Scientific research is a common task for students of all educational levels. It helps us find a solution to a specific research problem relevant to your field of study. Once you formulate a research design for your study, it's time for you to collect relevant pieces of data. There are two broad approaches you can opt for to collect and interpret data- qualitative and quantitative research. Though initially, quantitative research was an essential method for conducting research, qualitative research is now the trending buzzword among researchers.
If you are a science student, chances are qualitative research is an integral part of your academics. So, read on to get a clear idea of what this research is about, its relevant research methods and examples.
Qualitative Research Definition
Qualitative research is about collecting and analyzing data that are not numerical. That means qualitative data involves texts, audio or video. It is usually used to understand certain experiences, opinions or concepts related to a particular scientific topic. You can also use this research to get insights into a research problem so that you can generate further new ideas for the research.
Here are the main subjects where qualitative research is used:
- Health sciences
And other subjects in the humanities and social sciences.
Quantitative research, on the other hand, is about collecting and analyzing numerical data for statistical analysis.
What Are Qualitative Research Questions?
Qualitative research questions describe or explore certain phenomena. Unlike quantitative research, it doesn't provide a nomothetic explanation which makes the research question more general and vaguely worded. Most qualitative research questions include only one concept. However, some may have more than one.
Qualitative research question examples
- How is the experience of identifying as a hyper-sensitive kid in the foster care system?
- How do children who witness domestic violence understand its effects on family and other relationships?
- What does racial ambivalence mean to the urban neighbourhood?
- How does any minor community feel while seeking help for mental health concerns?
Students often tend to confuse quantitative and qualitative research. Thus, here is one unique feature possessed by qualitative research that will help you differentiate between the two. Qualitative research questions can change over the course of a study. It is, after all, a reflexive process where the researcher is expected to change their approaches on the basis of what the participants say and do.
Different Types of Qualitative Research Approaches
As you can see from the examples stated above, qualitative research lets people experience the world. The approaches to this research are quite flexible and often focuses on rich meaning during data interpretation.
The five common approaches are:
- Grounded theory- Researchers get hold of rich data based on a topic you are interested in and develop relevant theories inductively.
- Ethnography- Researchers work with organizations or groups to get the hang of their cultures.
- Action research- Researchers collaborate with participants to practice a social change drive.
- Phenomenological research- Researchers investigate an event through descriptions and interpretations of the participants’ experiences.
- Narrative research- Researchers determine how stories are told to understand how participants make sense of their experiences.
Choose an approach based on the purpose of your research. Consult with your professors if you still have any confusion. Get research paper help from top experts.
What Are The Different Qualitative Research Methods?
No matter what your research paper topic is, you need to pick a suitable data collection method to proceed with the paper. The common data collection methods in qualitative research are:
This is one of the most common qualitative research methods. As the name suggests, this is carried out with one respondent at a time, and it is based on a personal interview. This is a conversational method, and all you have to do is look for opportunities to get in-depth details from the respondent. This helps you gather accurate data about what people believe in and what their motivations are.
The focus group includes 6-10 respondents from your target market. The main aim of this research method is to find answers to the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. You don’t have to interact with the group in person. Just send an online survey to all the participants and collect the responses at the click of a button.
This one is an in-depth observational technique where you get to study people in their naturally occurring environment. You need to adapt to your target audience’s environment to execute this method. The aim of this method is to understand the motivations, challenges, cultures and settings that occur.
This is a process where you rely on subjective methodologies to get hold of systematic data. Observations come in handy when it comes to equating quality differences. It deals with the five sensory organs along with their functioning, such as sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. It doesn’t involve any numbers or measurements but characteristics only.
In case you want to know ‘what is qualitative data’, it is the result of describing certain attributes of a population. Examples of qualitative data include hair colour, ethnic group, the car used by a person, blood type, etc.
Qualitative research is about understanding a research query as an idealistic approach. It is the best technique to understand people’s experiences, beliefs, interactions and behaviours. If you are looking for non-numerical data, qualitative research is the right method for you. Now that you know what qualitative research is and the methods involved in it, get started with the research with confidence.
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