Library Research Guide
Qualitative research is a methodological approach to collecting and analyzing non-numerical data in order to understand the subjective experiences and perspectives of participants. Here are some of the most common qualitative research methods:
Interviews involve a researcher asking open-ended questions to participants in order to elicit in-depth responses about their experiences, beliefs, and attitudes. Interviews can be conducted one-on-one, in small groups, or in focus groups.
Observation occurs when a researcher is observing and documenting behavior and interactions in a natural setting. This method can be useful for studying social phenomena, such as group dynamics or cultural practices. **Note** - Observational studies can fall under both quantitative AND qualitative methods. In the qualitative sense, the researcher is concerned with understanding understanding the quality of actions or responses rather than the numbers.
Case studies provide an in-depth analysis of a single individual, group, or event. This method can be useful for understanding complex phenomena in detail and generating hypotheses for further research.
Content analysis requires analysis of the content of written or recorded materials, such as transcripts, photographs, or videos. Researchers may use content analysis to identify themes, patterns, or meanings in the data. **Note** - Content analysis can serve as both a quantitative method AND a Qualitative method. In the qualitative sense, the researcher is more concerned with interpreting and understanding the data.
Ethnography involves an immersive, long-term study of a particular group or culture. This method can be useful for understanding the cultural practices, values, and beliefs of a group of people.
Overall, qualitative research methods are useful when the researcher wants to explore complex phenomena, understand the perspectives of participants, or generate new theories or hypotheses. Qualitative research can provide rich, in-depth insights into human experiences and can be particularly useful for addressing research questions that cannot be answered through quantitative methods alone.
Produced by Sage Research Methods