Qualitative Research Methods

Author(s):
Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor

Jefferson School of Nursing
Philadelphia, PA

Published:
October 3, 2014

Abstract

Historically, anthropologists and social scientists have used qualitative methods as a legitimate form of inquiry and research. More recently, other disciplines have used qualitative methods to complement and enhance the research methods used in the specific discipline. Qualitative research frequently uses an inductive approach in which the researcher moves from the event or process (the phenomenon observed) to the development of theory or structure. Inductive studies are generally exploratory, descriptive, and context specific. When more is known about the phenomenon of interest, a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods often is used. The development of knowledge about a research topic may involve moving in an iterative manner, back and forth between qualitative and quantitative research methods, for the purposes of identifying new insights and developing and testing hypotheses.