Which of These Study Designs Would Fall Under “Qualitative”?

Qualitative research is a type of study design that focuses on understanding the behavior, experiences, and opinions of individuals and groups through non-numerical data. It aims to provide in-depth insights into a particular phenomenon or research question. In this article, we will discuss various study designs that fall under the category of qualitative research.

1. Ethnography: This study design involves immersing the researcher in a particular cultural or social setting to observe and understand the behaviors, values, and beliefs of the people within that context. Ethnographic studies often include participant observation, interviews, and detailed field notes.

2. Phenomenology: This design aims to explore the subjective experiences and interpretations of individuals regarding a specific phenomenon. Researchers use interviews, observations, and analysis of personal narratives to gain a deeper understanding of how individuals perceive and make sense of their world.

3. Grounded Theory: This study design focuses on developing theories or explanations directly from the data collected. It involves a constant comparison of data to identify themes, categories, and relationships, allowing researchers to develop new theories or refine existing ones.

4. Case Study: This design involves an in-depth investigation of a specific individual, group, or situation. Researchers gather data through interviews, observations, and analysis of documents or artifacts to gain a comprehensive understanding of the case under investigation.

5. Narrative Inquiry: This study design explores the stories and narratives of individuals and groups to understand their experiences, identities, and meanings they attribute to events. Researchers collect and analyze personal narratives through interviews, diaries, or written accounts.


Q1. Is qualitative research subjective?

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A1. Qualitative research focuses on understanding subjective experiences and interpretations. However, it is not solely subjective. Researchers employ rigorous methods of data collection, analysis, and interpretation to ensure credibility, dependability, and transferability of their findings.

Q2. Can qualitative research be used to generalize findings?

A2. Qualitative research aims to provide in-depth insights into specific contexts or phenomena. While generalizability is not the primary goal, researchers can make theoretical or conceptual generalizations that can be applied to similar contexts or populations.

Q3. How many participants are typically involved in qualitative research?

A3. The number of participants in qualitative research varies depending on the research question, scope, and design. Some studies may involve a small sample size of 5-10 participants, while others may include larger groups or even entire communities.

Q4. How long does qualitative research take?

A4. Qualitative research is time-consuming as it involves detailed data collection, analysis, and interpretation. The duration depends on the complexity of the research question, the amount of data to be collected, and the depth of analysis required. It can range from a few weeks to several months or even years.

In conclusion, qualitative research encompasses various study designs that aim to understand the subjective experiences, behaviors, and opinions of individuals and groups. Ethnography, phenomenology, grounded theory, case study, and narrative inquiry are some examples of study designs falling under the qualitative research umbrella. Conducting qualitative research requires careful planning, data collection, analysis, and interpretation to provide valuable insights into human behavior and social phenomena.