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SciSpace Resources

The Craft of Writing a Strong Hypothesis

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

Writing a hypothesis is one of the essential elements of a scientific research paper. It needs to be to the point, clearly communicating what your research is trying to accomplish. A blurry, drawn-out, or complexly-structured hypothesis can confuse your readers. Or worse, the editor and peer reviewers.

A captivating hypothesis is not too intricate. This blog will take you through the process so that, by the end of it, you have a better idea of how to convey your research paper's intent in just one sentence.

What is a Hypothesis?

The first step in your scientific endeavor, a hypothesis, is a strong, concise statement that forms the basis of your research. It is not the same as a thesis statement , which is a brief summary of your research paper .

The sole purpose of a hypothesis is to predict your paper's findings, data, and conclusion. It comes from a place of curiosity and intuition . When you write a hypothesis, you're essentially making an educated guess based on scientific prejudices and evidence, which is further proven or disproven through the scientific method.

The reason for undertaking research is to observe a specific phenomenon. A hypothesis, therefore, lays out what the said phenomenon is. And it does so through two variables, an independent and dependent variable.

The independent variable is the cause behind the observation, while the dependent variable is the effect of the cause. A good example of this is “mixing red and blue forms purple.” In this hypothesis, mixing red and blue is the independent variable as you're combining the two colors at your own will. The formation of purple is the dependent variable as, in this case, it is conditional to the independent variable.

Different Types of Hypotheses‌

Types-of-hypotheses

Types of hypotheses

Some would stand by the notion that there are only two types of hypotheses: a Null hypothesis and an Alternative hypothesis. While that may have some truth to it, it would be better to fully distinguish the most common forms as these terms come up so often, which might leave you out of context.

Apart from Null and Alternative, there are Complex, Simple, Directional, Non-Directional, Statistical, and Associative and casual hypotheses. They don't necessarily have to be exclusive, as one hypothesis can tick many boxes, but knowing the distinctions between them will make it easier for you to construct your own.

1. Null hypothesis

A null hypothesis proposes no relationship between two variables. Denoted by H 0 , it is a negative statement like “Attending physiotherapy sessions does not affect athletes' on-field performance.” Here, the author claims physiotherapy sessions have no effect on on-field performances. Even if there is, it's only a coincidence.

2. Alternative hypothesis

Considered to be the opposite of a null hypothesis, an alternative hypothesis is donated as H1 or Ha. It explicitly states that the dependent variable affects the independent variable. A good  alternative hypothesis example is “Attending physiotherapy sessions improves athletes' on-field performance.” or “Water evaporates at 100 °C. ” The alternative hypothesis further branches into directional and non-directional.

  • Directional hypothesis: A hypothesis that states the result would be either positive or negative is called directional hypothesis. It accompanies H1 with either the ‘<' or ‘>' sign.
  • Non-directional hypothesis: A non-directional hypothesis only claims an effect on the dependent variable. It does not clarify whether the result would be positive or negative. The sign for a non-directional hypothesis is ‘≠.'

3. Simple hypothesis

A simple hypothesis is a statement made to reflect the relation between exactly two variables. One independent and one dependent. Consider the example, “Smoking is a prominent cause of lung cancer." The dependent variable, lung cancer, is dependent on the independent variable, smoking.

4. Complex hypothesis

In contrast to a simple hypothesis, a complex hypothesis implies the relationship between multiple independent and dependent variables. For instance, “Individuals who eat more fruits tend to have higher immunity, lesser cholesterol, and high metabolism.” The independent variable is eating more fruits, while the dependent variables are higher immunity, lesser cholesterol, and high metabolism.

5. Associative and casual hypothesis

Associative and casual hypotheses don't exhibit how many variables there will be. They define the relationship between the variables. In an associative hypothesis, changing any one variable, dependent or independent, affects others. In a casual hypothesis, the independent variable directly affects the dependent.

6. Empirical hypothesis

Also referred to as the working hypothesis, an empirical hypothesis claims a theory's validation via experiments and observation. This way, the statement appears justifiable and different from a wild guess.

Say, the hypothesis is “Women who take iron tablets face a lesser risk of anemia than those who take vitamin B12.” This is an example of an empirical hypothesis where the researcher  the statement after assessing a group of women who take iron tablets and charting the findings.

7. Statistical hypothesis

The point of a statistical hypothesis is to test an already existing hypothesis by studying a population sample. Hypothesis like “44% of the Indian population belong in the age group of 22-27.” leverage evidence to prove or disprove a particular statement.

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

Writing a hypothesis is essential as it can make or break your research for you. That includes your chances of getting published in a journal. So when you're designing one, keep an eye out for these pointers:

  • A research hypothesis has to be simple yet clear to look justifiable enough.
  • It has to be testable — your research would be rendered pointless if too far-fetched into reality or limited by technology.
  • It has to be precise about the results —what you are trying to do and achieve through it should come out in your hypothesis.
  • A research hypothesis should be self-explanatory, leaving no doubt in the reader's mind.
  • If you are developing a relational hypothesis, you need to include the variables and establish an appropriate relationship among them.
  • A hypothesis must keep and reflect the scope for further investigations and experiments.

Separating a Hypothesis from a Prediction

Outside of academia, hypothesis and prediction are often used interchangeably. In research writing, this is not only confusing but also incorrect. And although a hypothesis and prediction are guesses at their core, there are many differences between them.

A hypothesis is an educated guess or even a testable prediction validated through research. It aims to analyze the gathered evidence and facts to define a relationship between variables and put forth a logical explanation behind the nature of events.

Predictions are assumptions or expected outcomes made without any backing evidence. They are more fictionally inclined regardless of where they originate from.

For this reason, a hypothesis holds much more weight than a prediction. It sticks to the scientific method rather than pure guesswork. "Planets revolve around the Sun." is an example of a hypothesis as it is previous knowledge and observed trends. Additionally, we can test it through the scientific method.

Whereas "COVID-19 will be eradicated by 2030." is a prediction. Even though it results from past trends, we can't prove or disprove it. So, the only way this gets validated is to wait and watch if COVID-19 cases end by 2030.

Finally, How to Write a Hypothesis

Quick-tips-on-how-to-write-a-hypothesis

Quick tips on writing a hypothesis

1.  Be clear about your research question

A hypothesis should instantly address the research question or the problem statement. To do so, you need to ask a question. Understand the constraints of your undertaken research topic and then formulate a simple and topic-centric problem. Only after that can you develop a hypothesis and further test for evidence.

2. Carry out a recce

Once you have your research's foundation laid out, it would be best to conduct preliminary research. Go through previous theories, academic papers, data, and experiments before you start curating your research hypothesis. It will give you an idea of your hypothesis's viability or originality.

Making use of references from relevant research papers helps draft a good research hypothesis. SciSpace Discover offers a repository of over 270 million research papers to browse through and gain a deeper understanding of related studies on a particular topic. Additionally, you can use SciSpace Copilot , your AI research assistant, for reading any lengthy research paper and getting a more summarized context of it. A hypothesis can be formed after evaluating many such summarized research papers. Copilot also offers explanations for theories and equations, explains paper in simplified version, allows you to highlight any text in the paper or clip math equations and tables and provides a deeper, clear understanding of what is being said. This can improve the hypothesis by helping you identify potential research gaps.

3. Create a 3-dimensional hypothesis

Variables are an essential part of any reasonable hypothesis. So, identify your independent and dependent variable(s) and form a correlation between them. The ideal way to do this is to write the hypothetical assumption in the ‘if-then' form. If you use this form, make sure that you state the predefined relationship between the variables.

In another way, you can choose to present your hypothesis as a comparison between two variables. Here, you must specify the difference you expect to observe in the results.

4. Write the first draft

Now that everything is in place, it's time to write your hypothesis. For starters, create the first draft. In this version, write what you expect to find from your research.

Clearly separate your independent and dependent variables and the link between them. Don't fixate on syntax at this stage. The goal is to ensure your hypothesis addresses the issue.

5. Proof your hypothesis

After preparing the first draft of your hypothesis, you need to inspect it thoroughly. It should tick all the boxes, like being concise, straightforward, relevant, and accurate. Your final hypothesis has to be well-structured as well.

Research projects are an exciting and crucial part of being a scholar. And once you have your research question, you need a great hypothesis to begin conducting research. Thus, knowing how to write a hypothesis is very important.

Now that you have a firmer grasp on what a good hypothesis constitutes, the different kinds there are, and what process to follow, you will find it much easier to write your hypothesis, which ultimately helps your research.

Now it's easier than ever to streamline your research workflow with SciSpace Discover . Its integrated, comprehensive end-to-end platform for research allows scholars to easily discover, write and publish their research and fosters collaboration.

It includes everything you need, including a repository of over 270 million research papers across disciplines, SEO-optimized summaries and public profiles to show your expertise and experience.

If you found these tips on writing a research hypothesis useful, head over to our blog on Statistical Hypothesis Testing to learn about the top researchers, papers, and institutions in this domain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. what is the definition of hypothesis.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a hypothesis is defined as “An idea or explanation of something that is based on a few known facts, but that has not yet been proved to be true or correct”.

2. What is an example of hypothesis?

The hypothesis is a statement that proposes a relationship between two or more variables. An example: "If we increase the number of new users who join our platform by 25%, then we will see an increase in revenue."

3. What is an example of null hypothesis?

A null hypothesis is a statement that there is no relationship between two variables. The null hypothesis is written as H0. The null hypothesis states that there is no effect. For example, if you're studying whether or not a particular type of exercise increases strength, your null hypothesis will be "there is no difference in strength between people who exercise and people who don't."

4. What are the types of research?

• Fundamental research

• Applied research

• Qualitative research

• Quantitative research

• Mixed research

• Exploratory research

• Longitudinal research

• Cross-sectional research

• Field research

• Laboratory research

• Fixed research

• Flexible research

• Action research

• Policy research

• Classification research

• Comparative research

• Causal research

• Inductive research

• Deductive research

5. How to write a hypothesis?

• Your hypothesis should be able to predict the relationship and outcome.

• Avoid wordiness by keeping it simple and brief.

• Your hypothesis should contain observable and testable outcomes.

• Your hypothesis should be relevant to the research question.

6. What are the 2 types of hypothesis?

• Null hypotheses are used to test the claim that "there is no difference between two groups of data".

• Alternative hypotheses test the claim that "there is a difference between two data groups".

7. Difference between research question and research hypothesis?

A research question is a broad, open-ended question you will try to answer through your research. A hypothesis is a statement based on prior research or theory that you expect to be true due to your study. Example - Research question: What are the factors that influence the adoption of the new technology? Research hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between age, education and income level with the adoption of the new technology.

8. What is plural for hypothesis?

The plural of hypothesis is hypotheses. Here's an example of how it would be used in a statement, "Numerous well-considered hypotheses are presented in this part, and they are supported by tables and figures that are well-illustrated."

9. What is the red queen hypothesis?

The red queen hypothesis in evolutionary biology states that species must constantly evolve to avoid extinction because if they don't, they will be outcompeted by other species that are evolving. Leigh Van Valen first proposed it in 1973; since then, it has been tested and substantiated many times.

10. Who is known as the father of null hypothesis?

The father of the null hypothesis is Sir Ronald Fisher. He published a paper in 1925 that introduced the concept of null hypothesis testing, and he was also the first to use the term itself.

11. When to reject null hypothesis?

You need to find a significant difference between your two populations to reject the null hypothesis. You can determine that by running statistical tests such as an independent sample t-test or a dependent sample t-test. You should reject the null hypothesis if the p-value is less than 0.05.

how to do hypothesis in qualitative research

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Logo for Open Educational Resources

Chapter 1. Introduction

“Science is in danger, and for that reason it is becoming dangerous” -Pierre Bourdieu, Science of Science and Reflexivity

Why an Open Access Textbook on Qualitative Research Methods?

I have been teaching qualitative research methods to both undergraduates and graduate students for many years.  Although there are some excellent textbooks out there, they are often costly, and none of them, to my mind, properly introduces qualitative research methods to the beginning student (whether undergraduate or graduate student).  In contrast, this open-access textbook is designed as a (free) true introduction to the subject, with helpful, practical pointers on how to conduct research and how to access more advanced instruction.  

Textbooks are typically arranged in one of two ways: (1) by technique (each chapter covers one method used in qualitative research); or (2) by process (chapters advance from research design through publication).  But both of these approaches are necessary for the beginner student.  This textbook will have sections dedicated to the process as well as the techniques of qualitative research.  This is a true “comprehensive” book for the beginning student.  In addition to covering techniques of data collection and data analysis, it provides a road map of how to get started and how to keep going and where to go for advanced instruction.  It covers aspects of research design and research communication as well as methods employed.  Along the way, it includes examples from many different disciplines in the social sciences.

The primary goal has been to create a useful, accessible, engaging textbook for use across many disciplines.  And, let’s face it.  Textbooks can be boring.  I hope readers find this to be a little different.  I have tried to write in a practical and forthright manner, with many lively examples and references to good and intellectually creative qualitative research.  Woven throughout the text are short textual asides (in colored textboxes) by professional (academic) qualitative researchers in various disciplines.  These short accounts by practitioners should help inspire students.  So, let’s begin!

What is Research?

When we use the word research , what exactly do we mean by that?  This is one of those words that everyone thinks they understand, but it is worth beginning this textbook with a short explanation.  We use the term to refer to “empirical research,” which is actually a historically specific approach to understanding the world around us.  Think about how you know things about the world. [1] You might know your mother loves you because she’s told you she does.  Or because that is what “mothers” do by tradition.  Or you might know because you’ve looked for evidence that she does, like taking care of you when you are sick or reading to you in bed or working two jobs so you can have the things you need to do OK in life.  Maybe it seems churlish to look for evidence; you just take it “on faith” that you are loved.

Only one of the above comes close to what we mean by research.  Empirical research is research (investigation) based on evidence.  Conclusions can then be drawn from observable data.  This observable data can also be “tested” or checked.  If the data cannot be tested, that is a good indication that we are not doing research.  Note that we can never “prove” conclusively, through observable data, that our mothers love us.  We might have some “disconfirming evidence” (that time she didn’t show up to your graduation, for example) that could push you to question an original hypothesis , but no amount of “confirming evidence” will ever allow us to say with 100% certainty, “my mother loves me.”  Faith and tradition and authority work differently.  Our knowledge can be 100% certain using each of those alternative methods of knowledge, but our certainty in those cases will not be based on facts or evidence.

For many periods of history, those in power have been nervous about “science” because it uses evidence and facts as the primary source of understanding the world, and facts can be at odds with what power or authority or tradition want you to believe.  That is why I say that scientific empirical research is a historically specific approach to understand the world.  You are in college or university now partly to learn how to engage in this historically specific approach.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe, there was a newfound respect for empirical research, some of which was seriously challenging to the established church.  Using observations and testing them, scientists found that the earth was not at the center of the universe, for example, but rather that it was but one planet of many which circled the sun. [2]   For the next two centuries, the science of astronomy, physics, biology, and chemistry emerged and became disciplines taught in universities.  All used the scientific method of observation and testing to advance knowledge.  Knowledge about people , however, and social institutions, however, was still left to faith, tradition, and authority.  Historians and philosophers and poets wrote about the human condition, but none of them used research to do so. [3]

It was not until the nineteenth century that “social science” really emerged, using the scientific method (empirical observation) to understand people and social institutions.  New fields of sociology, economics, political science, and anthropology emerged.  The first sociologists, people like Auguste Comte and Karl Marx, sought specifically to apply the scientific method of research to understand society, Engels famously claiming that Marx had done for the social world what Darwin did for the natural world, tracings its laws of development.  Today we tend to take for granted the naturalness of science here, but it is actually a pretty recent and radical development.

To return to the question, “does your mother love you?”  Well, this is actually not really how a researcher would frame the question, as it is too specific to your case.  It doesn’t tell us much about the world at large, even if it does tell us something about you and your relationship with your mother.  A social science researcher might ask, “do mothers love their children?”  Or maybe they would be more interested in how this loving relationship might change over time (e.g., “do mothers love their children more now than they did in the 18th century when so many children died before reaching adulthood?”) or perhaps they might be interested in measuring quality of love across cultures or time periods, or even establishing “what love looks like” using the mother/child relationship as a site of exploration.  All of these make good research questions because we can use observable data to answer them.

