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The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd edn)

The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd edn)

The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd edn)

Patricia Leavy Independent Scholar Kennebunk, ME, USA

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The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research, second edition, presents a comprehensive retrospective and prospective review of the field of qualitative research. Original, accessible chapters written by interdisciplinary leaders in the field make this a critical reference work. Filled with robust examples from real-world research; ample discussion of the historical, theoretical, and methodological foundations of the field; and coverage of key issues including data collection, interpretation, representation, assessment, and teaching, this handbook aims to be a valuable text for students, professors, and researchers. This newly revised and expanded edition features up-to-date examples and topics, including seven new chapters on duoethnography, team research, writing ethnographically, creative approaches to writing, writing for performance, writing for the public, and teaching qualitative research.

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The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research

The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research

  • Norman K. Denzin - University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign, USA
  • Yvonna S. Lincoln - Texas A&M University, USA
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Sample materials & chapters, norman k. denzin.

Norman K. Denzin is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Communications, College of Communications Scholar, and Research Professor of Communications, Sociology, and Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. One of the world’s foremost authorities on qualitative research and cultural criticism, he is the author or editor of more than 30 books, including The Qualitative Manifesto; Qualitative Inquiry Under Fire; Reading Race; Interpretive Ethnography; The Cinematic Society; The Alcoholic Self; and a trilogy on the American West. He is past editor of The Sociological Quarterly, co-editor of six editions of the... More About Author

Yvonna S. Lincoln

Yvonna S. Lincoln is Professor Emerita at Texas A&M University, where she held the Ruth Harrington Chair of Educational Leadership and was Distinguished Professor of Higher Education. She is the coeditor of the journal Qualitative Inquiry, coeditor of the first through six editions of The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, and coeditor of The SAGE Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies. As well, she is the coauthor, editor, or coeditor of more than a half dozen other books and volumes. She has served as the President of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the American Evaluation Research Association,... More About Author

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Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation

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Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation Revised, Expanded Edition

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"Sharan B. Merriam synthesizes twenty years of developments in qualitative research with clarity and acumen." ?Michael Quinn Patton, author, Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods

"Here is a qualitative research methods book that reinforces the connection between professional experience and qualitative inquiry." ?Robert Stake, author, The Art of Case Study Research and Multiple Case Study Analysis

"In this new edition, Sharan Merriam once again presents the world of qualitative research in language engaging and accessible?for new and experienced readers alike. If you can have only one book about qualitative research, this is it!" ?Patricia M. Reeves, associate professor, School of Social Work, University of Georgia

"Mystified by qualitative research? You couldn't ask for a better guide than Sharan Merriam, who introduces you to the fundamental concepts of this research method, explains its complex forms, and then shows you exactly how to do a high-quality qualitative study." ?M. Carolyn Clark, coeditor, The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education

  • ISBN-10 0470283548
  • ISBN-13 978-0470283547
  • Edition Revised, Expanded
  • Publisher Jossey-Bass Inc Pub
  • Publication date January 1, 2009
  • Language English
  • Dimensions 6 x 0.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Print length 304 pages
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Praise for the Third Edition of Qualitative Research

"Sharan B. Merriam synthesizes twenty years of developments in qualitative research with clarity and acumen."-Michael Quinn Patton, author, Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods?"Here is a qualitative research methods book that reinforces the connection between professional experience and qualitative inquiry."-Robert Stake, author, The Art of Case Study Research and Multiple Case Study Analysis

"In this new edition, Sharan Merriam once again presents the world of qualitative research in language engaging and accessible?for new and experienced readers alike. If you can have only one book about qualitative research, this is it!"-Patricia M. Reeves, associate professor, School of Social Work, University of Georgia

?"Mystified by qualitative research? You couldn't ask for a better guide than Sharan Merriam, who introduces you to the fundamental concepts of this research method, explains its complex forms, and then shows you exactly how to do a high-quality qualitative study."-M. Carolyn Clark, coeditor, The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education

About the Author

Sharan B. Merriam is professor of adult education at the University of Georgia. She is the author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books, including Learning in Adulthood, The Profession and Practice of Adult Education, and Third Update on Adult Learning Theory ( New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education ).

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Jossey-Bass Inc Pub; Revised, Expanded edition (January 1, 2009)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0470283548
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0470283547
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.36 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.5 x 9.5 inches
  • #487 in Education Research (Books)
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About the author

Sharan b. merriam.

Sharan B. Merriam is professor of adult education at the University of Georgia. She is the author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books, including Learning in Adulthood, The Profession and Practice of Adult Education, and Third Update on Adult Learning Theory.

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qualitative research books

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10 Best Research Books For Qualitative And Quantitative Research

Are you looking for the best research books? Take a look at some of the best books on research methods below.

