Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is about exploring issues, understanding the phenomenon associated with the issue and being able to answer questions. There are many advantages and disadvantages of qualitative research. It is a method used in different academic disciplines generally associated with the social sciences and market research. Qualitative research will investigate the what, where, when, how and why of decision making.

The advantages and disadvantages of qualitative research are described briefly below.

Advantages of Qualitative Research

The advantages of qualitative research revolve around the use of small groups and the ability to go more in-depth into the human emotions. The data is more comprehensive and gives the researcher a closer look at how and why people think and behave the way they do.

  1. It leads to uncovering more about the experiences that people have. It focuses on why things may be the way they are.
  2. Small groups are the focus of qualitative research. Therefore it is typically less expensive than quantitative research. Quantitative research generally requires large groups and expensive measurement tools.
  3. Issues can be studied in greater detail and more thoroughly due to the smaller groups being used.
  4. The researcher is able to guide the discussion in real time rather than be limited to specific questions. The research structure can be quickly revised as new information comes forth. The direction of the research can also be quickly modified.
  5. The experiences of humans are more complex and powerful than quantitative data. Qualitative research focuses on human experiences and is more compelling in its findings.
  6. The data that is collected comes from a few cases or test subjects and cannot be universal to a larger population. The results or findings can be transferred to another setting.

Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

The disadvantages of qualitative research are centered on the inability to quickly interpret the results of the research. The quality of the research is also thrown into question because of the researcher’s close interaction with the small group.

  1. The data collected cannot be used to make assumptions beyond the current group of participants. This is because the data collected is specific to that current group of participants and how they feel, think and behave.
  2. This research method does not easily allow for the collection of statistical data. By using a mixed method approach, this problem is overcome.
  3. The researcher’s skills are the deciding factor on the success of the research. The quality of the research is easily influenced by the personal biases of the researcher. The presence of the researcher when the data is gathered can affect the research subjects’ responses.
  4. Analyzing the data is more time consuming due to the volume. Interpreting the results is also time consuming.
  5. The scientific community is less inclined to accept the results as they would for quantitative research results.

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