What is Qualitative Research?

“All we know is how to learn. How to study, how to listen, how to talk, how to tell.  If we don’t tell the world, we don’t know the world.  We’re lost in it, we die.” -Ursula LeGuin, The Telling

At its simplest, qualitative research is research about the social world that does not use numbers in its analyses.  All those who fear statistics can breathe a sigh of relief – there are no mathematical formulae or regression models in this book! But this definition is less about what qualitative research can be and more about what it is not.  To be honest, any simple statement will fail to capture the power and depth of qualitative research.  One way of contrasting qualitative research to quantitative research is to note that the focus of qualitative research is less about explaining and predicting relationships between variables and more about understanding the social world.  To use our mother love example, the question about “what love looks like” is a good question for the qualitative researcher while all questions measuring love or comparing incidences of love (both of which require measurement) are good questions for quantitative researchers. Patton writes,

Qualitative data describe.  They take us, as readers, into the time and place of the observation so that we know what it was like to have been there.  They capture and communicate someone else’s experience of the world in his or her own words.  Qualitative data tell a story. ( Patton 2002:47 )

Qualitative researchers are asking different questions about the world than their quantitative colleagues.  Even when researchers are employed in “mixed methods” research ( both quantitative and qualitative), they are using different methods to address different questions of the study.  I do a lot of research about first-generation and working-college college students.  Where a quantitative researcher might ask, how many first-generation college students graduate from college within four years? Or does first-generation college status predict high student debt loads?  A qualitative researcher might ask, how does the college experience differ for first-generation college students?  What is it like to carry a lot of debt, and how does this impact the ability to complete college on time?  Both sets of questions are important, but they can only be answered using specific tools tailored to those questions.  For the former, you need large numbers to make adequate comparisons.  For the latter, you need to talk to people, find out what they are thinking and feeling, and try to inhabit their shoes for a little while so you can make sense of their experiences and beliefs.

Examples of Qualitative Research

You have probably seen examples of qualitative research before, but you might not have paid particular attention to how they were produced or realized that the accounts you were reading were the result of hours, months, even years of research “in the field.”  A good qualitative researcher will present the product of their hours of work in such a way that it seems natural, even obvious, to the reader.  Because we are trying to convey what it is like answers, qualitative research is often presented as stories – stories about how people live their lives, go to work, raise their children, interact with one another.  In some ways, this can seem like reading particularly insightful novels.  But, unlike novels, there are very specific rules and guidelines that qualitative researchers follow to ensure that the “story” they are telling is accurate , a truthful rendition of what life is like for the people being studied.  Most of this textbook will be spent conveying those rules and guidelines.  Let’s take a look, first, however, at three examples of what the end product looks like.  I have chosen these three examples to showcase very different approaches to qualitative research, and I will return to these five examples throughout the book.  They were all published as whole books (not chapters or articles), and they are worth the long read, if you have the time.  I will also provide some information on how these books came to be and the length of time it takes to get them into book version.  It is important you know about this process, and the rest of this textbook will help explain why it takes so long to conduct good qualitative research!

Example 1 : The End Game (ethnography + interviews)

Corey Abramson is a sociologist who teaches at the University of Arizona.   In 2015 he published The End Game: How Inequality Shapes our Final Years ( 2015 ). This book was based on the research he did for his dissertation at the University of California-Berkeley in 2012.  Actually, the dissertation was completed in 2012 but the work that was produced that took several years.  The dissertation was entitled, “This is How We Live, This is How We Die: Social Stratification, Aging, and Health in Urban America” ( 2012 ).  You can see how the book version, which was written for a more general audience, has a more engaging sound to it, but that the dissertation version, which is what academic faculty read and evaluate, has a more descriptive title.  You can read the title and know that this is a study about aging and health and that the focus is going to be inequality and that the context (place) is going to be “urban America.”  It’s a study about “how” people do something – in this case, how they deal with aging and death.  This is the very first sentence of the dissertation, “From our first breath in the hospital to the day we die, we live in a society characterized by unequal opportunities for maintaining health and taking care of ourselves when ill.  These disparities reflect persistent racial, socio-economic, and gender-based inequalities and contribute to their persistence over time” ( 1 ).  What follows is a truthful account of how that is so.

Cory Abramson spent three years conducting his research in four different urban neighborhoods.  We call the type of research he conducted “comparative ethnographic” because he designed his study to compare groups of seniors as they went about their everyday business.  It’s comparative because he is comparing different groups (based on race, class, gender) and ethnographic because he is studying the culture/way of life of a group. [4]   He had an educated guess, rooted in what previous research had shown and what social theory would suggest, that people’s experiences of aging differ by race, class, and gender.  So, he set up a research design that would allow him to observe differences.  He chose two primarily middle-class (one was racially diverse and the other was predominantly White) and two primarily poor neighborhoods (one was racially diverse and the other was predominantly African American).  He hung out in senior centers and other places seniors congregated, watched them as they took the bus to get prescriptions filled, sat in doctor’s offices with them, and listened to their conversations with each other.  He also conducted more formal conversations, what we call in-depth interviews, with sixty seniors from each of the four neighborhoods.  As with a lot of fieldwork , as he got closer to the people involved, he both expanded and deepened his reach –

By the end of the project, I expanded my pool of general observations to include various settings frequented by seniors: apartment building common rooms, doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, pharmacies, senior centers, bars, parks, corner stores, shopping centers, pool halls, hair salons, coffee shops, and discount stores. Over the course of the three years of fieldwork, I observed hundreds of elders, and developed close relationships with a number of them. ( 2012:10 )

When Abramson rewrote the dissertation for a general audience and published his book in 2015, it got a lot of attention.  It is a beautifully written book and it provided insight into a common human experience that we surprisingly know very little about.  It won the Outstanding Publication Award by the American Sociological Association Section on Aging and the Life Course and was featured in the New York Times .  The book was about aging, and specifically how inequality shapes the aging process, but it was also about much more than that.  It helped show how inequality affects people’s everyday lives.  For example, by observing the difficulties the poor had in setting up appointments and getting to them using public transportation and then being made to wait to see a doctor, sometimes in standing-room-only situations, when they are unwell, and then being treated dismissively by hospital staff, Abramson allowed readers to feel the material reality of being poor in the US.  Comparing these examples with seniors with adequate supplemental insurance who have the resources to hire car services or have others assist them in arranging care when they need it, jolts the reader to understand and appreciate the difference money makes in the lives and circumstances of us all, and in a way that is different than simply reading a statistic (“80% of the poor do not keep regular doctor’s appointments”) does.  Qualitative research can reach into spaces and places that often go unexamined and then reports back to the rest of us what it is like in those spaces and places.

Example 2: Racing for Innocence (Interviews + Content Analysis + Fictional Stories)

Jennifer Pierce is a Professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota.  Trained as a sociologist, she has written a number of books about gender, race, and power.  Her very first book, Gender Trials: Emotional Lives in Contemporary Law Firms, published in 1995, is a brilliant look at gender dynamics within two law firms.  Pierce was a participant observer, working as a paralegal, and she observed how female lawyers and female paralegals struggled to obtain parity with their male colleagues.

Fifteen years later, she reexamined the context of the law firm to include an examination of racial dynamics, particularly how elite white men working in these spaces created and maintained a culture that made it difficult for both female attorneys and attorneys of color to thrive. Her book, Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash Against Affirmative Action , published in 2012, is an interesting and creative blending of interviews with attorneys, content analyses of popular films during this period, and fictional accounts of racial discrimination and sexual harassment.  The law firm she chose to study had come under an affirmative action order and was in the process of implementing equitable policies and programs.  She wanted to understand how recipients of white privilege (the elite white male attorneys) come to deny the role they play in reproducing inequality.  Through interviews with attorneys who were present both before and during the affirmative action order, she creates a historical record of the “bad behavior” that necessitated new policies and procedures, but also, and more importantly , probed the participants ’ understanding of this behavior.  It should come as no surprise that most (but not all) of the white male attorneys saw little need for change, and that almost everyone else had accounts that were different if not sometimes downright harrowing.

I’ve used Pierce’s book in my qualitative research methods courses as an example of an interesting blend of techniques and presentation styles.  My students often have a very difficult time with the fictional accounts she includes.  But they serve an important communicative purpose here.  They are her attempts at presenting “both sides” to an objective reality – something happens (Pierce writes this something so it is very clear what it is), and the two participants to the thing that happened have very different understandings of what this means.  By including these stories, Pierce presents one of her key findings – people remember things differently and these different memories tend to support their own ideological positions.  I wonder what Pierce would have written had she studied the murder of George Floyd or the storming of the US Capitol on January 6 or any number of other historic events whose observers and participants record very different happenings.

This is not to say that qualitative researchers write fictional accounts.  In fact, the use of fiction in our work remains controversial.  When used, it must be clearly identified as a presentation device, as Pierce did.  I include Racing for Innocence here as an example of the multiple uses of methods and techniques and the way that these work together to produce better understandings by us, the readers, of what Pierce studied.  We readers come away with a better grasp of how and why advantaged people understate their own involvement in situations and structures that advantage them.  This is normal human behavior , in other words.  This case may have been about elite white men in law firms, but the general insights here can be transposed to other settings.  Indeed, Pierce argues that more research needs to be done about the role elites play in the reproduction of inequality in the workplace in general.

Example 3: Amplified Advantage (Mixed Methods: Survey Interviews + Focus Groups + Archives)

The final example comes from my own work with college students, particularly the ways in which class background affects the experience of college and outcomes for graduates.  I include it here as an example of mixed methods, and for the use of supplementary archival research.  I’ve done a lot of research over the years on first-generation, low-income, and working-class college students.  I am curious (and skeptical) about the possibility of social mobility today, particularly with the rising cost of college and growing inequality in general.  As one of the few people in my family to go to college, I didn’t grow up with a lot of examples of what college was like or how to make the most of it.  And when I entered graduate school, I realized with dismay that there were very few people like me there.  I worried about becoming too different from my family and friends back home.  And I wasn’t at all sure that I would ever be able to pay back the huge load of debt I was taking on.  And so I wrote my dissertation and first two books about working-class college students.  These books focused on experiences in college and the difficulties of navigating between family and school ( Hurst 2010a, 2012 ).  But even after all that research, I kept coming back to wondering if working-class students who made it through college had an equal chance at finding good jobs and happy lives,

What happens to students after college?  Do working-class students fare as well as their peers?  I knew from my own experience that barriers continued through graduate school and beyond, and that my debtload was higher than that of my peers, constraining some of the choices I made when I graduated.  To answer these questions, I designed a study of students attending small liberal arts colleges, the type of college that tried to equalize the experience of students by requiring all students to live on campus and offering small classes with lots of interaction with faculty.  These private colleges tend to have more money and resources so they can provide financial aid to low-income students.  They also attract some very wealthy students.  Because they enroll students across the class spectrum, I would be able to draw comparisons.  I ended up spending about four years collecting data, both a survey of more than 2000 students (which formed the basis for quantitative analyses) and qualitative data collection (interviews, focus groups, archival research, and participant observation).  This is what we call a “mixed methods” approach because we use both quantitative and qualitative data.  The survey gave me a large enough number of students that I could make comparisons of the how many kind, and to be able to say with some authority that there were in fact significant differences in experience and outcome by class (e.g., wealthier students earned more money and had little debt; working-class students often found jobs that were not in their chosen careers and were very affected by debt, upper-middle-class students were more likely to go to graduate school).  But the survey analyses could not explain why these differences existed.  For that, I needed to talk to people and ask them about their motivations and aspirations.  I needed to understand their perceptions of the world, and it is very hard to do this through a survey.

By interviewing students and recent graduates, I was able to discern particular patterns and pathways through college and beyond.  Specifically, I identified three versions of gameplay.  Upper-middle-class students, whose parents were themselves professionals (academics, lawyers, managers of non-profits), saw college as the first stage of their education and took classes and declared majors that would prepare them for graduate school.  They also spent a lot of time building their resumes, taking advantage of opportunities to help professors with their research, or study abroad.  This helped them gain admission to highly-ranked graduate schools and interesting jobs in the public sector.  In contrast, upper-class students, whose parents were wealthy and more likely to be engaged in business (as CEOs or other high-level directors), prioritized building social capital.  They did this by joining fraternities and sororities and playing club sports.  This helped them when they graduated as they called on friends and parents of friends to find them well-paying jobs.  Finally, low-income, first-generation, and working-class students were often adrift.  They took the classes that were recommended to them but without the knowledge of how to connect them to life beyond college.  They spent time working and studying rather than partying or building their resumes.  All three sets of students thought they were “doing college” the right way, the way that one was supposed to do college.   But these three versions of gameplay led to distinct outcomes that advantaged some students over others.  I titled my work “Amplified Advantage” to highlight this process.

These three examples, Cory Abramson’s The End Game , Jennifer Peirce’s Racing for Innocence, and my own Amplified Advantage, demonstrate the range of approaches and tools available to the qualitative researcher.  They also help explain why qualitative research is so important.  Numbers can tell us some things about the world, but they cannot get at the hearts and minds, motivations and beliefs of the people who make up the social worlds we inhabit.  For that, we need tools that allow us to listen and make sense of what people tell us and show us.  That is what good qualitative research offers us.

How Is This Book Organized?

This textbook is organized as a comprehensive introduction to the use of qualitative research methods.  The first half covers general topics (e.g., approaches to qualitative research, ethics) and research design (necessary steps for building a successful qualitative research study).  The second half reviews various data collection and data analysis techniques.  Of course, building a successful qualitative research study requires some knowledge of data collection and data analysis so the chapters in the first half and the chapters in the second half should be read in conversation with each other.  That said, each chapter can be read on its own for assistance with a particular narrow topic.  In addition to the chapters, a helpful glossary can be found in the back of the book.  Rummage around in the text as needed.

Chapter Descriptions

Chapter 2 provides an overview of the Research Design Process.  How does one begin a study? What is an appropriate research question?  How is the study to be done – with what methods ?  Involving what people and sites?  Although qualitative research studies can and often do change and develop over the course of data collection, it is important to have a good idea of what the aims and goals of your study are at the outset and a good plan of how to achieve those aims and goals.  Chapter 2 provides a road map of the process.

Chapter 3 describes and explains various ways of knowing the (social) world.  What is it possible for us to know about how other people think or why they behave the way they do?  What does it mean to say something is a “fact” or that it is “well-known” and understood?  Qualitative researchers are particularly interested in these questions because of the types of research questions we are interested in answering (the how questions rather than the how many questions of quantitative research).  Qualitative researchers have adopted various epistemological approaches.  Chapter 3 will explore these approaches, highlighting interpretivist approaches that acknowledge the subjective aspect of reality – in other words, reality and knowledge are not objective but rather influenced by (interpreted through) people.

Chapter 4 focuses on the practical matter of developing a research question and finding the right approach to data collection.  In any given study (think of Cory Abramson’s study of aging, for example), there may be years of collected data, thousands of observations , hundreds of pages of notes to read and review and make sense of.  If all you had was a general interest area (“aging”), it would be very difficult, nearly impossible, to make sense of all of that data.  The research question provides a helpful lens to refine and clarify (and simplify) everything you find and collect.  For that reason, it is important to pull out that lens (articulate the research question) before you get started.  In the case of the aging study, Cory Abramson was interested in how inequalities affected understandings and responses to aging.  It is for this reason he designed a study that would allow him to compare different groups of seniors (some middle-class, some poor).  Inevitably, he saw much more in the three years in the field than what made it into his book (or dissertation), but he was able to narrow down the complexity of the social world to provide us with this rich account linked to the original research question.  Developing a good research question is thus crucial to effective design and a successful outcome.  Chapter 4 will provide pointers on how to do this.  Chapter 4 also provides an overview of general approaches taken to doing qualitative research and various “traditions of inquiry.”

Chapter 5 explores sampling .  After you have developed a research question and have a general idea of how you will collect data (Observations?  Interviews?), how do you go about actually finding people and sites to study?  Although there is no “correct number” of people to interview , the sample should follow the research question and research design.  Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research involves nonprobability sampling.  Chapter 5 explains why this is so and what qualities instead make a good sample for qualitative research.