Research methodology comes in many shapes and forms. Regardless of whether you are interested in qualitative or quantitative research, it is essential to find a book that can help you plan your research project adequately. Research design can vary from hard sciences to social sciences, but data analysis following a case study is usually similar. Therefore, you need a practical guide that can help you complete a research project and finish your research paper.

1. Qualitative Research: A Guide To Design And Implementation, 4th Edition

2. research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 4th edition, 3. the research methods knowledge base, 3rd edition, 4. the craft of research, 5. doing your research project: open up study skills, 5th edition, 6. qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches, 3rd edition, 7. the essential guide to doing your research project, 2nd edition, 8. introducing research methodology: a beginner’s guide to doing a research project, 2nd edition, 9. the sage handbook of qualitative research, 5th edition, 10. research methods in education, 7th edition, the final word on the best research books, what is the difference between quantitative research and qualitative research, how do i figure out which academic journal to publish my research in, further reading.

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When someone talks about qualitative research in academia, they refer to research that focuses on overall concepts and takeaways instead of complex numbers. For those conducting academic research, understanding the basics of this process is critical. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation, by Sharan B. Merriam and Elizabeth J. Tisdell, 4th edition, is one of the best books available because it focuses on action research, mixed methods, online data sources, and some of the latest technology that people can use to complete their projects.

A significant portion of this book focuses on data analysis software packages, which have become critically important in an era where publishing in the best academic journals is critical for every successful researcher. Finally, this book explains topics so that nearly everyone can understand.

Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation

  • Merriam, Sharan B. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 08/24/2015 (Publication Date) - John Wiley & Sons (Publisher)

Suppose you are looking for a book that can teach you the best research methodology. In that case, you will want to check out Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches by John W. Creswell, 4th edition. John Creswell is one of the most well-respected writers in case study research.

As books on how to research go, this one on quantitative and qualitative research methods is a great tool that will help you learn the basics of forming a research project in every field. This book covers philosophical assumptions and research projects, theory and research approaches, and conducts an effective literature review. These elements are also crucial in helping you form a step-by-step guide for your upcoming research project, and this book will teach you the basics of data analysis.

Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches

  • Research Design
  • Creswell, John W. (Author)
  • 273 Pages - 06/02/2024 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications, Inc (Publisher)

The first two editions were already solid, but the third edition of The Research Methods Knowledge Base, by William M.K. Trochim and James P. Donnelly, features many updates to quantitative and qualitative research methods, teaching graduate students the basics of data collection before diving into the details for more advanced learners.

One of the significant advantages of this text is that it is a comprehensive tool that can be used for both undergraduate and graduate-level courses. It has a relatively informal style and conversational feel, which means readers will not be intimidated by walls of text. The research methods it teaches are straightforward, applicable, and relevant to anyone looking to complete a research project in the current era.

The Research Methods Knowledge Base, 3rd Edition

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The Craft of Research, by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory C. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, covers various research approaches that teach everyone the basics of forming a solid research project. In particular, this book focuses on what to do with the data after it has been collected.

People need to think about how their readers will interpret the structure of the paper, proactively anticipating questions they might have. By answering the reader’s questions in the initial version of the paper, it is easier to hold their attention from start to finish.

Of course, one of the most critical questions that must be asked when writing a research paper is, “so, what? Why does this information matter?” Researchers can keep this in mind while writing the introduction and conclusion of the paper so they will have an easier time constructing a powerful academic manuscript that is more likely to be accepted into the top academic journals.

The Craft of Research, Fourth Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)

  • Booth, Wayne C. (Author)
  • 336 Pages - 10/18/2016 (Publication Date) - University of Chicago Press (Publisher)

Doing Your Research Project: Open Up Study Skills, by Judith Bell, is a must-read for new researchers looking to make their way in academic research. This book is helpful because it teaches people how to conduct a research project using step-by-step advice. A research project can be daunting for new learners because it’s easy to focus on the final project and feel intimidated before taking the first step.

This book is indispensable because it teaches people everything they need to know to develop a research project, draft a hypothesis, carry out the project, and finalize a research paper after conducting detailed data analysis. Furthermore, this text will dive into common mistakes, pitfalls, and obstacles researchers need to overcome. Time is your most valuable resource, and nobody wants to spend time on trials that will not be relevant to the final project.

Doing Youp Research Project (Open Up Study Skills)

  • Bell, Judith (Author)
  • 296 Pages - 05/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Open University Press (Publisher)

Qualitative Inquiry And Research Design: Choose Among Five Approaches, 3rd Edition, Is The Latest In A Line Of Best-Selling Research Books From Creswell. This Book Ties Into People’s Philosophical Underpinnings When Developing A Research Project. It Also Looks At The History Of Various Research Projects, Which Serve As An Example For The Reader.

Overall, there are five traditions in qualitative research; grounded theory, phenomenology, narrative research, case study, and ethnography. Creswell uses an accessible writing style to help the reader understand when to use each of these narratives. Then, he dives into strategies for writing research papers using each of these approaches.

Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches

  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • 472 Pages - 03/14/2012 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications, Inc (Publisher)

The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project by Zina O’Leary is geared more toward young learners. As books on how to research, it focuses on how to develop a research project, analyze data, and write up the results. Every stage of the book is clearly explained, with the author specifying why it is essential to carry out that step correctly.

It also focuses on practical tips and tricks that learners can use to successfully carry out their research projects. The book includes helpful chapter summaries, a complete glossary, and boxed definitions for essential terms that should not be overlooked. The author also has a variety of suggestions for further reading, which is helpful for more advanced learners who may want to pick up a text that is a bit more detailed. Finally, the book also comes with access to a companion website. The website includes journal articles, real projects, worksheets, and podcasts.

The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project

  • O′Leary, Zina (Author)
  • 384 Pages - 12/20/2013 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications Ltd (Publisher)

Introducing Research Methodology: A Beginner’s Guide to doing a research project, by Uwe Flick is ideal for new researchers. the author guides readers through the fundamentals that underpin a strong research project. He focuses on essential steps, common mistakes, and ways to expedite the research process.

Then, the author dives into some of the most critical skills readers need to have if they want to collect and analyze data properly. he goes into basic organizational tactics that make data easier to interpret, explains how to shorten the analytical process, and dives into real-life quantitative and qualitative research methods. He uses his research as an example, explaining to people how to pull out the essential parts of the research project before writing them up.

Introducing Research Methodology: A Beginner′s Guide to Doing a Research Project

  • Flick, Uwe (Author)
  • 320 Pages - 04/14/2015 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications Ltd (Publisher)

The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research by Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln focuses on global research. this text teaches readers how to synthesize existing literature, identify current research, and focus on caps that can be filled. the authors gather contributions from some of the most well-renowned researchers, addressing issues in research projects today. this text focuses more on research regarding social justice. therefore, this is better for people in the social sciences.

The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research

  • Hardcover Book
  • 992 Pages - 02/15/2017 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications, Inc (Publisher)

Research Methods in Education, by Louis Cohen, Lawrence Manon, and Keith Morrison, is essential for students and professional researchers who want to learn how to create a comprehensive research project. It’s broken up into helpful chapters wrapped up by a convenient summary at the end, explaining to readers how to hit the high points.

Research Methods in Education also comes with a helpful companion website that contains PowerPoint slides for every chapter. This book can be read independently and discussed with a classroom full of students. The book has been written at a level that is accessible even to high school students, but the basics can be a helpful review for graduate researchers.

Research Methods in Education

  • Cohen, Louis (Author)
  • 944 Pages - 10/27/2017 (Publication Date) - Routledge (Publisher)

Academic research comes in many shapes and forms, with qualitative and quantitative research having high points; however, the basics are the same across all fields. Researchers need to learn how to develop a hypothesis, put together a research methodology, collect their data, interpret it, and write up their findings.

It can be helpful to use the books about research above to refine your research methods . Each book focuses on a slightly different facet of academic research, so readers need to find the right book to meet their needs. With a substantial text, readers can avoid common mistakes, follow in the footsteps of successful researchers, and increase their chances of writing a solid research paper for school or getting their paper accepted into an academic journal.

Books About Research FAQs

Quantitative research focuses more on numbers and statistics. This type of research is more common in hard sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

Qualitative research focuses more on overall meanings and concepts. This type of research is more common in social sciences such as anthropology, archaeology, and research topics focusing on social justice.

It would help compare prior articles in that academic journal to the article you have written. Most academic journals focus on a specific field, and you need to submit your article to a publication that shares research articles similar to your own. Be sure to consider the prestige of the journal before submitting your paper.

If you enjoyed this round-up of the best research books, you might also like our top 11 essay writing tips for students . 

You might also find our guide on essay topics for students  helpful. 

qualitative research books

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Qualitative study.

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  • Introduction

Qualitative research is a type of research that explores and provides deeper insights into real-world problems. [1] Instead of collecting numerical data points or intervening or introducing treatments just like in quantitative research, qualitative research helps generate hypothenar to further investigate and understand quantitative data. Qualitative research gathers participants' experiences, perceptions, and behavior. It answers the hows and whys instead of how many or how much. It could be structured as a standalone study, purely relying on qualitative data, or part of mixed-methods research that combines qualitative and quantitative data. This review introduces the readers to some basic concepts, definitions, terminology, and applications of qualitative research.

