What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is all about answering questions understanding and exploration of issues. This type of research is usually applied every day in the community and work places. Therefore it can be described as a necessary process in our day to day communication activates.

Qualitative research is a comprehensive and exploratory methodological approach employed in social sciences, humanities, and various other disciplines to gain a nuanced understanding of human behavior, experiences, and phenomena. Unlike quantitative research, which relies on numerical data and statistical analyses, qualitative research is characterized by its emphasis on collecting and interpreting non-numerical data. This method is particularly well-suited for investigating complex and multifaceted aspects of human life, offering insights into the depth and context of various social phenomena.

Philosophical Underpinnings: At the core of qualitative research lies a set of philosophical underpinnings that distinguish it from quantitative approaches. Qualitative researchers often adopt an interpretive and constructivist stance, acknowledging the subjectivity of reality and aiming to explore the meanings and interpretations individuals ascribe to their experiences.

Research Design: The research design in qualitative research is flexible and context-dependent. It often involves in-depth exploration, allowing researchers to delve into the intricacies of a particular phenomenon. Common qualitative research designs include ethnography, phenomenology, grounded theory, case study, and narrative inquiry.

Data Collection Methods: Qualitative researchers employ a range of data collection methods to gather rich and contextually relevant information. These methods include interviews, focus groups, participant observation, content analysis, and document analysis. The goal is to capture the depth and diversity of participants’ perspectives and experiences.

Sampling Techniques: Sampling in qualitative research is purposeful and non-random, aiming to select participants who can provide meaningful insights into the research questions. Sampling strategies often involve criteria such as expertise, experience, or relevance to the phenomenon under investigation.

Data Analysis: Qualitative data analysis is an iterative and inductive process. Researchers immerse themselves in the data, identifying patterns, themes, and categories. Techniques such as thematic analysis, constant comparison, and coding are commonly used to make sense of the qualitative data.

Trustworthiness and Rigor: Ensuring the trustworthiness and rigor of qualitative research is paramount. Techniques such as member checking, peer debriefing, and triangulation are employed to enhance the credibility, dependability, and transferability of the findings.

Reflexivity: Qualitative researchers often engage in reflexivity, acknowledging their role in shaping the research process and the potential influence of their own perspectives. Reflexivity enhances transparency and allows for a critical examination of the researcher’s biases and assumptions.

Contextualization: Context is a key consideration in qualitative research. Understanding the context in which a phenomenon occurs is essential for interpreting findings accurately. Qualitative researchers strive to provide rich descriptions and contextual details to illuminate the complexity of the studied phenomena.

Generalizability vs. Transferability: Unlike quantitative research, which aims for generalizability, qualitative research prioritizes transferability. Instead of seeking to apply findings to a broad population, qualitative researchers aim to offer insights and understanding that may be applicable to similar contexts or populations.

Applications: Qualitative research finds applications in various fields, including sociology, anthropology, psychology, education, and health sciences. It is often employed in exploratory studies, the development of theories, and understanding the subjective aspects of human behavior.

In summary, qualitative research is a dynamic and adaptive approach that provides a rich and in-depth exploration of human experiences, behaviors, and phenomena. Its focus on context, meaning, and interpretation allows researchers to capture the complexities of social life, making it a valuable method for generating insights and understanding in diverse academic disciplines.

What data does qualitative research collect?

Qualitative research is a type of research that seeks to answer why, where, what and how through topical analysis using research methods such as interviews, notes, videos, photos and open-ended questionnaires. Most of its focus is concentrated on the inside view.

Primary data collection: In most cases qualitative research lays a foundation for a quantitative research. It means it is more human orientated, it analyse human behaviours, lifestyles and cultures.

Qualitative research, particularly during primary data collection, is primarily concerned with gathering non-numerical data that provides rich insights into human behaviors, lifestyles, and cultures. Unlike quantitative research, which often focuses on numerical measurements and statistical analysis, qualitative research emphasizes understanding the subjective experiences and perspectives of individuals or groups. This approach serves as a crucial foundation for subsequent quantitative research endeavors, as it delves into the complexities of human phenomena in a more holistic and nuanced manner. Through methods such as interviews, focus groups, and observations, qualitative researchers explore the intricacies of human interactions, motivations, and social contexts. By analyzing themes, patterns, and narratives, qualitative research uncovers underlying meanings and interpretations, shedding light on the diverse range of human behaviors and cultural dynamics. Overall, qualitative research is deeply human-oriented, aiming to capture the richness and diversity of human experiences to inform further research and understanding.

When to choose qualitative research?

