For a long time now, humans have been trying to learn about the world that we are living in. Our ancestors have come up with numerous theories about our existence, from the church to Science. More systematic and realistic ways of getting more reliable information started to exist. However, each person can have a theory about things. This does not exclude a group of philosophers such as Edmund Husserl, Immanual Kant, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and William Dilthey. These scholars think that we, people, gain experiences and thoughts on the activities that happened, which are the composition of life. Aside from that, the relationships that we have with other people are complicated. For this reason, you cannot study humans as confined units. Instead, you can understand humans by considering factors such as culture, environmental factors, and social connections. This finding makes a naturalistic study or qualitative research exist.
Qualitative research is a scientific research methodology that aims to gather non-numerical data. Instead of the quantity or measurement, this type of research focuses on the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of the subject. This type of research seeks answers to why and how a certain thing happens. In Psychology, you can apply qualitative research in looking for detailed information and supervising the behavior of a human.
As mentioned earlier, with a qualitative study, the information you get is non-numerical. Quantitative research, however, focuses on the measurement and numbers. In gathering the data, a quantitative analysis relies on standardized rules to get specific information or values from particular areas, while qualitative research does not depend on these measures. With this flexibility, through qualitative research, you can get a deeper understanding of the subject of your research.
Remember that a research question is one of the essential parts of your research design. With this question, you can set the boundaries of what you want to know and understand. It will also set the focus of your research since you cannot study everything at once. Your research question should be clear, specific, and manageable. In addition, when deciding on the best issue to explore, you should choose the one that would seek reasons why people believe in something or why they do it. Start by looking for a question that you really want to know about and narrow it down to make the subject more specific and manageable to research.
With a literature review, you can get more insights about your topic. With this section, you have to look for existing research that other researchers have conducted which are related to your research topic. This information will help you decide whether or not you are really interested in the research question that you have selected. It is also your opportunity to find a gap in the previous studies which you can close by carrying out your own examination.
You must know that the qualitative approach will be useless if your research question is answerable by the “yes” or “no. This method will be beneficial to questions that are answerable by the “what” or “how.” For example, “How do the sizes of the trees affect the soil moisture around it?” This question is not answerable by the “yes” or “no.” It is, however, answerable by the “how” question. Thus, it is a good research question to study.
Another thing that you should know about qualitative research is it does not need a vast sample size as quantitative research to yield essential insights or data. You may only have to gather data from a specific area to get the information that you need. However, you should also know that the methodologies that qualitative research uses can be quite broad, so, most likely, you will get important information from the research.
Qualitative research is mostly known for its flexibility. Therefore, you have many research methodology options that you can choose from for your experiment. You can select “action research” if your study is about or related to solving an urgent problem. If you aim to create a theory from systematically collected and analyzed data, you can use “grounded theory.” Other techniques that you can choose from are “ethnography,” “phenomenology,” and “case study research.”
Research methodology uses one or more data collection methods, including participant observation, focus groups, archival research, interviews, survey questionnaires, etc. You will, then, begin to analyze the data that you have gathered to get the answers to the research question that you have determined in the first step.
Each type of research has its own crucial reasons and purposes of existence. Nevertheless, all these research methodologies aim to help us achieve one of our goals, which is to understand the world that we are living in.