Qualitative research, at its core, asks open-ended questions whose answers are not easily put into numbers, such as "how" and "why." [2] Due to the open-ended nature of the research questions, qualitative research design is often not linear like quantitative design. [2] One of the strengths of qualitative research is its ability to explain processes and patterns of human behavior that can be difficult to quantify. [3] Phenomena such as experiences, attitudes, and behaviors can be complex to capture accurately and quantitatively. In contrast, a qualitative approach allows participants themselves to explain how, why, or what they were thinking, feeling, and experiencing at a particular time or during an event of interest. Quantifying qualitative data certainly is possible, but at its core, qualitative data is looking for themes and patterns that can be difficult to quantify, and it is essential to ensure that the context and narrative of qualitative work are not lost by trying to quantify something that is not meant to be quantified.

However, while qualitative research is sometimes placed in opposition to quantitative research, where they are necessarily opposites and therefore "compete" against each other and the philosophical paradigms associated with each other, qualitative and quantitative work are neither necessarily opposites, nor are they incompatible. [4] While qualitative and quantitative approaches are different, they are not necessarily opposites and certainly not mutually exclusive. For instance, qualitative research can help expand and deepen understanding of data or results obtained from quantitative analysis. For example, say a quantitative analysis has determined a correlation between length of stay and level of patient satisfaction, but why does this correlation exist? This dual-focus scenario shows one way in which qualitative and quantitative research could be integrated.

Qualitative Research Approaches

Ethnography

Ethnography as a research design originates in social and cultural anthropology and involves the researcher being directly immersed in the participant’s environment. [2] Through this immersion, the ethnographer can use a variety of data collection techniques to produce a comprehensive account of the social phenomena that occurred during the research period. [2] That is to say, the researcher’s aim with ethnography is to immerse themselves into the research population and come out of it with accounts of actions, behaviors, events, etc, through the eyes of someone involved in the population. Direct involvement of the researcher with the target population is one benefit of ethnographic research because it can then be possible to find data that is otherwise very difficult to extract and record.

Grounded theory

Grounded Theory is the "generation of a theoretical model through the experience of observing a study population and developing a comparative analysis of their speech and behavior." [5] Unlike quantitative research, which is deductive and tests or verifies an existing theory, grounded theory research is inductive and, therefore, lends itself to research aimed at social interactions or experiences. [3] [2] In essence, Grounded Theory’s goal is to explain how and why an event occurs or how and why people might behave a certain way. Through observing the population, a researcher using the Grounded Theory approach can then develop a theory to explain the phenomena of interest.

Phenomenology

Phenomenology is the "study of the meaning of phenomena or the study of the particular.” [5] At first glance, it might seem that Grounded Theory and Phenomenology are pretty similar, but the differences can be seen upon careful examination. At its core, phenomenology looks to investigate experiences from the individual's perspective. [2] Phenomenology is essentially looking into the "lived experiences" of the participants and aims to examine how and why participants behaved a certain way from their perspective. Herein lies one of the main differences between Grounded Theory and Phenomenology. Grounded Theory aims to develop a theory for social phenomena through an examination of various data sources. In contrast, Phenomenology focuses on describing and explaining an event or phenomenon from the perspective of those who have experienced it.

Narrative research

One of qualitative research’s strengths lies in its ability to tell a story, often from the perspective of those directly involved in it. Reporting on qualitative research involves including details and descriptions of the setting involved and quotes from participants. This detail is called a "thick" or "rich" description and is a strength of qualitative research. Narrative research is rife with the possibilities of "thick" description as this approach weaves together a sequence of events, usually from just one or two individuals, hoping to create a cohesive story or narrative. [2] While it might seem like a waste of time to focus on such a specific, individual level, understanding one or two people’s narratives for an event or phenomenon can help to inform researchers about the influences that helped shape that narrative. The tension or conflict of differing narratives can be "opportunities for innovation." [2]

Research Paradigm

Research paradigms are the assumptions, norms, and standards underpinning different research approaches. Essentially, research paradigms are the "worldviews" that inform research. [4] It is valuable for qualitative and quantitative researchers to understand what paradigm they are working within because understanding the theoretical basis of research paradigms allows researchers to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the approach being used and adjust accordingly. Different paradigms have different ontologies and epistemologies. Ontology is defined as the "assumptions about the nature of reality,” whereas epistemology is defined as the "assumptions about the nature of knowledge" that inform researchers' work. [2] It is essential to understand the ontological and epistemological foundations of the research paradigm researchers are working within to allow for a complete understanding of the approach being used and the assumptions that underpin the approach as a whole. Further, researchers must understand their own ontological and epistemological assumptions about the world in general because their assumptions about the world will necessarily impact how they interact with research. A discussion of the research paradigm is not complete without describing positivist, postpositivist, and constructivist philosophies.

Positivist versus postpositivist

To further understand qualitative research, we must discuss positivist and postpositivist frameworks. Positivism is a philosophy that the scientific method can and should be applied to social and natural sciences. [4] Essentially, positivist thinking insists that the social sciences should use natural science methods in their research. It stems from positivist ontology, that there is an objective reality that exists that is wholly independent of our perception of the world as individuals. Quantitative research is rooted in positivist philosophy, which can be seen in the value it places on concepts such as causality, generalizability, and replicability.

