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Research Methods

This libguide provides tips on how to choose research methods, whether it be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods. It highlights the strengths and limitations of each method, and provides guidance on how to identify the appropriate method for a giv

Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative research methods involve collecting data in non-numerical forms, such as interviews, focus groups, and observations. This method is suitable for research questions that aim to explore people's experiences, opinions, and perspectives. Here are some tips for choosing qualitative research methods:

Identify the research question: Determine whether your research question is best answered by collecting non-numerical data. Qualitative research is ideal for research questions that require an in-depth understanding of complex social phenomena, such as human behavior, culture, or social structures.

Choose the appropriate data collection methods: Select data collection methods that allow you to collect non-numerical data, such as interviews, focus groups, or ethnography. Interviews involve asking open-ended questions to participants to explore their experiences and perspectives. Focus groups involve bringing together a group of participants to discuss a specific topic. Ethnography involves observing and participating in the daily activities of a group of people to understand their culture and social practices.

When choosing a data collection method, it's important to consider the research question and the participants' characteristics, as well as the feasibility, reliability, and validity of the method.

The sample size: Decide on the sample size that is needed to produce rich and detailed data. Qualitative research typically involves smaller sample sizes than quantitative research because the focus is on depth and richness of information rather than generalizability. The sample size should be determined based on the research question and the saturation point, which is the point at which collecting additional data is unlikely to yield new insights.

Qualitative approaches: Analyze the data using qualitative approaches and methods, such as Ethnography, Narrative, Phenomenological, Case study, content analysis, thematic analysis, or grounded theory. Content analysis involves analyzing text data to identify patterns and themes. The thematic analysis involves identifying and analyzing themes that emerge from the data. The grounded theory involves developing a theory based on the data collected.

When analyzing qualitative data, it's important to consider the credibility, transferability, confirmability, and, dependability of the findings. Credibility refers to the trustworthiness of the findings, transferability is the extent to which the findings can be applied for other settings or populations, dependability refers to the consistency of the findings over time and across different observers or settings, and confirmability refers to the objectivity of the findings.

Strength and Limitations

Strengths and Limitations of Qualitative Research Methods:


  • Allows for the exploration of complex phenomena in depth and detail.
  • Provides an understanding of the context and subjective experiences of individuals.
  • It can generate new ideas and hypotheses to be tested for further quantitative research.
  • It can capture the diversity and complexity of human experiences.
  • It can allow for the participation of participants in the research process.


  • It may produce data that is difficult to analyze and generalize.
  • It may be influenced by researcher bias or subjectivity.
  • It may not allow for comparisons across studies.
  • It may be time-consuming and resource-intensive.
  • It may not allow for hypothesis testing or causal inference.