these numerous aims, it must have been an uphill task for the researchers to attain all these aims at ago.
For that matter, Reiss and Judd (2000) opined that a good research should have a single aim to which it should concentrate to ensure that it achieves it.
Moreover, according to Smart (2010), various research aims in one study tend to divide attention of the researcher hence achieving all of them proves to be a tricky affair. As a result, it can be affirmed that the various aims that the study had were a recipe for a divided attention hence being hard to attain.
On the other hand, the study employed a mixed approach where both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used. For that matter, according to Smart (2010), the study was able to benefit from the strengths of these two approaches.
As a result, it was not limited in terms of data. Moreover, the mixed approach was able to provide more comprehensive information of the phenomenon being studied. Therefore, the study was able to obtain more comprehensive data that was analyzed which provided a basis for the conclusions to be drawn.
However, it must be acknowledged that using a mixed approach in the study also has its weaknesses. Therefore, these weaknesses might have affected the research negatively.
According to Smart (2010), a combined approach in research requires extensive resources to facilitate collection of data. This in most cases proves to be expensive especially if the researchers are not stable financially.
Nonetheless, the sample size of the study was made up of five participants. For that case, the size was small hence it was possible for the researchers to cover wide variety of issues that relates to the study topic.
However, according to Tony and Neil (2011), this is not possible in a big sample size especially if tools such as interviews are being used in the data collection methods.
This is so since concentration must be divided to equally in this big sample. For that case, the study had a plus in using a small sample.
Nevertheless, the study applied mixed approach where by both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. For that matter, data collected using these two methods were to be analyzed differently since their collection tools are different.
However, the researchers in this study did not provide separate methods that were used in their analysis as they just used a general approach. Therefore, the data analysis methods provided were not thorough in nature.
Quality control of the study
The researchers when carrying out the study committed some errors which might have compromised quality of the study. According to Tony and Neil (2011), good interviewing techniques require that a short period of time should be spent during the interview process.
This was affirmed by Smart (2010) who believed that a long interview is likely to erode concentration of the respondent hence tempering with the quality of data obtained. In relation to this study, the interview duration lasted more than an hour which is regarded as a long interview time. This might have interfered with the quality of data collection.
However, according to Reiss and Judd (2000), for the data collection process to be effective and of high quality, there is need to have a small sample in order to effectively manage the participants. For that matter, the study used a total of five participants who were manageable as per the rules of an effective sample.
Therefore, it can be affirmed that the researchers were able to manage the participants more effectively than if more participants were used. For that case, the research was more reliable due to reliability of participants used in the study.
In relation to ethical consideration, the study tried to follow various ethical issues in order to comply with the required ethical issues. For instance, the researchers sought consent of the participants before engaging them in the study.
According to Smart (2010), any participant who participates in a study must be willing and should not be coerced to do so. This is so since it is believed that a coerced participant is likely to give unreliable information which can affect the integrity and reliability of the study.
Moreover, before commencing on the data collection process, the researchers and the participants entered into an agreement of not disclosing any information to another party.
This was a good gesture to all participants in the study since they were sure of confidentiality of the information shared. According to Reiss and Judd (2000), he opined that development of confidentiality amongst participants motivates them to provide any type of information that is helpful to the study.
The researchers were able to make various conclusions in the study area. These conclusions were broadly categorized into two major categories; internal and external factors that influence doping.
For instance, the researchers concluded that that morality was not amongst the major factors that influence doping behavior hence it is not a deterrent. Moreover, in respect to health risks, it was established that they are disregarded by the dopers.
Nonetheless, the study established a more unique finding which has never been determined by previous studies. For that case, it was established that despite athletes opting to dope, they still maintained a high degree of task orientation. By doing so, the study was able to bring forth the relationship between the previous studies and the current one.
Kirby, K., Moran, A. & Guerin, S. (2011). A qualitative analysis of the experiences of elite athletes who have admitted to doping for performance enhancement. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 3(2), 205-224.
Leahy, R.L. (2003). Cognitive therapy techniques: Practitioner’s guide. New York: Guilford Press.
Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. London: Sage Publications.
Reiss, H.T. & Judd, C.M. (2000). Handbook of research methods in social and personality psycholog. London: Cambridge University Press.
Smart, J. (2010). Higher Education: Handbook of Theory. USA: Springer.
Tony, H. & Neil, P. (2011). Values in Higher Education Teaching. USA: Routledge Publishers.