Conversely, postpositivists argue that social reality can never be one hundred percent explained, but could be approximated. [4] Indeed, qualitative researchers have been insisting that there are “fundamental limits to the extent to which the methods and procedures of the natural sciences could be applied to the social world,” and therefore, postpositivist philosophy is often associated with qualitative research. [4] An example of positivist versus postpositivist values in research might be that positivist philosophies value hypothesis-testing, whereas postpositivist philosophies value the ability to formulate a substantive theory.

Constructivist

Constructivism is a subcategory of postpositivism. Most researchers invested in postpositivist research are also constructivist, meaning they think there is no objective external reality that exists but instead that reality is constructed. Constructivism is a theoretical lens that emphasizes the dynamic nature of our world. "Constructivism contends that individuals' views are directly influenced by their experiences, and it is these individual experiences and views that shape their perspective of reality.” [6]  constructivist thought focuses on how "reality" is not a fixed certainty and how experiences, interactions, and backgrounds give people a unique view of the world. Constructivism contends, unlike positivist views, that there is not necessarily an "objective"reality we all experience. This is the ‘relativist’ ontological view that reality and our world are dynamic and socially constructed. Therefore, qualitative scientific knowledge can be inductive as well as deductive.” [4]

So why is it important to understand the differences in assumptions that different philosophies and approaches to research have? Fundamentally, the assumptions underpinning the research tools a researcher selects provide an overall base for the assumptions the rest of the research will have. It can even change the role of the researchers. [2] For example, is the researcher an "objective" observer, such as in positivist quantitative work? Or is the researcher an active participant in the research, as in postpositivist qualitative work? Understanding the philosophical base of the study undertaken allows researchers to fully understand the implications of their work and their role within the research and reflect on their positionality and bias as it pertains to the research they are conducting.

Data Sampling 

The better the sample represents the intended study population, the more likely the researcher is to encompass the varying factors. The following are examples of participant sampling and selection: [7]

  • Purposive sampling- selection based on the researcher’s rationale for being the most informative.
  • Criterion sampling selection based on pre-identified factors.
  • Convenience sampling- selection based on availability.
  • Snowball sampling- the selection is by referral from other participants or people who know potential participants.
  • Extreme case sampling- targeted selection of rare cases.
  • Typical case sampling selection based on regular or average participants. 

Data Collection and Analysis

Qualitative research uses several techniques, including interviews, focus groups, and observation. [1] [2] [3] Interviews may be unstructured, with open-ended questions on a topic, and the interviewer adapts to the responses. Structured interviews have a predetermined number of questions that every participant is asked. It is usually one-on-one and appropriate for sensitive topics or topics needing an in-depth exploration. Focus groups are often held with 8-12 target participants and are used when group dynamics and collective views on a topic are desired. Researchers can be participant-observers to share the experiences of the subject or non-participants or detached observers.

While quantitative research design prescribes a controlled environment for data collection, qualitative data collection may be in a central location or the participants' environment, depending on the study goals and design. Qualitative research could amount to a large amount of data. Data is transcribed, which may then be coded manually or using computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software or CAQDAS such as ATLAS.ti or NVivo. [8] [9] [10]

After the coding process, qualitative research results could be in various formats. It could be a synthesis and interpretation presented with excerpts from the data. [11] Results could also be in the form of themes and theory or model development.

Dissemination

The healthcare team can use two reporting standards to standardize and facilitate the dissemination of qualitative research outcomes. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research or COREQ is a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups. [12] The Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research (SRQR) is a checklist covering a more comprehensive range of qualitative research. [13]

Applications

Many times, a research question will start with qualitative research. The qualitative research will help generate the research hypothesis, which can be tested with quantitative methods. After the data is collected and analyzed with quantitative methods, a set of qualitative methods can be used to dive deeper into the data to better understand what the numbers truly mean and their implications. The qualitative techniques can then help clarify the quantitative data and also help refine the hypothesis for future research. Furthermore, with qualitative research, researchers can explore poorly studied subjects with quantitative methods. These include opinions, individual actions, and social science research.

An excellent qualitative study design starts with a goal or objective. This should be clearly defined or stated. The target population needs to be specified. A method for obtaining information from the study population must be carefully detailed to ensure no omissions of part of the target population. A proper collection method should be selected that will help obtain the desired information without overly limiting the collected data because, often, the information sought is not well categorized or obtained. Finally, the design should ensure adequate methods for analyzing the data. An example may help better clarify some of the various aspects of qualitative research.

A researcher wants to decrease the number of teenagers who smoke in their community. The researcher could begin by asking current teen smokers why they started smoking through structured or unstructured interviews (qualitative research). The researcher can also get together a group of current teenage smokers and conduct a focus group to help brainstorm factors that may have prevented them from starting to smoke (qualitative research).