Chapter 6 addresses the importance of reflexivity in qualitative research.  Related to epistemological issues of how we know anything about the social world, qualitative researchers understand that we the researchers can never be truly neutral or outside the study we are conducting.  As observers, we see things that make sense to us and may entirely miss what is either too obvious to note or too different to comprehend.  As interviewers, as much as we would like to ask questions neutrally and remain in the background, interviews are a form of conversation, and the persons we interview are responding to us .  Therefore, it is important to reflect upon our social positions and the knowledges and expectations we bring to our work and to work through any blind spots that we may have.  Chapter 6 provides some examples of reflexivity in practice and exercises for thinking through one’s own biases.

Chapter 7 is a very important chapter and should not be overlooked.  As a practical matter, it should also be read closely with chapters 6 and 8.  Because qualitative researchers deal with people and the social world, it is imperative they develop and adhere to a strong ethical code for conducting research in a way that does not harm.  There are legal requirements and guidelines for doing so (see chapter 8), but these requirements should not be considered synonymous with the ethical code required of us.   Each researcher must constantly interrogate every aspect of their research, from research question to design to sample through analysis and presentation, to ensure that a minimum of harm (ideally, zero harm) is caused.  Because each research project is unique, the standards of care for each study are unique.  Part of being a professional researcher is carrying this code in one’s heart, being constantly attentive to what is required under particular circumstances.  Chapter 7 provides various research scenarios and asks readers to weigh in on the suitability and appropriateness of the research.  If done in a class setting, it will become obvious fairly quickly that there are often no absolutely correct answers, as different people find different aspects of the scenarios of greatest importance.  Minimizing the harm in one area may require possible harm in another.  Being attentive to all the ethical aspects of one’s research and making the best judgments one can, clearly and consciously, is an integral part of being a good researcher.

Chapter 8 , best to be read in conjunction with chapter 7, explains the role and importance of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) .  Under federal guidelines, an IRB is an appropriately constituted group that has been formally designated to review and monitor research involving human subjects .  Every institution that receives funding from the federal government has an IRB.  IRBs have the authority to approve, require modifications to (to secure approval), or disapprove research.  This group review serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.  Chapter 8 reviews the history of IRBs and the work they do but also argues that IRBs’ review of qualitative research is often both over-inclusive and under-inclusive.  Some aspects of qualitative research are not well understood by IRBs, given that they were developed to prevent abuses in biomedical research.  Thus, it is important not to rely on IRBs to identify all the potential ethical issues that emerge in our research (see chapter 7).

Chapter 9 provides help for getting started on formulating a research question based on gaps in the pre-existing literature.  Research is conducted as part of a community, even if particular studies are done by single individuals (or small teams).  What any of us finds and reports back becomes part of a much larger body of knowledge.  Thus, it is important that we look at the larger body of knowledge before we actually start our bit to see how we can best contribute.  When I first began interviewing working-class college students, there was only one other similar study I could find, and it hadn’t been published (it was a dissertation of students from poor backgrounds).  But there had been a lot published by professors who had grown up working class and made it through college despite the odds.  These accounts by “working-class academics” became an important inspiration for my study and helped me frame the questions I asked the students I interviewed.  Chapter 9 will provide some pointers on how to search for relevant literature and how to use this to refine your research question.

Chapter 10 serves as a bridge between the two parts of the textbook, by introducing techniques of data collection.  Qualitative research is often characterized by the form of data collection – for example, an ethnographic study is one that employs primarily observational data collection for the purpose of documenting and presenting a particular culture or ethnos.  Techniques can be effectively combined, depending on the research question and the aims and goals of the study.   Chapter 10 provides a general overview of all the various techniques and how they can be combined.

The second part of the textbook moves into the doing part of qualitative research once the research question has been articulated and the study designed.  Chapters 11 through 17 cover various data collection techniques and approaches.  Chapters 18 and 19 provide a very simple overview of basic data analysis.  Chapter 20 covers communication of the data to various audiences, and in various formats.

Chapter 11 begins our overview of data collection techniques with a focus on interviewing , the true heart of qualitative research.  This technique can serve as the primary and exclusive form of data collection, or it can be used to supplement other forms (observation, archival).  An interview is distinct from a survey, where questions are asked in a specific order and often with a range of predetermined responses available.  Interviews can be conversational and unstructured or, more conventionally, semistructured , where a general set of interview questions “guides” the conversation.  Chapter 11 covers the basics of interviews: how to create interview guides, how many people to interview, where to conduct the interview, what to watch out for (how to prepare against things going wrong), and how to get the most out of your interviews.

Chapter 12 covers an important variant of interviewing, the focus group.  Focus groups are semistructured interviews with a group of people moderated by a facilitator (the researcher or researcher’s assistant).  Focus groups explicitly use group interaction to assist in the data collection.  They are best used to collect data on a specific topic that is non-personal and shared among the group.  For example, asking a group of college students about a common experience such as taking classes by remote delivery during the pandemic year of 2020.  Chapter 12 covers the basics of focus groups: when to use them, how to create interview guides for them, and how to run them effectively.

Chapter 13 moves away from interviewing to the second major form of data collection unique to qualitative researchers – observation .  Qualitative research that employs observation can best be understood as falling on a continuum of “fly on the wall” observation (e.g., observing how strangers interact in a doctor’s waiting room) to “participant” observation, where the researcher is also an active participant of the activity being observed.  For example, an activist in the Black Lives Matter movement might want to study the movement, using her inside position to gain access to observe key meetings and interactions.  Chapter  13 covers the basics of participant observation studies: advantages and disadvantages, gaining access, ethical concerns related to insider/outsider status and entanglement, and recording techniques.

Chapter 14 takes a closer look at “deep ethnography” – immersion in the field of a particularly long duration for the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of a particular culture or social world.  Clifford Geertz called this “deep hanging out.”  Whereas participant observation is often combined with semistructured interview techniques, deep ethnography’s commitment to “living the life” or experiencing the situation as it really is demands more conversational and natural interactions with people.  These interactions and conversations may take place over months or even years.  As can be expected, there are some costs to this technique, as well as some very large rewards when done competently.  Chapter 14 provides some examples of deep ethnographies that will inspire some beginning researchers and intimidate others.

Chapter 15 moves in the opposite direction of deep ethnography, a technique that is the least positivist of all those discussed here, to mixed methods , a set of techniques that is arguably the most positivist .  A mixed methods approach combines both qualitative data collection and quantitative data collection, commonly by combining a survey that is analyzed statistically (e.g., cross-tabs or regression analyses of large number probability samples) with semi-structured interviews.  Although it is somewhat unconventional to discuss mixed methods in textbooks on qualitative research, I think it is important to recognize this often-employed approach here.  There are several advantages and some disadvantages to taking this route.  Chapter 16 will describe those advantages and disadvantages and provide some particular guidance on how to design a mixed methods study for maximum effectiveness.

Chapter 16 covers data collection that does not involve live human subjects at all – archival and historical research (chapter 17 will also cover data that does not involve interacting with human subjects).  Sometimes people are unavailable to us, either because they do not wish to be interviewed or observed (as is the case with many “elites”) or because they are too far away, in both place and time.  Fortunately, humans leave many traces and we can often answer questions we have by examining those traces.  Special collections and archives can be goldmines for social science research.  This chapter will explain how to access these places, for what purposes, and how to begin to make sense of what you find.

Chapter 17 covers another data collection area that does not involve face-to-face interaction with humans: content analysis .  Although content analysis may be understood more properly as a data analysis technique, the term is often used for the entire approach, which will be the case here.  Content analysis involves interpreting meaning from a body of text.  This body of text might be something found in historical records (see chapter 16) or something collected by the researcher, as in the case of comment posts on a popular blog post.  I once used the stories told by student loan debtors on the website studentloanjustice.org as the content I analyzed.  Content analysis is particularly useful when attempting to define and understand prevalent stories or communication about a topic of interest.  In other words, when we are less interested in what particular people (our defined sample) are doing or believing and more interested in what general narratives exist about a particular topic or issue.  This chapter will explore different approaches to content analysis and provide helpful tips on how to collect data, how to turn that data into codes for analysis, and how to go about presenting what is found through analysis.

Where chapter 17 has pushed us towards data analysis, chapters 18 and 19 are all about what to do with the data collected, whether that data be in the form of interview transcripts or fieldnotes from observations.  Chapter 18 introduces the basics of coding , the iterative process of assigning meaning to the data in order to both simplify and identify patterns.  What is a code and how does it work?  What are the different ways of coding data, and when should you use them?  What is a codebook, and why do you need one?  What does the process of data analysis look like?

Chapter 19 goes further into detail on codes and how to use them, particularly the later stages of coding in which our codes are refined, simplified, combined, and organized.  These later rounds of coding are essential to getting the most out of the data we’ve collected.  As students are often overwhelmed with the amount of data (a corpus of interview transcripts typically runs into the hundreds of pages; fieldnotes can easily top that), this chapter will also address time management and provide suggestions for dealing with chaos and reminders that feeling overwhelmed at the analysis stage is part of the process.  By the end of the chapter, you should understand how “findings” are actually found.

The book concludes with a chapter dedicated to the effective presentation of data results.  Chapter 20 covers the many ways that researchers communicate their studies to various audiences (academic, personal, political), what elements must be included in these various publications, and the hallmarks of excellent qualitative research that various audiences will be expecting.  Because qualitative researchers are motivated by understanding and conveying meaning , effective communication is not only an essential skill but a fundamental facet of the entire research project.  Ethnographers must be able to convey a certain sense of verisimilitude , the appearance of true reality.  Those employing interviews must faithfully depict the key meanings of the people they interviewed in a way that rings true to those people, even if the end result surprises them.  And all researchers must strive for clarity in their publications so that various audiences can understand what was found and why it is important.

The book concludes with a short chapter ( chapter 21 ) discussing the value of qualitative research. At the very end of this book, you will find a glossary of terms. I recommend you make frequent use of the glossary and add to each entry as you find examples. Although the entries are meant to be simple and clear, you may also want to paraphrase the definition—make it “make sense” to you, in other words. In addition to the standard reference list (all works cited here), you will find various recommendations for further reading at the end of many chapters. Some of these recommendations will be examples of excellent qualitative research, indicated with an asterisk (*) at the end of the entry. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. A good example of qualitative research can teach you more about conducting research than any textbook can (this one included). I highly recommend you select one to three examples from these lists and read them along with the textbook.

A final note on the choice of examples – you will note that many of the examples used in the text come from research on college students.  This is for two reasons.  First, as most of my research falls in this area, I am most familiar with this literature and have contacts with those who do research here and can call upon them to share their stories with you.  Second, and more importantly, my hope is that this textbook reaches a wide audience of beginning researchers who study widely and deeply across the range of what can be known about the social world (from marine resources management to public policy to nursing to political science to sexuality studies and beyond).  It is sometimes difficult to find examples that speak to all those research interests, however. A focus on college students is something that all readers can understand and, hopefully, appreciate, as we are all now or have been at some point a college student.

Recommended Reading: Other Qualitative Research Textbooks

I’ve included a brief list of some of my favorite qualitative research textbooks and guidebooks if you need more than what you will find in this introductory text.  For each, I’ve also indicated if these are for “beginning” or “advanced” (graduate-level) readers.  Many of these books have several editions that do not significantly vary; the edition recommended is merely the edition I have used in teaching and to whose page numbers any specific references made in the text agree.

Barbour, Rosaline. 2014. Introducing Qualitative Research: A Student’s Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.  A good introduction to qualitative research, with abundant examples (often from the discipline of health care) and clear definitions.  Includes quick summaries at the ends of each chapter.  However, some US students might find the British context distracting and can be a bit advanced in some places.  Beginning .

Bloomberg, Linda Dale, and Marie F. Volpe. 2012. Completing Your Qualitative Dissertation . 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.  Specifically designed to guide graduate students through the research process. Advanced .

Creswell, John W., and Cheryl Poth. 2018 Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among Five Traditions .  4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.  This is a classic and one of the go-to books I used myself as a graduate student.  One of the best things about this text is its clear presentation of five distinct traditions in qualitative research.  Despite the title, this reasonably sized book is about more than research design, including both data analysis and how to write about qualitative research.  Advanced .

Lareau, Annette. 2021. Listening to People: A Practical Guide to Interviewing, Participant Observation, Data Analysis, and Writing It All Up .  Chicago: University of Chicago Press. A readable and personal account of conducting qualitative research by an eminent sociologist, with a heavy emphasis on the kinds of participant-observation research conducted by the author.  Despite its reader-friendliness, this is really a book targeted to graduate students learning the craft.  Advanced .

Lune, Howard, and Bruce L. Berg. 2018. 9th edition.  Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences.  Pearson . Although a good introduction to qualitative methods, the authors favor symbolic interactionist and dramaturgical approaches, which limits the appeal primarily to sociologists.  Beginning .

Marshall, Catherine, and Gretchen B. Rossman. 2016. 6th edition. Designing Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.  Very readable and accessible guide to research design by two educational scholars.  Although the presentation is sometimes fairly dry, personal vignettes and illustrations enliven the text.  Beginning .

Maxwell, Joseph A. 2013. Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach .  3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. A short and accessible introduction to qualitative research design, particularly helpful for graduate students contemplating theses and dissertations. This has been a standard textbook in my graduate-level courses for years.  Advanced .

Patton, Michael Quinn. 2002. Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.  This is a comprehensive text that served as my “go-to” reference when I was a graduate student.  It is particularly helpful for those involved in program evaluation and other forms of evaluation studies and uses examples from a wide range of disciplines.  Advanced .

Rubin, Ashley T. 2021. Rocking Qualitative Social Science: An Irreverent Guide to Rigorous Research. Stanford : Stanford University Press.  A delightful and personal read.  Rubin uses rock climbing as an extended metaphor for learning how to conduct qualitative research.  A bit slanted toward ethnographic and archival methods of data collection, with frequent examples from her own studies in criminology. Beginning .

Weis, Lois, and Michelle Fine. 2000. Speed Bumps: A Student-Friendly Guide to Qualitative Research . New York: Teachers College Press.  Readable and accessibly written in a quasi-conversational style.  Particularly strong in its discussion of ethical issues throughout the qualitative research process.  Not comprehensive, however, and very much tied to ethnographic research.  Although designed for graduate students, this is a recommended read for students of all levels.  Beginning .

