Qualitative research is performed by businesses that acknowledge the human condition and want to learn more about it. Some of the key characteristics of qualitative research that enable practitioners to perform qualitative inquiry comprise small data, absence of definitive truth, the importance of context, researcher’s skills and are of interests.
Absence of a definitive truth
One of the most obvious characteristics of qualitative research is the lack of definitive truth.
Unlike quantitative data, which is clinical, logical, and deals in absolutes, qualitative data is collected by researchers who simply want to know more about the subject at hand.
Note that qualitative data collection does not occur in a vacuum and is context-dependent.
Data are the result of various situational factors that vary from one person to the next, and it is for this reason that qualitative researchers tend to worry about whether the data are reasonably probable as opposed to factual.
This plausibility can be increased by ensuring the data collection process is as accurate as practicable.
Importance of context
Further to the point above is the importance of context. Since qualitative research is performed to better understand real-world problems, the research must consider the natural contexts in which individuals exist.
Context depends on the individual and their social, cultural, or historical background or experience.
In this way, qualitative research provides an accurate account of how people feel, what forces shape their lives, and other less tangible factors that quantitative data may fail to capture or explain.
Understanding what test subjects think and feel can make the solutions more empathic, equitable, effective, and efficient.
Researcher centrism and skills
In qualitative research, the researcher who designs the test is also the instrument by which data are collected.
Since the researcher is close to the research participants, they can understand context and meaning in detail and better interpret study outcomes.
In some cases, however, this level of intimacy can threaten the ability of the researcher to collect data that is unbiased and objective.
To avoid this scenario, researchers are encouraged to think carefully about qualitative research design.
For example, it’s important to use the funnel approach to interview development which enables the interviewer to incorporate the issues that will play a role in reaching study objectives.
Individuals conducting the study should also focus on building rapport with their subjects, practice active listening, avoid inconsistencies, and note any contradictions.
Areas of interest and subject matter
Qualitative research is best suited to areas of interest or subject matter that may be difficult to learn more about via more structured research designs.
A qualitative line of inquiry can be used to tackle sensitive or intricate topics like sexual dysfunction or those that involved one’s personal life history.
Alternatively, it can be used to collate meaningful information from populations that are hard to reach or underserved, such as children from certain subcultures or groups.
In terms of issues that affect both business and society, qualitative research can provide insight into more nebulous topics such as:
- How social media use is affecting physical social engagement among teens in cities.
- The importance of mental health education in a high-school curriculum.
- The benefits of immunization in poor, rural areas.
- Understanding the factors that cause food insecurity and scarcity in a given region, and
- The importance of establishing positive client-customer relationships.
- Qualitative research is performed by businesses that acknowledge the human condition and want to learn more about it.
- One of the most obvious characteristics of qualitative research is the lack of definitive truth. Researchers perform this type of research to learn more about a topic that is often nebulous and hard to define.
- Other characteristics of qualitative research include researcher centrism, researcher skills, and the importance of context in determining how participants think and feel while they interact with their environment.
Read Next: Characteristics of Quantitative Research
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