What is Qualitative Research, Really?

What is Qualitative Research?

What does the term qualitative research mean? Many businesses use qualitative processes and social research to perform data collection and learn more about customers. In simple words, organizations employ qualitative approaches to gather and conduct data analysis on non-numerical data. Numerical data in the form of quantitative research is statistical information that users view in the form of reports and charts.

Qualitative researchers have a research question that they need an answer to. They then use a combination of interviews, focus groups, and observations to collect qualitative data and make sense of consumer behavior. Though academia and social sciences most often use research qualitative processes, mainstream businesses can too. It helps to improve marketing campaigns, attract new customers, and gain a fuller picture of any in-house quantitative data.

1. Data Analysis

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Qualitative methods and data collection include texts, pictures, audio recordings, or any video. To illustrate, a company research method may require an employee to gather participant observation data, field notes, in-person surveys, and any other research data. Methods used to research qualitative research and collect data include

  • Prep and Arrange Data- Transcribe interviews and prepare all notes that were collected
  • Revisit and Analyze Data- Pinpoint any trends or reoccurring ideas
  • Create a Coding Process- Set up codes to classify data
  • Allocate Codes to Data- Research design requires a researcher to revisit each response to the research question and assign a response with a code in Excel.
  • Pinpoint Themes- Look for similar codes to find themes/patterns in data sets
There are several research methods and processes that businesses employ to analyze data. These include

  • Content Analysis- Identify and classify any common content a researcher finds in the analysis qualitative information. To illustrate, a marketer may conduct content analysis to identify the type of language businesses use to describe a specific application.
  • Thematic Analysis- Businesses pinpoint trends in qualitative studies. To illustrate, a company uses thematic analysis and a grounded theory to see how age impacts shopping habits.
  • Textual Analysis- Identifies the structure of texts that researchers collect during a qualitative study. For example, marketers use textual analysis to compare the portrayal of hard news stories in the last 20 years.
  • Discourse Analysis- Studies the way individuals communicate and how chosen marketing language impacts business goals. For example, a case study studies the way elected officials build relationships with constituents during an election.
Text analysis is the type of qualitative data analysis that researchers most often collect. It is different from other data collection methods in that businesses drill down into participants' daily lives. They then deconstruct language and consumer action.

Businesses also gather research qualitative images to see when participants use them and why. Everything on social media is a gold mine for researchers who want to learn more about consumer behavior.

2. Collection of Qualitative Research

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Researchers use qualitative research information to identify consumer behavior and answer important research questions. The research process includes very meticulous analysis to identify recommendations and answers to the initial question.

Regardless of the method a researcher chooses to gather information, he/she will always collect large quantities of data. There are many ways to gather the information and numerous methods to record it. The research used includes one-on-one depth interviews, focus groups, observations, and others more. Researchers write down field notes, take videos, or use audio recordings to ensure all information is secure.

It typically takes anywhere from 8-10 hours for a very experienced researcher to chronicle all field notes and recordings. It is best to use different manual or digital folders to keep everything organized and separate.

Many times, researchers jot down notes throughout the interview process. These are called field notes. It helps to discern and identify any context, body language, or other observations in the session. It is critical to compare the data a researcher collects with the field notes to see the context for any answers. While the field notes are informal, the researcher must still save and organize them to ensure he/she can reference them later.

Key Takeaways What is Qualitative Research?

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In conclusion, here is what to remember about using qualitative research

  • Data analysis methods require a researcher to prepare, arrange data, revisit the information, create a coding process, allocate codes to data, and pinpoint a theme in the data.
  • Analysis methods include content analysis, thematic analysis, textual analysis, and discourse analysis. Businesses use textual analysis more than other methods because it drills down into consumer choices and motivations.
  • Qualitative research helps to answer important business questions. There are numerous ways to gather large quantities of information in a research study.
  • Qualitative research methods include interviews, focus groups, observations, and other methods. Researchers need to write down any observations or field notes and then compare those to the information they collect. It helps to organize everything into separate folders to ensure it is secure and reliable.

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