Study on the countless qualitative research methods

An portion of research which has really gained momentum lately, qualitative research is often regarded as in a few sense as contending with the more established (at least in medical circles) quantitative research.

This is unfortunate, because the two techniques should be seen as complementary, providing different perspectives and answering different specific questions within any one broad area.

Quantitative research can be involved with keeping track of and measuring things, producing in particular estimates of averages and variations between teams (e. g. , blood circulation pressure of patients treated with two different drugs).

Qualitative research has its origins in social science which is more concerned with understanding why people work as they do: their knowledge, behaviour, beliefs, fears, etc. (e. g. , why do patients prefer to be involved in decision-making about their treatment?)

Qualitative research allows the themes being studied to give much 'richer' answers to questions put to them by the researcher, and may give valuable insights which might have been missed by every other method.

Not only should it provide valuable information to certain research questions in its own right but there is a strong case for deploying it to complement quantitative research methods.

For example if the area of interest is not previously investigated then qualitative research may be a essential forerunner to doing any quantitative research; for example, you can't really perform a meaningful structured questionnaire study on patient satisfaction with a service, if the top issues to the patients surrounding the provision of that service are not known.

At the other extreme qualitative research also may help you to comprehend the results of quantitative research; for example, it's very easy to learn that some patients fail to keep visits at outpatients treatment centers, but uncovering the reason why because of this can be more difficult and regular research may miss some of the critical indicators.

There are three main options for collecting data in qualitative research. The causing data is usually transcribed then analysed using one of a number of techniques for research (development [and interpretation] on key designs for example). The three main ways of data collection are

Focus groups

For this technique the researcher brings together a small amount of subjects to discuss the topic appealing. The group size is maintained deliberately small, so that its customers do not feel intimidated but can exhibit opinions freely. A subject guide to aid dialogue is usually prepared beforehand and the researcher usually 'chair' the group, to ensure that a range of areas of the topic are explored. The discourse is frequently tape-recorded, then transcribed and analysed.

Example: Rutman (1996) explored the coverage and practice implications of caregivers' experiences of powerfulness and powerlessness. She used group workshops to create data. Brainstorming techniques were used to explore the 'ideal' caregiving situation.

Direct observation

Data can be accumulated by an external observer, known as a non-participant observer. Or the data can be collected by a participant observer, that can be a member of staff undertaking usual duties while observing the functions of care and attention. In this kind of review the researcher aims to become immersed in or become area of the population being examined, so that they can develop a thorough understanding of the principles and beliefs held by users of the population.

Sometimes a list of observations the researcher is specifically looking for is ready before-hand, other times the observer makes records about anything they notice for examination later.

Example: Johnson and Webb (1995) used observation to gather evidence about how value judgements created by personnel and patients can effect on decision making. On this study, the researcher acted as a participant observer, working as a nurse on the ward while watching situations where nurses were faced with difficult moral selections. Observations were registered as field notes and analysed for content.

In-depth interviews

Interviews use the same process as a target group, but themes are interviewed singularly, ideally in the patient's own home. Interviews in qualitative research are usually wide ranging, probing issues at length. They seldom involve asking a set of predetermined questions, as could be the circumstance in quantitative studies. Instead they encourage subject matter expressing their views at length. One especially useful technique is the critical occurrence study, in which subject matter are asked to touch upon real events alternatively than supplying generalisations. This can disclose more about beliefs and attitudes and behaviour. The researcher might be able to obtain more descriptive information for each and every subject, but loses the richness that can happen in a group in which people controversy issues and exchange views.

Example: Frederikson, et al (1996) used unstructured interviewing to explore family functioning and interpersonal interactions through the perceptions of women of Vietnam partners in New Zealand. The reason why they provide for choosing this technique include insufficient sufficient theory and explanations in the field to produce valid devices for large-scale study techniques and the complexity of the interpersonal interactions mixed up in impact of post-traumatic stress disorder on households.

Further methods found in qualitative research studies

Diary methods - The researcher or subject matter keeps an individual bank account of daily incidents, feelings, discussions, interactions etc.

