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Qualitative Research

What is qualitative research?

“Qualitative researchers are interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed, that is, how people make sense of their world and the experiences they have in the world” (Merriam, 2016, p.6)


“Qualitative research invites researchers to inquire about the human condition, because it explores the meaning of human experiences and creates the possibilities of change through raised awareness and purposeful action” (Taylor, 2013, p. 24)


Merriam, S. B. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). Retrieved from

Taylor, B. (2013). Introduction. In B. Taylor & K. Francis (Eds), Qualitative research in the health sciences: Methodologies, methods and processes. Retrieved from

Qualitative or quantitative research?

Qualitative research is designed to explore the human elements of a given topic, where specific methods are used to examine how individuals see and experience the world.

Where quantitative research is appropriate for examining who has engaged in a behaviour or what has happened and while experiments can test particular interventions, these techniques are not designed to explain why certain behaviours occur. Qualitative approaches are typically used to explore new phenomena and to capture individuals’ thoughts, feelings, or interpretations of meaning and process.


Given, L. M. (2008). Introduction. In L. M. Given (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of qualitative research methods (pp. xxix-1). doi: 10.4135/9781412963909

Comparison of qualitative and quantitative research


Source: McGill Qualitative Health Research Group. (n.d.). Qualitative or quantitative research? Retrieved from


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