What is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative Research is the examination, analysis and interpretation of observations for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships, including classifications of types of phenomena and entities, in a manner that does not involve mathematical models. For example, in the social sciences, qualitative research methods are often used to gain better understanding of such things as intentionality (from the speech response of the researchee) and meaning (why did this person/group say something and what did it mean to them?).
This research asks broad questions and collects word data from participants. Qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses. Unlike quantitative methods which are used to identify patterns and make predictions, qualitative research aims to explain behavior.
Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern it. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of consumer behavior, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed than the large samples required of quantitative methods.
Qualitative researchers typically rely on the following methods for gathering information: Participant Observation, Non-participant Observation, Field Notes, Reflexive Journals, Structured Interview, Semi-structured Interview, Unstructured Interview, and Analysis of documents and materials.
The Following Are Some Examples of Qualitative Approaches Used in Collecting Data:
- Classical Ethnography
- Interviews (phone or in-person)
- Focus Group discussions
In a focus group, a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a specific product, service, concept, advertisement, idea or packaging. It is conducted in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with each other.