Qualitative research is a method used in market research that obtains data through conversational and open-ended communication. This research method aims to find out what people think and why they think so. Qualitative research is done in the social sciences field like anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Therefore, qualitative research methods enable further and in-depth questioning and probing of respondents, where the researcher/interviewer tries to understand their feelings and motivation. When you understand how your audience makes decisions, you will be able to develop conclusions in market research.
Qualitative research methods are developed in a way that helps expose the perception and behavior of a target audience regarding a certain topic. There are various types of qualitative research methods like case study research, content analysis, focus groups, and in-depth interview.
The results or outcomes of qualitative methods are more expressive and the conclusions can be drawn quite easily from obtained data. The origin of qualitative research methods is the behavioral and social sciences. In our world today, things are more complicated making it harder to understand what people perceive and think. But, qualitative research makes it easier to comprehend as it is descriptive and communicative.
The following are types of qualitative research methods that are in common use.
Carrying out in-depth interviews is among the most common qualitative research methods. This is a personal interview involving one respondent at a time. This is exclusively a conversational method and welcomes opportunities to obtain details from the respondent.
One of the merits of this method is that it provides an excellent opportunity to collect accurate data on what people belief and their motivations. If the individual carrying out the research is experienced, he/she will ask the right questions to enable him/her collect useful data. If they require more information, researchers should ask follow up questions to help them gather more information.
You can perform the interviews on phone or face-to-face and they usually last between thirty minutes to two hours or more. An in-depth interview done face-to-face is a better chance for the researcher to read the respondents’ body language and match the responses.
Focus groups are other commonly used methods in qualitative research to collect data. In a focus group, there is a limited number of respondents (6-10) from your target market. The main objective of a focus group is to obtain answers to the “how” “what” and “why” questions. One benefit of focus groups is that you do not have to necessarily interact with the group individually. Today, researchers can send online surveys to a focus group on various devices and answers can be obtained at the click of a button.
Compared to other online qualitative research methods, focus groups are more expensive. Usually, they are used to describe complex processes. This is a very useful method when testing new concepts and doing market research on new products.
The case study research method had evolved during the past few years and advanced into a valuable method in qualitative research. As the name indicates, a case study is used to explain an entity or an organization.
You can apply case studies in several areas such as social sciences, education and the like. Although this research method may seem difficult to execute, it is however, it is among the simplest ways of doing research as it entails a deep dive and a comprehensive understanding of inferring data and data collection methods.
This is a research method that makes use of existing reliable documents and related sources of information as a source of data. The data obtained can be applicable to new research. The use of records is the same as going to the library where you can go over books and other materials to gather useful data that can be used in research.
Qualitative observation is a method of research that applies subjective methodology to collect systematic data or information. The emphasis on qualitative observation is the process in research of using subjective methods to obtain data or information. Qualitative observation is mainly used to compare quality differences.
Observation in qualitative research deals with the five primary sensory organs – hearing, taste, touch, smell, and sight. It does not involve numbers or measurements but characteristics instead.
A qualitative approach is a common way of thinking about carrying out qualitative research. It explains, either implicitly or explicitly, the aim of the qualitative research, the stages of research, the role of the researcher (s) and qualitative data analysis method.
The following are the four main qualitative approaches:
The ethnographic approach of qualitative research is commonly used in the anthropology field. Ethnography emphasizes on studying an entire culture. Initially, the notion of a culture was tied to the perception of geographic location and ethnicity, but has been widened to include practically any organization or group. That is, the researcher can study the “culture” of a defined group or a business.
Ethnography is a very broad area with a wide variety of methods and practitioners. But, the most popular ethnographic approach is participant observation as a form of field research. The ethnographer becomes engrossed in the culture as a vibrant participant and records comprehensive field notes. In an ethnographic study, there is no actual ending point or preset in restricting what will be observed.
Phenomenology is at times seen as a philosophical perspective and an approach to qualitative methodology. It has been used for a long time in social research fields such as social work, sociology, and psychology. Phenomenology is a school of thought that stresses a focus on a population’s subjective interpretations and experiences of the world. Specifically, the phenomenologist seeks to understand how others perceive the world.
Field research can be categorized as a method of collecting qualitative data or a broad approach to qualitative research. The most significant point is that the researcher observes the phenomenon in situ or its natural state out there in the field. Therefore, this method is closely related to the participant observation method. The field researcher basically takes general field notes which are then analyzed and coded in various ways.
This is a qualitative research approach originally created in the 1960s by Glaser and Strauss. The self-defined objective of grounded theory is to develop a theory about a phenomenon of interest. However, this is not merely abstract theorizing, the theory needs to be rooted or grounded in observation; hence the term.
The grounded theory is a complicated repetitive process. The research start with the formulation of generative questions to help guide the research but they are not meant to e either confining or static. As the researcher start of collect data, core theoretical concepts are recognized. Probable linkages are developed between the data and the theoretical core concepts. This initial stage of the research tends to be very open but it can take months to complete. Thereafter, the researcher is busy with authentication and summary. This effort tends to advance towards a central single core category.
There are a few primary analytic strategies:
Qualitative research often attempts to retain the perspective and the voice of participants and can be changed as new qualitative research questions arise. The advantages of qualitative research are:
Researchers must think about theoretical and practical limitations in interpreting and analyzing their data. Qualitative research has the following limitations:
The following are some features of qualitative research
It is crucial to analyze your data, as you have devoted time and effort collecting it. The process is essential as you do not want to be in the dark after putting so much effort in the work. But, there are no standard rules for qualitative data analysis, it all starts with understanding the two primary approaches to qualitative data – deductive approach and inductive approach.
Deductive approach. This approach entails analyzing qualitative data with regards to a predetermined structure by the researcher. The researcher can use questions to guide him/her in analyzing the data. This strategy is easy and quick and is applicable when the researcher has a clue about the possible responses that will be obtained by the sample population.
Inductive approach. In contrast, an inductive approach is not founded on a predetermined structure or set framework or ground rules. It is a thorough and time-consuming approach of analyzing qualitative data. This approach is often applied when the researcher has little or no clue about the research phenomenon.
Validation is an important step in qualitative data analysis if you want your research to succeed. As data is typical of research, it is essential to ensure that it is not flawed. You should be aware that data validation is a recurring process in qualitative data analysis. Data validation ensures:
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