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A Full Guide to Qualitative Research

two women talking

Every student faces two types of research through their study years. If you haven’t checked our guide to quantitative research yet, you definitely should as we cover a lot of important points there. Now, let’s find out what qualitative research is, how it differs from quantitative research, and how to implement one to use the results for your academic work.

Definition

Qualitative research is the process of collection descriptive data through conversing, questioning, and observing. While quantitative research aims to get numerical data, qualitative research focuses on the data that characterizes particular phenomena, behavior, objects, and events. It can’t be measured but can provide useful insights and a foundation for quantitative research.

Qualitative research is often used in various sociology and psychology studies as it can help understand the behavior and preferences of particular groups of people. It’s also commonly used in marketing management to determine what marketing strategies a business should implement to draw the attention of their target audience.

Characteristics

Qualitative research has particular specifics that one should consider when deciding on what type of research to use for their study:

  1. Qualitative research requires gathering lots of data from various sources in order to get the most reliable results. That’s why it might be time-consuming. However, if you need to conduct research for your paper, you can surely turn to a professional team that will nail it.
  2. The data needed for research should often be collected at sight. For example, if researchers want to learn more about the nature of nightmares, they should work with people who are experiencing them at the moment and not used to in the past. That means that sometimes searching for the right group of participants might be challenging.
  3. The complex problems that a researcher wants to solve should be broken into smaller segments in order to make it possible to explore the problem, its cause, and its effects.

Data Gathering Methods

There are a few types of qualitative research methods that one can use for their studies.

Interviews

Interviews (often one-on-one type) are one of the most common methods of qualitative research that are used for various studies. Interviews are usually held in order to get an opinion from a group of participants but without their communication with each other. Such interviews are preferred in psychology studies as they allow to avoid biases and gather precise data that is not affected by the answers of other participants.

Interviews can be conducted not only face-to-face but also by phone or video calls. This method has a particular advantage: a researcher can control the process and choose the questions to ask according to the previous answer. This is what differs this method from written questionnaires or surveys with a specific set of questions where a personalized approach can’t be applied.

Observation

If the researchers want to collect information from the participants without changing their natural setting, the method of observation is applied. It is a process of collecting data by observing and through involvement in the activities led by the participants themselves. In other words, when observing, researchers can make conclusions about the setting and behavior of the participants without intruding in their lives.

Observations are important as they allow gathering the data that wouldn’t be that reliable if asked in an interview. Many people might not give the answer to a particular question, but their behavior in their natural setting will provide such an answer to the researchers.

Focus groups

The group of participants that is used to explore and study a phenomenon is called a focus group. Research that uses such a method aims to collect information from a particular group of people that might (or might not) share some common qualities.

Often, focus groups are gathered to have group discussions and therefore determine similarities and correlations. It’s important to create the right environment for such discussions in order to gather truthful and reliable data.

Criticism

Though qualitative research methods are frequently used in various studies and researches, there are particular characteristics that should be paid attention to.

Reliability

As qualitative data is commonly collected from the information that participants give themselves, it’s hard to call it totally reliable. Such research should always consider possible biases and deviations as it’s hard to sort and test this information.

Some participants might not give honest answers or try to give the answers that are expected or requested. Other participants might be not aware of their biases due to various circumstances and even the presence of researchers themselves. So, it’s one of the main issues that one might face when conducting qualitative research.

Analysis

Another difficulty that many researchers face is the step after the collection of the data – the data analysis. Unlike the quantitative research that deals with raw numbers, the qualitative data is much more diverse, thus it is hard to analyze it and interpret it appropriately and stay unbiased.

The same data can be interpreted differently depending on the aims of the research, experience of the researcher, instruments used, etc. That’s why it’s so important to combine various methods of research in order to collect as much data as possible and use different methods of analysis.

Wrapping Up

So, this was our guide to qualitative research. We hope you find it useful for your studies. Remember that the combination of various research types and methods usually get the most reliable results. It requires time and effort, but if done right, such researches can give very useful insights and even provide a fresh look at the problem.

A Full Guide to Quantitative Research

a book and a notebook on the table

When talking about researching and data collection processes, it’s hard not to mention the two major categories of research – quantitative and qualitative. Some students might feel frustrated about these two types and not really understand what they are and how to use them in their papers. So, we have prepared a complete guide that will tell you everything that you should know to conduct in-depth research for your academic works.

Definition

Quantitative research is the process of gathering various numerical data in order to study some phenomenon or case. This raw data is later transformed into graphs and tables, proceeded, and analyzed. It commonly uses measurable data to test theories and assumptions, discover patterns, and formulate facts.

Quantitative research is commonly transformed into statistics that later can be combined with qualitative research results in order to develop ideas and hypotheses.

Methods

There are four types of quantitative research methods that are commonly used in various studies:

  • Experimental research
  • Correlational research
  • Causal-comparative research
  • Descriptive research

Our experts conduct each and every type of research that is needed. So, if you feel overwhelmed, you can always turn to our team for help. And now, let’s find out what are the specifics of methods that are used in quantitative research.

Experimental research

Experimental research is a quantitative method that aims to prove or disprove a hypothesis (in some cases, a number of hypotheses). It is one of the most common research methods in science (commonly natural sciences, such as biology or physics) and establishes the causes and effects of various phenomena. Every student faces experimental research in the lab during their science classes, so it’s easy to understand the specifics, such as the combination of practical and theoretical knowledge, the variety of possible outcomes, etc.

There are three types of experimental research design:

  • Pre-experimental research design – is a design where an experimental group (or a number of groups) is observed and studied without comparing it to a control group. It is named so due to its main purpose – to define if the further study should be done.
  • Quasi-experimental research design – is a design that implies selecting groups without any random assignment or pre-selection process.
  • True experimental research design – is a design where researchers have control over the variabilities and randomized assignment of control and test groups. This is the most accurate type of research design.