Role-play and simulation - Individuals may be asked to play a role, or may be asked to see role-play, after which they are asked to rate behavior, report emotions, and anticipate further events.

Case-study - That is an in-depth review of just one person, group or event. This system is merely a description of people.


The downside of qualitative research is that, invariably, only small amounts of things can be analyzed because data collection methods are so labour intensive. It is also often criticised for: being subject to researcher bias; the difficulties in analysing qualitative data rigorously; having less reproducibility and generalisability of the studies (i. e. findings might not be relevant to other content or adjustments). Proponents of qualitative research would however claim that there are strategies available to the qualitative researcher to protect against these potential biases and improve the rigour of the studies. Nicholas and Pope (1995) had written articles in the BMJ specifically handling techniques for bettering the rigour of qualitative research conclusions.

The methodological checklist below was developed by the same authors to help viewers of qualitative tasks assess the quality of published research nevertheless they also provide a useful checklist for experts to consider when making their own qualitative research.

Check list for the appraisal of qualitative research

- Was the research question clearly discovered?

- Was the environment where the research took place clearly explained?

- If sampling was performed, were the sampling methods explained?

- Did the study worker address the issues of subjectivity and data collection?

- Were solutions to test the validity of the results of the study used?

- Were any steps taken to increase the dependability of the info collected, for example, by duplicating the info collection with another research worker?

- Were the results of the study kept different from the conclusions drawn by the research workers?

- If quantitative methods were appropriate as a health supplement to the qualitative methods, were they used?

This helpsheet is intended only to provide an introduction to some of the main element issues and techniques involved in qualitative research. As mentioned above there are several design issues to consider when conducting this type of research and we would guide new users of the research to get further information before embarking on your own work. Please contact the R&D Support Product on 01823 342799.


Frederikson, LG, Chamberlain, K and Long, N. (1996) Unacknowledged casualties of the Vietnam conflict; experiences of partners of New Zealand veterans. Qualitative Health Research, 6(1): 49-70.

Johnson, M and Webb, C. (1995) Rediscovering unpopular patients: the idea of cultural judgement. Journal of Advanced Medical 21 (3): 466-475

Mays, N and Pope, C. (1995) Rigour and qualitative research. English Medical Journal 311: 109-12

Rutman, D. (1996) Caregiving as women's work: women's encounters of powerfulness and powerlessness as caregivers. Qualitative Health Research 6 (1): 90-111

Miles MB and Huberman AM. An Extended Sourcebook Qualitative Data Examination - 2nd Model. 1994

NHS Management Professional. School of Health: Consumer Audit Recommendations. 1994

Qualitative research methods were developed in the social sciences to allow researchers to review social and ethnical phenomenon. Types of qualitative methods include

action research seeks to contribute both to the functional concerns of men and women within an immediate difficult situation also to the goals of interpersonal technology by joint cooperation in a mutually acceptable moral framework;

case study research - a research study is an empirical enquiry that investigates a modern day occurrence within its real-life context;

ethnography- the ethnographer immerses her/himself in the life span of individuals s/he studies and seeks to place the phenomena studied in its public and cultural context.

For the study work, the essential RESEARCH QUESTION is factors effecting development planning and control with reference to performance measurement

To address all such questions the strategy used is Qualitative and I make use of Quantitative solutions to analyse the statistical data, which to be accumulated during research work.


I am conducting two methods to investigations my research work i-e. Qualitative & Quantitative Within the past, we use words to spell it out the final results and in the latter, we use amounts.


The main methods used in qualitative research are




Written materials





Primary analysis

Category and notion formation

The technology of theory


In seeking to explore the natural field, the qualitative researcher aims to be as unobtrusive as you possibly can, so that neither research existence nor methods disturb the situation. This is why participant observation is one of the favoured techniques.

Participant observation

Blends along with natural activity,

Access to the same places, people and incidents as the subject matter,

Documents highly relevant to the role, including private reports and data,

Use of mechanical aids, such as tape recorders and video cameras,

First-hand connection with the role and therefore heightens knowledge of it,

Worthwhile contribution to the life of the institution

The strengths of systematic observation are

It is relatively free of observer bias.

