Quantitative vs. qualitative research

So this much is obvious: quantitative research uses numbers and statistics to draw conclusions about large populations. You count something that is countable, and process results across the sample.   Qualitative methods are more elusive: however in general they revolve around collecting data from people about an experience. This could be how they used a service, how they felt about something, and could be verbal or written. But it is

Word clouds and word frequency analysis in qualitative data

  What’s this blog post about? Well, it’s visualised in the graphic above!   In the latest update for Quirkos, we have added a new and much requested feature, word clouds! I'm sure you've used these pretty tools before, they show a random display of all the words in a source of text, where the size of each word is proportional to the number of times it has been counted in the text. There are several free online tools that

Writing qualitative research papers

We’ve actually talked about communicating qualitative research and data to the public before, but never covered writing journal articles based on qualitative research. This can often seem daunting, as the prospect of converting dense, information rich studies into a fairly brief and tightly structured paper takes a lot of work and refinement. However, we’ve got some tips below that should help demystify the process, and let you

Snapshot data and longitudinal qualitative studies

In the last blog post, we looked at creating archives of qualitative data that can be used by other researchers (or yourself in the future) for secondary analysis. In that article I postulated that secondary data analysis could make collecting new data a rarer, and expensive event. However, some (including Dr Susanne Friese) pointed out that as the social world is always changing, there is a constant need to collect new data. I totally agree

Archiving qualitative data: will secondary analysis become the norm?

  Last month, Quirkos was invited to a one day workshop in New York on archiving qualitative data. The event was hosted by Syracuse University, and you can read a short summary of the event here. This links neatly into the KWALON led initiative to create a common standard for interchange of coded data between qualitative software packages. The eventual aim is to develop a standardised file format for qualitative data, which not only

Tips for running effective focus groups

In the last blog article I looked at some of the justifications for choosing focus groups as a method in qualitative research. This week, we will focus on some practical tips to make sure that focus groups run smoothly, and to ensure you get good engagement from your participants.   1. Make sure you have a helper! It’s very difficult to run focus groups on your own. If you are wanting to layout the room, greet people, deal with

Circles and feedback loops in qualitative research

The best qualitative research forms an iterative loop, examining, and then re-examining. There are multiple reads of data, multiple layers of coding, and hopefully, constantly improving theory and insight into the underlying lived world. During the research process it is best to try to be in a constant state of feedback with your data, and theory. During your literature review, you may have several cycles through the published literature, with

Triangulation in qualitative research

  Triangles are my favourite shape,   Three points where two lines meet                                                                            alt-J   Qualitative methods are sometimes criticised as being subjective, based on single,

100 blog articles on qualitative research!

  Since our regular series of articles started nearly three years ago, we have clocked up 100 blog posts on a wide variety of topics in qualitative research and analysis! These are mainly short overviews, aimed at students, newcomers and those looking to refresh their practice. However, they are all referenced with links to full-text academic articles should you need more depth. Some articles also cover practical tips that don't get into

Thinking About Me: Reflexivity in science and qualitative research

Reflexivity is a process (and it should be a continuing process) of reflecting on how the researcher could be influencing a research project. In a traditional positivist research paradigm, the researcher attempts to be a neutral influence on  research. They make rational and logical interpretations, and assume a ‘null hypothesis’, in which they expect all experiments to have no effect, and have no pre-defined concept of what

Quirkos version 1.4 is here!

It’s been a long time coming, but the latest version of Quirkos is now available, and as always it’s a free update for everyone, released simultaneously on Mac, Windows and Linux with all the new goodies! The focus of this update has been speed. You won’t see a lot of visible differences in the software, but behind the scenes we have rewritten a lot of Quirkos to make sure it copes better with large qualitative sources and

Participant diaries for qualitative research

  I’ve written a little about this before, but I really love participant diaries! In qualitative research, you are often trying to understand the lives, experiences and motivations of other people. Through methods like interviews and focus groups, you can get a one-off insight into people’s own descriptions of themselves. If you want to measure change over a period, you need to schedule a series of meetings, and each of which

Qualitative evidence for SANDS Lothians

Charities and third sector organisations are often sitting on lots of very useful qualitative evidence, and I have already written a short blot post article on some common sources of data that can support funding applications, evaluations and impact assessments. We wanted to do a ‘qualitative case study’: to work with one local charity to explore what qualitative evidence they already had, what they could collect, and use Quirkos to

Recruitment for qualitative research

  You’ll find a lot of information and debate about sampling issues in qualitative research: discussions over ‘random’ or ‘purposeful’ sampling, the merits and pitfalls of ubiquitous ‘snowball’ sampling, and unending questions about sample size and saturation. I’m actually going to address most of these in the next blog post, but wanted to paradoxically start by looking at recruitment.

Engaging qualitative research with a quantitative audience.

  The last two blog post articles were based on a talk I was invited to give at ‘Mind the Gap’, a conference organised by MDH RSA at the University of Sheffield. You can find the slides here, but they are not very text heavy, so don’t read well without audio!   The two talks which preceded me, by Professors Glynis Cousin and John Sandars, echoed quite a few of the themes. Professor Cousin spoke persuasively about

Is qualitative data analysis fracturing?

Having been to several international conferences on qualitative research recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the future of qualitative research, and the changes happening in the discipline and society as a whole. A lot of people have been saying that acceptance for qualitative research is growing in general: not only are there a large number of well-established specialist journals, but mainstream publications are accepting more

Analysing text using qualitative software

I'm really happy to see that the talks from the University of Surrey CAQDAS 2014 are now up online (that's 'Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software' to you and me). It was a great conference about the current state of software for qualitative analysis, but for me the most interesting talks were from experienced software trainers, about how people actually were using packages in practice. There were many important findings being

Participatory analysis: closing the loop

In participatory research, we try to get away from the idea of researchers doing research on people, and move to a model where they are conducting research with people.   The movement comes partly from feminist critiques of epistemology, attacking the pervasive notion that knowledge can only be created by experienced academics, The traditional way of doing research generally disempowers people, as the researchers get to decide what

A new Qualitative Research Blog

While hosted by Quirkos, the main aim for this blog is to promote the wider use of qualitative research in general. We will link to other blogs and articles (not just academic), have guest bloggers, and welcome comments and discussion. Qualitative research is a very powerful way to understand and fix our world, and one of the main aims in developing Quirkos was to make it possible for a much wider range of people to use qualitative software to