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Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research seeks to understand human experiences, perception, social processes and subcultures.  These research methods are not reducible to numbers and categories.  The data that is collected in qualitative research can be taken from observations in the field, recording and transcripts, dairies, or other documents.  The work is inductive, in a sense, a researcher moves from the details of what was said or observed to a slightly more encompassing phrase or concept, back to the data, and from there to a set of categories, themes, or to a theory that portrays important aspects of the subjective experience, social process, or culture.

Brown, Sarah Jo. Evidence-Based Nursing: The Research-Practice Connection. Fourth edition. Burlington, Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2017.

Methods of Qualitative Research

  • Case Study
    • Attempts to shed light on a phenomena by studying indepth a single case example of the phenomena.  The case can be an individual person, an event, a group, or an institution.
  • Phenomenological method
    • Describes the structures of experience as they present themselves to consciousness, without recourse to theory, deduction, or assumptions from other disciplines
  • Grounded theory method
    • To understand the social and psychological processes that characterize an event or situation.
  • Ethnographic method
    • Focuses on the sociology of meaning through close field observation of sociocultural phenomena. Typically, the ethnographer focuses on a community.

How Qualitative Research is Conducted

Qualitative research is a compilation of data.  In healthcare several methods of collecting data can be used.  These include:

  • Case studies
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Field observations
  • Analysis of written materials