Qualitative Research Methods, Characteristics, and Examples

qualitative research

Qualitative research is based on conversational, open-ended and naturalistic research approach. It uses non-numerical modes of data collection and analyzes and is more detailed than quantitative research.

Conceptually, qualitative research is concerned with exploring facts and figures about different social phenomena.

Qualitative research uses various methodologies including in-depth interviews, documents, focus groups, case study research, and ethnography. It is different from quantitative research and is more concerned with theoretical data and knowledge.

To know more, let's begin with the blog.

Qualitative Research Definition

Qualitative research can be defined as a type of research that involves obtaining data from open-ended and conversational resources. Qualitative research not only involves “what,” people think but also “why,” they think so.

Qualitative research is mainly used in social sciences disciplines e.g psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

Since qualitative research is concerned with real-life interactions, it involves in-depth and detailed understanding of the researched data.

The qualitative research method also involves data analysis of the obtained data.

From the responses of interviewees, the researcher interprets the views of the respondents. This interpretation also helps the researchers to understand how the participants make decisions.

This helps with formulating successful marketing strategies.

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Qualitative Research Types

Following are the types of qualitative research methods:

In-depth Interviews

In-depth interviews are one of the most common qualitative research methods. In this method, the researcher carries out an individual interview with one interviewee at a time.

This method of qualitative research provides you the chance to get first-hand information about people’s behavior.

With the right, meaningful, and well-researched questions, researchers can obtain plenty of meaningful information. He can use it in the future to predict the behaviors of interviewees.

These interviews can be conducted face to face and on the telephone as well. The duration of the interview can vary from half an hour to two hours, or even more.

Moreover, in-depth interviews also allow you to have follow-up questions with the audience and get the answers to unanswered queries.

Focus Groups

This qualitative research design involves a limited audience that is used to collect data. A focus group can contain 6 to 10 individuals that can be chosen from the targeted group through random sampling.

This qualitative research methodology is usually implemented to get the answers to questions like “what”, “why” and “how”.

In focus group methodology, you are not required to meet the group members individually. Instead, you can send them online or printed survey questions. And you can collect the answers and information at the click of a button.

This method is comparatively an expensive method and is used to explain complex processes. Focus group methodology can be highly effective in scenarios where the new research, product testing, and launch of new products are involved.

Ethnographic Research

This is one of the most detailed observational qualitative research methods. In this method, the researcher studies the target audience in their natural settings. The researcher has to adapt to the target audience’s environment.

This environment can be an office, an organization, or any remote location. Although this is one of the ideal research methods, the geographical constraints can make it infeasible sometimes.

The ethnographic research method is majorly used in understanding cultures of a specific area, challenges that people are facing there, the motivating factors, and the whole living condition of the people.

The duration of this research can last from days to years as it involves detailed observation and collection of data on real grounds.

This is a challenging and time-consuming method and it can only be beneficial if the researcher is expert enough to analyze, observe and infer data from different situations.

Case Study Research

This is quite a novel research method and has evolved over the years. Now, it has become an equally valuable research method. The case study research method analyzes an entity or an organization.

Case study research can be used in multiple domains including education, medical, engineering, and other social sciences.

Usually, it involves study of a single business or case.


Record keeping methods use the existing records and information as data sources. This existing information can be used in new research to get better results.

Observation Process

This research observes and analyzes the research subject in its natural setting. Since it is based on observation, the researcher observes the research object and study its behavior. It is usually used in marketing research.

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Qualitative Research Examples

Following are examples of qualitative research.

Qualitative Research Examples for Students

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Qualitative Research Topics

Following are some of the best qualitative research topics from different academic disciplines to conduct research on :

  • How violence and rape are interlinked?
  • How gender and sexual orientations differ?
  • How do female bosses differ from males?
  • How do you see sexism and gender discrimination?
  • What is occultism?
  • What differences have you observed between gambling and online gaming?
  • Discuss the factors that cause depression.
  • What role does the media play in portraying the hidden messages of society?
  • How the internet has impacted the growth and development of media?
  • Role of media in the promotion of education.

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Qualitative Research Characteristics

Following are some major characteristics of the qualitative research methodology;

Real-Time Data Collection

In qualitative research methods, data is usually collected at the site of research where research participants are facing difficulties.

These real-time data settings rarely require the participants to move out of their geographical areas to collect information.

Multiple Data Sources

This research methodology does not rely on a single source of information and collects information from multiple data sources.

This includes observations, interviews, and existing literature instead of a single data source.

Breakdown of Complex Issues

Qualitative research methods break down complex issues into insightful suppositions that are easy to read and understand.

Raw Results

Qualitative research is a communicative research method where researchers interact with the participants directly.

The participants trust the researcher, share their experiences and hence the obtained information is unstructured and unfiltered.

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Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research

Qualitative and quantitative research differs in the following ways:

Qualitative Research Quantitative Research
This method explains peoples experiences, feelings, and beliefs This research method focuses on explaining the characteristics of the target audience.
In qualitative research open-ended questions are asked. In quantitative research questions with a limited number of answers are asked.
This method uses semi-structured methods as data collection instruments such as in-depth interviews, focus groups, and participant observation This research method uses structured information such as structured observations using questionnaires and surveys.
This research method produces qualitative data in the form of a description. This research method produces numerical data.
Qualitative research is a flexible research method as the answers of interviewees affect which questions should researchers ask. The responses of participants do not affect the nature of the questions being asked next.

Although both research types vary greatly, some researchers adopt a hybrid approach to obtain more accurate and significant results.

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Hope the above blog has helped you understand what qualitative research is, what are its common characteristics and how it differs from quantitative research.

But if you still have some queries regarding qualitative research or are worried about your research assignment, you can reach us to get the services of expert writers.

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