Patton’s Ten Suggestions for Doing Qualitative Research

The following ten suggestions were made by Michael Quinn Patton in his massive textbooks Qualitative Research and Evaluations Methods . This book is highly recommended for those of you who want more than an introduction to qualitative methods. It is the book I relied on heavily when I was a graduate student, although it is much easier to “dip into” when necessary than to read through as a whole. Patton is asked for “just one bit of advice” for a graduate student considering using qualitative research methods for their dissertation.  Here are his top ten responses, in short form, heavily paraphrased, and with additional comments and emphases from me:

  • Make sure that a qualitative approach fits the research question. The following are the kinds of questions that call out for qualitative methods or where qualitative methods are particularly appropriate: questions about people’s experiences or how they make sense of those experiences; studying a person in their natural environment; researching a phenomenon so unknown that it would be impossible to study it with standardized instruments or other forms of quantitative data collection.
  • Study qualitative research by going to the original sources for the design and analysis appropriate to the particular approach you want to take (e.g., read Glaser and Straus if you are using grounded theory )
  • Find a dissertation adviser who understands or at least who will support your use of qualitative research methods. You are asking for trouble if your entire committee is populated by quantitative researchers, even if they are all very knowledgeable about the subject or focus of your study (maybe even more so if they are!)
  • Really work on design. Doing qualitative research effectively takes a lot of planning.  Even if things are more flexible than in quantitative research, a good design is absolutely essential when starting out.
  • Practice data collection techniques, particularly interviewing and observing. There is definitely a set of learned skills here!  Do not expect your first interview to be perfect.  You will continue to grow as a researcher the more interviews you conduct, and you will probably come to understand yourself a bit more in the process, too.  This is not easy, despite what others who don’t work with qualitative methods may assume (and tell you!)
  • Have a plan for analysis before you begin data collection. This is often a requirement in IRB protocols , although you can get away with writing something fairly simple.  And even if you are taking an approach, such as grounded theory, that pushes you to remain fairly open-minded during the data collection process, you still want to know what you will be doing with all the data collected – creating a codebook? Writing analytical memos? Comparing cases?  Having a plan in hand will also help prevent you from collecting too much extraneous data.
  • Be prepared to confront controversies both within the qualitative research community and between qualitative research and quantitative research. Don’t be naïve about this – qualitative research, particularly some approaches, will be derided by many more “positivist” researchers and audiences.  For example, is an “n” of 1 really sufficient?  Yes!  But not everyone will agree.
  • Do not make the mistake of using qualitative research methods because someone told you it was easier, or because you are intimidated by the math required of statistical analyses. Qualitative research is difficult in its own way (and many would claim much more time-consuming than quantitative research).  Do it because you are convinced it is right for your goals, aims, and research questions.
  • Find a good support network. This could be a research mentor, or it could be a group of friends or colleagues who are also using qualitative research, or it could be just someone who will listen to you work through all of the issues you will confront out in the field and during the writing process.  Even though qualitative research often involves human subjects, it can be pretty lonely.  A lot of times you will feel like you are working without a net.  You have to create one for yourself.  Take care of yourself.
  • And, finally, in the words of Patton, “Prepare to be changed. Looking deeply at other people’s lives will force you to look deeply at yourself.”
  • We will actually spend an entire chapter ( chapter 3 ) looking at this question in much more detail! ↵
  • Note that this might have been news to Europeans at the time, but many other societies around the world had also come to this conclusion through observation.  There is often a tendency to equate “the scientific revolution” with the European world in which it took place, but this is somewhat misleading. ↵
  • Historians are a special case here.  Historians have scrupulously and rigorously investigated the social world, but not for the purpose of understanding general laws about how things work, which is the point of scientific empirical research.  History is often referred to as an idiographic field of study, meaning that it studies things that happened or are happening in themselves and not for general observations or conclusions. ↵
  • Don’t worry, we’ll spend more time later in this book unpacking the meaning of ethnography and other terms that are important here.  Note the available glossary ↵

An approach to research that is “multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter.  This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.  Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials – case study, personal experience, introspective, life story, interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts – that describe routine and problematic moments and meanings in individuals’ lives." ( Denzin and Lincoln 2005:2 ). Contrast with quantitative research .

In contrast to methodology, methods are more simply the practices and tools used to collect and analyze data.  Examples of common methods in qualitative research are interviews , observations , and documentary analysis .  One’s methodology should connect to one’s choice of methods, of course, but they are distinguishable terms.  See also methodology .

A proposed explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation.  The positing of a hypothesis is often the first step in quantitative research but not in qualitative research.  Even when qualitative researchers offer possible explanations in advance of conducting research, they will tend to not use the word “hypothesis” as it conjures up the kind of positivist research they are not conducting.

The foundational question to be addressed by the research study.  This will form the anchor of the research design, collection, and analysis.  Note that in qualitative research, the research question may, and probably will, alter or develop during the course of the research.

An approach to research that collects and analyzes numerical data for the purpose of finding patterns and averages, making predictions, testing causal relationships, and generalizing results to wider populations.  Contrast with qualitative research .

Data collection that takes place in real-world settings, referred to as “the field;” a key component of much Grounded Theory and ethnographic research.  Patton ( 2002 ) calls fieldwork “the central activity of qualitative inquiry” where “‘going into the field’ means having direct and personal contact with people under study in their own environments – getting close to people and situations being studied to personally understand the realities of minutiae of daily life” (48).

The people who are the subjects of a qualitative study.  In interview-based studies, they may be the respondents to the interviewer; for purposes of IRBs, they are often referred to as the human subjects of the research.

The branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge.  For researchers, it is important to recognize and adopt one of the many distinguishing epistemological perspectives as part of our understanding of what questions research can address or fully answer.  See, e.g., constructivism , subjectivism, and  objectivism .

An approach that refutes the possibility of neutrality in social science research.  All research is “guided by a set of beliefs and feelings about the world and how it should be understood and studied” (Denzin and Lincoln 2005: 13).  In contrast to positivism , interpretivism recognizes the social constructedness of reality, and researchers adopting this approach focus on capturing interpretations and understandings people have about the world rather than “the world” as it is (which is a chimera).

The cluster of data-collection tools and techniques that involve observing interactions between people, the behaviors, and practices of individuals (sometimes in contrast to what they say about how they act and behave), and cultures in context.  Observational methods are the key tools employed by ethnographers and Grounded Theory .

Research based on data collected and analyzed by the research (in contrast to secondary “library” research).

The process of selecting people or other units of analysis to represent a larger population. In quantitative research, this representation is taken quite literally, as statistically representative.  In qualitative research, in contrast, sample selection is often made based on potential to generate insight about a particular topic or phenomenon.

A method of data collection in which the researcher asks the participant questions; the answers to these questions are often recorded and transcribed verbatim. There are many different kinds of interviews - see also semistructured interview , structured interview , and unstructured interview .

The specific group of individuals that you will collect data from.  Contrast population.

The practice of being conscious of and reflective upon one’s own social location and presence when conducting research.  Because qualitative research often requires interaction with live humans, failing to take into account how one’s presence and prior expectations and social location affect the data collected and how analyzed may limit the reliability of the findings.  This remains true even when dealing with historical archives and other content.  Who we are matters when asking questions about how people experience the world because we, too, are a part of that world.

The science and practice of right conduct; in research, it is also the delineation of moral obligations towards research participants, communities to which we belong, and communities in which we conduct our research.

An administrative body established to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities conducted under the auspices of the institution with which it is affiliated. The IRB is charged with the responsibility of reviewing all research involving human participants. The IRB is concerned with protecting the welfare, rights, and privacy of human subjects. The IRB has the authority to approve, disapprove, monitor, and require modifications in all research activities that fall within its jurisdiction as specified by both the federal regulations and institutional policy.

Research, according to US federal guidelines, that involves “a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research:  (1) Obtains information or biospecimens through intervention or interaction with the individual, and uses, studies, or analyzes the information or biospecimens; or  (2) Obtains, uses, studies, analyzes, or generates identifiable private information or identifiable biospecimens.”

One of the primary methodological traditions of inquiry in qualitative research, ethnography is the study of a group or group culture, largely through observational fieldwork supplemented by interviews. It is a form of fieldwork that may include participant-observation data collection. See chapter 14 for a discussion of deep ethnography. 

A form of interview that follows a standard guide of questions asked, although the order of the questions may change to match the particular needs of each individual interview subject, and probing “follow-up” questions are often added during the course of the interview.  The semi-structured interview is the primary form of interviewing used by qualitative researchers in the social sciences.  It is sometimes referred to as an “in-depth” interview.  See also interview and  interview guide .

A method of observational data collection taking place in a natural setting; a form of fieldwork .  The term encompasses a continuum of relative participation by the researcher (from full participant to “fly-on-the-wall” observer).  This is also sometimes referred to as ethnography , although the latter is characterized by a greater focus on the culture under observation.

A research design that employs both quantitative and qualitative methods, as in the case of a survey supplemented by interviews.

An epistemological perspective that posits the existence of reality through sensory experience similar to empiricism but goes further in denying any non-sensory basis of thought or consciousness.  In the social sciences, the term has roots in the proto-sociologist August Comte, who believed he could discern “laws” of society similar to the laws of natural science (e.g., gravity).  The term has come to mean the kinds of measurable and verifiable science conducted by quantitative researchers and is thus used pejoratively by some qualitative researchers interested in interpretation, consciousness, and human understanding.  Calling someone a “positivist” is often intended as an insult.  See also empiricism and objectivism.

A place or collection containing records, documents, or other materials of historical interest; most universities have an archive of material related to the university’s history, as well as other “special collections” that may be of interest to members of the community.

A method of both data collection and data analysis in which a given content (textual, visual, graphic) is examined systematically and rigorously to identify meanings, themes, patterns and assumptions.  Qualitative content analysis (QCA) is concerned with gathering and interpreting an existing body of material.    

A word or short phrase that symbolically assigns a summative, salient, essence-capturing, and/or evocative attribute for a portion of language-based or visual data (Saldaña 2021:5).

Usually a verbatim written record of an interview or focus group discussion.

The primary form of data for fieldwork , participant observation , and ethnography .  These notes, taken by the researcher either during the course of fieldwork or at day’s end, should include as many details as possible on what was observed and what was said.  They should include clear identifiers of date, time, setting, and names (or identifying characteristics) of participants.

The process of labeling and organizing qualitative data to identify different themes and the relationships between them; a way of simplifying data to allow better management and retrieval of key themes and illustrative passages.  See coding frame and  codebook.

A methodological tradition of inquiry and approach to analyzing qualitative data in which theories emerge from a rigorous and systematic process of induction.  This approach was pioneered by the sociologists Glaser and Strauss (1967).  The elements of theory generated from comparative analysis of data are, first, conceptual categories and their properties and, second, hypotheses or generalized relations among the categories and their properties – “The constant comparing of many groups draws the [researcher’s] attention to their many similarities and differences.  Considering these leads [the researcher] to generate abstract categories and their properties, which, since they emerge from the data, will clearly be important to a theory explaining the kind of behavior under observation.” (36).

A detailed description of any proposed research that involves human subjects for review by IRB.  The protocol serves as the recipe for the conduct of the research activity.  It includes the scientific rationale to justify the conduct of the study, the information necessary to conduct the study, the plan for managing and analyzing the data, and a discussion of the research ethical issues relevant to the research.  Protocols for qualitative research often include interview guides, all documents related to recruitment, informed consent forms, very clear guidelines on the safekeeping of materials collected, and plans for de-identifying transcripts or other data that include personal identifying information.

Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods Copyright © 2023 by Allison Hurst is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Enago Academy

How to Develop a Good Research Hypothesis

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The story of a research study begins by asking a question. Researchers all around the globe are asking curious questions and formulating research hypothesis. However, whether the research study provides an effective conclusion depends on how well one develops a good research hypothesis. Research hypothesis examples could help researchers get an idea as to how to write a good research hypothesis.

This blog will help you understand what is a research hypothesis, its characteristics and, how to formulate a research hypothesis

Table of Contents

What is Hypothesis?

Hypothesis is an assumption or an idea proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested. It is a precise, testable statement of what the researchers predict will be outcome of the study.  Hypothesis usually involves proposing a relationship between two variables: the independent variable (what the researchers change) and the dependent variable (what the research measures).

What is a Research Hypothesis?

Research hypothesis is a statement that introduces a research question and proposes an expected result. It is an integral part of the scientific method that forms the basis of scientific experiments. Therefore, you need to be careful and thorough when building your research hypothesis. A minor flaw in the construction of your hypothesis could have an adverse effect on your experiment. In research, there is a convention that the hypothesis is written in two forms, the null hypothesis, and the alternative hypothesis (called the experimental hypothesis when the method of investigation is an experiment).

Characteristics of a Good Research Hypothesis

As the hypothesis is specific, there is a testable prediction about what you expect to happen in a study. You may consider drawing hypothesis from previously published research based on the theory.

A good research hypothesis involves more effort than just a guess. In particular, your hypothesis may begin with a question that could be further explored through background research.

To help you formulate a promising research hypothesis, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the language clear and focused?
  • What is the relationship between your hypothesis and your research topic?
  • Is your hypothesis testable? If yes, then how?
  • What are the possible explanations that you might want to explore?
  • Does your hypothesis include both an independent and dependent variable?
  • Can you manipulate your variables without hampering the ethical standards?
  • Does your research predict the relationship and outcome?
  • Is your research simple and concise (avoids wordiness)?
  • Is it clear with no ambiguity or assumptions about the readers’ knowledge
  • Is your research observable and testable results?
  • Is it relevant and specific to the research question or problem?

research hypothesis example

The questions listed above can be used as a checklist to make sure your hypothesis is based on a solid foundation. Furthermore, it can help you identify weaknesses in your hypothesis and revise it if necessary.

Source: Educational Hub

How to formulate a research hypothesis.

A testable hypothesis is not a simple statement. It is rather an intricate statement that needs to offer a clear introduction to a scientific experiment, its intentions, and the possible outcomes. However, there are some important things to consider when building a compelling hypothesis.

1. State the problem that you are trying to solve.

Make sure that the hypothesis clearly defines the topic and the focus of the experiment.

2. Try to write the hypothesis as an if-then statement.

Follow this template: If a specific action is taken, then a certain outcome is expected.

3. Define the variables

Independent variables are the ones that are manipulated, controlled, or changed. Independent variables are isolated from other factors of the study.

Dependent variables , as the name suggests are dependent on other factors of the study. They are influenced by the change in independent variable.

4. Scrutinize the hypothesis

Evaluate assumptions, predictions, and evidence rigorously to refine your understanding.

Types of Research Hypothesis

The types of research hypothesis are stated below:

1. Simple Hypothesis

It predicts the relationship between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable.

2. Complex Hypothesis

It predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables.

3. Directional Hypothesis

It specifies the expected direction to be followed to determine the relationship between variables and is derived from theory. Furthermore, it implies the researcher’s intellectual commitment to a particular outcome.

4. Non-directional Hypothesis

It does not predict the exact direction or nature of the relationship between the two variables. The non-directional hypothesis is used when there is no theory involved or when findings contradict previous research.

5. Associative and Causal Hypothesis

The associative hypothesis defines interdependency between variables. A change in one variable results in the change of the other variable. On the other hand, the causal hypothesis proposes an effect on the dependent due to manipulation of the independent variable.

6. Null Hypothesis

Null hypothesis states a negative statement to support the researcher’s findings that there is no relationship between two variables. There will be no changes in the dependent variable due the manipulation of the independent variable. Furthermore, it states results are due to chance and are not significant in terms of supporting the idea being investigated.

7. Alternative Hypothesis

It states that there is a relationship between the two variables of the study and that the results are significant to the research topic. An experimental hypothesis predicts what changes will take place in the dependent variable when the independent variable is manipulated. Also, it states that the results are not due to chance and that they are significant in terms of supporting the theory being investigated.

Research Hypothesis Examples of Independent and Dependent Variables

Research Hypothesis Example 1 The greater number of coal plants in a region (independent variable) increases water pollution (dependent variable). If you change the independent variable (building more coal factories), it will change the dependent variable (amount of water pollution).
Research Hypothesis Example 2 What is the effect of diet or regular soda (independent variable) on blood sugar levels (dependent variable)? If you change the independent variable (the type of soda you consume), it will change the dependent variable (blood sugar levels)

You should not ignore the importance of the above steps. The validity of your experiment and its results rely on a robust testable hypothesis. Developing a strong testable hypothesis has few advantages, it compels us to think intensely and specifically about the outcomes of a study. Consequently, it enables us to understand the implication of the question and the different variables involved in the study. Furthermore, it helps us to make precise predictions based on prior research. Hence, forming a hypothesis would be of great value to the research. Here are some good examples of testable hypotheses.

More importantly, you need to build a robust testable research hypothesis for your scientific experiments. A testable hypothesis is a hypothesis that can be proved or disproved as a result of experimentation.

Importance of a Testable Hypothesis

To devise and perform an experiment using scientific method, you need to make sure that your hypothesis is testable. To be considered testable, some essential criteria must be met:

  • There must be a possibility to prove that the hypothesis is true.
  • There must be a possibility to prove that the hypothesis is false.
  • The results of the hypothesis must be reproducible.

Without these criteria, the hypothesis and the results will be vague. As a result, the experiment will not prove or disprove anything significant.

What are your experiences with building hypotheses for scientific experiments? What challenges did you face? How did you overcome these challenges? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

Frequently Asked Questions

The steps to write a research hypothesis are: 1. Stating the problem: Ensure that the hypothesis defines the research problem 2. Writing a hypothesis as an 'if-then' statement: Include the action and the expected outcome of your study by following a ‘if-then’ structure. 3. Defining the variables: Define the variables as Dependent or Independent based on their dependency to other factors. 4. Scrutinizing the hypothesis: Identify the type of your hypothesis

Hypothesis testing is a statistical tool which is used to make inferences about a population data to draw conclusions for a particular hypothesis.

