- Project Empowerment

The Pros and Cons of Conducting
Qualitative Research
Kelli Williams Gary, Ph.D., MPH, OTR/L
•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
– Ability to provide complex, textual
– Describe in detail how people experience a
given research issue.
– Can produce findings not determined in
Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research
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
Question Format
Data Format
Flexibility in Study
Some aspects of design flexible.
Study design is stable from beginning to
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.
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
• 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.
• 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.

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