Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research involves the use of words and observations as data, rather than numbers. It seeks to answer the “why” rather than the “how” question. That is to say, it seeks to gain insight into human behavior, attitudes, motivations, values and culture in order to explain why people do what they do. While quantitative analysis can provide data to show what people are doing, it generally has more difficulty in establishing causality and thus explaining why they are doing it. In qualitative analysis, data usually comes in the form of texts, narratives or sometimes from observations. This data can come from interviews, open-ended questionnaires, discussions, observed interactions and behaviors, personal accounts of experiences or documents ranging from letters, diaries or works of literature to press reports, official government documents and academic studies. For this reason, qualitative analysis typically provides insight into the reasons behind actions. This module will illustrate the five steps critical to qualitative analysis – capture and analyze data, develop and research objective, categorize the data, identify patterns and connections, and interpret data – and will leave you with the ability to discern between the benefits of using either quantitative or qualitative analysis.

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