Hypothesis in statistics is a formal statement about the nature of a population within a structured framework of a statistical model. It is used to test an existing hypothesis by studying a population.

Research hypothesis is a statement that introduces a research question and proposes an expected result. It forms the basis of scientific experiments.

The different types of hypothesis in research are: • Null hypothesis: Null hypothesis is a negative statement to support the researcher’s findings that there is no relationship between two variables. • Alternate hypothesis: Alternate hypothesis predicts the relationship between the two variables of the study. • Directional hypothesis: Directional hypothesis specifies the expected direction to be followed to determine the relationship between variables. • Non-directional hypothesis: Non-directional hypothesis does not predict the exact direction or nature of the relationship between the two variables. • Simple hypothesis: Simple hypothesis predicts the relationship between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable. • Complex hypothesis: Complex hypothesis predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables. • Associative and casual hypothesis: Associative and casual hypothesis predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables. • Empirical hypothesis: Empirical hypothesis can be tested via experiments and observation. • Statistical hypothesis: A statistical hypothesis utilizes statistical models to draw conclusions about broader populations.

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Wow! You really simplified your explanation that even dummies would find it easy to comprehend. Thank you so much.

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It very interesting to read the topic, can you guide me any specific example of hypothesis process establish throw the Demand and supply of the specific product in market

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7.4 Qualitative Research

Learning objectives.

  • List several ways in which qualitative research differs from quantitative research in psychology.
  • Describe the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research in psychology compared with quantitative research.
  • Give examples of qualitative research in psychology.

What Is Qualitative Research?

This book is primarily about quantitative research . Quantitative researchers typically start with a focused research question or hypothesis, collect a small amount of data from each of a large number of individuals, describe the resulting data using statistical techniques, and draw general conclusions about some large population. Although this is by far the most common approach to conducting empirical research in psychology, there is an important alternative called qualitative research. Qualitative research originated in the disciplines of anthropology and sociology but is now used to study many psychological topics as well. Qualitative researchers generally begin with a less focused research question, collect large amounts of relatively “unfiltered” data from a relatively small number of individuals, and describe their data using nonstatistical techniques. They are usually less concerned with drawing general conclusions about human behavior than with understanding in detail the experience of their research participants.

Consider, for example, a study by researcher Per Lindqvist and his colleagues, who wanted to learn how the families of teenage suicide victims cope with their loss (Lindqvist, Johansson, & Karlsson, 2008). They did not have a specific research question or hypothesis, such as, What percentage of family members join suicide support groups? Instead, they wanted to understand the variety of reactions that families had, with a focus on what it is like from their perspectives. To do this, they interviewed the families of 10 teenage suicide victims in their homes in rural Sweden. The interviews were relatively unstructured, beginning with a general request for the families to talk about the victim and ending with an invitation to talk about anything else that they wanted to tell the interviewer. One of the most important themes that emerged from these interviews was that even as life returned to “normal,” the families continued to struggle with the question of why their loved one committed suicide. This struggle appeared to be especially difficult for families in which the suicide was most unexpected.

The Purpose of Qualitative Research

Again, this book is primarily about quantitative research in psychology. The strength of quantitative research is its ability to provide precise answers to specific research questions and to draw general conclusions about human behavior. This is how we know that people have a strong tendency to obey authority figures, for example, or that female college students are not substantially more talkative than male college students. But while quantitative research is good at providing precise answers to specific research questions, it is not nearly as good at generating novel and interesting research questions. Likewise, while quantitative research is good at drawing general conclusions about human behavior, it is not nearly as good at providing detailed descriptions of the behavior of particular groups in particular situations. And it is not very good at all at communicating what it is actually like to be a member of a particular group in a particular situation.

But the relative weaknesses of quantitative research are the relative strengths of qualitative research. Qualitative research can help researchers to generate new and interesting research questions and hypotheses. The research of Lindqvist and colleagues, for example, suggests that there may be a general relationship between how unexpected a suicide is and how consumed the family is with trying to understand why the teen committed suicide. This relationship can now be explored using quantitative research. But it is unclear whether this question would have arisen at all without the researchers sitting down with the families and listening to what they themselves wanted to say about their experience. Qualitative research can also provide rich and detailed descriptions of human behavior in the real-world contexts in which it occurs. Among qualitative researchers, this is often referred to as “thick description” (Geertz, 1973). Similarly, qualitative research can convey a sense of what it is actually like to be a member of a particular group or in a particular situation—what qualitative researchers often refer to as the “lived experience” of the research participants. Lindqvist and colleagues, for example, describe how all the families spontaneously offered to show the interviewer the victim’s bedroom or the place where the suicide occurred—revealing the importance of these physical locations to the families. It seems unlikely that a quantitative study would have discovered this.

Data Collection and Analysis in Qualitative Research

As with correlational research, data collection approaches in qualitative research are quite varied and can involve naturalistic observation, archival data, artwork, and many other things. But one of the most common approaches, especially for psychological research, is to conduct interviews . Interviews in qualitative research tend to be unstructured—consisting of a small number of general questions or prompts that allow participants to talk about what is of interest to them. The researcher can follow up by asking more detailed questions about the topics that do come up. Such interviews can be lengthy and detailed, but they are usually conducted with a relatively small sample. This was essentially the approach used by Lindqvist and colleagues in their research on the families of suicide survivors. Small groups of people who participate together in interviews focused on a particular topic or issue are often referred to as focus groups . The interaction among participants in a focus group can sometimes bring out more information than can be learned in a one-on-one interview. The use of focus groups has become a standard technique in business and industry among those who want to understand consumer tastes and preferences. The content of all focus group interviews is usually recorded and transcribed to facilitate later analyses.

Another approach to data collection in qualitative research is participant observation. In participant observation , researchers become active participants in the group or situation they are studying. The data they collect can include interviews (usually unstructured), their own notes based on their observations and interactions, documents, photographs, and other artifacts. The basic rationale for participant observation is that there may be important information that is only accessible to, or can be interpreted only by, someone who is an active participant in the group or situation. An example of participant observation comes from a study by sociologist Amy Wilkins (published in Social Psychology Quarterly ) on a college-based religious organization that emphasized how happy its members were (Wilkins, 2008). Wilkins spent 12 months attending and participating in the group’s meetings and social events, and she interviewed several group members. In her study, Wilkins identified several ways in which the group “enforced” happiness—for example, by continually talking about happiness, discouraging the expression of negative emotions, and using happiness as a way to distinguish themselves from other groups.

Data Analysis in Quantitative Research

Although quantitative and qualitative research generally differ along several important dimensions (e.g., the specificity of the research question, the type of data collected), it is the method of data analysis that distinguishes them more clearly than anything else. To illustrate this idea, imagine a team of researchers that conducts a series of unstructured interviews with recovering alcoholics to learn about the role of their religious faith in their recovery. Although this sounds like qualitative research, imagine further that once they collect the data, they code the data in terms of how often each participant mentions God (or a “higher power”), and they then use descriptive and inferential statistics to find out whether those who mention God more often are more successful in abstaining from alcohol. Now it sounds like quantitative research. In other words, the quantitative-qualitative distinction depends more on what researchers do with the data they have collected than with why or how they collected the data.

But what does qualitative data analysis look like? Just as there are many ways to collect data in qualitative research, there are many ways to analyze data. Here we focus on one general approach called grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). This approach was developed within the field of sociology in the 1960s and has gradually gained popularity in psychology. Remember that in quantitative research, it is typical for the researcher to start with a theory, derive a hypothesis from that theory, and then collect data to test that specific hypothesis. In qualitative research using grounded theory, researchers start with the data and develop a theory or an interpretation that is “grounded in” those data. They do this in stages. First, they identify ideas that are repeated throughout the data. Then they organize these ideas into a smaller number of broader themes. Finally, they write a theoretical narrative —an interpretation—of the data in terms of the themes that they have identified. This theoretical narrative focuses on the subjective experience of the participants and is usually supported by many direct quotations from the participants themselves.

As an example, consider a study by researchers Laura Abrams and Laura Curran, who used the grounded theory approach to study the experience of postpartum depression symptoms among low-income mothers (Abrams & Curran, 2009). Their data were the result of unstructured interviews with 19 participants. Table 7.1 “Themes and Repeating Ideas in a Study of Postpartum Depression Among Low-Income Mothers” shows the five broad themes the researchers identified and the more specific repeating ideas that made up each of those themes. In their research report, they provide numerous quotations from their participants, such as this one from “Destiny:”

Well, just recently my apartment was broken into and the fact that his Medicaid for some reason was cancelled so a lot of things was happening within the last two weeks all at one time. So that in itself I don’t want to say almost drove me mad but it put me in a funk.…Like I really was depressed. (p. 357)

Their theoretical narrative focused on the participants’ experience of their symptoms not as an abstract “affective disorder” but as closely tied to the daily struggle of raising children alone under often difficult circumstances.

Table 7.1 Themes and Repeating Ideas in a Study of Postpartum Depression Among Low-Income Mothers

The Quantitative-Qualitative “Debate”

Given their differences, it may come as no surprise that quantitative and qualitative research in psychology and related fields do not coexist in complete harmony. Some quantitative researchers criticize qualitative methods on the grounds that they lack objectivity, are difficult to evaluate in terms of reliability and validity, and do not allow generalization to people or situations other than those actually studied. At the same time, some qualitative researchers criticize quantitative methods on the grounds that they overlook the richness of human behavior and experience and instead answer simple questions about easily quantifiable variables.

In general, however, qualitative researchers are well aware of the issues of objectivity, reliability, validity, and generalizability. In fact, they have developed a number of frameworks for addressing these issues (which are beyond the scope of our discussion). And in general, quantitative researchers are well aware of the issue of oversimplification. They do not believe that all human behavior and experience can be adequately described in terms of a small number of variables and the statistical relationships among them. Instead, they use simplification as a strategy for uncovering general principles of human behavior.

Many researchers from both the quantitative and qualitative camps now agree that the two approaches can and should be combined into what has come to be called mixed-methods research (Todd, Nerlich, McKeown, & Clarke, 2004). (In fact, the studies by Lindqvist and colleagues and by Abrams and Curran both combined quantitative and qualitative approaches.) One approach to combining quantitative and qualitative research is to use qualitative research for hypothesis generation and quantitative research for hypothesis testing. Again, while a qualitative study might suggest that families who experience an unexpected suicide have more difficulty resolving the question of why, a well-designed quantitative study could test a hypothesis by measuring these specific variables for a large sample. A second approach to combining quantitative and qualitative research is referred to as triangulation . The idea is to use both quantitative and qualitative methods simultaneously to study the same general questions and to compare the results. If the results of the quantitative and qualitative methods converge on the same general conclusion, they reinforce and enrich each other. If the results diverge, then they suggest an interesting new question: Why do the results diverge and how can they be reconciled?

Key Takeaways

  • Qualitative research is an important alternative to quantitative research in psychology. It generally involves asking broader research questions, collecting more detailed data (e.g., interviews), and using nonstatistical analyses.
  • Many researchers conceptualize quantitative and qualitative research as complementary and advocate combining them. For example, qualitative research can be used to generate hypotheses and quantitative research to test them.
  • Discussion: What are some ways in which a qualitative study of girls who play youth baseball would be likely to differ from a quantitative study on the same topic?

Abrams, L. S., & Curran, L. (2009). “And you’re telling me not to stress?” A grounded theory study of postpartum depression symptoms among low-income mothers. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33 , 351–362.

Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures . New York, NY: Basic Books.

Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research . Chicago, IL: Aldine.

Lindqvist, P., Johansson, L., & Karlsson, U. (2008). In the aftermath of teenage suicide: A qualitative study of the psychosocial consequences for the surviving family members. BMC Psychiatry, 8 , 26. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/8/26 .

Todd, Z., Nerlich, B., McKeown, S., & Clarke, D. D. (2004) Mixing methods in psychology: The integration of qualitative and quantitative methods in theory and practice . London, UK: Psychology Press.

Wilkins, A. (2008). “Happier than Non-Christians”: Collective emotions and symbolic boundaries among evangelical Christians. Social Psychology Quarterly, 71 , 281–301.

Research Methods in Psychology Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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The qualitative research process, end-to-end

Step by step guide overview to the qualitative research process

.css-1nrevy2{position:relative;display:inline-block;} The qualitative research process: step by step guide

Although research processes may vary by methodology or project team, some fundamentals exist across research projects. Below outlines the collective experience that qualitative researchers undertake to conduct research.

Step 1: Determine what to research

Once a researcher has determined a list of potential projects to tackle, they will prioritize projects based on the business's impact, available resourcing, timelines & dependencies to create a research roadmap. For each project, they will also identify the key questions they need to answer in the research.

The researcher should identify the participants they plan to research, and any key attributes that are a 'must-have' or 'nice to have' as these can be influential in determining the research approach (e.g. a niche group may require a longer timeline to recruit).

Researchers will generally aim for a mix of project types. Some may be more tactical or requests from stakeholders, and some will be projects that the researcher has proactively identified as opportunities for strategic research.

It's easier to determine a shortlist of potential methodologies based on where the research projects may fall within the product life-cycle. Image from Nielsen / Norman Group.

Step 2: Identify how to research it

Once the researcher has finalized the research project, they will need to figure out how they will do the work.

Firstly, the researcher will look through secondary data and research (e.g. analytics, previous research reports). Secondary analysis will help determine if there are existing answers to any of the open questions, ensuring that any net-new study doesn't duplicate current work (unless previous research is out of date).

A quadrant showing where different types of research fall.

After scoping the research, researchers will determine if the research input needs to be  attitudinal  (i.e. what someone says) or  behavioral  (i.e. what someone does); as well as if they need to  explore  a problem space or  evaluate  a product – these help determine the methodology to use. There are many methodologies out there, but the main ones you generally will find from a qualitative perspective are:

Interviews [Attitudinal / Exploratory]  – semi-structured conversation with a participant focused on a small set of topics. Runs for 30-60 minutes.

Contextual Inquiry [Behavioral / Exploratory]  – observation of a participant in their environment. Probing questions may be asked during the observation. Runs for 2-3 hours.

Survey [Attitudinal / Evaluative]  – gathering structured information from a sample of people, traditionally to generalize the results to a larger population. Surveys should generally not take participants more than 10 minutes to complete.

Usability Test [Behavioral / Evaluative]  – evaluating how representative users are, or are not, able to achieve critical tasks within an experience.

Check out these articles for more information about different methodologies:

When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods

UX Research Cheat Sheet

Usability.gov

Design Research Kit

Step 3: Get buy-in and alignment from others

Once a researcher has determined what they will be researching and how they will research it, they will generally write up a research plan that includes additional information about the research goals, participant scope, timelines, and dependencies. The plan is typically either a document or presentation shared with stakeholders depending on the company and how they work.

After the research plan is complete, researchers will share the plan for feedback and input from their stakeholders to ensure that the stakeholders have the right expectations going into the research. Stakeholders may ask for additional question topics to be added, ensure that research will be executed against specific timelines, or provide recommendations on how the study will help make product decisions.

At organizations where there is a research team, researchers may also share their plan with other researchers informally or through a 'crit' process. Generally, researchers will provide feedback on the research craft, such as methodologies, participant mixes, and the research goals or questions.

Once the researcher feels confident in their plan, they will either begin to plan the research, or in the case of more junior researchers, get approval from their manager to begin the study.

Step 4: Prepare research

This step is where the researcher will get all of their ducks in a row to execute the research. Preparation activities include:

Equipment: Booking venues, labs, observation rooms, and procuring any appropriate equipment needed to run the study (e.g. cameras, mobile devices).

Participants: Sourcing participants from internal / external databases, reaching out/scheduling participants, managing schedule changes.

Incentives: Find budget, identify incentive type (e.g. Amazon gift card? customer credit? gift baskets), and purchasing.

Assets: Building relevant designs / prototypes (with design or design technologists), creating interview / observation guides and other research tools needed for sessions (e.g. physical cards for in-person card sorts).

