Qualitative Research Methods
Qualitative research methods are considered (by the majority of scientists) as the optimum way to develop and derive effective conclusions from any sample. Qualitative research is a model of logical research. In generic terms, scientific research consists of an inquiry that:
- Attempts to answer a question
- Regularly uses a predefined collection of procedures to solve the question
- Accumulates evidence
- Presents findings that were not prepared in advance
- Yields findings that are relevant beyond the immediate confines of the study
Qualitative research shares these qualities. Additionally, it endeavors to explain a given research problem or topic from the viewpoints of the local population it affects. Qualitative research is particularly useful in obtaining culturally specific data about the preferences, ideas, practices, and social contexts of particular populations.
What can we learn from qualitative research?
The power of qualitative research is the fact that it has the ability to render complex textual information on how people undergo a given research issue. It presents information about the “human” side of a problem: the often-conflicting behaviors, ideas, theories, sentiments, and relations of individuals. Qualitative methods are also useful in distinguishing hypothetical factors, such as social standards, socioeconomic standing, gender functions, ethnicity, and faith, whose role in the research issue may not be easily apparent. When used simultaneously with quantitative methods, qualitative research can help us understand the complex reality of a given situation and the connections of quantitative data.
Although conclusions from qualitative data can often be extended to people with features similar to those in the study population, obtaining a rich and sophisticated understanding of a particular social context or sensation typically takes priority over extracting data that can be generalized to other geographical areas or populations. In this sense, qualitative research varies slightly from scientific research in general.
What are some qualitative research methods?
The three most traditional qualitative techniques, illustrated in detail in their respective modules, are participant observation, in-depth discussions, and focus groups. Each method is expressly suited for obtaining a distinct type of data.
- Participant observation is relevant for collecting data on typically occurring behaviors in their natural settings.
- In-depth interviews are optimal for accumulating data on individuals’ personal histories, perspectives, and expertise, mainly when sensitive topics are being examined.
- Focus groups are useful in extracting data on the social norms of a group and in producing broad overviews of issues of concern to the cultural groups or subgroups outlined.
What forms do qualitative data take?
The types of data these three methods generate are notes from on-ground experts, audio (and sometimes video) tapes, and reproductions.
Comparing Quantitative and Qualitative Research.
What are the fundamental variations between quantitative and qualitative research methods?
Quantitative and qualitative research methods differ fundamentally in:
- their analytical aims
- the types of questions they show
- the types of data collection devices they use
- the forms of data they generate
- the degree of elasticity built into the study design
What are the advantages of qualitative methods for exploratory research?
One benefit of qualitative methods in the exploratory analysis is that the use of open-ended questions and probing allows participants to react in their own words, rather than forcing them to choose from set responses, as quantitative methods do. Open items can elicit responses that are:
- significant and culturally swelling to the participant
- unanticipated by the researcher
- rich and informative in nature
The added advantage of qualitative methods is that they allow the researcher to supervise and record initial participant responses. The researcher must carefully monitor what participants say, engage with them according to their unique personalities and styles, and use “examinations” to inspire them to elaborate on their answers.
Sampling in Qualitative Research
Even if it were feasible, it is not essential to collect data from everyone in a community to get valid findings. In qualitative research, only a sample (a subset) of a population is picked for any presented study. The study’s research goals and the properties of the study population (such as size and variety) decide which and how many people to pick. Moreover, there are two (according to recent studies) most common sampling methods practiced in qualitative research: sampling, and snowball sampling. As data collectors and researchers, you will not be liable or responsible for selecting the sampling method.