Here we will cover the major types of qualitative research instead of explaining the difference between qualitative and quantitative research methods. The following are the major types of qualitative research approaches.
Case Study Model
Focus group discussions
Grounded Theory Method
1. Case Study Model
The case study is one of the widely used types of qualitative research methods that evolved over the last few years. The case study model looks into the single subject in-depth to elaborate it in a more comprehensive way. The subjects of a case study may be an individual, a family, a classroom, organization or business, a single town or city. It is commonly used in social sciences empirically to investigate a problem within real life-context.
A Case study narrows down the broad field of research study into a specific researchable phenomenon. This method employs multiple methods like Interviewing Observation, Review of documents and artifacts to collect data and it does not rely on a single data collection technique. Case studies can be exploratory, explanatory, or describing an event. Although its results cannot be generalized to the whole population yet it gives some indications to make a hypothesis on a given problem in hand.
There are different arguments about the case study as a research method because some critics argue that it is a narrow field and it cannot answer the entire question with its all perspectives. On the other hand, some are of the view that case studies give a realistic picture than purely statistical methods. For example, a statistical method may show how much time individuals spend while talking on mobile phones, it shows only the frequency of time but the case study of that group will answer the question of why this is so.
The advantage of using a case study is that a researcher can focus on a single and specific case. Apparently this type of qualitative method is looked at as difficult to conduct, but it is the simplest method to dig deep for a thorough understanding of an individual, group, entity or organization.
2. Content analysis
Qualitative content analysis is a research tool that examines the presence of certain figures, words, themes or concepts in some qualitative data. After data collection, the researchers may quantify the presence of certain words and themes presented in the data. Content analysis reveals categories and codes available in the qualitative data for rigorous analysis.
In the content analysis, the text is broken down and divided into different codes and once the codes are allocated to the qualitative data then these codes are further categorized into code categories to summarize data. Sources of data for content analysis include text documents for example essays, books, newspaper headlines and literally communicative language like speeches.
The other sources of data could be in the form of field research notes, interviews and open-ended questionnaires. Data for content analysis is comparatively easily available as compared with other data collection tools. Although content analysis is exhaustive in qualitative research, it is one of the most popular types of qualitative research methods.
In this modern era, we are available with huge qualitative data in the form of audios and videos. Such tools, content analysis, of qualitative data analysis have made the work easy because nowadays there are a number of applications available that help in the coding and further categorization of qualitative data.
3. Focus group discussions
Focus group discussion is a common type of qualitative research methods, used in data collection. Usually, a focus group consists of a limited number of respondents (8-12) from the targeted population. The aim of the focus group discussion is to find answers to the questions that start from why, what and how that results in qualitative data collection. Because the answer to the questions which start from how what and why describes the quality of things or persons.
It is a form of qualitative research in which different groups of people interviewed to know their opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions regarding a specific product, problem or situation. In a focus group although there is a small number of people yet they are demographically diverse. Focus group discussions shed light and discuss the real issues and problems because the discussions are held in a natural environment and the participants are selected from the relevant field.
It is advantageous over the other types of qualitative research methods because the researcher is not required to reach each participant individually. In recent times the focus group discussions are held on the digital devices and now responses are collected by a single click.
4. Ethnographic Model
An ethnographic model is used where the researcher wants to know about the unfamiliar culture of other people. The purpose of this method of research is to describe the unique features of a culture. Like anthropologists, the ethnographic researcher himself becomes the subject during the observation process for an extended period of time. The researcher interacts with the participants in their real-life activities.
The ethnographic model is popularized by anthropology, but now it is widely used in the different fields of social sciences. The advantage of ethnographic research is that it uncovers the unexpected issues.
5. Narrative Model
The narrative model is a type of qualitative research method in which data is collected over an extended period of time and it compiles information when it happens. It has emerged in the broader field of qualitative research methods. The narrative model takes stories, texts, autobiographies, journals, conversations, letters, family stories, personal diaries and photos as the units of its analysis in the research process.
This qualitative approach is employed in different fields like sociology, knowledge theory, organizational studies, education, and cognitive sciences. The narrative research method is used when the real-life problems are investigated because of the researcher probes on the diverse experiences of a single person that has the bearing of others’ accumulative experiences.
6. Grounded Theory Method
The grounded theory method is a type of qualitative research in which systematic methodology is employed to construct theories from the given data for analysis. Grounded theory studies a large number of subjects and employs inductive reasoning to draw conclusions. A study based on grounded theory starts with a question or with the collection of qualitative research data.
Then the researcher reviews the collected data for the repeated themes, ideas and concepts that are apparent in the data and then these elements are tagged with different codes. These codes are further divided into categories and these categories provide the basis of new theory. Businesses use this method of theory construction to know the liking and disliking of the consumers regarding a specific product. This method of qualitative research helps businesses to win the satisfaction and loyalty of their customers.
7. Historical Model
The historical model of qualitative research interprets and describes the past event to understand the present patterns and future anticipations. In this model, questions are asked on the basis of some hypothesis that is tested in the light of some past events’ analysis. The researcher relates the past events to the present and future events. This approach is used in a wide number of fields like healthcare, psychology, education and a number of other social science fields.
8. Phenomenological Method
The phenomenological method of qualitative data analysis shows how a particular subject feels about a specific event. Like other qualitative research methods, the phenomenological method uses interviews, surveys, open-ended questionnaires and observations to collect data. The purpose of this approach is to elaborate on the nature of a particular phenomenon. Interviews are conducted with those groups of people who have observed that event directly.
According to Moustakas (1994) interviews attempt to answer two questions: 1. What have you experienced in terms of the phenomenon? 2. What contexts or situations have typically influenced your experiences of the phenomenon?