Qualitative Research

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Qualitative research as defined by Shank (2002) is a form of systematic, empirical inquiry into meaning, which simplified as a planned, ordered, and public way of how researchers try to understand what others make sense of when going through a certain experience. It is a field of inquiry in its own right, and it crosscuts fields, disciplines and subject matter (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000). Qualitative research involves an interpretive and naturalistic approach, meaning that qualitative researchers always study things in their natural environment, in an attempt to interpret and make sense of a phenomena in terms of the meanings people annotated with it (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000; Ospina, 2004). This distinguishes it with quantitative research, where studies are carried out in a controlled condition (Chesebro and Borisoff, 2007). Qualitative research embraces uncertainty, context, rich or thick description, and a range of approaches towards the analysis, all of which are oriented to pursuing meaning (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000; Shank, 2002). However, quantitative research is more statistical, has a specific goal to focus on, or specific hypothesis to test on (Chesebro and Borisoff, 2007). Qualitative researchers also are focused on the understanding of the process, context and would employ a few methods such as interviews, observations, photographs and artifacts to interpret and understand the world (Parker, 2003), similar to a ‘bottom-up’ approach, while quantitative research is more narrow, and seemingly like a ‘top-down’ approach (Chesebro and Borisoff, 2007).

There are four major types of qualitative research: phenomenology, ethnography, grounded theory, and case study. According to Cepeda and Martin (2005), phenomenology is ‘a qualitative research approach concerned with understanding certain group behaviours from that group’s point of view’. In phenomenology research, researchers often try to gain access to individuals’ world of experience. Phenomenological...