Qualitative research design

It is an approach used in research by researchers and scientists to study the behaviour and habits of human beings in the society.

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The design has been used in various fields (Flick, 2009 p. 17):

  • health,
  • social sciences,
  • business, and
  • other humanity disciplines.

Considering business research

It is a systematic research aimed at studying problems and solutions to business (Saunders et al., 2009 p. 6).
In product design, the designers obtain data about the existing products based on consumers’ feedback and use the information to improve or design new product.

For market research, the methodology can be used to establish the demand of certain products and the product penetration in the market.

Example of use of qualitative research

Product designers may want to study the gap in the market for a certain product for them to introduce new product that meet consumers’ tastes and preference.

The qualitative research design forms the most efficient tool to obtain the data required to make the decision.

The qualitative design is used as a lead for quantitative design.

The viability of hypothesis is tested through the qualitative design and then proved using the quantitative design through mathematical analysis

There are several approaches used to obtain the data in qualitative design and include:

  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Ethnographic research (Siegel & Olshansky, 2012 p. 53)
  • Interviews

Interviews involve questions and answer session between the researcher and the participants (DiCicco‐Bloom, & Crabtree, 2006 p. 317). The interviews may be carried out to individuals or groups.

Methods used to carry interviews (Seidman, 2013 p. 113)

Face-to-face interactions

  • Telephone
  • Electronic devices such as internet-enabled computer
  • Types of interviews (Creswell, 2014 p. 189)

Structured

They are the main tool of research when the researcher has well understanding of the research topic.
The interview is based on the literature reviewed or observations related to the topic during less structured
interviews.

The interview developed is developed using topic specific and close-ended questions.

Semi-Structured

The interview is used when the researcher has limited time, respondent availability is not guaranteed, and thus different people conduct the interview in the field at the same time.

The interview has well explained instructions to guide the interviewers in order to provide accurate and qualitative data in addition to trainings meant for understanding the topic

The interviews are preceded by informal interviews and observations in order to help the researcher to understand the topic in order to develop the semi-structured interview.

The interview questions are mainly open ended

Unstructured

They are carried out when the researchers lack enough understanding on the topic and hence have allowance for additional information from the respondent.

However, the researcher has a clear understanding of the research setting.

Informal

Common method for social research and in the early set up of the study.
The interviews are also carried out when the topic is poorly understood and there is little literature on the topic.

The study may be based on experience, interests, or a given culture that is not researched and so the researcher uses observations to develop more understand of the inquiry and develop a rapport

The interview questions are open ended as the respondent’s information is crucial towards development of the study

Pros of interviews

Accurate data (Seidman, 2013 p. 1oo): The researcher can explore the topic or questions using probe thus getting more information and details, which can result in more accurate data.
Interviews allow the researcher to clarify and explain some questions that the interviewee my lack the knowledge and understanding thus getting the intended information

The interview provides a rich data with details and insights about the topic.

The respondent describes their own understanding on the topic.

General and sensitive information that is important to the study can be obtained using interviews compared to other methods of data collection such as questionnaires

Cont’

Feedback: There is direct response from the interviewee and the feedback is obtained from the intended person
Observations: Interviews can be carried out at the same time with observations to gain more understanding and information on the topic

Building Rapport: Close interactions between the researcher and interviewee creates a more relaxed environment, which results to the respondent answering questions based on his or her experience

Flexibility: Interviews can be conducted at any time, locations, or based on the circumstances of the individual

The researcher may explore additional information from the respondent that may help to develop more understanding on the topic

Cons of interviews

Time-consuming: the process of scheduling, conducting, and analysing the interviews consumes a lot of time (Zikmund, 2013 p. 150).

Since huge data is obtained from interview, it becomes tedious to enter the data and a lot of time is consumed. Therefore, it is important to have a data entry and analysis plan before data collection.

Costly: the interviews are costly, as they need training of interviewers, preparing schedules to visit respondents and the actual interview process. They require physical participation of respondent and the researcher.

Cont’

Biasness: the physical appearance of the interviewee may affect the attitude of the respondent and thus giving biased information that may affect the accuracy of the data.

Other factors that may results in biased information include the respondents’:

  • Voice tone and onion
  • Gender and race
  • Inadequate note taking

Inconsistencies: the flexibility of the interviews may result in inconsistence data during interactions due to variation in interview setting such as changing environment.

For example- interruption of interviews by passersby or other factors such as rain can make the respondent to lose track and give inconsistence information

Focus groups

Focus group involves collection of data through semi-structured interview.

The interview is moderated by a group leader and involves discussion of a specific topic.

The method was introduced by Fiske and Merton in their studies that were based on audience participants (Sprenkle & Piercy, 2005 p. 87)

  • Pros of focus group
  • Cons of focus group

Addressing the cons of interview and focus group

References

  • Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks,
    California: SAGE Publications.
  • Flick, U. 2009. An introduction to qualitative research. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
  • Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. 2009. Research methods for business students. New York: Prentice Hall.