Research papers come in all shapes and sizes, including a variety of methods for compiling the research. These are categorized into two broad approaches: qualitative and quantitative research. To help you discover the approach you’ll implement in your next research project, we’ve provided a summary of the key factors of qualitative research below.
What Is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative research is a method used to compile and assess data that have been collected to determine patterns in individual behavior, interactions, beliefs, and experiences. Qualitative research utilizes non-numerical data to understand why a specific problem exists. It is a technique that focuses on discovering the meaning behind the information collected.
Conversely, quantitative research focuses primarily on numerical information to determine a probable cause and effect. It analyzes numbers and statistics, while qualitative research studies words and their meaning.
Qualitative research is predominantly used in the social sciences, specifically psychology, sociology, anthropology, and education. It incorporates a wide range of information sources, including surveys, in-person interviews, and detailed behavioral observations of a target group.
What Are the Methods Used to Conduct Qualitative Research?
There are various methods used to interpret and understand the complex nature of humans. These include:
● Focus groups: this involves generating discussions among your target audience based on a predetermined concept you’re investigating. The results of these discussions often yield useful insight and explanations that add significant value to your research.
● Interviews: these can be performed in person or via Skype, email, or messages. These can be done in one location or spread out across a specific area, depending on your target group and the purpose of your study.
● Surveys/Questionnaires: these can be completed in person or online. You’d likely visit areas your target audience frequents, ask them a specific set of questions, and record the answers. Alternatively, these can be created online and emailed to people.
● Historical documents: these are used to ascertain past patterns, beliefs, and behaviors and can be extremely useful in your research.
● Ethnography: this is a unique technique in which researchers study their target audience’s culture, habits, and interactions by blending in with them and actively participating in their day-to-day lives.
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● Secondary research: this involves studying information from existing texts, images, and recordings to understand and explore potential connections to your target group and determine how they are related.
What Are the Benefits of Qualitative Research?
Qualitative research seeks to decipher why people act in a certain manner or how they feel about a specific life experience. Therefore, it has multiple benefits, including:
● Offering a flexible, open-ended approach to research
● Providing answers to questions we may never have thought to ask
● Gaining a deeper insight into human behavioral patterns
● Revealing interesting personal stories and anecdotes
● Generating ideas or solutions to problems that arise from the study
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