It can build frequencies, and is strong on target measures

Reliability can be strong.

Generalise-ability, Once I have devised my device, large examples can be covered.

It is exact, There is no 'clinging around' or 'muddling through'.

It provides a structure for the study topic


A lot of qualitative material comes from talking with people whether it be through formal Interviews or Everyday conversations.

It is essential for the researcher

To develop empathy with interviewees and gain their self confidence;

To be unobtrusive, in order never to impose one's own effect on the interviewee.

The best way of this is actually the unstructured interview.

There are a number of techniques research workers used in the natural span of the conversation to aid clarity, depth and validity. Below are a few

Check on clear contradictions

Search for opinions

Ask for clarification

Ask for explanations, present alternatives

Seek comparisons

Pursue the reasoning of the argument

Ask for further information

Aim for comprehensiveness

Put things in another type of way

Express incredulity or astonishment

Summarise occasionally and have for corroboration

Ask hypothetical questions

Play devil's advocate

The researcher partcipates in 'lively' listening, which ultimately shows the interviewee that close attention is being paid to what they say; and also tries to keep the interviewee centered on the topic, as unobtrusively as you can. Both sorts of interview might be utilized in the same research.


Where qualitative research is wanting to generalise about general issues, representative or 'naturalistic' sampling is attractive. This addresses places, times and people.

Representative sampling cannot always be achieved in qualitative research because of

a) The initially largely exploratory character of the research

b) Problems of negotiating access

c) The pure weight of work and problems of gathering and control data only using one group of eye and ears


Documents are a useful source of data in qualitative research, nonetheless they need to be treated carefully. The most widely used are established documents, personal documents, and questionnaires.

Official documents include registers, timetables, minutes of conferences, planning papers, lessons plans and notes, private documents on pupils, school handbooks, papers and journals, data and information, notice planks, exhibitions, official characters, textbooks, work cards, photographs.

Personal documents are diaries, creative writing exercises, pupils' 'harsh' books, graffiti, personal characters and records.

If these have been created, they are really area of the 'natural' situation, and can tell the researcher a great deal about pupil and teacher behavior, culture and perspectives.

In studies that I have been connected with I've found out a good deal from these types of documents.

Diaries frequently used in qualitative research. Their very character talks to the features specified in the first section above. They are 'natural', they contain personal meanings and understandings, and they're processual.

The researcher needs to know the basis and motivation which they were put together.

They are specifically strong, therefore, where found in conjunction with other methods.


Questionnaires are not among the most visible methods in qualitative research, because they commonly require things to react to a stimulus, and thus they are not acting effortlessly.

Interaction among techniques in this manner is typical of qualitative research.

In order to accord with the top features of qualitative research layed out above, you might need to take into account the questions of:-


Questionnaires in qualitative research often include a mixture of both.

The need to identify the context where replies are being given

The dependence on checks, amounts, extensions and modificationsN


Some qualitative experts are not worried about validity as it is commonly realized, preferring to shoot for 'understanding', that will be achieved. Whichever procedure one adopts, however, validity or rigour in qualitative research commonly depends upon

Modest measures

The less the researcher disturbs the arena, the longer put in in it, and the deeper the penetration of the research, a lot more the representation of it might stated to be legitimate.

Respondent Validation

If were aiming to understand the meanings and perspectives of those being researched, how better to evaluate if our understandings are exact and full than by giving our accounts back again to those involved and asking them to guage?

Respondent validation may well not always be appropriate or advisable.


The main ethical debates in qualitative research revolve around the tensions between key and open up research, and between your public's to know and the subject's right to privacy.

Participant observation has, on occasions, been likened to 'spying' or 'voyeurism'.

There is a enticement, too, for some researchers to make a deal access into an establishment, carry out observations that he or she requires, persuade things to 'spill the beans', and then 'trim and run'.

In practical conditions, this means, for example, not harming the organization or the individuals the first is researching, when possible leaving them in a better rather than a worse condition, safeguarding their identities in disseminating the study.

Respondent validation is seen with an ethical dimension.


In qualitative research, research frequently occurs at the same time as data collection.

