Sunday, September 20

Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

Scientific research is a detailed study of a problem to find a solution. There are various methods of formulating a particular research model. Qualitative and quantitative research are two broad approaches to the collection of data for the study. Lately, researchers have been widely using the qualitative research method. Let us look at the advantages and disadvantages of this mode of research.

WHAT IS RESEARCH?

Research is the study or systematic investigation that is directed towards the discovery of some fact. It is a careful and detailed study of a subject to discover new information or to reach a new understanding. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines research as “any creative systematic activity undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this knowledge to decide new applications.” Research involves evaluating a hypothesis or framework, assembling substantive knowledge and findings for the same, and generating questions for further inquiries to understand the hypothesis. There are several forms of research like scientific research, historical research, artistic research, and documentary research. 

Additionally, there are two important methods of observation and research. They are qualitative and quantitative research. While qualitative research gathers non-numerical data, quantitative research finds answers to concrete questions by generating specific numbers and facts.

THE CONCEPT OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Qualitative research is a method of research that is concerned with developing explanations of social phenomena. The aim is to understand the world in which we live in and why things are the way they are. It generates non-numerical subjective data through opinions, experiences, and feelings of individuals. Also, it focuses on understanding a problem in a humanistic approach for greater sensitivity. Many social and natural science disciples use qualitative research method in their research. Apart from that, they are also used in business, market research, journalism, and non-profit service demonstrations.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

ADVANTAGES OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Detailed

One of the major advantages of qualitative research is the depth and detail it embodies. It looks deeper into the subject matter by recording behaviors, feelings, and attitudes. For instance, unstructured interviews, direct observations, participant-observation, and describing records are some examples of collecting data qualitatively. The focus of the research is on the purpose of the study or details of personal choice as the primary information. Each unique experience or perspective makes it smoother to gather more information about a situation to examine the difference. This helps in discovering more potential outcomes from different sources. This perspective is then used by researchers to create base guidelines for the particular subject matter. It is an opportunity to interpret the context of what is going on. Hence, qualitative research helps to find an in-depth understanding of a particular phenomenon within a contained setting.

Flexible

The process of qualitative research is highly flexible as the study can be constructed and reconstructed to a great extent. Researchers have the liberty to follow-up on the data already collected to achieve deeper insights. This helps in understanding complex issues easily. If the present data available does not yield the desired result, the research can shift and seek data in a newer direction. Hence, the flexibility and fluidity of qualitative research provides an opportunity to gather better perception about any subject, unlike rigid guidelines.

Focused Approach

Qualitative research has a targeted, focused and more concentrated approach for collecting meaningful data. For instance if we have to study an aspect of a workplace like their productivity or growth, all parts, processes, and participants have to be accounted for. Qualitative research uses focus groups as the primary method of collecting information as it is not only fast and effective but also cost-effective. Also, researchers can study the changing attitudes within the focus or target group to better understand their subject. Therefore, qualitative research has a better approach than most modes of research.

Individual experience

Qualitative study helps in stimulating the individual experiences of people. This contributes towards the attempt of understanding why certain actions take place. This research aims to see how different people react in specific situations. So instead of making generalizations about a larger population, this mode of research allows the discovery of more potential outcomes as there is varied information present from different sources. This can then be used to create specific recommendations that others could follow for a similar situation. Hence, each choice is studied so that a bigger population can gain from the process.

DISADVANTAGES OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Biased

A major disadvantage of qualitative research is that there can be a biased view. There is always a possibility that a sample size is selected to favor an anticipated outcome. Regardless of whether it was a conscious or an unconscious decision, the fact remains that this can negatively affect the research.

Similarly, there can also be bias from the side of the researchers who undertake the said study. The standard of data that is procured depends on the observational skills of the researcher. A researcher or an interviewer must have the necessary skills, experience, and competency to navigate the subject matter without any bias. They must have the proficiency to interpret the responses and data they receive soundly. If the researcher has a biased view on a subject, it could easily affect the outcome and quality of the research. Therefore, certain restrictions and controls must be in effect while the research is ongoing to avoid a biased opinion.

Subjective

Qualitative research is subjective and so it is difficult to make a systematic comparison. Though personal perspectives can be beneficial to a certain extent, each individual has their interpretation of data. Researchers only get the answer to what they think to ask. So, in the process they might miss out on asking important and relevant questions that could further help with the research. The entire research schematic hugely depends on the skill of the researcher to extract the relevant information from the study. Hence, qualitative research could either give you detailed information or it can be incredibly inaccurate due to its subjectivity.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

Time Consuming

Another disadvantage of qualitative research is that it is a time-consuming process. The collection of data could take months or even years to complete a single research project.  Especially when there is a lot of information to be sifted through, significant time investments have to be made to determine what needs to be used for the study and what is not to be used. Unlike other research formats, qualitative research does not have rigid guidelines and expectations for data collection. So the timeline for the research evaluation is never set and could take forever. Therefore, there is a need for a long term commitment for accurate results. 

Limited

Fewer people are studied in qualitative research making it very limited. So it is not possible to make generalizations for a bigger population based on the limited result. Hence, this could create misleading conclusions because it’s difficult to apply qualitative research to an entire demographic.

To sum up, qualitative research has its benefits and challenges. But it can help improve the landscape of research methodology if it is used along with the quantitative research method.

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Pros and Cons

PROS

CONS

Detailed

Biased

Flexible

Subjective

Focused Approach

Time Consuming

Individual Experience

Limited