Bosch, R. The aim of this book is to provide an alternative for the post positivist approach within science. It provides information about ontological issues related to epistemological questions about reality, truth, objectivity and plausibility within the qualitative research approach. They are meant to give insight into perspectives or meanings of people, or provide information on experiences, needs or considerations. Therefore, only some examples are provided in this guideline. Case studies provide an in-depth study to understand the complexity of a case.
Read more: Stake, R. In Denzin, N. Abma, T. Qualitative Health Research, 24, 8, Simons, H. Evaluation, 21, 2, Examples: Abma, T.
Bioethics, 26, 1, Schipper, K. British Medical Journal, , b Data collection, data analysis and reflection form a cycle iterative study ; analysis informs the next cycle of data collection, and the subsequent analysis leads to further refinement. Read more: Charmaz, K.
Second Edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage publications. Corbin, J. Lingard, L.
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BMJ, a This article discusses three commonly used methodological approaches: grounded theory, mixed methods, and action research. It provides background for those who will encounter these methodologies in their reading rather than instructions for carrying out such research. It describes the appropriate uses, key characteristics, and features of rigor of each approach.
Grounded Theory in Practice. London: Sage This volume presents a series of readings that emphasize different aspects of grounded theory methodology and methods. Dutch reference: Boer, F. Example: Verbrugge, R.
Best Practices for Qualitative User Research
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 22, Coghlan, D. London: Sage. Respondents The recruitment of respondents in qualitative research is not aimed at generalization of a selected population. User research methods are often divided into quantitative and qualitative methods. In quantitative methods such as surveys, analytics, and formal experiments, the researcher seeks to measure aspects of users and user behavior in a way that can be quantified and used for statistical analysis.
Getting a sample of users who can represent the entire user population in a statistically meaningful way often requires many research participants. The results of qualitative research are usually not expressed numerically, but rather as themes or categories that have occurred during the research. You can choose to study these using either quantitative or qualitative research methods.
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If you use a quantitative method, you could create an online survey and distribute it to a large number of participants. If you do your job dutifully, the survey answers can be numerically summarized without bias from your own opinion or personal experience with exercise. If you use a qualitative method, you could choose to do interviews with a limited number of participants, where you talk to the participants about when, where, and how they exercise.
Similarly, the results of the interview also, to some extent, depend on a subjective interpretation of what the participant has told you. You can use both qualitative and quantitative measures to study user behavior — e. Here, we will focus on how to do qualitative user research of a high quality. Thus, we will only bring up quantitative user research methods to highlight the differences between the types of research; however, before we go any further, we should mention that combining the methods often makes sense.
For instance, many usability tests combine quantitative measures of e. Quite often, in a usability test , you might combine both types of methods in order to interpret results. To get meaningful results, we need both types of data. Although 5. So, quantitative research methods seek to measure an objective reality that exists externally from the researcher, and we have clear guidelines showing how to ensure that the research truly is objective and valid.
With qualitative research methods, we cannot measure a completely objective reality that is not in any way influenced by the researcher.
This can lead to two problematic misunderstandings. One is that qualitative research is of less value than quantitative research, and the other is that qualitative research does not need to be methodical and structured , because observing or talking to people does not require any real preparation or knowledge which then confirms misunderstanding number one! Sometimes, we think of qualitative user research as something we choose to do because we lack the time and resources to do proper quantitative research.
Qualitative data analysis
While time and resources certainly play a factor when planning user research, qualitative research has merit in its own right. If we think of the exercise example, a quantitative survey requires that you know enough about your participants and how they exercise to know what questions are the most relevant to ask in your questionnaire.
For instance, it only makes sense to ask a participant how often he uses a fitness tracker while exercising if he does—in fact—exercise from time to time and knows what a fitness tracker is. If, on the other hand, you were doing an interview, you could change the direction of your questions if you discovered that the participant does not know what a fitness tracker is.
Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2. Comparing research methods is a bit like comparing apples and oranges — they have different qualities.
Qualitative Research Methods & Methodology
Qualitative methods can give you an in-depth understanding of something in ways that are impossible to reduce to numbers. Qualitative methods can provide you with more detail about a situation or an answer because you can always follow up with new questions or go back to your participants for more detail. Finally, qualitative research methods do have the advantage in that they often require less time and fewer resources than quantitative research methods do; so, they are easier to fit into—e.
However, qualitative research should still strive for objectivity, although in a different way from quantitative research. In his classic book Interviews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing, professor of psychology Steinar Kvale proposes three ways in which qualitative research can strive for objectivity:. Each of these tells us something about how we should do qualitative research so that it is methodical and structured. In the exercise interview example, we could have an expectation that people would be more motivated to exercise if they had an exercise partner, and we might even already have a good idea for an app that could help people find an exercise partner.
You can encounter the same issues when you do usability tests. Objectivity through intersubjective knowledge refers to an understanding of objectivity as something that multiple people agree on.
In qualitative user research, that means ensuring that you are not the only person who interprets your data the way you do. One way of doing this is to have another person who might have a different perspective help you analyze your data. That way, you can compare your observations to see if you agree.
You can also choose to share and discuss your observations openly with your team to see if they have a different interpretation of your research. Doing this requires that everyone be prepared to be open and curious about the data. Finally, you can ensure that your research participants agree with your observations and interpretations by continually sharing them with them. In the exercise interview, you could follow up answers that might be interpreted in different ways with a quick summary of what you believe the participant has said — e.
You could also choose to share your analysis or report with the participants to see if they have any comments or objections to your findings. Objections do not always mean that your interpretation is wrong, but they add to your understanding of your participants nonetheless. Research is adequate to the object it investigates when the results show the real nature of the object. Both working in an unbiased way and discussing your interpretations with other people help ensure that your research reflects the nature of the topic you are investigating, but it is also important that you choose the research method that best fits your research topic.
Research methods have different attributes and are good for different things, so what results you can get depend on what research method you choose. If you ask me about my yoga exercise, my answers might be biased by what I wish my skill level and location to be rather than an accurate reflection of what these really look like and no, unfortunately, this is not a picture of the author doing yoga. Similarly, we can use interviews to talk to participants about the usability of a user interface, but observing how they interact with the user interface during a usability test or a combination of test and interview will probably give a more accurate picture of what they find difficult.
Here, we have focused on the positive attributes of qualitative user research and what it means to be objective in qualitative user research. We can sum up how to be objective when engaging in such research with the following best practices:. These are best practices. That way, you will enable a more scientific transfer of facts, ground your research in firmer reality, and vastly increase the likelihood that your projects end up engaging with real-world users in the way you hope.
SAGE Publications. Ann Blandford. If you are interested in learning more about quantitative and qualitative research, you can read:. John W.