In order to seem sensible of the info, much may need to be jettisoned - this means a lot of time and work may have been wasted, and a lower quality product.

Analysis, therefore, commences almost immediately, with 'key examination'.

Later on, after more data collection in relationship with primary analysis, a second stage occurs with 'category and principle formation'.

The research might stop at this point, depending on aims, or it might proceed to one third level, the 'generation of theory'.

I shall consider each of these.

Primary analysis

As interview transcripts are made, or fieldnotes of observation compiled, or documents put together,

the researcher continuously examines the data, perhaps highlighting certain points in the text or writing remarks in the margins.

These might identify what seem to make a difference points, and take note of contradictions and inconsistencies, any common themes or templates that seem to be growing, personal references to related literature, evaluations and contrasts with other data etc. .


How does I run into the idea?

As I'm building up amounts of interviews, that is I interview the same person plenty of times,

I've noticed that they repeat their account of certain incidents, usually fairly important ones in their lives.

The other salient factor is that the consideration is given in the same words every time, with incredibly little variant.

In addition, this type of repeating of stories is elicited most often when there has been a gap in my own interviewing of a few weeks, therefore the narrative has truly gone cold.

They cannot immediately recall precisely what they explained before.

Then I got the repetition of situations, and the repetition of phrases

Explanations and ideas

It might simply be that the repetition of happenings is because of lapses in storage, especially as people are getting older, that would not be shocking. But there's a problem there, since it fails to explain

Why these happenings should be repeated in exactly the same phraseology?

Why doesn't the lapse of memory space extend to that too?

Why could it be that it is merely certain things, certain incidents that get repeated?

Category and notion formation

Most qualitative analysts arrive at a point where their data has to be organised in some kind of organized way, if only for analytic purposes.

It may be beneficial to summarise data in some way, tabulate them on a chart, or build figures, or sketch diagrams. Such distillation helps one to encapsulate more of the materials in a glance.

The era of theory

Many qualitative studies do not go beyond the construction of models and typologies.

This purchased, descriptive fine detail is a flawlessly legitimate quest.

As we have seen, it takes sizeable work, skill and insight to achieve this level of explanation, and the results are valuable.

But we might want to be on from requesting 'what' and 'how' questions to 'why' questions.

What we found in the second stage of research above was 'how' but we would like to know 'why. '

Types of theory

It pays to to see ideas on two measurements. The foremost is Glaser and Strauss's (1967) differentiation between substantive and formal theory.

The former is theory that applies to a particular circumstance; formal theory is at a higher degree of abstraction and pertains to a generality of instances.

The second sizing is that of micro-macro. Qualitative research lends itself more easily to micro research, which can be involved with activity within classrooms and schools, connections between people, local situations, circumstance studies.

Comparative analysis

The development of theory proceeds typically through comparative evaluation.

As we found earlier, situations are compared across a range of situations, over a period of time, among lots of individuals and through a number of methods.

Comparisons are being made constantly - in verifying data, testing a concept, bringing out the distinctive elements of a category, building generalities within an organization.

Any of these could spark off ideas about 'why', which would bring more comparisons to check and refine that idea.

As soon as one begins to identify significant occasions or words, and continues on to develop categories and principles, one is building up essential the different parts of theory.

Consulting the literature is an integral part of theory development, and the primary way of making comparisons beyond your study.

Another essential aspect is time. The deeper the involvement longer the connection, the wider the field of associates and knowledge


As part of my research, I am looking at certain characteristics (variables) and endeavouring showing something interesting about how they allocated within Development Planning and Control.

A changing needs measured for the purpose of quantitative evaluation. Using the data that I've collected then I can make use of

Descriptive statistics including



Cumulative distributions,


Variance and standard deviations,

Associations and correlations

Variables can be viewed graphically by dining tables, pub or pie graphs for illustration.

This may be all the reports I need and I can make deductions from my information. Actually, univariate (one adjustable) analysis can only just be descriptive.

However, descriptive figures used to describe a significant marriage between two factors (bivariate data) or more parameters (multivariate).

Infer significant generalise able relationships between variables. The tests used designed to find out if my data is because of chance or because something interesting is certainly going on.


