Research using qualitative research methods such as participant observation or case studies which result in a narrative, descriptive account of a setting or practice. Sociologists using qualitative research methods typically reject positivism and adopt a form of interpretive theory.
Qualitative Research in Information Systems
and Overview of Qualitative Research, Michael D Myers
Introduction: This section is dedicated to qualitative research in Information Systems (IS). Qualitative research involves the use of qualitative data, such as interviews, documents, and participant observation data, to understand and explain social phenomena. Qualitative researchers can be found in many disciplines and fields, using a variety of approaches, methods and techniques.
In Information Systems, there has been a general shift in IS research away from technological to managerial and organizational issues, hence an increasing interest in the application of qualitative research methods. This section is organized as follows. After a general overview of qualitative research, philosophical perspectives which can inform qualitative research are discussed. This is followed by sections on qualitative research methods, qualitative research techniques, and modes of analyzing and interpreting qualitative data. This is then followed by a number of sub-sections that relate to qualitative research in general, i.e. citation lists, links to resources on the Internet for qualitative researchers, links to software tools and calls for papers. The goal is to provide the IS community with useful information on qualitative research in IS.
Overview of Qualitative Research
Research methods can be classified in various ways, however one of the most common distinctions is between qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Quantitative research methods were originally developed in the natural sciences to study natural phenomena. Examples of quantitative methods now well accepted in the social sciences include survey methods, laboratory experiments, formal methods (e.g. econometrics) and numerical methods such as mathematical modeling. See the ISWorld Section on Quantitative, Positivist Research edited by Straub, Gefen and Boudreau (2004).
Qualitative research methods were developed in the social sciences to enable researchers to study social and cultural phenomena. Examples of qualitative methods are action research, case study research and ethnography. Qualitative data sources include observation and participant observation (fieldwork), interviews and questionnaires, documents and texts, and the researcher's impressions and reactions (Myers 2009).
The motivation for doing qualitative research, as opposed to quantitative research, comes from the observation that, if there is one thing which distinguishes humans from the natural world, it is our ability to talk! Qualitative research methods are designed to help researchers understand people and the social and cultural contexts within which they live.
Although most researchers do either quantitative or qualitative research work, some researchers have suggested combining one or more research methods in the one study (called triangulation).
As well as the qualitative research and quantitative
research distinction, there are other distinctions which are commonly made.
Qualitative Research - What Does It Have to Offer to the Gerontologist?
Ann Kuckelman Cobba and Sarah Forbesa - The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 57:M197-M202 (2002).
Qualitative methods have a long tradition in disciplines such as sociology and anthropology and are being used with greater frequency as interdisciplinary health-related disciplines attempt to understand and explain complex problems. The purpose of this article is to define and describe the main features of qualitative research and to examine ways in which this methodology is relevant and useful in gerontological studies. A review of the three most common approaches is provided. Most important, references are provided for those gerontologists interested in learning more about qualitative research methods.