A qualitative “approach” is a general way of thinking about
conducting qualitative research .it describe either explicitly or
implicitly, the purpose of the qualitative research the role of the
researcher , the stages of research and the method of data analysis.
It is often said that qualitative research is any research that does not
include numbers. This is not a good definition as it is the approach to
the data gathering that is different in the two styles of research rather
than the outputs.
Qualitative research aims to explore, discover, understand or describe
phenomena that have already been identified but are not well
Defining Qualitative Research
• Use Words Rather Than Numbers To Describe Findings
• Assume A Dynamic Reality
• Emphasize Seeing The World From The Perspective Of The Participants
• Goal Is Understanding Rather Than Prediction
• Emphasize The Subjective Dimensions Of Human Experiences
• Holistic Rather Than Reductionistic
• Associated With The Interpretive Approach Which Is Discovery
Oriented, Explanatory, Descriptive, And Inductive In Nature
TYPES OF QUALITATIVE
3. Grounded theory
4. Historical research
5. Case study
6. Feminist research
7. Action research
• Meaning: ethnography (Greek ethnos=folk/people and
graphien=writing) is a qualitative research method often used in the
social sciences, particularly in anthropology and in sociology. It is
often employed for gathering empirical data on human
• Data collection is often done through participant observation,
interviews, questions etc.
• Ethnography aims to describe the nature of those who studied
• Ethnography focuses on the culture of group of people.
Types of Ethnography
1. Macro-Ethnography:- Ethnography researcher can study broadly
defined culture in what is sometimes referred to as a macro-
ethnography. E.g.- The British, The English etc..
2. Micro-ethnography:- Alternatively it may focus on more narrowly
defined ones referred to as micro- ethnography. E.g.- the culture
of hostel for the homeless, nursing practice in intensive care units.
• Ethnography is a qualitative research method that is used by
anthropologist to describe a culture.
• Culture has many definitions but usually consists of origin, values,
roles and material items associated with a particular group of people.
• As previously mentioned there are two basic research approach in
anthropology emic and etic.
• The emic approach to research involve studying behaviour from
within the culture.
• The etic approach involve studying behaviour from outside the
culture and examining similarities and difference across culture.
Steps Of Ethnographic Research
Identification culture to be studied
Identifying the significant variables within the culture
Analysis of data
Description of the culture
Role of Researcher
• Is the primary data collection tool
• Enters the world for an extended period of time, asking questions, observing,
participating, & collecting whatever data are available
• Observe behavior but go beyond it to inquire about the meaning of it
• researcher’s role is to make inferences from their observations & then to test
these inferences over time with their population until they are confident they
have an adequate description of the culture
• Must set aside biases & explicate beliefs
• Ethnography immerses the project team in participants’ lives and enables a
relationship to develop with research participants over the period of study;
• Ethnography provides a rich source of visual data and helps to reveal
• Ethnography captures behavior in the different contexts of everyday life;
• Ethnography places a human face on data through real-life stories that
teams can relate to and remember;
• Ethnography provides understanding behind ‘statistics’;
• Ethnography allows emotional behavior to be captured;
• By carrying out research in the everyday life environments of participants it
helps to identify discrepancies between what people say they do and what
they actually do.
Phenomenology is s 20th century philosophical movement dedicated to
describing the structure of experience as they present themselves to
consciousness ,without resources to theory ,deduction, or assumptions
from other discipline such as the natural sciences.
Describes the meaning of the lived experience about a concept or a
phenomenon for several individuals.
It has roots in the philosophical perspectives of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre,
Seeks to achieve a deep understanding of the phenomenon by rigorous,
systematic examination of it.
Its purpose is to describe the essences of lived experiences
• Whatever is known must appear in consciousness
• Consciousness provides access to the world
• All phenomenologists believe in multiple realities
constructed by individuals within the social context
of their lives
Developing the Question
• Focus is to describe the meaning of the lived
experience from the perspective of the participant
• Broad question: “What is the meaning of one’s
• Central overarching question & subquestions
Role of Researcher
• Is the instrument for data collection
• Establishes good rapport with participants
• Explicates beliefs through bracketing
• The meaning of the lived experience is interpreted
from the participants’ stories
• The subjectivity of the data leads to difficulties in establishing
reliability and validity of approaches and information.
• It is difficult to detect or to prevent researcher induced bias.
• There can be difficulty in ensuring pure bracketing - this can lead to
interference in the interpretation of the data.
• The presentation of results - the highly qualitative nature of the
results can make them difficult to present in a manner that is usable
• Phenomenology does not produce generalizable data. Because the
samples are generally very small, can we ever say that the
experiences are typical?
3. Grounded theory
• Grounded theory is an inductive technique developed for
health –related topics by glaser and strauss (1967). It
emerged from the discipline of sociology.
