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Qualitative research is a field of inquiry that crosscuts disciplines and subject matters. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern human behavior. Qualitative research relies on reasons behind various aspects of behavior. Simply put, it investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, and when. Hence, the need is for smaller but focused samples rather than large random samples, which qualitative research categorizes data into patterns as the primary basis for organizing and reporting results.  Qualitative researchers typically rely on four methods for gathering information: (1) participation in the setting, (2) direct observation, (3) in depth interviews, and (4) analysis of documents and materials .
The term qualitative research is most often used in the social sciences in contrast to quantitative research.
Qualitative research was one of the first forms of social studies (conducted e.g. by Bronisław Malinowski or Elton Mayo), but in the 1950s and 1960s when quantitative science reached its peak of popularity, it was diminished in importance and began to regain recognition as late as in the 1970s. The phrase 'qualitative research' was until then restricted as a discipline of anthropology or sociology, and terms like ethnography, fieldwork, participant observation and Chicago school (sociology) were used instead. During the 1970s and 1980s qualitative research began to be used in other disciplines, and became a significant type of research in the fields of education studies, social work studies, women's studies, disability studies, information studies, management studies, nursing service studies, human service studies, psychology, communication studies, and other. Some qualitative research occurred in the consumer products industry during this period: researchers most interested in investigating consumer new product and product positioning opportunities worked with a handful of the earliest consumer research pioneers including Gene Reilly of The Gene Reilly Group in Darien, CT, Jerry Schoenfeld of Gerald Schoenfeld & Partners in Tarrytown, NY and Martin Calle of Calle & Company, Greenwich, CT. In the late 1980s and 1990s after a spate of criticisms from the quantitative side, paralleling a slowdown in traditional media spending for the decade, new methods of qualitative research evolved, to address the perceived problems with reliability and imprecise modes of data analysis.
One way of differentiating Qualitative research from Quantitative research is that largely Qualitative research is exploratory, while Quantitative research hopes to be conclusive. However it may be argued that each reflects a particular discourse; neither being definitively more conclusive or 'true' than the other. Quantitative data are of the kind that may lead to measurement or other kinds of analysis involving applied mathematics, while Qualitative data cannot necessarily be put into a context that can be graphed or displayed as a mathematical term.
Qualitative researchers may use different approaches, such as the grounded theory practice, narratology, storytelling, classical ethnography, or shadowing. Qualitative methods are also loosely present in other methodological approaches, such as action research or actor-network theory.
Contemporary qualitative studies are sometimes supported by computer programs, such as MAXQDA and NVivo, although the benefits of software use are mainly in storing and segregating data, rather than in processing or analyzing them.
Although it is common in the social sciences to draw a distinction between qualitative and quantitative aspects of scientific investigation, it has been argued that the two may go hand in hand. For example, based on analysis of the history of science, Kuhn (1961, p. 162) concluded “large amounts of qualitative work have usually been prerequisite to fruitful quantification in the physical sciences”. Qualitative research is, in some cases, instrumental to developing an understanding of phenomena as a basis for quantitative research. Similarly, quantitative research may inform, or be drawn upon in the process of qualitative research.
- Analytic induction
- Case study
- Content analysis
- Critical Ethnography
- Critical Theory
- Educational psychology
- Flyvbjerg Debate
- Grounded theory
- Morphological Analysis
- Online panel
- Participatory Action Research
- Quantum Theory
- Qualitative economics
- Quantitative research
- Qualitative marketing research
- Qualitative psychological research
- Non-Quantified Modeling
- Sampling (case studies)
- Theoretical sampling
- Videovoice methods
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- Becker, Howard S., The epistemology of qualitative research. University of Chicago Press, 1996. 53-71. [from Ethnography and human development : context and meaning in social inquiry / edited by Richard Jessor, Anne Colby, and Richard A. Shweder]
- Boas, Franz (1943). Recent anthropology. Science, 98, 311-314, 334-337.
- Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Handbook of qualitative research ( 2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- DeWalt, K. M. & DeWalt, B. R. (2002). Participant observation. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
- Fischer, C.T. (Ed.) (2005). Qualitative research methods for psychologists: Introduction through empirical studies. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-088470-4.
- Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). "Five Misunderstandings About Case Study Research." Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 2, April 2006, pp. 219-245.
- Giddens, A. (1990). The consequences of modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
- Kaminski, Marek M. 2004. Games Prisoners Play. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11721-7.
- Holliday, A. R. (2007). Doing and Writing Qualitative Research, 2nd Edition. London: Sage Publications
- Malinowski, B. (1922/1961). Argonauts of the Western Pacific. New York: E. P. Dutton.
- Pamela Maykut, Richard Morehouse. 1994 Beginning Qualitative Research. Falmer Press.
- Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods ( 3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- Pawluch D. & Shaffir W. & Miall C. (2005). Doing Ethnography: Studying Everyday Life. Toronto, ON Canada: Canadian Scholars' Press.
- Charles C. Ragin, Constructing Social Research: The Unity and Diversity of Method, Pine Forge Press, 1994, ISBN 0-8039-9021-9
- Steven J. Taylor, Robert Bogdan, Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods, Wiley, 1998, ISBN 0-471-16868-8
- Van Maanen, J. (1988) Tales of the field: on writing ethnography, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Wolcott, H. F. (1995). The art of fieldwork. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
- Wolcott, H. F. (1999). Ethnography: A way of seeing. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
- Ziman, John (2000). Real Science: what it is, and what it means. Cambridge, Uk: Cambridge University Press.
- The Association for Qualitative Research
- Forum: Qualitative Social Research, peer-reviewed open-access journal for qualitative researchers
- Qualitative Research Consultants Association - An international not-for-profit association of consultants involved in the design, implementation, analysis and reporting of qualitative research such as focus groups.
- C.Wright Mills, On intellectual Craftsmanship, The Sociological Imagination,1959az:Keyfiyyət tədqiqatı metodları
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