Qualitative research - what exactly is it?
Chapter outline This chapter will introduce qualitative research, both its 'methodological' tradi· tions and its practice. At first sight, qualitative research can seem a lot easier to understand than its quantitative sibling. Qualitative research papers are written in easy-to-understand English, they have a 'friendlier' style and describe their research without (usually) using any statistics at all. However, quaiitative research can lure the new researcher into a false sense of security. The 'results' of qualitative studies are, indeed, easy to understand but how those results were obtained is not at all straightforward. Let me guess, in fact, that there were two subjects you never really liked at school or university. My guess is that one of those subjects will have been maths and the other will have been 'philosophy'. In this chapter we shall leave maths and statistics behind, only to
What is qualitative research? Qualitative research explores the social world from the perspective of participants. It is characterized by an emphasis on understanding other persons' perspectives and their experiences, and the interpretations and meanings they bring and give to events and situations.