The Pros and Cons of Conducting Qualitative Research Kelli Williams Gary, Ph.D., MPH, OTR/L Overview •To review the benefit and the limitations of conducting qualitative research. •To dispel common myths related to qualitative research design. •To assist researchers in the process of selecting the correct research design related to goals and objectives. Qualitative Research • What can we learn from qualitative research? – Ability to provide complex, textual descriptions. – Describe in detail how people experience a given research issue. – Can produce findings not determined in advance. Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research Qualitative Quantitative Explore phenomena. Confirm hypothesis about phenomena. More semi-structure methods. Highly structured methods Flexibility in eliciting responses. More rigid in eliciting respones. Analytical Objectives Describe variation, relationships, individual experiences, and group norms. Quantify variation, predict causal relationships, describe characteristics of population. Question Format Open-ended Closed-ended Data Format Textual Numerical Flexibility in Study Design Some aspects of design flexible. Study design is stable from beginning to end. Responses reflect how and which ?s researchers ask. Responses does not influence or determine questions asked. General Framework Data collection and research ?s Study design is subjective to what is are adjusted according to what is learned. learned. Advantages to Qualitative Research • Opportunity to collect rich and explanatory data – Use of open-ended questions. • Respond in own words. • Not forced to choose from fixed responses. • Meaningful and culturally salient. • Unanticipated by researcher. • Flexibility to probe participants response – Use of group and in-depth interviews. • Requires listening and ability to engage. • Use probes to encourage elaboration. Disadvantages to Qualitative Research • Usually fewer people studied. – Usually based on collection procedure or resources. • Less easy to generalize. – Less subjects. – Exact numbers usually reported. • Difficult to make systematic comparisons. – Widely different responses. – Highly subjective. • Dependent on skills of researchers. – Personality a big factor. Myths about Qualitative Research • Qualitative research is always inductive. • Qualitative research is always natural and often characterized as artificial. • Qualitative research is not considered “real research” and often hard to duplicate or publish. References • Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research design: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. • Green, J., Thorogood, N. (2005). Qualitative methods for health research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. • Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2004). Nursing research: Principles and methods (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.