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Types of Qualitative Studies

Qualitative research can take many forms. For example, four qualitative studies that are commonly used are listed for each below in relation to their purpose, sample, data and approach:

Types of Qualitative Studies
• Descriptive
o Purpose: Discover the details of a life event for an individual or a group of individuals.
o Sample: Convenient, recruited, representative, or purposive
o Data: Interview, observation, questionnaire, and open-ended questioning
o Analysis: Content

• Ethnography/Ethnomethodology
o Purpose: Provide a factual description and analysis of the way of life in a particular culture—ethnography—or social group—ethnomethodology.
o Sample: Purposive; sampling of key, knowledgeable informants
o Data: Participant observation; complete observer, observer as participant, participant as observer, or complete participant
o Analysis: Inductive

• Phenomenology
o Purpose: Describe the experience or the perceived world as it is lived by people; uncover the meaning of humanly experienced phenomena by analyzing a subject’s descriptions. Describe the nature of the phenomenon and the meaning of the experience, to elucidate the essence of the phenomenon.
o Sample: Purposive sample of volunteers
o Data: Open-ended questionnaires or unstructured interviews
o Analysis: Via contemplative dwelling, to achieve data reduction; investigating the particular phenomena by intuiting, analyzing, describing; investigating general essences; apprehending essential relationships

• Grounded Theory
o Purpose: Develop a theory based on facts rather than the researcher’s inclinations; based on a symbolic, interationist perspective.
o Sample: Theoretical sampling; purposive initially and expanded, based on findings until data saturation is achieved
o Data: Intensive interviews
o Analysis: Constant comparative

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