Legal & Procurement: Participant waivers or NDAs preparation to ensure they are sent in advance of the research session to participants, vendor procurement, and management.

If Research Operations exists within an organization, they will generally take on most of the load in this area. The researcher will focus on assets required for executing research, such as interview guides.

In some cases, vendors may be engaged for some of these requirements (e.g. labs, participants, and incentive management) if resourcing is not available internally or if a researcher wants a blinded study (i.e. the participant doesn't know what company is running the research). In this case, additional time is incorporated to brief, onboard, and get approvals to work with the vendor.

Step 5: Execute research

Now the researcher gets to research!

Researchers will generally aim to execute research activities for 1–2 weeks, depending on the methodology to ensure they can be efficient in execution. In some more longitudinal methods (e.g., diary studies), or if a participant type is harder to recruit, it may take longer.

In consumer research, there will usually be back up participants available in case of no shows. However, in business or enterprise research, researchers will engage will all recruited participants as participants will generally have relationships with other parts of the company (e.g. sales). It is essential to maintain those relationships post-research.

During sessions, in a perfect world, there is one facilitator (principal researcher). In some cases, a secondary attendee who takes notes – this can be a stakeholder or a more junior researcher who can then learn soft skills from the primary researcher. By delegating note-taking, the principal researcher can focus on driving and managing the participant's conversation.

However, in most cases (especially if there is a "research team of one"), researchers will try to have to do both facilitation and documentation – this can lead to a clunkier conversation as the facilitator attempts to quickly write notes between trying to think of the next question. If a researcher decides to record a session instead, they will have to spend additional time after the research listening to the full recordings and writing notes.

In qualitative research, researchers may begin to  see patterns in the findings after five sessions . They may start to tailor the research questions to be more specific to gaps in their understanding.

Researchers may also set up an observation room for stakeholders (or share links to remote sessions) to attend live. Generally, researchers will have a backchannel (e.g., slack, chat, or SMS), so if a stakeholder has a follow-up question to an answer, the researcher can dig deeper. In some cases, researchers will give stakeholders an input form to take their notes that can be shared with the researcher afterward - this can be useful for the researcher to understand how the stakeholder views the research and what the stakeholder perceives as necessary to the research insights.

Step 6: Synthesize and find insights

Once the research capture is complete, the researcher will then aggregate findings to begin to look for common themes (in exploratory) or success rates (in evaluative). Both of these will then lead to insight generation that researchers will then look to tie back to the project's original research goals.

As analysis can be one of the most high-effort tasks in research, researchers will lean towards how to be efficient in their study, generally using digital tools, hacks, or workarounds. Researchers will usually create the analysis process they refine throughout their careers to help them become more efficient.

In cases where researchers are looking to get buy-in for research or capture stakeholder input, they may seem to more visual approaches (e.g. post-it affinity analysis) in war rooms. This process can take longer to process (especially if there is a high volume of data). Still, there can be a higher impact on analyzing research in this way – especially if the researcher is looking to get buy-in for future projects.

Step 7: Create research outputs

After a researcher identifies the key themes and insights, the researcher will reframe these findings to a relevant research output to ensure that stakeholders understand and buy-in to the outcomes. Outputs may include:

Report: Outlines vital findings from research in a document or presentation format. Will most likely include an executive summary, insight themes, and supporting evidence.

Videos: A highlight reel of supporting evidence from crucial findings. Generally seen as more useful and engaging compared to just a report. In most cases, the video will help the research report.

Personas : A written representation of a product's intended users to understand different types of user goals, needs, and behaviors. Also used to help stakeholders build empathy for the end-user of the product.

Journey Map : A visualization of the process that a person goes through to accomplish a goal. Generally created in conjunction with a persona.

Concepts / Wireframes / Designs: If research is evaluative, designs can visualize recommendations.

Storyboarding

Before a researcher makes the output, researchers will spend time planning the structure and storyboarding. Storyboarding is incredibly essential to help researchers define information requirements and ensure they present their findings in the most impactful way to stakeholders.

Having a point of view in outputs

Historically, researchers have tried to stay neutral to the data and not try to have a strong opinion or perspective to let the data speak. However, as researchers become more embedded in the industry, this has shifted to stakeholders wanting a strong point of view or recommendations from researchers that can help other stakeholders (especially product managers and designers) decide the knowledge captured as part of the research.

Having a strong perspective helps researchers have a seat at the table and appear as a trusted advisor/partner in cross-functional settings.

Step 8: Share and follow up on findings

After the research outputs are complete, some researchers will do a "pre-share" or walkthrough with key stakeholders or potential detractors to the research. The purpose of these meetings is to align with stakeholders' expectations and find potential 'watch-outs' (things that may derail a presentation).

Researchers will generally have to share their findings out multiple times to different stakeholder groups and tailor them for each audience. For example, executive meetings will be more higher level than a meeting with a product manager.

After sharing, researchers will follow up with key stakeholders (especially those who provided input to the research) to confirm they understand the findings and identify next steps. Next steps may include incorporating results in product strategy documents, proposals / PRDs, or user stories to ensure that the recommendations or findings have been reflected or sourced.

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How to Do Qualitative Research

Last Updated: October 26, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jeremiah Kaplan . Jeremiah Kaplan is a Research and Training Specialist at the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy at Arizona State University. He has extensive knowledge and experience in motivational interviewing. In addition, Jeremiah has worked in the mental health, youth engagement, and trauma-informed care fields. Using his expertise, Jeremiah supervises Arizona State University’s Motivational Interviewing Coding Lab. Jeremiah has also been internationally selected to participate in the Motivational Interviewing International Network of Trainers sponsored Train the Trainer event. Jeremiah holds a BS in Human Services with a concentration in Family and Children from The University of Phoenix. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 745,257 times.

Qualitative research is a broad field of inquiry that uses unstructured data collections methods, such as observations, interviews, surveys and documents, to find themes and meanings to inform our understanding of the world. [1] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source Qualitative research tends to try to cover the reasons for behaviors, attitudes and motivations, instead of just the details of what, where and when. Qualitative research can be done across many disciplines, such as social sciences, healthcare and businesses, and it is a common feature of nearly every single workplace and educational environment.

Preparing Your Research

Step 1 Decide on a question you want to study.

  • The research questions is one of the most important pieces of your research design. It determines what you want to learn or understand and also helps to focus the study, since you can't investigate everything at once. Your research question will also shape how you conduct your study since different questions require different methods of inquiry.
  • You should start with a burning question and then narrow it down more to make it manageable enough to be researched effectively. For example, "what is the meaning of teachers' work to teachers" is too broad for a single research endeavor, but if that's what you're interested you could narrow it by limiting the type of teacher or focusing on one level of education. For example, "what is the meaning of teachers' work to second career teachers?" or "what is the meaning of teachers' work to junior high teachers?"

Tip: Find the balance between a burning question and a researchable question. The former is something you really want to know about and is often quite broad. The latter is one that can be directly investigated using available research methods and tools.

Step 2 Do a literature review.

  • For example, if your research question focuses on how second career teachers attribute meaning to their work, you would want to examine the literature on second career teaching - what motivates people to turn to teaching as a second career? How many teachers are in their second career? Where do most second career teachers work? Doing this reading and review of existing literature and research will help you refine your question and give you the base you need for your own research. It will also give you a sense of the variables that might impact your research (e.g., age, gender, class, etc.) and that you will need to take into consideration in your own study.
  • A literature review will also help you to determine whether you are really interested and committed to the topic and research question and that there is a gap in the existing research that you want to fill by conducting your own investigation.

Step 3 Evaluate whether qualitative research is the right fit for your research question.

For example, if your research question is "what is the meaning of teachers' work to second career teachers?" , that is not a question that can be answered with a 'yes' or 'no'. Nor is there likely to be a single overarching answer. This means that qualitative research is the best route.

Step 4 Consider your ideal sampling size.

  • Consider the possible outcomes. Because qualitative methodologies are generally quite broad, there is almost always the possibility that some useful data will come out of the research. This is different than in a quantitative experiment, where an unproven hypothesis can mean that a lot of time has been wasted.
  • Your research budget and available financial resources should also be considered. Qualitative research is often cheaper and easier to plan and execute. For example, it is usually easier and cost-saving to gather a small number of people for interviews than it is to purchase a computer program that can do statistical analysis and hire the appropriate statisticians.

Step 5 Choose a qualitative research methodology.

  • Action Research – Action research focuses on solving an immediate problem or working with others to solve problem and address particular issues. [7] X Research source
  • Ethnography – Ethnography is the study of human interaction in communities through direct participation and observation within the community you wish to study. Ethnographic research comes from the discipline of social and cultural anthropology but is now becoming more widely used. [8] X Research source
  • Phenomenology – Phenomenology is the study of the subjective experiences of others. It researches the world through the eyes of another person by discovering how they interpret their experiences. [9] X Research source
  • Grounded Theory – The purpose of grounded theory is to develop theory based on the data systematically collected and analyzed. It looks at specific information and derives theories and reasons for the phenomena.
  • Case Study Research – This method of qualitative study is an in-depth study of a specific individual or phenomena in its existing context. [10] X Research source

Collecting and Analyzing Your Data

Step 1 Collect your data.

  • Direct observation – Direct observation of a situation or your research subjects can occur through video tape playback or through live observation. In direct observation, you are making specific observations of a situation without influencing or participating in any way. [12] X Research source For example, perhaps you want to see how second career teachers go about their routines in and outside the classrooms and so you decide to observe them for a few days, being sure to get the requisite permission from the school, students and the teacher and taking careful notes along the way.
  • Participant observation – Participant observation is the immersion of the researcher in the community or situation being studied. This form of data collection tends to be more time consuming, as you need to participate fully in the community in order to know whether your observations are valid. [13] X Research source
  • Interviews – Qualitative interviewing is basically the process of gathering data by asking people questions. Interviewing can be very flexible - they can be on-on-one, but can also take place over the phone or Internet or in small groups called "focus groups". There are also different types of interviews. Structured interviews use pre-set questions, whereas unstructured interviews are more free-flowing conversations where the interviewer can probe and explore topics as they come up. Interviews are particularly useful if you want to know how people feel or react to something. For example, it would be very useful to sit down with second career teachers in either a structured or unstructured interview to gain information about how they represent and discuss their teaching careers.
  • Surveys – Written questionnaires and open ended surveys about ideas, perceptions, and thoughts are other ways by which you can collect data for your qualitative research. For example, in your study of second career schoolteachers, perhaps you decide to do an anonymous survey of 100 teachers in the area because you're concerned that they may be less forthright in an interview situation than in a survey where their identity was anonymous.
  • "Document analysis" – This involves examining written, visual, and audio documents that exist without any involvement of or instigation by the researcher. There are lots of different kinds of documents, including "official" documents produced by institutions and personal documents, like letters, memoirs, diaries and, in the 21st century, social media accounts and online blogs. For example, if studying education, institutions like public schools produce many different kinds of documents, including reports, flyers, handbooks, websites, curricula, etc. Maybe you can also see if any second career teachers have an online meet group or blog. Document analysis can often be useful to use in conjunction with another method, like interviewing.

Step 2 Analyze your data.

  • Coding – In coding, you assign a word, phrase, or number to each category. Start out with a pre-set list of codes that you derived from your prior knowledge of the subject. For example, "financial issues" or "community involvement" might be two codes you think of after having done your literature review of second career teachers. You then go through all of your data in a systematic way and "code" ideas, concepts and themes as they fit categories. You will also develop another set of codes that emerge from reading and analyzing the data. For example, you may see while coding your interviews, that "divorce" comes up frequently. You can add a code for this. Coding helps you organize your data and identify patterns and commonalities. [15] X Research source tobaccoeval.ucdavis.edu/analysis-reporting/.../CodingQualitativeData.pdf
  • Descriptive Statistics – You can analyze your data using statistics. Descriptive statistics help describe, show or summarize the data to highlight patterns. For example, if you had 100 principal evaluations of teachers, you might be interested in the overall performance of those students. Descriptive statistics allow you to do that. Keep in mind, however, that descriptive statistics cannot be used to make conclusions and confirm/disprove hypotheses. [16] X Research source
  • Narrative analysis – Narrative analysis focuses on speech and content, such as grammar, word usage, metaphors, story themes, meanings of situations, the social, cultural and political context of the narrative. [17] X Research source
  • Hermeneutic Analysis – Hermeneutic analysis focuses on the meaning of a written or oral text. Essentially, you are trying to make sense of the object of study and bring to light some sort of underlying coherence. [18] X Research source
  • Content analysis / Semiotic analysis – Content or semiotic analysis looks at texts or series of texts and looks for themes and meanings by looking at frequencies of words. Put differently, you try to identify structures and patterned regularities in the verbal or written text and then make inferences on the basis of these regularities. [19] X Research source For example, maybe you find the same words or phrases, like "second chance" or "make a difference," coming up in different interviews with second career teachers and decide to explore what this frequency might signify.

Step 3 Write up your research.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Qualitative research is often regarded as a precursor to quantitative research, which is a more logical and data-led approach which statistical, mathematical and/or computational techniques. Qualitative research is often used to generate possible leads and formulate a workable hypothesis that is then tested with quantitative methods. [20] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Try to remember the difference between qualitative and quantitative as each will give different data. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0

how to do hypothesis in qualitative research

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  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470395/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/conducting_research/writing_a_literature_review.html
  • ↑ https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/31/3/498/2384737?login=false
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275140/
  • ↑ http://www.qual.auckland.ac.nz/
  • ↑ http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualapp.php
  • ↑ http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualdata.php
  • ↑ tobaccoeval.ucdavis.edu/analysis-reporting/.../CodingQualitativeData.pdf
  • ↑ https://statistics.laerd.com/statistical-guides/descriptive-inferential-statistics.php
  • ↑ https://explorable.com/qualitative-research-design

About This Article

Jeremiah Kaplan

To do qualitative research, start by deciding on a clear, specific question that you want to answer. Then, do a literature review to see what other experts are saying about the topic, and evaluate how you will best be able to answer your question. Choose an appropriate qualitative research method, such as action research, ethnology, phenomenology, grounded theory, or case study research. Collect and analyze data according to your chosen method, determine the answer to your question. For tips on performing a literature review and picking a method for collecting data, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Qualitative Research: Getting Started

Introduction.

As scientifically trained clinicians, pharmacists may be more familiar and comfortable with the concept of quantitative rather than qualitative research. Quantitative research can be defined as “the means for testing objective theories by examining the relationship among variables which in turn can be measured so that numbered data can be analyzed using statistical procedures”. 1 Pharmacists may have used such methods to carry out audits or surveys within their own practice settings; if so, they may have had a sense of “something missing” from their data. What is missing from quantitative research methods is the voice of the participant. In a quantitative study, large amounts of data can be collected about the number of people who hold certain attitudes toward their health and health care, but what qualitative study tells us is why people have thoughts and feelings that might affect the way they respond to that care and how it is given (in this way, qualitative and quantitative data are frequently complementary). Possibly the most important point about qualitative research is that its practitioners do not seek to generalize their findings to a wider population. Rather, they attempt to find examples of behaviour, to clarify the thoughts and feelings of study participants, and to interpret participants’ experiences of the phenomena of interest, in order to find explanations for human behaviour in a given context.

WHAT IS QUALITATIVE RESEARCH?

Much of the work of clinicians (including pharmacists) takes place within a social, clinical, or interpersonal context where statistical procedures and numeric data may be insufficient to capture how patients and health care professionals feel about patients’ care. Qualitative research involves asking participants about their experiences of things that happen in their lives. It enables researchers to obtain insights into what it feels like to be another person and to understand the world as another experiences it.

Qualitative research was historically employed in fields such as sociology, history, and anthropology. 2 Miles and Huberman 2 said that qualitative data “are a source of well-grounded, rich descriptions and explanations of processes in identifiable local contexts. With qualitative data one can preserve chronological flow, see precisely which events lead to which consequences, and derive fruitful explanations.” Qualitative methods are concerned with how human behaviour can be explained, within the framework of the social structures in which that behaviour takes place. 3 So, in the context of health care, and hospital pharmacy in particular, researchers can, for example, explore how patients feel about their care, about their medicines, or indeed about “being a patient”.

