How to Conduct Qualitative Research

Chart courtesy of Sam Ladner

Chart courtesy of Sam Ladner

Like baccarat and vaulting, qualitative research analysis is easy to learn and hard to perfect. Similarly, a qualitative researcher’s approach really depends on the subject and setting. Vague questions can provide more insight than a specific one, such as tests that gauge flash judgment or other System 1 behavior, as defined by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. Other times, researchers may prefer very specific, multi-part questions to gauge System 2 behavior. Whatever tactics that enjoy preference, there are a few standards that near all qualitative analysis require.

Review the Data. Then Review It Again

Foremost before anything, data is a golden standard. Its content, size, and type all help define how to analyze it. Familiarity and reflection, of course, also help direct any route of analysis. Similarly, reviewing data helps researchers decide on the depth of analysis. Data of different sizes require different approaches. Time investment is also important, and review helps researchers decide how much analysis the batch warrants.

Identify Vital Questions

From data, it becomes vastly easier to identify and conceptualize vital questions. Most intrinsically, however, researchers should always look at consistencies and differences. Focuses include a range of different facets, but there are few types that are more common than most.

  • Topic: Perhaps the most direct, questions that tackle the topic directly refer to researchers learning about a customer’s opinion of a product.

  • Time: Questions that focus on time usually consider changing perspectives and opinions within sets of calendar space.

  • Event: Best for gauging promotions and content, questions that cover an event both consider the gathering’s pertinent targets, their involvement, the event’s reception, and its impact on product reputation.

Define Focus and Concentration

Even after looking at the questions, further focus and concentration is always a good idea. Qualitative research analysis typically revolves around a single case, individual, or group. Sometimes answer based off segment is more important, especially if perspective is the ultimate area researchers are looking to gauge.

Categorize, Categorize, Categorize

Categories also require consideration, even after finding an area to understand. There are two main steps that researchers should use.

1.    Locate Themes and Patterns: These can be anything. Ideas and concepts are popular, as is behavior, interaction, and the market’s lexicon.

2.    Organize Coherent Categories: Whatever criteria or area being examined, make sure the overall narrative and definition pertains to the research.

Find a Cohesive Interpretation

Now for the most interesting part. Frameworks are important, but how the gaps are filled make all the difference. Cohesion is integral. There are numerous ways to ]understand data. Perhaps greatest is how such interpretations can play out, of course, but an ordered structure is also important.

Advocacy is one of the most intrinsic elements of a cohesive interpretation. The entire point behind initiating a study is the findings, after all. Defining what those findings are, however, is half the work. The other half is brainstorming how these findings can help with direction and maximize return.

Visuals can be a great help. Venn diagrams, charts, infographics, and even outlines all help contribute to a larger system use. For instance, those working with quantitative data will use formulas and segmentation to pinpoint sentiment and preference. Qualitative research analysis, on the other hand, typically requires interpersonal analysis, as well the ability to pinpoint consistent feedback and its origin.

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