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Research Methods

Answering your research questions with empirical evidence

Qualitative Research

These efforts generally seek data that can be interpreted to help us understand ideas, concepts, and subjective experiences. Qualitative data typically comes to us in the form of words and is gathered via observation, interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires. Example methods are below.

Interviews & Focus Groups

"In-Depth Interviews include both individual interviews (e.g., one-on-one) as well as “group” interviews (including focus groups). The data can be recorded in a wide variety of ways including stenography, audio recording, video recording or written notes. In depth interviews differ from direct observation primarily in the nature of the interaction. In interviews it is assumed that there is a questioner and one or more interviewees. The purpose of the interview is to probe the ideas of the interviewees about the phenomenon of interest." ~ from Qualitative Data by Prof William M.K. Trochim.

Conducting Interviews

Further Reading

Direct Observation

"Direct observation is distinguished from participant observation in a number of ways. First, a direct observer doesn’t typically try to become a participant in the context. However, the direct observer does strive to be as unobtrusive as possible so as not to bias the observations. Second, direct observation suggests a more detached perspective." ~Qualitative Methods

Surveys & Questionnaires

"Constructing a survey instrument is an art in itself. There are numerous small decisions that must be made – about content, wording, format, placement – that can have important consequences for your entire study. While there’s no one perfect way to accomplish this job, we do have lots of advice to offer that might increase your chances of developing a better final product." ~ Constructing the Survey by Prof William M.K. Trochim

Building a Survey