Qualitative Research Methods

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OVERVIEW

Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide

Module 1

Qualitative Research Methods Overview

F A M I L Y

H E A L T H

I N T E R N A T I O N A L

Qualitative Research Methods Overview
OVERVIEW

T
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his module introduces the fundamental elements of a qualitative approach to research, to help you understand and become proficient in the qualitative methods discussed in subsequent modules. We recommend that you consult the suggested readings at the end of the module for more in-depth treatment of the foundations of qualitative research. This module covers the following topics: Introduction to Qualitative Research Comparing Qualitative and Quantitative Research Sampling in Qualitative
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For a more in-depth theoretical treatment of the differences between qualitative and quantitative research, we refer the reader to the suggested readings listed at the end of this chapter, especially Bernard 1995.

2

Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide

Table 1. Comparison of quantitative and qualitative research approaches
Quantitative General framework
Seek to confirm hypotheses about phenomena Instruments use more rigid style of eliciting and categorizing responses to questions Use highly structured methods such as questionnaires, surveys, and structured observation

OVERVIEW

Qualitative
Seek to explore phenomena

Instruments use more flexible, iterative style of eliciting and categorizing responses to questions Use semi-structured methods such as in-depth interviews, focus groups, and participant observation To describe variation To describe and explain relationships To describe individual experiences To describe group norms

Analytical objectives

To quantify variation To predict causal relationships To describe characteristics of a population

Question format Data format Flexibility in study design

Closed-ended Numerical (obtained by assigning numerical values to responses) Study design is stable from beginning to end

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