Qualitative research is all about exploring issues, understanding phenomena, and answering questions. While there's a whole industry engaged in its pursuit, qualitative research also happens in nearly every workplace and study environment, nearly every day.
Focus groups, in-depth interviews, content analysis, ethnography, evaluation and semiotics are among the many approaches that are used, but qualitative research in its most basic form involves the analysis of any unstructured data, including: open-ended survey responses, literature reviews, audio recordings, pictures and web pages.
Qualitative research: sample approaches
There is no agreed ‘industry standard’ or prescribed process for approaching a qualitative project but there are some recognized strategies and steps you can take. Here are some ideas to consider if you’re new to qualitative research:
Work with consistently formatted interviews.
Work with in-depth interviews and observation notes.
Work with journal articles, books and web pages.
A language study
Work with social media content from Facebook.
What is qualitative research software?
Qualitative research software like NVivo, helps people to manage, shape and make sense of unstructured information. It doesn't do the thinking for you; it provides a workspace and tools to enable you to easily work through your information.
With purpose built tools for classifying, sorting and arranging information, qualitative research software gives you more time to analyze your materials, identify themes, glean insight and develop meaningful conclusions.
"Computers are useful for administrative functions and at arranging and sorting data. What computers can't do is think like a qualitative researcher. But the fact that computers don't think is not a limitation at all; in fact, it leaves the researcher doing what they most want to do - the thinking."
Gill Ereaut, Director,
Linguistic Landscapes, UK
Find out how NVivo can help you