How to design a qualitative research?

“A research design is a plan for collecting and analyzing evidence that will make it possible for the investigator to answer whatever questions he or she has posed” (Ragin, 1994, p. 1919) This definition leads to a number of steps that every researcher must follow:

1º Formulate a research question. Every inquiry always starts by a question. This question represents certain problem. “Why unemployment is higher in southern countries than in northern countries?”Why my company sales have dropped over the last years?” As it was covered in a previous post, research questions are normally headed by a interrogative particles like “what is”, “what type”, “how frequent”, “what are the causes”, “what are its consequences”, “what are people´s”, etc.

2º Secondly, you must describe how you are going to collect the information required to answer the research question. Concretely, you should account for the techniques to be applied and sampling. Regarding the former one, think over which techniques best applied for you, interviews? focus group?, observation? (Have a look here to those posted earlier) On the other hand sampling is concerned with the selection of a subset of individuals from within a statistical population. Bear in mind that such qualitative techniques as interviews or focus group do not require representativeness like survey does. In other words, the number of cases selected doesn´t allow doing generalizations to the whole population.

3º Finally, every research design should include a plan for analyzing data. If a quantitative design would likely include such analysis techniques as statistical test, absolute and relative frequencies, graphics or tables, a qualitative one generally deals with such techniques as categorizations, summaries, ranking of relevance (see here further info about categorizations here) However, take into account that in some cases, data obtained by mean qualitative techniques may be quantify. Actually, there are software as CAQDAS or Sonal (the latter is a free software) specially set to do it.

References

Flick, U. (2009) An introduction to qualitative research Sage Publications Limited

Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009

Ragin, C. C. (1994). Introduction to qualitative comparative analysis. The comparative political economy of the welfare state, 299, 300-9.

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