Qualitative Data Collection Methods – A Must-Read Guide for PhD students

Data collection is an important phase in any research study. There are several ways to collect research data. However, using one particular method depends on the type of research you are carrying out. Qualitative research uses qualitative data collection methods, and quantitative research uses quantitative methods. In today’s article, we will discuss the methods used mostly for obtaining qualitative data. All the methods will be describe in detail. However, before that, let’s explain why it is necessary to collect qualitative data. So, let’s get started.

What is the need for qualitative data collection?

Qualitative research is a type of research which looks at the research problem in an explanatory manner. It means it uses a qualitative approach to understand the problem and to comprehend what is lying underneath the problem. As far as the question of why there is a need to collect qualitative data is concerned, the reasons are as follows:

  • The qualitative data helps to examine the knowledge around a specific issue
  • It allows us to find out the relationship between different research variables
  • The qualitative data also allows for unearthing the social or cultural causes that are causing the problem to happen

Methods widely used for qualitative data collection

Qualitative data collection is an extremely difficult task. It is non-numeric data, which consists of words, expressions, and statements. Due to the lack of numbers, sometimes this type of data is hard to collect. However, you must know the common methods used for this purpose. Thus, a brief description of the common methods is as follows:

1. One-on-one interviews

Interviews are one of the most commonly use methods for qualitative data collection. In this method, the researcher prepares a set of questions for the respondents to answer. He then calls them one by one and asks them those previously set questions. However, It depends on the type of interview, there may or may not be previously set questions. The three types of interviews are as follows:

  • Structured. In this type, the researcher sends the question list to the respondent before the interview.
  • Unstructured. The researcher does not disclose the questions to the respondent.
  • Semi-structured. The researcher sends some questions to the respondent and reserves some to ask during the interview.

2. Surveys and questionnaires

The next most widely used method for the collection of qualitative data is surveys and questionnaires. In this technique, the research asks some questions from the respondents in the form of a questionnaire. The respondent either has to answer from the choices given in the questionnaire or give his own view in the dedicated section. This qualitative data collection method has two types, which are as follows:

  • Open-ended questionnaires. These questionnaires allow the respondents to answer freely. They can give their own responses.
  • Closed-ended questionnaires. In these questionnaires, the respondent has to choose an answer from the choices given.

3. Focus groups

Focus groups are the same as interviews, except for the fact that these interviews are conducted in a group format. It is used in situations where the number of research participants are too many and, as a researcher, you cannot interview them individually. In such cases, group interviews or focus groups become handy. In this method, the researcher makes a group of 4 to 6 people and asks them different questions to answer. Each participant answers the questions based on his understanding. However, if, as a researcher, you feel any difficulty in carrying out research using this method, you can get a PhD dissertation help UK.

4. Observation

The 4th qualitative data collection method is known as the observation method. As the name suggests, this method is based on observational studies. It means the researcher observes the target population for a specified period of time and notes down how the population reacts to different scenarios and situations. The researcher keeps a record of their daily activities, and this way, the research keeps on going forward. Based on the way of observations, this method is divided into two types. The two main types are as follows:

  • Covert observation. This is a kind of observation in which the respondents do not know that they are being observe. The researcher gets mix with them and studies them quietly without their knowledge.
  • Overt observation. In this method of observation, everyone is aware of the fact that you are observing them and noting down their routine tasks. For example, you are researching the wedding rituals of nomadic tribes. You go with a camera there, and everyone knows that you are filming them.

Conclusion

In this guide post, we have discussed the top qualitative data collection methods. The interview and questionnaire are the two most widely used methods for such data collection. Others are also important. Hence, read all the methods discussed above, know about their working, and apply them accordingly in your research study.

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