Numerical measurements

Non-numerical measurements

Continuous data

Categorical data

Nominal data

Ordinal data

Basic Measures

Mean: is a measure of the central location or average of a set of numbers,

Standard deviation: is the square base of the variance

Variance: is a measure of dispersion (or distributed) of a couple of data calculated in the next way

2 2

s =  ˜ (x - mean)


Median: is the centre or middle range of a data set

Quartiles: divide a circulation of values into four equal parts. The three related prices of the varying are denoted by q1, q2 (equal to the median) and q3

Range: is a way of measuring dispersion add up to the difference between the largest and smallest value.

Measures of Location and Dispersion

A distribution is symmetrical if the difference between the mean and the median is zero.

An appropriate pictorial representation of the info, (histogram, stem and leaf diagram etc. ) would produce a mirror image about the centre

A syndication is positively skewed (or skewed to the right) if the mean - median is higher than zero. Such data when represented by a histogram could have the right tail that is longer than the left tail

A syndication is adversely skewed (or skewed to the left) if the mean - median is less than zero. Such data when represented by the histogram could have a left tail that is longer than the right tail

If data skewed then your best measure of location is the median and the best way of measuring dispersion is the inter-quartile range. If data are symmetrical then your best way of measuring location is the mean and the best way of measuring dispersion is the typical deviation or variance.


This can be an important theory in statistics and can be an important part of our story.

It is identified in the next way: if an test has n similarly likely final results and q of them will be the event E, then your probability of the event E, P(E), taking place is

P(E) =q/n

Testing an hypothesis

There are two basic principles to grasp before beginning out on screening an hypothesis.

Firstly, the tests are designed to disprove hypotheses. We never attempt to prove anything; our purpose is to show that an idea is untenable as it brings about an unsatisfactorily small probability.

Secondly, the hypothesis that people want to disprove is always chosen to be the main one in which there is absolutely no change. For example there is no difference between the two people means.

This is referred to as the null hypothesis and is also labelled H0. The conclusions of an hypothesis test business lead either to approval of the null hypothesis or its rejection towards the choice hypothesis H1.

Hypothesis tests: a hypothesis test or significance test is a rule that decides on the approval or rejection of the null hypothesis predicated on the results of any random test of the population in mind.

Step 1: Formulate the useful problem in conditions of hypotheses.

Step 2: Calculate a statistic that is a function strictly of the info.

Step 3: Select a critical region.

Step 4: Decide how big is the critical region.

Statistical tests

t tests

In hypothesis assessment, the t test can be used to check for distinctions between means when small examples are participating. For larger examples use the z test. The t test can test

If an example has been drawn from a Normal population with known mean and variance.

If two paired random samples come from the same Normal populace.

Any hypothesis test can be one tailed or two tailed with respect to the choice hypothesis, H1.

Consider the null hypothesis, H0: m =3

A one tailed test is one where H1 would be of the form m > 3.

A two-tailed test is one where H1 would be of the form m 3.

Single sample test

Let X1, X2, ˜, Xn be considered a random sample with mean and variance s2. To check if this test comes from a standard inhabitants with known mean m and undiscovered variance s2,


T = X -

S  - n -1

The test statistic used to check the null hypothesis H0: the populace mean equals m.

If the test statistic is based on the critical region whose critical principles are located from the distribution of Tn, a, H0 is turned down towards the choice hypothesis H1. n are the degrees of flexibility and for a single sample test n = n-1, and a is the significance degree of the test.

Two unpaired samples

Let X1, X2, ˜, Xm be a random sample with mean and variance sx2 drawn from a Normal population with unidentified mean mx and unknown variance sx2. Let Y1, Y2, ˜, Yn be a random test with mean and variance sy2 drawn from a Normal population with unknown mean my and unknown variance sy2. To check the null hypothesis that both unknown human population means are the same we use the test

where, the estimate of the normal society standard deviation. The test statistic T is distributed Tn, where n =(m-1)+(n-1) for just two unpaired samples. In case the test statistic is based on the critical region whose critical ideals are found from the circulation of Tn, a, H0 is turned down in favour of the alternative hypothesis H1.

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