• The term grounded means that the theory developed from
the research is “grounded” or has it s roots in the data from
which it was derived.
G.T. - Philosophy
• Symbolic interactionism
• humans react to things on the basis of meanings that
events have for them in everyday life
• meanings are derived from social situations
• meanings are shaped by dealings with others
G.T. - Developing the Question
• Question may not be explicitly stated but can be
implied from the purpose
• Question is broad & may change several times as data
• Basic social process
• What is the process of ...
G.T. - Role of Researcher
• Studies the behavior & the social setting that influences the
• Is a participant & observer
• No effort is made by researcher to put aside assumptions.
• On the contrary the researcher uses past experiences and
assumptions to better understand the processes being
• The researcher should not predetermine a priori about what he or
she will find, and what and how social phenomena should be viewed.
Therefore, the value of Grounded Theory is that it avoids making
assumptions and instead adopts a more neutral view of human action
in a social context.
• "Grounded theory provides a methodology to develop an
understanding of social phenomena that is not pre-formed or pre-
theoretically developed with existing theories and paradigms."
• Grounded theory fails to recognize the embeddedness of the
researcher and thus obscures the researcher's considerable agency in
data construction and interpretation.
4. Historical Research
Historical research is the systemic collection and objective evaluation
of data related to past occurrence in order to test hypothesis
concerning causes , effects, or trends of theses events that help to
explain present events and anticipate future events. (Gay 1996)
This include higher critism and textual criticism. Though items may
very depending on the subject matter and researcher the following
concepts are usually part of most formal historical research:
- identification of origin date
- Evidence of location
- Recognition of authorship
- Analysis of data
- Identification of integrity
- Attribution of credibility
The Process Of Conducting Historical Research
• The process for conducting historical research is the same as for other
Definition of a problem
Formulation of question to be answered or hypothesis to be tested
Systemic collection of data
Evaluation of data
Production of verbal synthesis of finding or confirmation of hypothesis.
• The research is not physically involved in the situation under study.
• No danger of experimenter-subject interaction.
• Documents are located by the researcher, data is gathered, and
conclusions are drawn out of sight.
5. Case study
• The case study research design have evolved over the past few years
as a useful tool for investigating trends and scientific situations in
many scientific discipline , especially social sciences, psychology,
anthropology, and ecology.
• This method of study is useful for trying to test theoretical models by
using them in rea world situation. For example, if an anthropologist
were to live amongst a remote tribe, whilst their observation might
produce no quantitative data, they are still useful to sciences.
• A case study is an exploration of a
“bounded system” or a case (or multiple
cases) over time through detailed, in-depth
data collection involving multiple sources
of information rich in context.
• The context of the case involves situating
the case within its setting. which may be
physical, social, historical and/or economic.
Case Study cont.
• Data collection strategies include direct
observation, interviews, documents,
archival records, participant observation,
physical artifacts and audiovisual materials.
• Analysis of themes, or issues and an
interpretation of the case by the researcher.
6. Feminist Research
According to Hester Eisenstein in her text contemporary feminist
thought explain that from the perspective the term “feminist” holds an
element of “ visionary and futuristic thought”.
• Uses feminist theory as the philosophical underpinning of the
• Assumes most formal knowledge is generated by men.
• Assumes that patriarchy and the use of power is harmful to women.
• Some feminists also recognize social class and race as socially
generated constructs that are used to oppress others.
Feminist Research is often classified in the “qualitative
research” family because:
• It is used to generate new knowledge.
• It’s purpose is to create social change.
• It argues against the “top-down,” hierarchal relationships associated
with male-dominated knowledge by minimizing the social distance
between researcher and subject. Respondents often participate in
the research process.
• It focuses on the position in society of research subjects and the
• The perspectives or standpoint of the subject and researcher are
central in data collection and analysis.
7. Action Research
• Action research “ is a way of doing research and working on solving a
problem at the same time” - Cormack 1991.
• The method was developed to allow researcher and participants work
together to analyze social system with a view to changing them. In
other words, to achieve specific goals.
• Example: include analysis of peoples health problem in a particular
area by health professional with the aim of producing appropriate
treatment and health promotion programmes.
According to smith (1986)
Action research “is a process
containing both investigation and
the use of its findings”
• Has an educational function.
• Deals with individuals as members of social group.
• Is problem focused , context specific and future oriented.
• Involve a change intervention.
• Aims at improvement and involvement.
• Involves a cyclic process in which research, action and evaluation are
• Is found in a research relationship where those involved are
participants in the change process.
Cyclic Process of Action Research
A cyclic process
Identify the problem Discussion of problem
Redefine the problemSelect method
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Munhall, P.L. (2001). Nursing Research: A Qualitative Perspective, 3rd Edition.
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