10 Types of Qualitative Research

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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 is 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 is 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.

When to Use Qualitative Research?

When it comes to capturing precise, in-depth insights, researchers turn to qualitative research methodologies. Capturing “factual data” is quite beneficial. Here are some examples of when qualitative research should be used.

  • Creating a new product or coming up with a concept.
  • Investigating your product/brand or service in order to improve your marketing approach.
  • Recognize your own talents and shortcomings.
  • Understanding purchasing habits.
  • To investigate your target audience’s reactions to marketing campaigns and other forms of communication.
  • Investigating market demographics, segmentation, and client segments.
  • Obtaining information on a brand, company, or product’s perception.

Characteristics of Qualitative Research 

  • Qualitative research methods often collect data on-site, where people are experiencing challenges or problems. These are real-time data, and participants are rarely taken out of their geographical areas to collect information.
  • Rather than relying on a single data source, qualitative researchers generally collect various types of data, such as interviews, observations, and documents.
  • This research technique aims to solve complicated problems by breaking them down into relevant inferences that are easily accessible and understood by everybody.
  • Because it is a more conversational technique, people can develop confidence with the researcher, and the information gained is therefore raw and pure.

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. 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 phenomenon 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 analyzed 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

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The 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 analyze 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.

Focus Groups

A focus group is another popular qualitative research approach for data collecting. A focus group typically consists of a small number of respondents (6-10) from your target market. The primary goal of the focus group is to obtain answers to the questions “why,” “what,” and “how.” One advantage of focus groups is that you do not have to engage with the group in person.

Record Keeping

As the data source, this approach makes the use of pre-existing credible documents and comparable sources of information. This information can be utilized in future studies. This is comparable to visiting a library. There, one can go through books and other reference materials to get important facts that will most likely be employed in the research.

Process of Observation

Qualitative Observation is a research approach that uses subjective methodologies to collect systematic information or data. Since the focus on qualitative observation is the study process of gathering information or data utilizing subjective techniques. Qualitative observation is generally used to compare and contrast quality variations. The five primary sense organs and their functioning are addressed in qualitative observation: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. This is not about measures or numbers, but about qualities.


What is qualitative data collection?

Qualitative data gathering allows for the collection of non-numerical data, allowing us to investigate how decisions are made and get a deep understanding. To achieve such conclusions, the data collected should be comprehensive, rich, and complex, with discoveries emerging after a thorough examination.

What is qualitative data analysis?

Notes, films, audio recordings, pictures, and written documents are examples of qualitative data. Text analysis is a popular approach for analyzing qualitative data.

What are the most important characteristics of qualitative research?

The qualitative research approach is useful for complicated thinking, which is an important feature. There are instances when a complicated explanation is necessary to obtain the best outcomes rather than simple statistics responses.

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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