Types of Qualitative Research

Types of Qualitative Research

Are you looking forward to preparing a research proposal for your MPhil and PhD thesis? Research methodology constitutes an important part of a research thesis and much of your research depends on what type of method selected. The two main types of research methodologies include qualitative research and quantitative research. Qualitative Research is one of the sought-after and popular methodologies and aims to delve deeper in a theoretical manner. In this blog, we have described some of the different types of qualitative research methods that are used in research analysis.

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research involves the collection and analysis of non-numerical data to gain a thorough understanding of a concept or a problem of research. This method of research seeks to answer a research question through the collection of evidence. There are a wide range of qualitative research methods you can choose from as per your topics. Further, this research methodology is extensively used in the fields of humanities and social sciences such as in the subjects of sociology, anthropology, history etc. In qualitative research, the methods of data collection include surveys, observations, interviews, secondary research etc.

Types of Qualitative Research 

Below are some of the types of qualitative research that are popular across diverse disciplines:


Ethnography is the descriptive study of people and their culture. The ethnographic model is one of the major types of qualitative research methods used in social sciences, especially in anthropology. This method of research aims to study individuals in their own habitat through the usage of methods like observations, interviews etc. This method is useful for studying both remote cultures as well as smaller communities within any particular region. A detailed ethnographic research may require the researcher to spend a long time doing fieldwork in the particular area of study, often extending to several months or even years.

Oral History

Oral history is a type of qualitative research method which involves the collection of oral testimonies from people about their own lived experiences. This research method is extensively used in the field of history, to put forward alternative narratives (as opposed to the official sources) of a particular event or incident. The main method of collecting oral history is taking interviews and recording the narratives in audio, video or textual versions. This method is useful for future researchers too since the oral testimonies are stored in an archive to make sure that these voices are not lost.

Case Study

A case study involves a detailed examination of a particular person, event or community. This is one of the types of qualitative research methods used extensively in the field of social sciences, law, business and health. The data for the case study is obtained through diverse methods including interviews and observations. A case study is the most suitable method for gaining a total and in depth knowledge of a particular issue.

Phenomenological Method

One of the types of qualitative research methods, the phenomenological approach aims to explore the experiences of a particular phenomena in a community or a group of people. It is the study of a particular phenomenon through interviews of people who have experienced it to find out the similarities between their experiences. Although this approach depends majorly on interviews, other sources of data collection may also be used to supplement the findings.

Grounded Theory Method

The grounded theory method is a very popular research method used across a large number of disciplines. It is involved in the collection, interpretation and analysis of data. The grounded theory model uses the analysed data to develop different theories regarding the topic of research.

Narrative Model

The narrative model is one of the types of qualitative research methods which focuses on spoken or written words or visual representations by people. This method involves the analysis of these stories or narratives by people through engaging in questioning to ascertain particular questions or issues. This model is helpful in understanding the ways in which people represent them and their experiences to a wider audience.

Historical Model

Historical model is one of the unique approaches within qualitative research which is involved in the detailed study of past events in order to get a better understanding of the present and predict future events on that basis. The main objective of this model is to analyse the effects of the past on the present and thereby identify similar processes in the present to anticipate their effects in the future. Reviewing relevant literature is the main source of data for this method, although oral sources may also be used.

Thus, this blog summarized the major types of qualitative research methods you must know while working on your thesis. Want to pursue your PhD abroad? Reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu who can help you choose the best university as per your preferences and guide you throughout the admission process to ensure that you get successfully shortlisted. Sign up for a free career counselling session with us today!

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