Qualitative research as it is known today began during the period 1925-1934. As almost the antithesis of the more entrenched and accepted quantitative research, it has only been deemed acceptable and trustworthy in recent years. Qualitative research first gained respectability through the application of applied psychology in advertising and marketing, and is now almost universally accepted in academia. (Bailey, 2013)
The questions before today’s researchers are how to apply qualitative research, and when to supplant it with either quantitative research or a mixture of the two.
The first component of qualitative research is formulating the purpose of the study. In general, the focus of qualitative research is understanding and interpreting social interactions. Qualitative research, according to Lichtman, strives “to provide an in-depth description and understanding of the human experience … The purpose of qualitative research is to describe, understand, and interpret human phenomena, human interaction, or human discourse” (2013).
Because of this focus on human interaction, qualitative research is by its nature subjective, so the researcher plays a pivotal role in the qualitative research process. The researcher’s perspective on the subject of the study will be informed by his or her perception of the reality of the situation, and that perception will be based, in large part, on the researcher’s experience and background. (Lichtman, 2013)
Qualitative research is usually concerned with studying situations or things as they are rather than in artificial settings or experiments. The purpose of a qualitative study is to discover what is rather than what might be under different conditions.
Qualitative research stu...
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...research can provide context and insights that quantitative research studies lack.
Perhaps the best solution is to use a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Pure qualitative research uses the idea that there are multiple realities that may shift or evolve due to changes in events and situations. In one sense, qualitative researchers might, as Tanya R. Berry reported in “Qualitative researchers as modern day Sophists? Reflections on the qualitative-quantitative divide” (2011), say “there is no reality – just experience.” Thus, qualitative research studies may produce glimpses of the more slippery version of “truth” that quantitative research would never real. However, the more structured and disciplined constructs used by quantitative researchers may also be necessary to nail down the trends, opinions, and ideas revealed through qualitative research.
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