CAUTION: It is very important to realize...
WHAT IS QUALITATIVE RESEARCH?
An Introduction from
COLMR, The Center for Leadership and Management Research
What are the uses and value of qualitative research?
Qualitative research is characterized by an emphasis on describing, understanding, and explaining complex phenomena - on studying, for example, the relationships, patterns and configurations among factors; or the context in which activities occur. The focus is on understanding the full multi-dimensional, dynamic picture of the subject of study.
Its approaches contrast with quantitative methods that aim to divide phenomena into manageable, clearly defined pieces, or variables. Quantification is good for separating phenomena into distinct and workable elements of a well-defined conceptual framework. But when we focus research on what we already know how to quantify, (e.g., what can be reliably quantified), we may miss factors that are key to a real understanding of the phenomena being studied. The downside of quantification is that it does not always support (as well as qualitative methods) understanding of complex, dynamic, and multi-dimensional wholes.
Qualitative methods are useful, not only in providing rich descriptions of complex phenomena, but in constructing or developing theories or conceptual frameworks, and in generating hypotheses to explain those phenomena.
More questions answered by COLMR at:
Qualitative Research Methods in Education
Dr. Antonia D'Onofrio's ED714 webpage
The Dissertation Doctor
Qualitative Dissertation Outline
Qualitative research is a vast and complex area of methodology ...
The Qualitative Report - Qualitative Research Web Sites
Case Study Method and Qualitative Research Page
... University of Toronto's Qualitative Research
Qualitative Research Methodology
The Many Methods of Qualitative Research
There are many more to be found on-line about this important approach to research.