In this example, the researcher has used qualitative research methods (interviews and focus groups) to generate a list of ideas of why teens start to smoke and factors that may have prevented them from starting to smoke. Next, the researcher compiles this data. The research found that, hypothetically, peer pressure, health issues, cost, being considered "cool," and rebellious behavior all might increase or decrease the likelihood of teens starting to smoke.

The researcher creates a survey asking teen participants to rank how important each of the above factors is in either starting smoking (for current smokers) or not smoking (for current nonsmokers). This survey provides specific numbers (ranked importance of each factor) and is thus a quantitative research tool.

The researcher can use the survey results to focus efforts on the one or two highest-ranked factors. Let us say the researcher found that health was the primary factor that keeps teens from starting to smoke, and peer pressure was the primary factor that contributed to teens starting smoking. The researcher can go back to qualitative research methods to dive deeper into these for more information. The researcher wants to focus on keeping teens from starting to smoke, so they focus on the peer pressure aspect.

The researcher can conduct interviews and focus groups (qualitative research) about what types and forms of peer pressure are commonly encountered, where the peer pressure comes from, and where smoking starts. The researcher hypothetically finds that peer pressure often occurs after school at the local teen hangouts, mostly in the local park. The researcher also hypothetically finds that peer pressure comes from older, current smokers who provide the cigarettes.

The researcher could further explore this observation made at the local teen hangouts (qualitative research) and take notes regarding who is smoking, who is not, and what observable factors are at play for peer pressure to smoke. The researcher finds a local park where many local teenagers hang out and sees that the smokers tend to hang out in a shady, overgrown area of the park. The researcher notes that smoking teenagers buy their cigarettes from a local convenience store adjacent to the park, where the clerk does not check identification before selling cigarettes. These observations fall under qualitative research.

If the researcher returns to the park and counts how many individuals smoke in each region, this numerical data would be quantitative research. Based on the researcher's efforts thus far, they conclude that local teen smoking and teenagers who start to smoke may decrease if there are fewer overgrown areas of the park and the local convenience store does not sell cigarettes to underage individuals.

The researcher could try to have the parks department reassess the shady areas to make them less conducive to smokers or identify how to limit the sales of cigarettes to underage individuals by the convenience store. The researcher would then cycle back to qualitative methods of asking at-risk populations their perceptions of the changes and what factors are still at play, and quantitative research that includes teen smoking rates in the community and the incidence of new teen smokers, among others. [14] [15]

Qualitative research functions as a standalone research design or combined with quantitative research to enhance our understanding of the world. Qualitative research uses techniques including structured and unstructured interviews, focus groups, and participant observation not only to help generate hypotheses that can be more rigorously tested with quantitative research but also to help researchers delve deeper into the quantitative research numbers, understand what they mean, and understand what the implications are. Qualitative research allows researchers to understand what is going on, especially when things are not easily categorized. [16]

  • Issues of Concern

As discussed in the sections above, quantitative and qualitative work differ in many ways, including the evaluation criteria. There are four well-established criteria for evaluating quantitative data: internal validity, external validity, reliability, and objectivity. Credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability are the correlating concepts in qualitative research. [4] [11] The corresponding quantitative and qualitative concepts can be seen below, with the quantitative concept on the left and the qualitative concept on the right:

  • Internal validity: Credibility
  • External validity: Transferability
  • Reliability: Dependability
  • Objectivity: Confirmability

In conducting qualitative research, ensuring these concepts are satisfied and well thought out can mitigate potential issues from arising. For example, just as a researcher will ensure that their quantitative study is internally valid, qualitative researchers should ensure that their work has credibility. 

Indicators such as triangulation and peer examination can help evaluate the credibility of qualitative work.

  • Triangulation: Triangulation involves using multiple data collection methods to increase the likelihood of getting a reliable and accurate result. In our above magic example, the result would be more reliable if we interviewed the magician, backstage hand, and the person who "vanished." In qualitative research, triangulation can include telephone surveys, in-person surveys, focus groups, and interviews and surveying an adequate cross-section of the target demographic.
  • Peer examination: A peer can review results to ensure the data is consistent with the findings.

A "thick" or "rich" description can be used to evaluate the transferability of qualitative research, whereas an indicator such as an audit trail might help evaluate the dependability and confirmability.

  • Thick or rich description:  This is a detailed and thorough description of details, the setting, and quotes from participants in the research. [5] Thick descriptions will include a detailed explanation of how the study was conducted. Thick descriptions are detailed enough to allow readers to draw conclusions and interpret the data, which can help with transferability and replicability.
  • Audit trail: An audit trail provides a documented set of steps of how the participants were selected and the data was collected. The original information records should also be kept (eg, surveys, notes, recordings).