Correlational research

Correlational research is a method that aims to define correlation and relationships between two or more variables. For example, there might be a correlation between such things as carpets and allergies, where these variables are measured between -1 and +1. If the correlation coefficient is close to 1, it tells us that there is a positive correlation – carpets cause allergies. It’s not an absolute fact, and it doesn’t mean that every carpet owner will have an allergy. It just means that it is more likely with people who live with carpets in their homes to have allergies.

Causal-comparative research

Causal-comparative research aims to find correlations and causative relations; however, unlike correlational research, it studies dependent and independent variables. Mainly it studies how focus groups change under the influence of variables, or in other words, how an independent variable affects dependent variables.

Descriptive research

Descriptive research is a method that studies the objects or phenomena from a descriptive point of view. In other words, it aims to collect quantifiable data about the object of the study in order to later use it for statistics and further analysis. Descriptive research deals with independent variables – thus none of them can be manipulated.

The data obtained in the process of descriptive research can be used for cross-sectional studies, comparison, patterns discovery, etc. The most common descriptive research method is an observation that aims to collect numerical data based on the observations. For example, researchers can collect information about their focus group such as their height and weight, age, income, etc.

The other way to collect information for descriptive research is to use surveys and case studies, which are also highly effective.

Strengths

When deciding what data collection method or approach to choose, it’s important to consider the strength and limitations of each of the options. Here are the specifics of quantitative research that might be beneficial for your study.

High reliability

The main specific, which is also the main advantage, is that quantitative research results are objective and unbiased (if the research was done right) and logical and statistical, thus are highly reliable.

Speed

Quantitative research is also faster to conduct as there is no such information that needs to be interpreted or evaluated, so the results are faster and easier to analyze. For example, if the surveys are conducted, the respondents don’t need to explain their choice or fill out open-ended questions, so there will be no extra work besides calculating and putting the data together into tables or statistics.

Generalization

Quantitative research can interpret the results received from a target group (or the group of research) and apply them to a larger group, making generalized conclusions.

Limitations

There are also limitations to pay attention to, especially, if you are going to use quantitative research in the process of writing a research paper.

Context

When dealing with raw numbers (which is what quantitative research does), it’s hard to understand the context of the phenomenon which is studied. It limits the outcomes which might not properly represent the phenomenon but generalize it instead.

Resources

Researchers don’t always have access to the proper sources of data they need. The lack of resources might be the reason why results are biased and inaccurate.

Generally, quantitative research should be supported by qualitative research also as they create a wonderful combination that allows examining and studying complex objects while staying unbiased in the conclusions.

So, this was our guide on quantitative research. We hope that you find it useful for your studies!

How to Write a Thesis Statement For Your Research Paper

cliche

Writing a good, solid thesis statement is an important skill to learn.

The thesis statement serves many purposes:

  • It’s the springboard for the rest of your paper and the central point of your arguments. A well-formed thesis statement makes this process more fluid. A poor thesis statement makes it all the more difficult.
  • It helps your reader understand what they should get out of the paper.
  • It’s your elevator pitch, a way to persuade the reader to your side.

Here’s how to write a rock-solid thesis statement:

First Step

Write some drafts. Your thesis statement isn’t an immediate process. After doing enough research, you should be able to decide what side or point of view you’re taking on a topic. Write down a list of 5 practice thesis statements that are summaries of your opinion. For example, if your topic is “How does the Syrian refugee crisis affect Europe?” you can write down some thoughts based on your research:

  1. Some citizens in European countries complain of increased violence (Cologne attacks on New Year’s Eve, Paris attacks, other individual cases).
  2. Some citizens are afraid of increased Muslim presence in their cities as they associate Muslims with terrorism.
  3. There are cultural conflicts and conflicts in values.
  4. It puts a strain on economic resources at a time when many countries are experiencing an economic crisis.
  5. There are many movements that encourage and welcome the refugees including some grassroots organizations to help clothe, feed and house them.

As you write these sentences, you may notice specific recurring themes or threads. Gather the best of these themes and write a practice thesis statement:
The Syrian refugee crisis has brought up a lot of fears and conflicts among European citizens.

Second Step

Test it to see if it holds up:
Once you’ve identified the basic theme you wish to argue, you’re now ready to edit your thesis statement.
A good thesis statement has the following qualities:

  • It’s specific. A thesis statement needs to address a specific topic. A sentence like “Since the beginning of time, refugees have had a hard time integrating with their new nations” is too general and doesn’t tell the reader enough about what you plan to discuss in your paper. If your statement is too general, narrow it down.
  • It’s polemic. A good thesis statement takes a strong stance. Don’t take the middle road and be neutral. Whether or not you have a strong opinion on the topic, you’ll need to pick a side in order to present your research. A statement like the one in step 1 “The Syrian refugee crisis has brought up a lot of fears and conflicts among European citizens.” is a good start but it doesn’t state an opinion. Try this instead:
    “The Syrian refugee crisis has had a negative impact on many European cities.” Someone could argue for or against this statement.
  • It’s supported by solid research. Maybe your personal opinion on this issue is that the Syrian refugee crisis has had a positive impact on Europe. But you haven’t been able to find enough evidence to support this viewpoint. In that case, your best bet is to go with the side where you can present the most convincing evidence, regardless of personal views.
  • It’s engaging. Does it make someone want to read further? Is it stated in such a way that intrigues someone and makes them want to find out more? If so, it’s a successful thesis statement.

An ideal thesis statement is one that interests the readers and takes a strong stand on a controversial question. Take time to rework and edit your thesis statement before delving into the rest of your essay as it will form the way you present your evidence. Good luck and happy writing!