qualitative research
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Why Qualitative Research Is Important? Its 5 types

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a very extensive form of research. The nature of looking at research objectives in-depth and trying to achieve a variety of in-depth analyses makes qualitative research a bit complex. 

It can be understood as an empirical method of research. This is so because any qualitative research will record data in the form of feelings, emotions, experiences or any other kind of data that is not in numeric form or cannot be expressed in terms of numbers. 

The main focus of this type of research lies on the ‘why’ part rather than the ‘what’ part of a research objective. The nature of this type of research makes it famous for research work revolving around humans and various phenomena related to them. Some of the fields where qualitative research is extensively used are sociology, health science, disclosure analysis, ethnography, and many more.

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Types of Qualitative Research Methods

We all know that qualitative research is non-numeric in nature and focuses more on generating deeper insights from the data collected. Therefore, the way of collecting data for this type of research is slightly different from that of quantitative research data collection. Let’s look at some of the ways that are widely used by researchers to collect data for this type of research.

One-to-one interviews

One-to-one interviews are one of the most common methods of data collection for this type of research. In this one can directly interrogate the subjects. The method of interrogating can either be formal or informal. One can collect in-depth information from the subjects around which qualitative research is concerned. 

The only important thing one should be mindful of is asking the correct questions. This is so because one-to-one interviews often tend to be open-ended discussions where there is a high possibility that one might drift away from the issue at hand.

Focus groups

Focus groups are another one of the most common methods of data collection for qualitative research. It is much similar to that of one-to-one interviews apart from a few major differentiations. In a focus group a limited number of people, say a group of 6-10 people is interrogated together. 

Like all other methods of data collection, the main aim of the focus group is to collect information like ‘why’ and ‘how’ from the research subjects. Nowadays, people have started using surveys as well as an evolved method of data collection. They simply send questionnaires to the focus groups and collect responses from them.

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic research is not a very extensive method of data collection for qualitative research. However, the quality of data collected in this method is in the most refined and pure form. This research method is not used extensively because of its nature of data collection. 

Ethnographic research involves observing the research subjects in their natural environment, without any changes made to it. The duration for which the observation of subjects is done can differ from as short as one or two days to as long as a year or more than that. This research design is mostly focused on collecting data from groups of people who share some or the other common trait. For instance, the research can revolve around understanding cultures, religious groups, their motivations, challenges, or the setting in which they believe and live in their natural environment. 

For ethnographic research data collection, geographical boundaries can occur to be a constraint to data collection. Also, the quality of data collected can depend on the expertise of the researcher and his ability to observe, analyze and infer from the data. Apart from these, the research method can be very challenging, time taking, and costly.

Case study

The case study method of data collection was not very famous from the beginning but has gained wide popularity in recent times. The major areas where this method is being widely used are in the field of education, social sciences, and the ones similar to them. The method involves the detailed study of any incident that happened in an organization for the real. The incident is used to explain the entity or organization and the various functions associated with it. 

Scholars may find it difficult to dig into the data and draw inferences but this is one of the simplest ways of conducting research that also involves understanding data collection methods.

Secondary data

Secondary data as the name suggests involves the use of already existing data and does not involve data collection of its own. In many types of research, the already existing data can be very helpful and can save time, money, and energy in collecting data by ourselves. But before using secondary data, one should be very mindful as any changes made in the secondary data during the time of its data collection can also impact your research and the results might not be very accurate as they can be.

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Usage of Qualitative Research

As we know, qualitative research ponders on the question of ‘why’ and ‘how’ and deals with human emotions and experiences. There are many areas in which one can make use of this type of research and collect the required factual data. Let’s look at some qualitative research examples:

  • Before developing any new product or making changes to an existing product. 
  • To analyze your products/service strengths or weaknesses.
  • To change or improve your product or service marketing strategies.
  • Understanding your audience and their purchase behavior
  • To understand your customers and their view towards your products or services.
  • To explore new business opportunities in different market segments or different demographics.
  • To get deep insight and gather perception for your product or competitors’ product, brand, or organization as a whole.

Limitations of Qualitative Research

Though qualitative research is quite famous for collecting qualitative data, the characteristic of the research which involves observation and drawing inferences based on one’s expertise makes it open to many unique flaws. Let’s look at some of the limitations of qualitative research-

  • The major drawback associated with this type of research is the amount of time required to conduct the research. 
  • Considering the nature of data collection for this type of research, misinformation sharing can be done from the participants’ end or the misinference of information can be done from the researchers’ end.
  • The expertise and knowledge of the researcher can influence and alter the observation from the data collected. 
  • Since the research involves dealing with human emotions and experience, there is no way in which you can verify if the data collected is correct or not. 
  • The analysis of the research is based on the researcher’s opinion, judgment, and expertise, there is no way to figure out any casualties if any. 
  • The statistical presentation of qualitative research becomes extremely difficult and might lead to changes in some or the other aspects of the statistical presentation.


Now that we know all about qualitative research, we are ready to get into it. But know if your research needs this type of research or not before getting right at it. This type of research is time taking and expensive research work so know your objective and conduct your research in a rightful manner.


What is a good qualitative research topic?

A good qualitative research topic can revolve around the topics of psychology, women, gender, and environment.

When should qualitative research be used?

This type of research is ideal for collecting aggressive data that cannot be collected or reflected through quantitative data. For instance, data revolving around people’s beliefs, emotions, values, or any underlying behavior.

What are the Characteristics of Qualitative research?

Any qualitative research will be focused more on the cases and understanding the differences between them rather than calculating responses in any numeric form.

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