Qualitative research

Date of publication: September 1, 1998

Author: Mary Goodyear


"Qualitative research is: a) an attempt to capture the sense that lies within, and that structures what we say about what we do; b) an exploration, elaboration and systemisation of the significance of an identified phenomenon; c) the illuminative representation of the meaning of a delimited issue or problem" (Bannister et al 1994). Qualitative research is commonly defined in terms of its relation to quantitative research; where quantitative research measures, and answers questions like ‘How many, how often, what proportion, what size ...?’, qualitative research leads to understanding and answers questions like ‘Why did, how can, in what way...?". Like quantitative research, it consists of many different types of practice and methodological approach: it is eclectic, some would say a ‘rag bag’ of disciplines and theoretical frameworks.

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