Qualitative research is research in which the information about any discipline is inquired into with the help of research tools. The major task is to obtain an in-depth understanding of the subject that has been taken under consideration by the researcher.
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Qualitative research in the field of psychology can be used to have an in-depth understanding about certain human behaviors. It also helps in understanding why some human behaviors prevail. In order to understand certain human behaviors, qualitative research can be conducted by in-depth focus group study, contextual interviews, individual interviews, etc.
In the field of medicine/nursing it is utilized in those cases where there are decision making problems due to certain insufficient information, or due to contradictory information. Consensus methods in medical and health service research are termed qualitative research. There are basically two types of consensus methods, or qualitative research, and they are the Delphi Process and the Nominal Group Technique.
The Delphi Process is the process that collects and filters knowledge by using the medium of questionnaires, which are made by experts. These obtain appropriate and controlled feedback. Controlled feedback means that the feedback obtained is not a contradicted one.
Nominal Group Technique is the structured variation of small group discussion methods. This method in qualitative research generally involves ideas and views of a group of people rather than that of an individual. It generally encourages participation of more passive group members. The advantage is that it encourages equal participation of all the group members.
Qualitative research is extensively used in the field of business, especially in market research. Whenever a new company plans to launch a new product, it performs pre-launch qualitative research, or a survey about what kind of attributes a customer wants on the product. After launching the product, the company performs post-launch qualitative research, or a survey about the views of the consumer about the new product.
However, researchers argue that the qualitative research mentioned above is artificial. Thus, more advanced techniques have been introduced.
Suppose a company is launching new software (for example) and wants to know the market scenario for the product. In this case, qualitative research involves telephone interviews of people by preparing a questionnaire, which involves questions like the company’s turnover, the company’s budget on IT products, etc.
Although qualitative research involving questions like the company’s turnover can be very sensitive, a response to this question can depend upon the researcher and how he or she has framed the question.
There is an association called the Qualitative Research Consultants Association, which is a nonprofit organization. This organization promotes all aspects of qualitative research. Through Qualitative Research Consultants Association, we can have access to nearly 1000 qualitative research consultants. The qualitative research consultants include group moderators, facilitators, interviewers and planners. The consultants of qualitative research mainly provide expertise on focus groups, individual in-depth interviews, ethnography, observational research, usability research, idea generation, etc.
There is also an international association for qualitative research which focuses upon the practice and study of qualitative research. The aim of this international association for qualitative research is to improve the theory involved in qualitative research and the usage of qualitative research across various disciplines of human sciences.
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