THE IMPORTANCE OF METHODOLOGY

Smith 4 has described methodology as the “explanation of the approach, methods and procedures with some justification for their selection.” It is essential that researchers have robust theories that underpin the way they conduct their research—this is called “methodology”. It is also important for researchers to have a thorough understanding of various methodologies, to ensure alignment between their own positionality (i.e., bias or stance), research questions, and objectives. Clinicians may express reservations about the value or impact of qualitative research, given their perceptions that it is inherently subjective or biased, that it does not seek to be reproducible across different contexts, and that it does not produce generalizable findings. Other clinicians may express nervousness or hesitation about using qualitative methods, claiming that their previous “scientific” training and experience have not prepared them for the ambiguity and interpretative nature of qualitative data analysis. In both cases, these clinicians are depriving themselves of opportunities to understand complex or ambiguous situations, phenomena, or processes in a different way.

Qualitative researchers generally begin their work by recognizing that the position (or world view) of the researcher exerts an enormous influence on the entire research enterprise. Whether explicitly understood and acknowledged or not, this world view shapes the way in which research questions are raised and framed, methods selected, data collected and analyzed, and results reported. 5 A broad range of different methods and methodologies are available within the qualitative tradition, and no single review paper can adequately capture the depth and nuance of these diverse options. Here, given space constraints, we highlight certain options for illustrative purposes only, emphasizing that they are only a sample of what may be available to you as a prospective qualitative researcher. We encourage you to continue your own study of this area to identify methods and methodologies suitable to your questions and needs, beyond those highlighted here.

The following are some of the methodologies commonly used in qualitative research:

  • Ethnography generally involves researchers directly observing participants in their natural environments over time. A key feature of ethnography is the fact that natural settings, unadapted for the researchers’ interests, are used. In ethnography, the natural setting or environment is as important as the participants, and such methods have the advantage of explicitly acknowledging that, in the real world, environmental constraints and context influence behaviours and outcomes. 6 An example of ethnographic research in pharmacy might involve observations to determine how pharmacists integrate into family health teams. Such a study would also include collection of documents about participants’ lives from the participants themselves and field notes from the researcher. 7
  • Grounded theory, first described by Glaser and Strauss in 1967, 8 is a framework for qualitative research that suggests that theory must derive from data, unlike other forms of research, which suggest that data should be used to test theory. Grounded theory may be particularly valuable when little or nothing is known or understood about a problem, situation, or context, and any attempt to start with a hypothesis or theory would be conjecture at best. 9 An example of the use of grounded theory in hospital pharmacy might be to determine potential roles for pharmacists in a new or underserviced clinical area. As with other qualitative methodologies, grounded theory provides researchers with a process that can be followed to facilitate the conduct of such research. As an example, Thurston and others 10 used constructivist grounded theory to explore the availability of arthritis care among indigenous people of Canada and were able to identify a number of influences on health care for this population.
  • Phenomenology attempts to understand problems, ideas, and situations from the perspective of common understanding and experience rather than differences. 10 Phenomenology is about understanding how human beings experience their world. It gives researchers a powerful tool with which to understand subjective experience. In other words, 2 people may have the same diagnosis, with the same treatment prescribed, but the ways in which they experience that diagnosis and treatment will be different, even though they may have some experiences in common. Phenomenology helps researchers to explore those experiences, thoughts, and feelings and helps to elicit the meaning underlying how people behave. As an example, Hancock and others 11 used a phenomenological approach to explore health care professionals’ views of the diagnosis and management of heart failure since publication of an earlier study in 2003. Their findings revealed that barriers to effective treatment for heart failure had not changed in 10 years and provided a new understanding of why this was the case.

ROLE OF THE RESEARCHER

For any researcher, the starting point for research must be articulation of his or her research world view. This core feature of qualitative work is increasingly seen in quantitative research too: the explicit acknowledgement of one’s position, biases, and assumptions, so that readers can better understand the particular researcher. Reflexivity describes the processes whereby the act of engaging in research actually affects the process being studied, calling into question the notion of “detached objectivity”. Here, the researcher’s own subjectivity is as critical to the research process and output as any other variable. Applications of reflexivity may include participant-observer research, where the researcher is actually one of the participants in the process or situation being researched and must then examine it from these divergent perspectives. 12 Some researchers believe that objectivity is a myth and that attempts at impartiality will fail because human beings who happen to be researchers cannot isolate their own backgrounds and interests from the conduct of a study. 5 Rather than aspire to an unachievable goal of “objectivity”, it is better to simply be honest and transparent about one’s own subjectivities, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions about the interpretations that are presented through the research itself. For new (and experienced) qualitative researchers, an important first step is to step back and articulate your own underlying biases and assumptions. The following questions can help to begin this reflection process:

  • Why am I interested in this topic? To answer this question, try to identify what is driving your enthusiasm, energy, and interest in researching this subject.
  • What do I really think the answer is? Asking this question helps to identify any biases you may have through honest reflection on what you expect to find. You can then “bracket” those assumptions to enable the participants’ voices to be heard.
  • What am I getting out of this? In many cases, pressures to publish or “do” research make research nothing more than an employment requirement. How does this affect your interest in the question or its outcomes, or the depth to which you are willing to go to find information?
  • What do others in my professional community think of this work—and of me? As a researcher, you will not be operating in a vacuum; you will be part of a complex social and interpersonal world. These external influences will shape your views and expectations of yourself and your work. Acknowledging this influence and its potential effects on personal behaviour will facilitate greater self-scrutiny throughout the research process.

FROM FRAMEWORKS TO METHODS

Qualitative research methodology is not a single method, but instead offers a variety of different choices to researchers, according to specific parameters of topic, research question, participants, and settings. The method is the way you carry out your research within the paradigm of quantitative or qualitative research.

Qualitative research is concerned with participants’ own experiences of a life event, and the aim is to interpret what participants have said in order to explain why they have said it. Thus, methods should be chosen that enable participants to express themselves openly and without constraint. The framework selected by the researcher to conduct the research may direct the project toward specific methods. From among the numerous methods used by qualitative researchers, we outline below the three most frequently encountered.

DATA COLLECTION

Patton 12 has described an interview as “open-ended questions and probes yielding in-depth responses about people’s experiences, perceptions, opinions, feelings, and knowledge. Data consists of verbatim quotations and sufficient content/context to be interpretable”. Researchers may use a structured or unstructured interview approach. Structured interviews rely upon a predetermined list of questions framed algorithmically to guide the interviewer. This approach resists improvisation and following up on hunches, but has the advantage of facilitating consistency between participants. In contrast, unstructured or semistructured interviews may begin with some defined questions, but the interviewer has considerable latitude to adapt questions to the specific direction of responses, in an effort to allow for more intuitive and natural conversations between researchers and participants. Generally, you should continue to interview additional participants until you have saturated your field of interest, i.e., until you are not hearing anything new. The number of participants is therefore dependent on the richness of the data, though Miles and Huberman 2 suggested that more than 15 cases can make analysis complicated and “unwieldy”.

Focus Groups

Patton 12 has described the focus group as a primary means of collecting qualitative data. In essence, focus groups are unstructured interviews with multiple participants, which allow participants and a facilitator to interact freely with one another and to build on ideas and conversation. This method allows for the collection of group-generated data, which can be a challenging experience.

Observations

Patton 12 described observation as a useful tool in both quantitative and qualitative research: “[it involves] descriptions of activities, behaviours, actions, conversations, interpersonal interactions, organization or community processes or any other aspect of observable human experience”. Observation is critical in both interviews and focus groups, as nonalignment between verbal and nonverbal data frequently can be the result of sarcasm, irony, or other conversational techniques that may be confusing or open to interpretation. Observation can also be used as a stand-alone tool for exploring participants’ experiences, whether or not the researcher is a participant in the process.

Selecting the most appropriate and practical method is an important decision and must be taken carefully. Those unfamiliar with qualitative research may assume that “anyone” can interview, observe, or facilitate a focus group; however, it is important to recognize that the quality of data collected through qualitative methods is a direct reflection of the skills and competencies of the researcher. 13 The hardest thing to do during an interview is to sit back and listen to participants. They should be doing most of the talking—it is their perception of their own life-world that the researcher is trying to understand. Sophisticated interpersonal skills are required, in particular the ability to accurately interpret and respond to the nuanced behaviour of participants in various settings. More information about the collection of qualitative data may be found in the “Further Reading” section of this paper.

It is essential that data gathered during interviews, focus groups, and observation sessions are stored in a retrievable format. The most accurate way to do this is by audio-recording (with the participants’ permission). Video-recording may be a useful tool for focus groups, because the body language of group members and how they interact can be missed with audio-recording alone. Recordings should be transcribed verbatim and checked for accuracy against the audio- or video-recording, and all personally identifiable information should be removed from the transcript. You are then ready to start your analysis.

DATA ANALYSIS

Regardless of the research method used, the researcher must try to analyze or make sense of the participants’ narratives. This analysis can be done by coding sections of text, by writing down your thoughts in the margins of transcripts, or by making separate notes about the data collection. Coding is the process by which raw data (e.g., transcripts from interviews and focus groups or field notes from observations) are gradually converted into usable data through the identification of themes, concepts, or ideas that have some connection with each other. It may be that certain words or phrases are used by different participants, and these can be drawn together to allow the researcher an opportunity to focus findings in a more meaningful manner. The researcher will then give the words, phrases, or pieces of text meaningful names that exemplify what the participants are saying. This process is referred to as “theming”. Generating themes in an orderly fashion out of the chaos of transcripts or field notes can be a daunting task, particularly since it may involve many pages of raw data. Fortunately, sophisticated software programs such as NVivo (QSR International Pty Ltd) now exist to support researchers in converting data into themes; familiarization with such software supports is of considerable benefit to researchers and is strongly recommended. Manual coding is possible with small and straightforward data sets, but the management of qualitative data is a complexity unto itself, one that is best addressed through technological and software support.

There is both an art and a science to coding, and the second checking of themes from data is well advised (where feasible) to enhance the face validity of the work and to demonstrate reliability. Further reliability-enhancing mechanisms include “member checking”, where participants are given an opportunity to actually learn about and respond to the researchers’ preliminary analysis and coding of data. Careful documentation of various iterations of “coding trees” is important. These structures allow readers to understand how and why raw data were converted into a theme and what rules the researcher is using to govern inclusion or exclusion of specific data within or from a theme. Coding trees may be produced iteratively: after each interview, the researcher may immediately code and categorize data into themes to facilitate subsequent interviews and allow for probing with subsequent participants as necessary. At the end of the theming process, you will be in a position to tell the participants’ stories illustrated by quotations from your transcripts. For more information on different ways to manage qualitative data, see the “Further Reading” section at the end of this paper.

ETHICAL ISSUES

In most circumstances, qualitative research involves human beings or the things that human beings produce (documents, notes, etc.). As a result, it is essential that such research be undertaken in a manner that places the safety, security, and needs of participants at the forefront. Although interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires may seem innocuous and “less dangerous” than taking blood samples, it is important to recognize that the way participants are represented in research can be significantly damaging. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the potential participants when designing your research and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the requests you are making of potential participants reasonable?
  • Are you putting them at unnecessary risk or inconvenience?
  • Have you identified and addressed the specific needs of particular groups?

Where possible, attempting anonymization of data is strongly recommended, bearing in mind that true anonymization may be difficult, as participants can sometimes be recognized from their stories. Balancing the responsibility to report findings accurately and honestly with the potential harm to the participants involved can be challenging. Advice on the ethical considerations of research is generally available from research ethics boards and should be actively sought in these challenging situations.

GETTING STARTED

Pharmacists may be hesitant to embark on research involving qualitative methods because of a perceived lack of skills or confidence. Overcoming this barrier is the most important first step, as pharmacists can benefit from inclusion of qualitative methods in their research repertoire. Partnering with others who are more experienced and who can provide mentorship can be a valuable strategy. Reading reports of research studies that have utilized qualitative methods can provide insights and ideas for personal use; such papers are routinely included in traditional databases accessed by pharmacists. Engaging in dialogue with members of a research ethics board who have qualitative expertise can also provide useful assistance, as well as saving time during the ethics review process itself. The references at the end of this paper may provide some additional support to allow you to begin incorporating qualitative methods into your research.

CONCLUSIONS

Qualitative research offers unique opportunities for understanding complex, nuanced situations where interpersonal ambiguity and multiple interpretations exist. Qualitative research may not provide definitive answers to such complex questions, but it can yield a better understanding and a springboard for further focused work. There are multiple frameworks, methods, and considerations involved in shaping effective qualitative research. In most cases, these begin with self-reflection and articulation of positionality by the researcher. For some, qualitative research may appear commonsensical and easy; for others, it may appear daunting, given its high reliance on direct participant– researcher interactions. For yet others, qualitative research may appear subjective, unscientific, and consequently unreliable. All these perspectives reflect a lack of understanding of how effective qualitative research actually occurs. When undertaken in a rigorous manner, qualitative research provides unique opportunities for expanding our understanding of the social and clinical world that we inhabit.

Further Reading

  • Breakwell GM, Hammond S, Fife-Schaw C, editors. Research methods in psychology. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications Ltd; 1995. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Strauss A, Corbin J. Basics of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications Ltd; 1998. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Willig C. Introducing qualitative research in psychology. Buckingham (UK): Open University Press; 2001. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Guest G, Namey EE, Mitchel ML. Collecting qualitative data: a field manual for applied research. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications Ltd; 2013. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Ogden R. Bias. In: Given LM, editor. The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications Inc; 2008. pp. 61–2. [ Google Scholar ]

This article is the seventh in the CJHP Research Primer Series, an initiative of the CJHP Editorial Board and the CSHP Research Committee. The planned 2-year series is intended to appeal to relatively inexperienced researchers, with the goal of building research capacity among practising pharmacists. The articles, presenting simple but rigorous guidance to encourage and support novice researchers, are being solicited from authors with appropriate expertise.

Previous article in this series:

Bond CM. The research jigsaw: how to get started. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(1):28–30.

Tully MP. Research: articulating questions, generating hypotheses, and choosing study designs. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(1):31–4.

Loewen P. Ethical issues in pharmacy practice research: an introductory guide. Can J Hosp Pharm. 2014;67(2):133–7.

Tsuyuki RT. Designing pharmacy practice research trials. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(3):226–9.

Bresee LC. An introduction to developing surveys for pharmacy practice research. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(4):286–91.

Gamble JM. An introduction to the fundamentals of cohort and case–control studies. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(5):366–72.

Competing interests: None declared.

how to do hypothesis in qualitative research

9 methodologies for a successful qualitative research assignment

Qualitative research is important in the educational and scientific domains. It enables a deeper understanding of phenomena, experiences, and context. Many researchers employ such research activities in the fields of history, sociology, and anthropology. For such researchers, learning quality analysis insights is crucial. This way, they can perform well throughout their research journey. Writing a qualitative research assignment is one such way to practice qualitative interpretations. When students address various qualitative questions in these projects, they become efficient in conducting these activities at a higher level, such as for a master’s or Ph.D. thesis.

The FormPlus highlights why researchers prefer qualitative research over quantitative research. It is faster, scientific, objective, focused, and acceptable. Researchers who don’t know what to expect from the research outcomes usually choose qualitative research. In this guide, we will discuss the top methodologies that students can employ while writing their qualitative research assignments. This way, you can write an appealing document that perfectly demonstrates your qualitative research skills.

However, being stressed with academic and daily life commitments, if you find it challenging to manage time exclusively for such projects, availing of assignment writing services can make it manageable. Instead of doing anything wrong in the hustle, get it done by the professionals specifically working to handle these academic write-ups. Now, let’s define quality research before we discuss the actual topic.

What is meant by qualitative research?

Quality research is a market research method that gathers data from conversational and open-ended communication. In simple words, it is about what people think and why they think so. It relates to the nature or standard of something rather than dealing with its quantity. Such researchers collect nonnumerical data to understand opinions, concepts, and ideas.

How do you write a qualitative research assignment? Top 9 methodologies

Writing an assignment requires your command of various tasks. Qualitative research assignment design involves research, writing, structuring, and providing citations of the resources used. Assignment writing plays a crucial role in upgrading your grades.

