3. Qualitative Research Methods
Qualitative research is a process of naturalistic inquiry
that seeks in-depth understanding of social
phenomena within their natural setting. It focuses on
the "why" rather than the "what" of social phenomena.
4. Aims and Philosophy
The word qualitative has been used to refer to
(1) a broad philosophy and approach to research
(2) a research methodology
(3) a specific set of research techniques.
5. 3 distinct approaches to social science
1. Positivism (or objectivism) - The positivist paradigm involves such
concepts as quantification, hypotheses, and objective measures.
2. Interpretive - The aim of the interpretive paradigm is to
understand how people in everyday natural settings create
meaning and interpret the events of their world.
3. Critical - The critical paradigm draws on analysis models used in
6. Five major research areas between the
positivist and interpretive approaches
1. Role of the researcher - strives for objectivity and is separated from the data.
2. Design - the design of a study is determined before it begins.
3. Setting - the positivist researcher tries to limit contaminating and confounding variables by
conducting investigations in controlled settings.
4. Measurement instruments - measurement instruments exist apart from the researcher;
another party could use the instruments to collect data in the researcher’s absence.
5. Theory building - theory is “data driven” and emerges as part of the research process, evolving
from the data as they are collected.
7. Data Analysis in Qualitative Research
Qualitative data come in a variety of forms, such as notes made while observing in the
field, interview transcripts, documents, diaries, and journals.
What is the Purpose of Qualitative Data Analysis?
1. Data organization
2. Data interpretation
3. Pattern Identification
4. Ties field data to research objective(s)
5. Forms the basis for informed and verifiable conclusions
8. 10 Tips for Effective Qualitative Data Analysis
1. Make notes always
2. Ask questions and find answers to them
3. Start out with existing secondary data while waiting for interview or questionnaire data
4. Surround yourself with relevant literature and refer to them all through your analysis
5. Watch out for patterns and themes during your data analysis
6. Compare your findings to that of other relevant studies in your niche to find relationships
7. Always get a second opinion from an expert
8. Always work with organized data or you might be overwhelmed
9. Ensure you have resources for the project before starting
10. Don’t use computer software randomly just because they’re free, go only for the best or you
could end up with invalid findings.
9. Field Observation
Field research allows researchers to gain firsthand experience and knowledge about the people,
events, and processes that they study.
It yields very detailed data.
It emphasizes the role and relevance of social context.
It can uncover social facts that may not be immediately obvious or of which research participants may
It may lack breadth; gathering very detailed information means being unable to gather data from a
very large number of people or groups.
It may be emotionally taxing.
Documenting observations may be more challenging
10. Focus Groups
•Focus groups were originally called "focused interviews" or "group depth interviews“
•From 6 to 12 people are interviewed simultaneously, with a moderator leading the respondents in
a relatively unstructured discussion about the topic under investigation.
•As the name implies, focus groups have a focused discussion.
•The questions are structured to further the goal of the research.
•However, the moderator is free to depart from the structure if the participants present relevant
11. Advantages of Focus Groups
•Takes advantage of the fact that people naturally interact and are influenced by others (high face
•Generally requires less preparation and is comparatively easy to conduct.
•Can gain information from non-verbal responses to supplement (or even contradict) verbal
•Data uses respondents' own words; can obtain deeper levels of meaning, make important
connections, identify subtle nuances
•Very flexible; can be used with wide range of topics, individuals, and settings
•Results are easy to understand and mor accessible to lay audiences or decision-makers than
complex statistical analyses of survey data
12. Disadvantages of Focus Groups
•Have less control over group
•Produces relatively chaotic data making data analysis more difficult.
•Small numbers and convenience sampling severely limit ability to generalize to larger
•Requires carefully trained interviewer who is knowledgeable about group dynamics.
•Uncertainty about accuracy of what participants say.
•Results may be biased by presence of a very dominant or opinionated member
•More reserved members may be hesitant to talk.
13. Intensive Interviews
Intensive interviews, or in-depth interviews, are essentially a hybrid of the one-on-one
interview. Intensive interviews are unique for these reasons:
1. They generally use smaller samples.
2. They provide detailed background about the reasons respondents give specific answers.
3. They allow for lengthy observation of respondents’ nonverbal responses.
4. They are usually long.
5. An intensive interview may last several hours and may take more than one session.
14. Advantages of Intensive Interviews
Allow for more in-depth data collection and comprehensive understanding
Body language and facial expressions are more clearly identified and understood
The interviewer can probe for explanations of responses
Stimulus material and visual aids can be used to support the interview
Interview length can be considerably longer since the participant has a greater commitment to
15. Disadvantages of Intensive Interviews
Interviews are more time consuming to recruit and conduct
As a result of timing and travel, F2F interviews can be expensive
Interviews can deliver biased responses
Most carefully vet the respondent’s ability before investing time in the
recruitment process and interview process
16. Content Analysis - Introduction
Content analysis is a research technique used to make replicable and valid inferences by
interpreting and coding textual material.
This means that the content to be analysed is selected according to explicit and consistently
1. Sample selection must follow proper procedures
2. Each item must have an equal chance of being included in the analysis