Jared P.
Jared P.

What is Qualitative Research - Methods, and Types

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Published on: Jan 6, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 19, 2023

Qualitative Research

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Qualitative methods are used to study the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals. You can learn about people in their natural environment to better understand how they think, believe, and behave.

There are many types of qualitative research - depth interviews or focus groups are two examples. So what do you think? Let's explore this topic together!

Below is a detailed description of what is qualitative research and its methodologies and examples. In this blog, you would know what the 6 types of qualitative research are.

Qualitative Research Definition

Qualitative research is a type of research that focuses on obtaining data through conversation and open-ended communication. It involves collecting and analyzing unstructured and non-numerical data to understand experience, concepts, and opinions.

Qualitative research methods allow an in-depth investigation of a problem to generate new ideas for research.

Qualitative approaches are used to analyze how people experience the world and to understand their motivation and feelings. It is commonly used in social sciences subjects like sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc.

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Characteristics of Qualitative Research

The following are the characteristics of good qualitative research:

  • It collects data in several forms, i.e., surveys, interviews, documents, and questionnaires, rather than relying on a single form of data.
  • The respondents are an integral part of qualitative research. Without active respondents, no data exists.
  • It is an interactive process where the participants teach the researchers about their lives.
  • It is real-time data that is usually collected at the sight where the participants are experiencing any problem or issue.
  • It is kind of subjective and exists only in reference to the participant observation.
  • It works towards solving complex issues by breaking them down into meaningful inferences.

Advantages and Limitations of Qualitative Research

Advantages of Qualitative Research Limitations of Qualitative Research
Qualitative data analysis is very flexible It is a time taking process
It looks for the issues that are often missed It cannot be replicated
It uncovers novel problems and generates new research ideas. It does not draw samples from large scale data
Data collection occurs in a natural setting or in the real world context Real-world settings make it unreliable
It gives an insider’s view of the field Analysis of qualitative study is difficult
It allows contradiction/ambiguities in the data, which are a reflection of social reality The data may be biased and not representing the wider population
It provides meaningful insight into people’s experiences, perceptions, and feeling Data analysis has to be performed manually

Types of Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is endlessly creative and interpretive. Various techniques are used to interpret and make sense of the data, i.e., thematic analysis, grounded theory, or content analysis. There are 6 basic types of qualitative research.

  • Descriptive Research: It interprets and explains the current status of an individual variable, i.e., events, people, setting, or conditions.
  • Experimental Research: It uses the scientific method to establish the cause and effect among research variables.
  • Correlational Research: It establishes a relationship between two entities and determines how they are related to each other.
  • Causal-Comparative Research: It works with the process of comparison. It concludes the cause and effect relationship between two or more variables.
  • Phenomenological Research: It describes and interprets the meaning of the participant’s experiences.
  • Ethnographic Research: It focuses on the observation of social practices and interactions.

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Qualitative Research Vs. Quantitative Research

Qualitative research and quantitative research are quite different from each other. The basic difference between them is simple and straightforward. Quantitative and qualitative research differ in the following things:

Attributes Qualitative Research Quantitative Research
General framework Semi-structured Highly structured

Describe variation

Describes individual experiences or beliefs

Quantify variation

Describe the characteristics of a population

ConceptualDynamic and negotiated reality Fixed and measurable reality
Degree of flexibility Flexible Rigid
MethodologyParticipants observations, interviews, focus groups, etc Survey, questionnaires, statistical inference, etc
Types of question Open-ended Close-ended
Data produced Descriptive Numerical

Qualitative Research Question Example

Qualitative research is intended to discover, explore, describe, and identify the meaning of the topic in question. It deals with the ‘how’ and ‘what’ aspects related to the topic. Here are a few qualitative research question examples:

  • How do people experience anxiety around the world?
  • What do you like most about your school or college?
  • How does domestic violence affect the relationship?
  • How is the experience of identifying as LGBTQ in the foster care system?
  • What are the African-American concerns about seeking help for mental health?
  • What are the effects of social media in shaping image in teenagers?

