Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research 

Yilmaz, 2013 states,

“Qualitative research is an emergent, inductive, interpretive and naturalistic approach to the study of people, cases, phenomena, social situations and processes in their natural settings in order to reveal in descriptive terms the meanings that people attach to their experiences of the world.”

According to Saunders (2009),

“Qualitative data is used for any data collection technique (eg. Interviews) or data analysis (eg: categorising data) that generate or use non-numerical data.” 

Guba and Lincoln (1994) suggest four alternative inquiry paradigms of qualitative research which include positivism, post-positivism, constructivism, and critical theory. Cresswell states,

“Qualitative research encompasses an array of theoretical paradigms, and may employ a wide range of methods, methodologies, and research strategies. These include case studies, oral histories, participant observations, action research, ethnography, netnography, autoethnography, interviews, grounded theory and action research, to name but a few.”

Bogdan and Biklen (1982) state,

“Qualitative research are descriptive data, the data collected is in the form of words or pictures rather than numbers. The researcher get the data source as the research data in the form of conversational fragments.”

According to Bryman, 2004,

”Qualitative research is an established tradition within management studies, and many authors have argued for its potential to provide richly detailed insights and contextual explanations for many of the challenges currently faced in modern management practice.”

Advantages of Qualitative Research 

1. It enables the researcher to perform an in-depth exploration of behaviours and attitudes on a more personal level thereby enabling them to gain deeper understanding of the views and actions to generate or examine a detailed hypothesis.

2. It is highly flexible and the researcher can ask any questions around the subject matter that is relevant. 

3. Due to the flexibility of the method and the stress upon the setting, the researcher has the liberty to change the setting of the field work. 

4. Since it is not rigid, the method also enables the researcher to engage in discussion in an open manner. 

5. Rather than just giving numbers, this method also enables the researcher to give some meaning and context to the research. 

Disadvantages of Qualitative Research 

1. Generalisation can be an issue because problems may arise due to the sample size taken into account.

2. While covering sensitive topics, there may be a lack of privacy due to which, the subjects may not be willing to share their perspectives.

3. The subjects selected by the researcher May be biased about their opinions and hence, the sample selection may produce biased perspectives on the subject matter. 

4. Using a skilled moderator is highly important because the subjects chosen must be knowledgeable about the concerned subject matter. 

5. Few insights may be missed during research because researchers only ask the questions they want to ask. 

Advantages Disadvantages 
Researchers can gain in-depth understanding of subject matter Generalisations of sample selection can be difficult 
It is highly flexible There is a lack of privacy 
Researcher can change the settings Subjects selected may have biased opinions 
Researchers can engage in deeper discussions A knowledge and skilled moderator must be there 
It gives meaning and context to research Insights may be missed 

Litchman, 2013 states,

“Qualitative research was the method of unfolding the implicit language and the tool for analysing the data. The use of semi-structured interviews as an approach yielded rich data to construct the participants’ perspectives and capture their personal experiences within a new cultural context.”

According to Denzin and Lincoln (2000),

“Qualitative research involves an interpretive and naturalistic approach. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.”