Qualitative Research Methods in Social Sciences

  • 05 Pages
  • Published On: 15-12-2023

Qualitative Research Methods in Social Sciences

Qualitative research is often characterised as a humanistic, interpretative approach to phenomenon that focuses on looking at them from the inside out. Other scholars have concentrated on key characteristics of qualitative research design, such as a fascination with "what," "why," and "how" questions rather than "how many," an emphasis on procedures, and the adaptability of qualitative research method (Silverman, 2011). The aims and goals of qualitative research in social sciences aimed at gaining a more in-depth and interpreted understanding of the social world of study participants by discovering about how they make logical sense of their social and material situations, as well as their perceptions, viewpoints, and backgrounds (Ormstorm et al, 2013).

The purpose of this report is to explore quantitative research in social sciences by trying to understand the different tools used in social science qualitative methods, where qualitative research stems from, the advantages and disadvantages of working with this particular form of research and on the aspects of mixed methods research.

What is Qualitative Research

As a holistic or idealistic approach, qualitative analysis focuses on interpreting a research question. Though, since it is focused on numeric empirical methodology that can be rendered objectively and perpetuated by other scholars, the quantitative approach is a more accurate process. People's views, experiences, behaviours, behaviour, and interactions are studied using qualitative methods (Pathak et al, 2013).


In the 1980s, qualitative market research grew rapidly, both in terms of volume and in terms of the prevalence of independent, "art" research firms. In terms of the market, some of the latest qualitative research firms grew to be major players. As the field of qualitative market analysis grew in popularity, so did the number of studies claiming to be qualified to do so. Many businesses discovered that an educated person and a simple training in non-directive questioning were all that was required to provide an acceptable product, and that a qualification in psychology was no longer required. The effectiveness of qualitative research has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt over the last 20 years or so. On the academic side, the British Psychological Society's Scientific Affairs Board conducted a study that suggested that a greater use of qualitative studies could help advance several important areas of social sciences (Bailey, 2013).

Research Tools of Qualitative Research in Social Sciences

Qualitative research has been associated with specific data-gathering techniques, such as survey method, semi-structured and in-depth interviewing, and focus groups, though qualitative researchers vary greatly in their use of these methods (Denzin and Lincoln, 2011, Flick, 2018). There are many methods through which data is analysed too.

A holistic study is one in which the whole phenomenon within investigation is viewed as a dynamic structure that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Unique case orientation believes the very first level of analysis is accurate and respects it,

preserving the details of the specific circumstance; context sensitive analysis positions

results in a social, historical context; researcher is cautious about, even sceptical of, the probability or subjectivity of generalisations across time and space and assumes that each case is special and unique (libguides.usc.edu).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Working With Qualitative Research

Perhaps one of the biggest disadvantages that qualitative research faces is the lack of replicability and empiricism in its results. Qualitative analysis is concerned with enhancing one's comprehension of a problem rather than quantitative representativity. The author is both the topic and the focus of his study in qualitative research. According to Flanagan (2013), the empirical method is the most effective technique for discovering universal truths, exploring new ideas, and testing them empirically. As a result, scientific research is the method of conducting systematic and intensive investigations with the aim of discovering and interpreting evidence embedded in a given truth.

However, there are several advantages to it too, methods of qualitative research, the qualitative tool enables researchers to gain a more in-depth understanding of individuals and structures. Focus groups are a common and effective tool for studying complex behaviour because they enable the researcher to communicate with the respondents. Case studies are a useful tool for delving into dynamic scenarios involving several variables. Case studies are especially appealing for expanding the knowledge base of a field (Rahman, 202).

Mixed Methods Research

The word "mixed methods" refers to an emerging research approach that promotes the integrated synthesis, of quantitative and qualitative results within a single investigation or long-term research programme. The basic principle of this approach is that integrating quantitative and qualitative data collection and allows for a more complete and adaptive use of data than separate the data from quantitative and qualitative analysis. Its methods have been developed and improved over the last decade to serve a wide range of research objectives. Mixed methods research is difficult to schedule and execute. They necessitate meticulous preparation to explain all facets of analysis, such as the sample group for qualitative and quantitative segments that are either equivalent, incorporated, or parallel; the timing of qualitative and quantitative segments; and the data integration plan. For many researchers, combining qualitative and quantitative data during study is a difficult task (Wisdom and Cresswell, 2013).

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Qualitative research has made a lot of strides in the past few decades and has successfully incorporated within itself many different disciplines. It is being adopted by a wide variety of disciplines and, as evident by the above sections, very useful for understanding complex human behaviours and explaining the ‘why’ behind several research questions. Hence, there needs to be more research in the area of qualitative research and how to develop it further, so it can encompass other disciplines.


Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C.M. and Ormston, R. eds., 2013. Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. sage.

Bailey, L.F., 2014. The origin and success of qualitative research. International Journal of Market Research, 56(2), pp.167-184.

Pathak, V., Jena, B. and Kalra, S., 2013. Qualitative research. Perspectives in clinical research, 4(3).

Libguides.usc.edu. 2021. Research Guides: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Qualitative Methods. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2021].

Queirós, A., Faria, D. and Almeida, F., 2017. Strengths and limitations of qualitative and quantitative research methods. European Journal of Education Studies.

Wisdom, J. and Creswell, J.W., 2013. Mixed methods: integrating quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis while studying patient-centered medical home models. Rockville: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. eds., 2011. The Sage handbook of qualitative research. sage.

Flick, U., 2018. An introduction to qualitative research. sage.

Rahman, M.S., 2020. The advantages and disadvantages of using qualitative and quantitative approaches and methods in language “testing and assessment” research: A literature review.

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