Qualitative Research Methodology

Qualitative research design gathers in-depth insight into a problem and generates new ideas for research. The following types of qualitative research methods are followed to collect data:

  • Interview

Conducting in-person interviews is the most common type of qualitative research method. Researchers conduct interviews to ask people questions in conversation. An in-depth interview is an optimal way of collecting data on an individual’s perspectives about a specific topic.

Sometimes a researcher is well prepared with the predetermined list of questions about the topic for discussion. Other times, he identifies the topic for discussion but does not have a formal guide for conversation. The researcher let the discussion evolve based on how the participant responds.

  • Observation

The observation method is a process of research that uses subjective methods to collect systematic data. It is primarily used for collecting data on naturally occurring behaviors in their usual context. It is a process of recording what you have seen, heard, or encountered in detailed field notes.

As it is a process of observation, it deals with the 5 human senses, i.e., smell, sight, taste, hear, and touch.

In the observation method, the researcher studies the people as they go about their daily lives without interfering in their activities. People who are under observation are usually unaware of the fact that they are being observed. This is to be done to ensure that participants don’t mold their behavior.

  • Survey

Most surveys are used to generate quantitative data, but many are also designed with open-ended questions to generate qualitative data. Thus, surveys are kinds of questionnaires that help people answer questions easily.

A survey means collecting data about people by asking them questions and analyzing the results. It is a flexible method of data collection that can be used in many different types of research.

  • Focus Group

A focus group only includes a limited number of respondents 5 - 10 people from within the targeted population. Therefore, the Focus group method is quite expensive as compared to other research methods.

In this method, a researcher engages a sample size population in a conversation to generate data relevant to the research topic. It is a process of asking questions and generating discussion among a group of people.

  • Case Study

The case study is the simplest way of conducting qualitative research. It is used to explain an entity, an organization, or a population. However, it involves a thorough understanding of the data collection methods and inferring the data.

  • Content Analysis

The content analysis method is used to interpret words and images from movies, arts, documents, and other cultural products and media. This method is mostly used by sociologists.

The researchers do the content analysis of digital material, specifically generated by social networking sites. They look at the context of how the images and words are used to draw inferences about the underlying culture.

Qualitative Research Example

Here is a qualitative research paper example that helps you understand qualitative research's meaning.

Qualitative Research Topics

Before conducting research, you need to choose a topic for it. Here are some amazing qualitative research topic ideas:

  • What is the relationship between violence and rape?
  • What measures could be taken to reduce the rate of abortion?
  • What are the effects of the greenhouse on global warming?
  • How male and female bosses are different/
  • How can you relate women and the glass ceiling?
  • What is an attention deficit disorder?
  • What is the future of terrorism?
  • How to reduce the involvement of violence in sports?
  • How to act like a leader during a critical time?
  • How does the parents’ divorce affect the ability of a child to be educated?

Now that you have a detailed description of qualitative research, you can easily conduct good research. However, if you need help, you can hire a professional essay writer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a qualitative research study?

The qualitative research study focuses on the way people think and feel. It tries to understand what people do and say. Qualitative research is qualitative because it doesn't use numbers but instead uses things like words or images.

Why is qualitative research better?

Qualitative research is better than closed question surveys because they give you a unique depth of understanding. People are able to answer questions about their experiences, thoughts, and feelings without being constrained.

What is the goal of qualitative research?

Qualitative research is for finding out more about a specific organization or event. It is not for people who want to know about many organizations or events.

Qualitative research is for finding out how the organization or event feels, what it does, and what its needs are. In addition, qualitative research has some tools that help people understand this better.

Jared P.


Jared P. (Literature, Education)

Jared P. is a renowned author and writing service provider with over fifteen years of experience in the publishing industry. He has a Ph.D. degree in English Literature and has spent his entire career helping students achieve their academic goals by providing expert writing assistance.

Jared P. is a renowned author and writing service provider with over fifteen years of experience in the publishing industry. He has a Ph.D. degree in English Literature and has spent his entire career helping students achieve their academic goals by providing expert writing assistance.

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