It is also known as Q sort. It is a systematic study of the participant viewpoints. It is primarily used for investigating the perspective of the participants who represent distinct viewpoints on a common issue. It does that by ranking and sorting a series of statements.
The responses of the participants are analysed by the use of factor analysis. Different from the standard use of factor analysis, here the variables are individuals not traits. To set up this methodology, five basic steps need to be followed. These steps are:
- A clear definition of the domain of the dissertation on a specific issue
- Creation of a set of specific statements ( This called Q sort)
- Sorting of the participants that represent different perspectives
- Q sort by the participants
- The analysis and interpretation of the Q sort.
The methodology of Q sort is more mixed. It depends and relies more upon the qualitative judgement of the researcher in the case where the problem has to be defined. Beyond that it also works with the development of the statements which are used to investigate the varied perspectives of the participants. It also happens that some of the statements are created after having taken an interview from the key informants and then selecting the participants. It depends more on the quantitative alternatives of the methods of analysis. It particularly becomes very helpful when we talk about unearthing the perspectives without digging into the participants and expecting more concrete articulation from them. It indeed is a very useful compliment to a wide range of other objective measures of evaluation that are available. To explain with an example, Q methodology could be used for examining the perspective of the teachers of teaching only as a part of evaluation of the district in which the school falls. The other tools of evaluation here could be the scores of the students, attendance and timely completion of the assignments.