One issue of concern that qualitative researchers should consider is observation bias. Here are a few examples:

  • Hawthorne effect: The effect is the change in participant behavior when they know they are being observed. Suppose a researcher wanted to identify factors that contribute to employee theft and tell the employees they will watch them to see what factors affect employee theft. In that case, one would suspect employee behavior would change when they know they are being protected.
  • Observer-expectancy effect: Some participants change their behavior or responses to satisfy the researcher's desired effect. This happens unconsciously for the participant, so it is essential to eliminate or limit the transmission of the researcher's views.
  • Artificial scenario effect: Some qualitative research occurs in contrived scenarios with preset goals. In such situations, the information may not be accurate because of the artificial nature of the scenario. The preset goals may limit the qualitative information obtained.
  • Clinical Significance

Qualitative or quantitative research helps healthcare providers understand patients and the impact and challenges of the care they deliver. Qualitative research provides an opportunity to generate and refine hypotheses and delve deeper into the data generated by quantitative research. Qualitative research is not an island apart from quantitative research but an integral part of research methods to understand the world around us. [17]

  • Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Qualitative research is essential for all healthcare team members as all are affected by qualitative research. Qualitative research may help develop a theory or a model for health research that can be further explored by quantitative research. Much of the qualitative research data acquisition is completed by numerous team members, including social workers, scientists, nurses, etc. Within each area of the medical field, there is copious ongoing qualitative research, including physician-patient interactions, nursing-patient interactions, patient-environment interactions, healthcare team function, patient information delivery, etc. 

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Disclosure: Steven Tenny declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

Disclosure: Janelle Brannan declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

Disclosure: Grace Brannan declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

This book is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ ), which permits others to distribute the work, provided that the article is not altered or used commercially. You are not required to obtain permission to distribute this article, provided that you credit the author and journal.

  • Cite this Page Tenny S, Brannan JM, Brannan GD. Qualitative Study. [Updated 2022 Sep 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-.

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Dana Stanley

Greenbook’s Chief Revenue Officer

Qualitative Research

May 31, 2024

The Path of Wisdom: For Slowness in Qual Research

Discover the power of slowness in qualitative research. Uncover wisdom, embrace moments of pause, and curate bursts of joy. Dive deeper for richer insights.

The Path of Wisdom: For Slowness in Qual Research

by Katie Gillespie

Head of Research at Sympler

The slower we go, the deeper we can delve into our own thoughts and emotions...The slow journey is one of self-discovery, as we uncover hidden passions and discover who we truly are...In the slow lane, we have the freedom to explore our creativity and unleash our imagination...The slow path is the path of wisdom, as we gain deeper insights into ourselves and the world around us. ~Carl Honorè

In a culture governed by speed and efficiency, slowness is subversive. Slowness in our lives, in our work, and in the way we relate to each other and the consumers we study. The very essence of qual research is about deeper understanding, contextualization, and meaningful inquiry and exploration. And yet, qual research today, in its effort to keep up with the speed of quant, risks losing its elegance and heart – its deliberateness, thoughtfulness, and a sense of care.

Slowness is imbued with a mutual sense of caring – both for the researcher and the respondent. It allows us both time to think, to attend deeply to where and how we are located, to our true feelings, and to the needs we have that are met and unfulfilled. We discover ourselves in slowness. Slowness allows us to excavate the deeper subconscious associations we and our respondents have and the motivations we don’t readily know drive us. It allows us to be surprised by what we know and feel.

Qual research in its traditional sense was oriented in and through the beauty of slowness – sitting together with another person, engaging in the craft of deep active listening, and reading the subtle nuances of facial expression and idiosyncratic gestures. Flowing with a slow cadence, qual research involved taking the time to understand our participants deeply and letting ourselves be changed by them and them by us.

Today, slowness can mean something other than a protracted timeline for completing qual research. It’s an ethos, not a timeline. It’s about moments – mere moments – of pause. It’s about different kinds of considerations, like attention to place and history. It’s about curating ecstatic bursts of emotions like joy. It’s about uncovering wisdom and following its path.

In the fast-paced context of market research today, how can we inject slowness back into the art of qualitative inquiry? We have three tips for slowing down, for celebrating slowness, for accessing deeper insights, and for invigorating our research participants in the process.

Pause. No...Really Pause

Whether it’s speeding through our day with a frantic urgency to get things done or it’s the work of designing an effective qualitative questionnaire on a tight timeline, we’ve lost the exquisite beauty of pause and stillness. Pausing is the simplest tool for slowing down, and for discovering wisdom.

It requires only a moment of “stop”. Permit respondents and encourage them to stop and pause even before they think. That moment of silence and nonthinking creates a reset from the mundane and mindless tasks we hurry through in our day. It brings people back to themselves, their truer core, and from there, they can do better thinking and offer more heartfelt and intelligent insights.

