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Qualitative Research

Overview

What is qualitative research?

Qualitative research seeks to understand how people make sense of their experiences in the world (Merriam, 2009) by exploring non-numerical data (Nkwi, Nyamongo & Ryan, 2001).

 

What are the advantages to using qualitative research methods when applicable?

According to FHI et al., the most important characteristic distinguishing qualitative research from quantitative research is the flexibility of qualitative research methods. For example, open-ended questions in surveys allow for greater variety of responses, which can evoke responses with the following qualities:
 

  • "meaningful and culturally salient to the participant
     
  • unanticipated by the researcher
     
  • rich and explanatory in nature" 
     

Further, qualitative approaches may allow a "researcher the flexibility to probe initial participant responses...to encourage them to elaborate...."
 

Telling a Complete Story with Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research

Overview of Qualitative Research Methods