How to do qualitative research?

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Qualitative research is useful when we try to answer a question that cannot be easily measured.

Thus, the frequency is not examined, but the causes of the individual phenomena and the relationships between them. We try to understand the given phenomenon, to get to know a wider context. Typically, we are looking for an answer to the question “Why?” Or “How?” – specifically, for example, the reasons for buying a product, the feelings of customers from a new ad or a customer association associated with a brand.

Therefore, qualitative research deals with the processes that take place in the brain of respondents, the results are not quantifiable, they are not statistically evaluated and they cannot be generalized to the whole. Psychological interpretation is often necessary for their interpretation.

Although qualitative research is conducted on a smaller sample of respondents (compared to quantitative research), it usually requires more time. Moreover, he is demanding on the interviewer’s knowledge and skills, his empathy and the ability to think analytically, critically and creatively. The crucial thing is the ability to evaluate which of the vast amounts of information is important and relevant to answer the question.

The process of realization of the qualitative research is as follows – firstly (based on theoretical background and experience from practice) a research problem is established, the research research objective is formulated – ideally in the form of a research question / questions.

In the second step, the selection of the research sample is carried out (the method and criteria for the selection of the appropriate respondents are determined, the selection itself is carried out in an ideal random manner to avoid distortion). Unlike quantitative research, only a small sample of respondents is sufficient to carry out a qualitative survey.

The last step in the preparation of the research is the choice of the most appropriate qualitative technique – typical is in-depth interview (individual or group) and projective technique (eg drawing a picture, creating a collage).

Data evaluation is already possible during the data collection or subsequently.

E.g. in the case of an interview, it is necessary to record as much information as possible within the transcript, any pause, stumbling, but also the facial expressions and gestures of the respondent accompanying the words may be important. The answer to the research question is formulated on the basis of the identified and analyzed information

Within a diploma or bachelor thesis, students often solve a research problem – it is a key part of the practical part. According to the type of problem, resp. depending on the nature of the analyzed phenomenon, either quantitative or qualitative research is carried out – in both cases it is a specific method of data collection that has certain assumptions and conditions.

Quantitative research is useful when we try to answer a measurable question – typically “How much?”. Thus, we obtain frequency data (eg, respondents), frequency (eg repetition frequency), or intensity (eg satisfaction). At the same time, the determination of the research problem is the FIRST STEP OF RESEARCH, which must be followed by the formulation of the objective of the research investigation, which is the SECOND STEP.

It is necessary to have an idea in advance about what units (in kind, money) we measure. The result is numerical data that can be predicted at least roughly in the form of a hypothesis that should be determined based on theory or experience in practice. The hypothesis is the THIRD STEP OF RESEARCH. Specifically, for example, data on product / company / brand / advertising campaign data, customer satisfaction data with the product, brand position data compared to competitors, product consumption data, etc. are collected.

Quantitative research can also be used to obtain certain qualitative data. However, in order to measure them, they must first be converted to measurable criteria. To do this, we use scales – the questionnaire asks the respondents the question “How satisfied are you with the quality of our product?” and then they are offered the opportunity to answer in the form of a word, number or picture scale, eg: Very satisfied – Rather satisfied – Rather dissatisfied – Displeased.

The condition for obtaining statistically reliable and representative results is to work with a large set of respondents (hundreds, even better, thousands). The decision on the size and nature of the research sample is conditioned, among other things, by the time and financial demands and is the FOURTH STEP OF RESEARCH.

The most frequently used technique of quantitative research is questioning (in person by means of an interview, in writing by means of a questionnaire, by telephone), less frequently by observation (participating, not involved) or experiment (in real or laboratory conditions). Choosing the right technique is the Fifth Step of Research.