Qualitative research

Qualitative research
Qualitative Research
Qualitative research methods have been found to be useful in exploring the social-
cultural patterns of the target population. The effectiveness of this approach in describing
both the environment and context of the sample has given it increased momentum. It has been
defined by Shank (2002) as a systematic inquiry of meaning, which implies the planned and
ordered approach to research. Simply put, qualitative research aims to understand a social
issue underlying a phenomenon and leads to the generation of words instead of numerical
values. Thus, qualitative research not only allows the researcher to understand the experience
of the sample but also enables understanding of the phenomenon from the informant’s point
of view.
Researchers using qualitative methods can choose from structured, semi-structured or
unstructured methods. The three categories the approach to collecting data plays an essential
role in specifying the nature of the response. Structured qualitative research, such as surveys,
uses a specified idea and measure. Since the interviewees need less training, structured
studies are desired when the time is of great importance to the researcher. Structured
interviews can be used on large samples but are comparably inflexible. In most cases,
researchers use structured methods when the phenomenon is multi-faceted, and only a
particular dimension of the problem is required. In a structured interview, the interviewee
uses standardized questions that are used on all samples using the same order. The
standardization is intended to minimize the instrumentation error.
Semi-structured methods are harder to apply compared to structured methods. The
researcher should possess high sensitivity to the context of study while the informant should
demonstrate numerous communication skills for efficient delivery of meaning. It talks more
time to plan and execute semi-structured questionnaires. Additionally, the data is hard to
record and analyze.
The unstructured method is commonly used in the disciplines of sociology to
understand people’s cultural patterns. It is an informal method characterized by long
interviews that are non-standardised. Without using predetermined questions and answers, it
relies on social interaction to understand complex behavior and values that are significant in
uncovering the research questions (Zhang & Wildemuth 2006). The researcher engages in a
conversation with the interviewee and generates questionnaire depending on the reply given.
As a result, each unstructured question can generate different patterns and structures. This
method is used to understand social reality of the population based on the interviewee’s
The principal tools for data collection are individual interviews, observations, action
research and focus groups. Case studies provide an in-depth description of a particular
institution. It is effective in answering the question of what and why. The researcher uses this
tool to look into the underlying problem and meaning of trends. Interviews can be the group
or individual interviews. The data can be gathered using various techniques like audio
recording, written notes, and stenography. Researchers assume that the purpose of the
interview is to generate the views of the interviews about the problem being investigated.
Observations, on the other hand, can be direct or indirect, continuous or non-continuous
depending on the research project. Descriptive observations involve writing down e
observations, while inferential observations include writing observations that are inferred by
the language of the subject’s body. Evaluation observation on the other requires the
researcher to make inferences and judgment from the subject’s behavior.
The aforementioned qualitative method and tools play an important role in
environmental studies. They allow the researcher to label the characteristics of the
community in an efficient manner. According to Brown (2003), qualitative methods support
the discovery of health hazards and infections ad re particularly necessary to describing how
people and the society experience and react to health issues. It offers insight into some of the
underlying social culturally elements that affect environmental health. Additionally, Flybjerg
(2001) note that qualitative research helps create a dialogic relationship that allows
expounding on the on-going trends and conversation about environmental health rather than
just generating knowledge. It allows the ecological research to make use of intuition,
judgment, and experiences to understanding critical issues that the study aims to answer.
This research focuses on human beings who possess reflexive behavior. Thus, future
researcher suing qualitative methods must account for varying interpretations that change
with changing human behavior. According to Ashley and Boyd (2006), there is an increasing
body of research that is facilitating the integration of qualitative and quantitative research.
Qualitative research is based on experience whereby the researcher aims to
understand how people interpret the meaning of their experiences. The researcher pays
attention to things within a natural setting, and the researcher interprets meaning according to
the way people perceive the world. In both environmental studies and other disciplines, the
traditional view of qualitative and quantitative research as two polarised methods is being
replaced by the perception that the two are complimentary. There is sufficient evidence that’s
how both ways as equally important in shedding light on the environmental phenomenon.
These patterns will eventually lead to the integration of the two approaches.
Ashley, P., & Boyd (2006). Quantitative and qualitative approaches to research in
environmental management. Australasian Journal of environmental management,
13(2), 70-78.
Brown, P. (2003). Qualitative methods in environmental health research. Environmental
Health Perspectives, 111(14), 1789.
Shank, G. D. (2006). Qualitative research: A personal skills approach. Pearson Merrill
Prentice Hall.
Zhang, Y., & Wildemuth, B. M. (2006). Unstructured interviews. Applications of Social
Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science, 000-060.

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