Attend to Place

An auto-ethnographic approach to qualitative research , where we invite respondents to be co-researchers and analysts of their own lives, necessitates a reflection on place – our geographic location with its cultural history, its social moorings, and its natural features. This attention offers a powerful context for deeper understanding. When we attend to a place – truly attend to it – we automatically slow down.

We notice things we hadn’t noticed before. We see the unfolding of sociality and care. Places are nuanced, they’re wholly unique, and so they shape how we behave, what we value, and – in a profound way– who we are. To access a fuller and truer understanding of why consumers do what they do and care about what they do, we can get a richer accounting of their life experience and their identities. Trust respondents’ sophisticated and singular knowledge and invite them to share their geographic, historical, and social location at a more essential level. They will surprise you with the profound insights that follow.

Give the Gift of Joy

Joy is an electric emotion. It jolts us into the present moment. It stops us in our tracks. We experience the intensity of joy in the now. In essence, it slows us down. Play and creativity are sources of exhilaration, and injecting these into how we approach respondents gives them the gift of joyful encounters and intense pleasure.

Engage consumers in play – in fun projective techniques, in imagining other futures, in dreaming up the most perfect product, in sharing the everyday moments of joy and celebration in their lives. The responses will be charged with energy, deeper meaning, and even gratitude that you’re seeing them as humans who want to slow down and savor the best moments.

Katie Gillespie

The views, opinions, data, and methodologies expressed above are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official policies, positions, or beliefs of Greenbook.

Comments are moderated to ensure respect towards the author and to prevent spam or self-promotion. Your comment may be edited, rejected, or approved based on these criteria. By commenting, you accept these terms and take responsibility for your contributions.

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Chemistry Education Research and Practice

Reconstructing perspectives: investigating how molecular geometry cards (mgcards) and molecular model building (mmb) disrupt students' alternative notions of molecular structure – a qualitative study.

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* Corresponding authors

a Chemistry Education Study Program, Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Tanjungpura University, Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia E-mail: [email protected]

b School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham, UK

c Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester, UK

The range of abstract concepts encountered when learning chemistry and the inability of students to make connections between the macroscopic, sub-microscopic, and symbolic representations, used in chemistry teaching, are believed to be the main reasons for students’ difficulty when learning chemistry. Prediction and determination of molecular geometry using the theory of valence shell electron pair repulsion (VSEPR) is a sample of the abstract concept that is hard to understand by students who learn chemistry. Students may comprehend these ideas better if the learning process is supplemented with cutting-edge, interactive learning aids. To address the conceptual difficulties that students encounter when learning how to predict the shapes of molecules, a card game (MGCards) has been developed which is supported by simple molecular model building (MMB). The card game allows students to work through the steps required to predict the shape of a molecule in an engaging format. The student learning process is supported by feedback at all stages (if students make a mistake, they receive hints that will help them in the next step of the game). Action research with qualitative methods has been used to design, develop, and evaluate the MGCards. The MGCards and MMB were piloted at the University of Leicester with year one Natural Sciences students and modified based on the feedback received. Both MGCards and MMB were then used as part of the first-year chemistry education programme at Tanjungpura University in Indonesia. The findings of students’ answer analysis (pre- and post-test) in both cycles showed that students had a better understanding after learning with MGCards and MMB. The positive feedback for MGCards and MMB confirmed that these resources were effective in delivering an engaging learning experience. The results suggest that MGCards and MMB play a significant role in enhancing students’ understanding while also keeping them engaged.

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qualitative research books

Reconstructing perspectives: investigating how molecular geometry cards (MGCards) and molecular model building (MMB) disrupt students' alternative notions of molecular structure – a qualitative study

Erlina, D. P. Williams, C. Cane, Hairida, M. Ulfah and A. F. Wafiq, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. , 2024, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D3RP00038A

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Qualitative Research for a Digital World

Qualitative Research for a Digital World A Practical Guide

  • Emmanuel Mogaji - University of Greenwich, UK
  • Varsha Jain - Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, India
  • Sharma - International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, India
  • Description

Do you want to understand and apply qualitative research methods in a digital context? This book will help you navigate the complexities of digital access and fluency, ensuring a broad lens on research methodologies. From step-by-step guides to innovative frameworks, each chapter is crafted to give you the confidence to carry out cutting-edge qualitative research.

This book will provide you with

·       The knowledge you need to advance your qualitative research understanding across all disciplines.

·       A practical reflection of the application of relevant research methodologies.

·       An overview of research ideas, cases, and examples.

With a wealth of exercises and examples, this book will become a reference point for qualitative research in the digital context by adopting a case-in-point approach for students across all social science disciplines.

See what’s new to this edition by selecting the Features tab on this page. Should you need additional information or have questions regarding the HEOA information provided for this title, including what is new to this edition, please email [email protected] . Please include your name, contact information, and the name of the title for which you would like more information. For information on the HEOA, please go to http://ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea08/index.html .

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