Meaning, Objectives and Characteristics of Qualitative Research 

Meaning, Objectives and Characteristics of Qualitative Research 

Definition of Qualitative Research 

1. 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. 

2. Yilmaz, 2013:

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.

3. 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.

4. Polit and Beck (2004):

Qualitative research designs are intended to describe the dimension of the phenomenon of interest as well as explore its nature and the manner in which it is manifested.

5. 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. 

6. Litchman, 2013:

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.

7. Bogdan and Biklen (1982):

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.

Objectives of Qualitative Research 

1. It aims to define the process of educational activities based on what is in the field as study material to find shortcomings and weaknesses.

2. It seeks to gain a deep understanding of a specific organisation or event, rather than a surface description of a large sample of a population.

3. It seeks to compile a hypothesis related to the concepts and principles of education based on information and data.

4. It seeks to offer a comprehensive understanding of the structure, order, and broad patterns found among a group of participants.

5. It aims to stress more upon target audiences’ range of behavior and perceptions that drive it rather than facts and statistics. 

Characteristics of Qualitative Research 

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.”

1. Inductive:

Qualitative research is inductive as it moves from data and observation, to concept and theory building. Rather than testing the hypotheses, it generates concepts and understanding, going from the detail to greater abstraction.

2. Flexible:

It has a flexible structure which can be changed during the field work. The tools can be adjusted and hence, the process is not rigid. 

3. Reflective:

It is a highly reflective method as the process needs to be carefully documented and the steps must be justified according to the objectives. 

4. Natural Setting:

Setting plays a key role in qualitative research and it seeks to understand the setting and does not treat it as an external factor. 

5. Reflexive:

It emphasises on meaning and process where different parts of the research process are reflected upon as they unfold along with the steps and the approach taken more broadly.

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