Qualitative research is defined as a method in which scientific method is used to collect non-numerical data, to determine and understand attributes and behavior of a problem and it is focused more on qualitative aspects of research rather than quantitative aspects.
It is used in conjunction with market research. Qualitative research is concerned about why and how things happen rather than how much. There is little or no mathematical and statistical involvement in qualitative research.
Different academic and disciplines use qualitative research approaches in order to analyze elements like natural and social sciences.
There could be different aims of qualitative research based on the discipline of the problem, for example, a medical practitioner is trying to search and gain in deep understanding about the function of a particular organ and the factors that are governed in its behavior.
The steps of qualitative research are similar to that of any other research program which starts with stating or defining the problem. Once the problem is defined, then the method is paved for research.
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Examples of Qualitative research are Case study, Ethnographic research, etc.
Features of qualitative research
There are three aspects or elements which make qualitative research studies. The elements and features are as follows:
#1. The Design
Design of cooperative research is further divided into three key elements. Their characteristics are as follows:
#1. Based on a natural setting:
Qualitative research is often based on real-world situations, and they are intended to occur naturally without any outside interference. They should not be manipulated because of manipulation of qualitative research results and manipulated readings.
The results obtained from qualitative research should not be redefined, but rather, the researcher is expected to remain open to the reading that emerges from the study. This emphasizes that predetermined constraints have not hindered the readings.
The artificial setting gives manipulated results and is not reliable, and incorrect results and data lead to incorrect conclusions. This is why natural settings are important.
#2. Adapting to the obtained results:
During the study of qualitative research, the researcher should accept the results that emerge during studies which may lead to discoveries.
The results can be anything from a geometric progression to abstract findings, but the researcher is expected to keep an open mind and note down the result without any intervention.
The researcher should mold and adapt to the results that are obtained rather than doing the opposite. This also provides a deeper insight into the problem and helps the researcher to solve it as the case may be.
#3. Resourceful and purposeful:
Qualitative analysis is done of various organizations, cultures, communities, people, events, etc. The reason for selection of this sample is because they provide a huge spectrum of information and are considered to be informative. The provided deep inside about the problem, which is why the sampling is done.
The research subjects, if not resourceful, will not provide adequate information about the nature of the problem, and there would be the absence of in-depth analysis.
Although there are different perspectives and factors affecting the subject of the research, the above-mentioned subjects are perfect samples to conduct the research because of their variations. Their variations are what makes them unique for analysis.
#2. Data Collection
Data collection is one of the important aspects of Qualitative Research, and its features are as follows:
The data collected from qualitative research is considered to be full of information and provides a deep understanding of the subject.
The methods of data collection like interviews and direct quotations from people provide a piece of direct information about their experiences and provide a detailed understanding of the topic.
They would be multiple ways of data collection, which would differ from case to case basis and problem to problem basis.
#2. Subject engagement:
In qualitative research, many subjects are contacted closely in order to monitor the situation and analyze the problem. The researcher has to ensure that personal insights about the subject are recorded the research because they form an important part off the research and helps to complete the understanding process of the problem.
The researcher has to frame the questions in such a way that there are open-ended and can extract the maximum of information from the subject in regards to the qualitative research and address the problem.
The subject engagement also ensures that the results are unadulterated, without any useless information and with insight to the problem.
#3. Being present in the situation:
While working to solve the problem, the researcher has to ensure that he is fully present with the subject and shows understanding of him. The researcher should have appropriate responses like respect, empathy, openness, the responsiveness of sensitivity according to the situation.
This shows that the researcher is mindful about the subject and fully into the research. This is the reason why typically one researcher is assigned to one problem at a time.
In some cases, there may be a team given to the researcher, which not only help him with the analysis and data collection but also provide a different perspective which the researcher may be missing earlier. These techniques help the researcher to keep the situation in mind without getting distracted.
#4. Dynamics of Research:
The researcher should pay attention to the process of research in order to respond to the appropriate changes during the process. These changes may be dynamic in nature, and it may be required of the researcher to adjust according to the given situation.
It is expected of him to be mindful of the dynamics during the process. In some medical researches, the situations of the patients may change all of a sudden without warning signs.
Or in the case of pharmaceutical drug trials, there may be a reaction which is unprecedented and requiring immediate action. In such cases, the dynamics of the research change spontaneously, and the researcher should adapt to the same and provide appropriate responses.
#3. Analysis and interpretation of the research
Analysis and interpretation, along with the conclusion, is the crucial part of the research, and it should be ensured that the analysis is true to the nature of the research. Following are few of its features:
#1. Individual response to unique cases:
It is expected that the researcher should work with each case as it were unique and one of a kind. The researcher should approach with respect and capture all the details pertaining to the research and perform a detailed analysis.
Although it depends and varies on a case to case basis, the researcher should ensure to give an individual response and treat them as unique cases. This also provides a personal touch to the research and helps the researcher to focus on the problem qualitatively rather than quantitatively.
#2. Detailed analysis:
The researcher should analyze all of the details of the case and the specifications of the case to discover patterns if any objection ships and interrelationships with each other.
This will help him to respond depending on the case and the data analyzed. Thorough analysis helps the researcher to understand and address the problem more efficiently. This detailed analysis might be useful for further researches and secondary data analysis.
However, superficial research would not be of help to anyone.
#3. Unified picture:
The entire case of the research should be thoroughly understood not as different systems but as of one system, and holistic view should be provided, which includes the sum of different parts of the research.
The complexity and the dependency of systems on each other should be understood and interpreted in a meaningful way to establish a relationship between the cause and effect.
There would be bits, and pieces of information scattered in the data collected, and the researcher should be mindful enough to correlate those pieces to form a complete picture.
This would not only require technical know-how about the problem but also, in certain cases, analytical skills as well.
#4. Sensitivity to the context:
The facts and figures mentioned in the research like historical or social contexts should be e meaningful and should not provide a generalization. They should be careful than other sources and comparison of the same in order to provide accurate results.
Extrapolating from the available data is acceptable within limits, but taking it beyond limits would disrupt the results. The analysis and extrapolation of the data should be sensitive to the context without dissolving its meaning.
#5. The research perspective:
The qualitative analysis of the research should be performed in such a way that it reflects the perspective and voice of the researcher, which is greater than authentic in nature. The analysis should be trustworthy and should have the entire objectivity in itself.
The focus of the research should be able to reflect a fine balance between authenticity in the world and its understanding without disrupting the research.
Here is a video by Marketing91 on Qualitative Research.