Qualitative research is chosen when the research questions require a deep and nuanced understanding of human experiences, behaviors, and social phenomena. It is particularly suitable when exploring complex, context-dependent issues that cannot be adequately captured through numerical data alone. Qualitative research is valuable in situations where the aim is to uncover meanings, perspectives, and social processes, emphasizing the “why” and “how” rather than the “what” or “how much.” Researchers opt for qualitative methods when dealing with exploratory research, hypothesis generation, or when aiming to develop theories grounded in the rich context of participants’ lived experiences. Additionally, qualitative research is chosen when flexibility in research design is essential, allowing researchers to adapt their methods in response to emerging insights. In summary, qualitative research is preferred when the research objectives align with a holistic exploration of the intricacies and subjective dimensions of human phenomena, providing depth and context to the study.

There are several options to choose whether qualitative research would be a appropriate one for your research.

Those can include:- Personalised and group focused interviews

– Internet chat interviews

Internet chat interviews become particularly relevant when choosing qualitative research in scenarios that require flexibility and inclusivity. This method is well-suited for capturing the experiences and perspectives of participants who may be geographically dispersed or have constraints that hinder face-to-face interactions. Personalized and group-focused internet chat interviews provide a platform for dynamic and real-time exchanges, facilitating in-depth exploration of participants’ viewpoints. This approach is particularly valuable when researching online communities, virtual spaces, or sensitive topics where individuals might feel more comfortable expressing themselves through text-based communication. The asynchronous nature of internet chat interviews allows participants to respond thoughtfully over time, contributing to richer and more reflective insights. Researchers may choose this method when seeking a balance between personalization and group dynamics, ensuring that the research process remains adaptable to the preferences and accessibility of diverse participants in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.

– Telephone interviews

Telephone interviews are a strategic choice within qualitative research when circumstances demand a balance between personalization and accessibility. This method becomes particularly advantageous when face-to-face interactions are impractical due to geographical distances, time constraints, or other logistical challenges. By conducting personalized and group-focused interviews over the telephone, researchers can engage with participants in a more intimate manner compared to written or online methods. This approach is well-suited for exploring individual perspectives and group dynamics, fostering open and in-depth conversations. Telephone interviews are often chosen when researchers seek the richness of qualitative data but need to overcome barriers such as travel restrictions or when participants prefer the immediacy and vocal nuances that come with spoken communication. This method ensures a level of personal interaction while maintaining flexibility, making it a valuable choice in situations where a more traditional face-to-face approach is not feasible.

– Web-cam conversations through your computer or any other technology

Web-cam conversations through computer technology or other digital platforms are a compelling choice within qualitative research when a balance between personalized and group-focused interviews is sought, while overcoming geographical barriers. This method is particularly advantageous when face-to-face interactions are not feasible, allowing researchers to engage participants in real-time conversations that capture both verbal and non-verbal cues. Web-cam conversations provide a visual dimension to qualitative data, enabling researchers to observe facial expressions, body language, and other contextual cues that contribute to a holistic understanding of participants’ experiences. This approach is chosen in situations where researchers aim to explore individual narratives within a group context, fostering a sense of immediacy and intimacy akin to face-to-face interactions. The use of technology enhances accessibility and flexibility, making it a preferred option when seeking a dynamic and immersive qualitative research experience in the digital age.

Non real time options- Use of social media to interact with your respondents- Online discussions on blogs, forums or journals Quantitative research includes conducting surveys and various types of customer questionnaires.

Moreover, quantitative research is asking respondents in a structured way so you can produce a lot valuable and accurate data. In order to get a fairly large number of data it is crucial to make sure that you are targeting the right group of people.

Structure of quantitative research: Answers in this type of research are closed-ended in other words it requires respondents to choose from a specific selection of answers and do not allow for the respondents to elaborate their answers.

Here is a simple example of the closed ended question:

How often do you buy a tooth brash?

a. Once a week b twice a week c. three times a week

So which research method is better?

There is no simple answer for that question. You as a researcher have to analyse what will be better for your research. There is always a possibility to combine both of them into one research.

Here is presented a simple “Qualitative research vs Quantitative Research” table which is showing the most significant differences between those two methods:



• To discover opinions of your targeted group

• To achieve an understanding of reasons and motivations

• To measure the value of views and opinion on particular topic

• To generalize resultsTarget audience

• Usually small number of targeted respondents

• Large number of targeted audience

Data Collection • Interviews, phone calls, (video) chats, blogs • Surveys, questionnaires Data analysis • Non- statistical • Very straight forward statistical data

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