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When do you use Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is used when you want to have a rich understanding of the experiences, meanings and perspectives of people with regards to forms of practice, events, social problems, crises, and cultures. You may use it to explore voices that need to be heard, forms of inequalities or discrimination that need to be examined, any unexplored indigenous/unique form of practice, and culture that exhibits an interesting aspect. Researchers use quantitative research too to study beliefs, opinions, knowledge, and sometimes perspectives but they reduce these subjectivities into variables and factual data. It does not capture in-depth information of the experiences or opinions due to the nature of the questions they ask and the methods they use to collect information. The most common five approaches to conduct Qualitative Research:

1. Phenomenology: It is used when you are interested in describing and interpreting the common meaning for several individuals of their lived experiences of a concept or a phenomenon. (Focus on “What” they experienced and “How” they experienced the phenomenon.

2. Ethnography: It is used when you are interested in understanding and interpreting the shared and learned patterns of values, behaviours, beliefs, and language of a culture-sharing group. It draws upon the writer’s close observation of and involvement with people in a particular social setting.

3. Narrative research: it is conducted when you focus on a story or an account of events and actions that are chronologically connected (Focus on sequences of events).

4. Grounded Theory: it is used when your emphasis is on rich data to generate a theory of a process, action, or interaction.

5. Case Study: it is conducted when you are interested in obtaining an in-depth understanding of a single case or explore an issue or problem using the case as a specific illustration.  A case may be an individual, a small group a group of people working in one particular organization meaning that represents one concrete entity.

Another approach to qualitative research is

6. Action research: it is used when you emphasise generating solutions to practical problems and empowering practitioners, by getting them to engage with research and the subsequent development or improvement of activities. In simple terms, it is the systematic collection of information that is designed to bring about social change- improving conditions and practices.

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