"Attempt to capture rich, detailed information about the subject"
Grounded in the interpretivist tradition, qualitative researchers are interested in the subjective attitudes, beliefs and feelings of their respondents.
Qualitative research methods are concerned with finding the meanings and attempt to capture rich, detailed information about the subject. This in-depth exploration is usually achieved by focusing in on small, purposive sample groups. Qualitative methods allow for flexibility in the research and facilitate the follow up of emergent themes and ideas rather than relying on prior concepts.
There are a wide range of approaches to collecting qualitative data. This teaching resource has chosen to focus on four of the most commonly used: focus groups, diaries, online data collection and visual methods. Interviews are covered separately in Teaching resource: Interview methods.
Focus groups are small focused discussions facilitated by a moderator, in which qualitative data is generated by the dynamic group interaction
Diaries are used as a research tool to capture rich, detailed qualitative data which accesses personal meanings and understandings.
Online data collection
Online data collection focuses in on a relatively new phenomenon in which digital technologies and the use of the internet can enable researchers to access data which has already been published online. The internet is also used as a way of accessing geographically dispersed or inaccessible groups.
Visual methods can either generate primary data, such as through the creation of a film or through photographs, or visual data can be used as a secondary resource.