So, you must make it accurate and authentic. Write it with the utmost care without skipping any important aspects. Sometimes, it can be hard, but it becomes easy if you correctly use effective methodologies. This is why we have brought together some of the common methodologies you can use to write your qualitative research assignments.

1. Interviews

A qualitative interview is mostly used in projects that involve market research. In this study personal interaction is required to collect in-depth information of the participants. In qualitative research for assignment, consider the interview as a personal form of research agenda rather than a focused group study. A qualitative interview requires careful planning so that you can gather meaningful data.

Here are the simple steps to consider for its implementation in a qualitative research assignment:

  • Define research objectives.
  • Identify the target population.
  • Obtain informed consent of participants.
  • Make an interview guideline.
  • Select a suitable location.
  • Conduct the interview.
  • Show respect for participant’s perspectives.
  • Analyse the data.

2. Observation

In qualitative observation, the researcher gathers data from five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. It is a subject approach that depends on the sensory organ of the researcher. This method allows you to better understand the culture, process, and people under study. Some of its characteristics to consider for writing a qualitative research assignment include,

  • It is a naturalistic inquiry of the participants in a natural environment.
  • This approach is subjective and depends on the researcher’s observation.
  • It does not seek a definite answer to a query.
  • The researcher can recognise their own biases when compiling findings.

3. Questionnaires

In this type of survey, the researcher asks open-ended questions to participants. This way, they price the long written or typed document. In writing qualitative research assignments, these questions aim to reveal the participants’ narratives and experiences. Once you know what type of information you need, you can start curating your questionnaire form. The questions must be specific and clear enough that the participants can comprehend them.

Below are the main points that must be considered when creating qualitative research questionnaires.

  • Avoid jargon and ambiguity in the questions.
  • Each question should contribute to the research objectives.
  • Use simple language.
  • The questions should be neutral and unbiased.
  • Be precise, as the complex questions can overwhelm the respondents.
  • Always conduct a pilot test.
  • Put yourself in the respondent’s shoes while asking questions.

4. Case Study

A case study is a detailed analysis of a person, place, thing, organisation, or phenomenon. This method is appropriate when you want to gain a contextual, concrete, and in-depth understanding of the real-world problem for writing your qualitative research assignment. This method is especially helpful when you need more time to conduct large-scale research activities.

The four crucial steps below can be followed up with this methodology.

  • Select a case that has the potential to provide new and unexpected insights into the subject.
  • Make a theoretical framework.
  • Collect your data from various primary and secondary resources.
  • Describe and analyse the case to provide a clear picture of the subject.

5. Focus Groups

Focused group research has some interesting properties. In this method, a planned interview is conducted within a small group. For this purpose, some of the participants are sampled from the study population to record data for writing a qualitative research assignment. Typically, a focused group has features like,

  • At least four to ten participants must meet for up to two hours.
  • There must be a facilitator who can guide the discussion by asking open-ended questions.
  • The emphasis must be put on the group discussion rather than the discussion of the group members with the facilitator.
  • The discussion should be recorded and transcribed by the researchers.

6. Ethnographic Research

It is the most in-depth research method that involves studying people in their natural environment. It requires the researcher to adopt the target audience environment. The environment can be anything from an organisation to a city or any remote location.

However, the geographical constraints can be a problem in this study. For students who are writing their qualitative research assignment, some of the features of ethnographic research to write in their document include,

  • The researcher can get a more realistic picture of the study.
  • It uncovers extremely valuable insights.
  • Provides accurate predictions.
  • You can extend the observation to create more in-depth data.
  • You can interact with people within a particular context.

7. Record Keeping

This method is similar to going to the library to collect data from books. You consult various relayed books, note the important points, and take note of the referencing. So, the researcher uses already existing data rather than introducing new things in the field.

Later on, this data can be used to conduct new research. Yet, when faced with the vast resources available in your institution’s library, seeking assistance from UK-based assignment writing services is an excellent solution if you need help pinpointing the most relevant information for your topic. Proficient in data gathering and adept at structuring qualitative research assignments, these professionals can significantly elevate your academic results.

This method is mostly used by companies to understand a group of customers’ behaviour, characteristics, and motivation. It allows respondents to ask in-depth questions about their experience. In a business market, it helps you understand how your customers make decisions. The intent is to understand them at their level and make related changes in your setup. The researcher must ask generic and precise questions that have a clear purpose.

Consider the below examples of qualitative survey questions. It can be useful in recording data and writing qualitative research assignments.

  • Why did you buy this skin care product?
  • What is the overall narrative of this brand?
  • How do you feel after buying this product?
  • What sets this brand apart from others?
  • How will this product fulfil your needs?
  • What are the things that you expect from this brand to grant you?

9. Action Research

This method involves collaboration and empowerment of the participants. It is mostly appropriate for marginalised groups where there is no flexibility.

The primary characteristics of the action research that can be quoted in your qualitative research assignment include,

  • It is action-oriented, and participants are actively involved in the research.
  • There is a collaborative process between participants and researchers.
  • The nature of action research is flexible to the changing situation.

However, the survey also accompanies some of the limitations, including,

  • The researcher can misinterpret the open-ended questions.
  • The data ownership between the researcher and participants needs to be negotiated.
  • The ethical considerations must be kept.
  • It is not considered a scientific method as it is fluid in data collection. Consequently, it may not attract the finding.

What is the difference between quantitative and qualitative research?

Both research types share the common aim of knowledge acquisition. In quantitative research, the use of numbers and objective measures is used. It seeks answers to questions like when and where.

On the other hand, in qualitative research, the researcher is concerned with subjective phenomena. Such data can’t be numerically measured. For example, you might conduct a survey to analyse how different people experience grief.

What are the 4 types of qualitative research?

There are various types of qualitative research. It may include,

● Phenomenological studies:

It examines the human experience via description provided by the people involved. These are the lived experiences of the people. It is usually used in research areas where little knowledge is known.

● Ethnographic studies:

It involves the analysis of data about cultural groups. In such analysis, the researcher mostly lives with different communities and becomes part of their culture to provide solid interpretations.

● Grounded theory studies:

In this qualitative approach, the researcher collects and analyses the data. Later on, a theory is developed that is grounded in the data. It used both inductive and deductive approaches for theory development.

● Historical studies:

It is concerned with the location, identification, evaluation, and synthesis of data from the past. These researchers are not concerned with discovering past events but with relating these events to the present happenings.

The Research Gate provides a flow chart illustrating various qualitative research methods.

What are The 7 characteristics of qualitative research?

The following are some of the distinct features of qualitative research. You can write about them in your qualitative research assignment, as they are collected from reliable sources.

  • It can even capture the changing attitude within the target group.
  • It is beyond the limitations associated with quantitative research
  • It explains something that numbers alone can’t describe.
  • It is a flexible approach to improve the outcomes.
  • A researcher is not supposed to become more speculative about the results.
  • This approach is more targeted.
  • It keeps the cost of data collection down.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative research?

The pros of qualitative research can’t be denied. However, some cons are also associated with this research.

  • Explore attitudes and behaviours in depth.
  • It encourages discussions for better results.
  • Generate descriptive data that can formulate new theories.
  • The small sample size can be a problem.
  • Bias in the sample collection.
  • Lack of privacy if you are covering a sensitive topic.

Qualitative research assignment examples

The Afe Babalola University ePortal provides an example of a qualitative assignment. Here is the description of quality questions and related answers. You can get an idea about how to handle your quality research assignment project with this sample.

The questions asked in the paper are displayed below.

The Slide Team presents a template for further compressing other details, such as the qualitative research assignment template. You can use it to make your presentation look professional.

Writing a qualitative research assignment is crucial, especially if you want to engage in research activities for your master’s thesis. Most researchers choose this method because of the associated credibility and reliability of the results. In the above guide, we have discussed some of the prominent features of this method. All of the given data can help you in writing your assignments. We have discussed the benefits of each methodology and a brief account of how you can carry it.

However, even after going through this whole guideline, if the concepts of the Qualitative Research methods assignment seem ambiguous and you think you can’t write a good project, then ask professional to “ write my assignment .” These experts can consult the best sources for the data collection of your project. Consequently, they will deliver you the winning document that can stand out among other write-ups.

how to do hypothesis in qualitative research

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  1. 13 Different Types of Hypothesis (2024)

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  2. Examples of how to write a qualitative research question

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  3. How to Write a Hypothesis

    how to do hypothesis in qualitative research

  4. How to Write a Hypothesis

    how to do hypothesis in qualitative research

  5. 😍 How to formulate a hypothesis in research. How to Formulate

    how to do hypothesis in qualitative research

  6. Research Hypothesis: Definition, Types, Examples and Quick Tips

    how to do hypothesis in qualitative research

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  1. Hypothesis

  2. Hypothesis Tests and Dependent T Tests

  3. Types of Hypothesis #hypothesis #research

  4. Research Methods

  5. THE RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS-ACADEMIC RESEARCH WRITING BASIC GUIDELINES

  6. What is Hypothesis? And it's types. #hypothesis

COMMENTS

  1. A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research Questions and Hypotheses in Scholarly Articles

    Hypothesis-generating (Qualitative hypothesis-generating research) - Qualitative research uses inductive reasoning. - This involves data collection from study participants or the literature regarding a phenomenon of interest, using the collected data to develop a formal hypothesis, and using the formal hypothesis as a framework for testing the ...

  2. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    Developing a hypothesis (with example) Step 1. Ask a question. Writing a hypothesis begins with a research question that you want to answer. The question should be focused, specific, and researchable within the constraints of your project. Example: Research question.

  3. PDF Research Questions and Hypotheses

    The word why often implies that the researcher is trying to explain why something occurs, and this suggests to me a cause-and-effect type of thinking that I associate with quantitative research instead of the more open and emerging stance of qualitative research. Focus on a single phenomenon or concept.

  4. What is a Research Hypothesis: How to Write it, Types, and Examples

    It seeks to explore and understand a particular aspect of the research subject. In contrast, a research hypothesis is a specific statement or prediction that suggests an expected relationship between variables. It is formulated based on existing knowledge or theories and guides the research design and data analysis. 7.

  5. Research Hypothesis: Definition, Types, Examples and Quick Tips

    3. Simple hypothesis. A simple hypothesis is a statement made to reflect the relation between exactly two variables. One independent and one dependent. Consider the example, "Smoking is a prominent cause of lung cancer." The dependent variable, lung cancer, is dependent on the independent variable, smoking. 4.

  6. Planning Qualitative Research: Design and Decision Making for New

    Qualitative research draws from interpretivist and constructivist paradigms, seeking to deeply understand a research subject rather than predict outcomes, as in the positivist paradigm (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011).Interpretivism seeks to build knowledge from understanding individuals' unique viewpoints and the meaning attached to those viewpoints (Creswell & Poth, 2018).

  7. Chapter 1. Introduction

    Although qualitative research studies can and often do change and develop over the course of data collection, it is important to have a good idea of what the aims and goals of your study are at the outset and a good plan of how to achieve those aims and goals. ... The positing of a hypothesis is often the first step in quantitative research but ...

  8. Qualitative Study

    Qualitative research is a type of research that explores and provides deeper insights into real-world problems.[1] Instead of collecting numerical data points or intervene or introduce treatments just like in quantitative research, qualitative research helps generate hypotheses as well as further investigate and understand quantitative data. Qualitative research gathers participants ...

  9. What Is Qualitative Research?

    Qualitative research involves collecting and analyzing non-numerical data (e.g., text, video, or audio) to understand concepts, opinions, or experiences. It can be used to gather in-depth insights into a problem or generate new ideas for research. Qualitative research is the opposite of quantitative research, which involves collecting and ...

  10. How to use and assess qualitative research methods

    Abstract. This paper aims to provide an overview of the use and assessment of qualitative research methods in the health sciences. Qualitative research can be defined as the study of the nature of phenomena and is especially appropriate for answering questions of why something is (not) observed, assessing complex multi-component interventions ...

  11. How to Determine the Hypothesis in a Qualitative Study?

    First, stating a prior hypothesis that is to be tested deductively is quite rare in qualitative research. One way this can be done is to divide the the total set of participants into so ...

  12. What is a Research Hypothesis and How to Write a Hypothesis

    The steps to write a research hypothesis are: 1. Stating the problem: Ensure that the hypothesis defines the research problem 2. Writing a hypothesis as an 'if-then' statement: Include the action and the expected outcome of your study by following a 'if-then' structure. 3.

  13. 7.4 Qualitative Research

    Qualitative research is an important alternative to quantitative research in psychology. It generally involves asking broader research questions, collecting more detailed data (e.g., interviews), and using nonstatistical analyses. Many researchers conceptualize quantitative and qualitative research as complementary and advocate combining them.

  14. Publications

    The focus of this article is on a qualitative research hypothesis. In qualitative research, it is common to investigate research hypotheses that can be viewed in three possible ways: Attributive (meant to describe a scenario, situation or event), associative (meant to predict an outcome) and causal (meant to create an understanding of ...

  15. The Role of Hypothesis Testing in Qualitative Research. A Researcher

    The problem here is with. the term test. Normally, in quantitative research designs, testing. hypotheses involves manipulating variables so as to isolate specific factors and observe their effect on learning outcomes. Thus, the researcher needs to hypothesize what the significant relationships are before the research.

  16. The Qualitative Research Process: Step-by-Step Guide

    Step 2: Identify how to research it. Once the researcher has finalized the research project, they will need to figure out how they will do the work. Firstly, the researcher will look through secondary data and research (e.g. analytics, previous research reports). Secondary analysis will help determine if there are existing answers to any of the ...

  17. Deductive Qualitative Analysis: Evaluating, Expanding, and Refining

    Deductive qualitative analysis (DQA; Gilgun, 2005) is a specific approach to deductive qualitative research intended to systematically test, refine, or refute theory by integrating deductive and inductive strands of inquiry.The purpose of the present paper is to provide a primer on the basic principles and practices of DQA and to exemplify the methodology using two studies that were conducted ...

  18. Formulating Hypotheses for Different Study Designs

    Formulating Hypotheses for Different Study Designs. Generating a testable working hypothesis is the first step towards conducting original research. Such research may prove or disprove the proposed hypothesis. Case reports, case series, online surveys and other observational studies, clinical trials, and narrative reviews help to generate ...

  19. Testing Hypotheses on Qualitative Data: The Use of Hyper Research

    The article discusses the theoretical and data analysis implications of using the Hypothesis Tester for qualitative research. Future additions to the program are presented that promise to revolutionize the way that qualitative research is conducted. Get full access to this article.

  20. Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research

    When collecting and analyzing data, quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings. Both are important for gaining different kinds of knowledge. Quantitative research. Quantitative research is expressed in numbers and graphs. It is used to test or confirm theories and assumptions.

  21. How to Do Qualitative Research

    1. Collect your data. Each of the research methodologies has uses one or more techniques to collect empirical data, including interviews, participant observation, fieldwork, archival research, documentary materials, etc. The form of data collection will depend on the research methodology.

  22. Qualitative Research: Getting Started

    Qualitative research was historically employed in fields such as sociology, ... and any attempt to start with a hypothesis or theory would be conjecture at best. 9 An example of the use of grounded theory in hospital pharmacy might be to determine potential roles for pharmacists in a new or underserviced clinical area. As with other qualitative ...

  23. 9 methodologies for a successful qualitative research assignment

    Conduct the interview. Show respect for participant's perspectives. Analyse the data. 2. Observation. It is a naturalistic inquiry of the participants in a natural environment. This approach is ...

  24. Case Study Methodology of Qualitative Research: Key Attributes and

    A case study is one of the most commonly used methodologies of social research. This article attempts to look into the various dimensions of a case study research strategy, the different epistemological strands which determine the particular case study type and approach adopted in the field, discusses the factors which can enhance the effectiveness of a case study research, and the debate ...

  25. SOLVED: The Marketing Vice President (VP) is now ready to ...

    Assignment: You work in the Market Research department of a Consumer Packaged Goods company which is looking to launch a new energy drink to college students. The Marketing team has asked you to conduct research to determine the size of the market, determine the feasibility of launching the product, and present a final recommendation.