Learn how to deal with qualitative research

Learn how to deal with qualitative research

An essential part of most bachelor’s and master’s theses is a practical part that focuses on particular research. It is possible to examine a certain issue either quantitatively or qualitatively. It is also very common to combine these two methods, which can complement each other perfectly. But now we will focus primarily on qualitative research and its use in practice.

Qualitative research concept

According to the glossary, the term quality refers to a set of characteristics or features that distinguish a particular subject or phenomenon from others. This clearly shows what is the subject of qualitative research – that is, the examination of signs and differences within one subject or individual, or a particular group. Statistical methods are not used to evaluate the data in qualitative research.

The aim of the qualitative research is to understand the investigated phenomenon. Research is based on the principle of inductive analysis, where you build a hypothesis (or even a theory) based on the information you gather during the research.

Although it requires much fewer respondents than quantitative research, it is usually much more time consuming.

Examples of qualitative research:

  • case studies,
  • ethnographic research
  • action research
  • critical research.

Define the research problem

As with quantitative research, start by identifying a research problem. Clarify what you want to find out in your experiment. Examine the literature thoroughly and look at the issue from multiple perspectives. Finally, ask a research question, or a few questions you will look for in your research response.

Keep in mind that research must first and foremost be feasible. If your focus is too wide, you may not be able to complete the experiment within a reasonable time.

Make a selection of the research sample

The correct sample selection is crucial for qualitative research in a bachelor’s or master’s thesis as it is the main data source. For the sake of simplicity, we will now focus on selecting a research sample that consists of people, ie respondents.

First, identify the target audience and then select the appropriate method for selecting individual respondents. You can choose from the entire population or a certain group of people according to the focus of your research question. For example, it will involve primary school teachers – then you will not choose from the entire population but only from a group of these teachers. At the same time, the selection itself should be as random as possible, so that the result cannot be affected and thus the data obtained is invalidated.

Determine working methods

In qualitative research, interviews, questionnaires or observations are conducted. Everything is unstructured or semi-structured. The questions asked must be clear, unambiguous and free from emotional discoloration.

If you decide, for example, for questionnaires, you can choose from several options – electronic or telephone questionnaires, or questionnaires filled in directly with the respondent. It also depends on your time and target group. If it is a case of people in retirement age, there is probably no point in an electronic questionnaire.

Go for it

Once you are clear about everything, start collecting the necessary information, building a hypothesis or theory. However, in qualitative research, remember to keep a certain distance and not be too subjective. You’ll also need a critical analysis that is often necessary for this type of experiment.

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