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QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Qualitative research is a generic term for investigative methodologies described as ethnographic, naturalistic, anthropological, field, or participant observer research. It emphasizes the importance of looking at variables in the natural setting in which they are found. Interaction between variables is important. Detailed data is gathered through open ended questions that provide direct quotations. The interviewer is an integral part of the investigation (Jacob, 1988). This differs from quantitative research which attempts to gather data by objective methods to provide information about relations, comparisons, and predictions and attempts to remove the investigator from the investigation (Smith, 1983).
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in [1] the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed than large samples.

Advantages Produces more in-depth, comprehensive information. Uses subjective information and participant observation to describe the context, or natural setting, of the variables under consideration, as well as the interactions of the different variables in the context. It seeks a wide understanding of the entire situation. Disadvantages The very subjectivity of the inquiry leads to difficulties in establishing the reliability and validity of the approaches and information. It is very difficult to prevent or detect researcher induced bias. Its scope is limited due to the in-depth, comprehensive data gathering approaches required.

Holistic Description When conducting qualitative research, the investigator seeks to gain a total or complete picture. According to Stainback and Stainback (1988), a holistic description of events, procedures, and philosophies occurring in natural settings is often needed to make accurate situational decisions. This differs from quantitative research in which selected, pre-defined variables are studied. Corroboration The purpose of corroboration is not to confirm whether peoples perceptions are accurate or true reflections of a situation but rather to ensure that the research findings accurately reflect peoples perceptions, whatever they may be. The purpose of corroboration is to help researchers increase their understanding of the probability that their findings will be seen as credible or worthy of consideration by others (Stainback & Stainback, 1988). Triangulation

One process involved in corroboration is triangulation. Denzin (1978) has identified several types of triangulation. One type involves the convergence of multiple data sources. Another type is methodological triangulation, which involves the convergence of data from multiple data collection sources. A third triangulation procedure is investigator triangulation, in which multiple researchers are involved in an investigation. Related to investigator triangulation is researcher-participant corroboration, which has also been referred to as cross-examination. Other procedures can be used to improve understanding and/or the credibility of a study. These include research or inquiry audit, peer debriefing, and the seeking of negative cases in the field that might disconfirm interpretations. Participant Observation Systematically seeks out and organizes data concerning what is being studied based on a social science theory and methodology rather than focusing on achieving a situationally defined goal. Keeps detailed records of what occurs, including those things characteristically taken for granted. Periodically detaches self from the situation to review records from the neutral position of a social scientist. Constantly monitors observations and records for evidence of personal bias or prejudice. Five Types of Participant Observation External Participation constitutes the lowest degree of involvement in observation. This type of observation can be done by observing situations on television or videotape. Passive Participation means the researcher is present at the scene of action but does not interact or participate. The researcher finds an observation post and assumes the role of a bystander or spectator. Balanced Participation means that the researcher maintains a balance between being an insider and being an outsider. The researcher observes and participates in some activities, but does not participate fully in all activities. Active Participation means that the researcher generally does what others in the setting do. While beginning with observation to learn the rules, as they are learned the researcher becomes actively engaged in the activities of the setting. Total Participation means the researcher is a natural participant. This is the highest level of involvement and usually comes about when the researcher studies something in which he or she is already a natural participant. Interviewing The researcher should control his reactions. The purpose of the interview is to find out what views people hold; their views should be unbiased by evaluative responses on the researchers part. The researcher should choose an interview environment and conditions in which the participants feel comfortable, secure, and at ease enough to speak openly about their point of view. The researcher should avoid presenting "yes" or "no" questions which tend to stifle detail. The researcher should be flexible in his or her approach to the informants. Group interviews can be useful, particularly in initial interviews. The researcher should consider to what degree the interview questioning is "recursive." As applied to interviewing, what has been said in an interview is used to determine or define further questioning. Case Study

Case studies are detailed investigations of individuals, groups, institutions or other social units. The researcher conducting a case study attempts to analyze the variables relevant to the subject under study (Polit and Hungler, 1983). The principle difference between case studies and other research studies is that the focus of attention is the individual case and not the whole population of cases. Most studies search for what is common and pervasive. However, in the case study, the focus may not be on generalization but on understanding the particulars of that case in its complexity. A case study focuses on a bounded system, usually under natural conditions, so that the system can be understood in its own habitat (Stake, 1988). Quantitative Research Quantitative research is the numbers side of market research. It's about measurement and attaching numbers to a market - for instance market size, market share, penetration, installed base and market growth rates. Quantitative research can also be used to measure attitudes, satisfaction, commitment and a range of other useful market data and market metrics that can be tracked over time and used as part of a wider business planning and business strategy process.
Quantitative research is often contrasted with qualitative research, which is the examination, analysis and interpretation of observations for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships, including classifications of types of phenomena and entities, in a manner that does not involve mathematical models.

The basis of all quantitative research comes from the design of the sample and survey type, the design of the questionnaire and the quality of theanalysis and reporting. A good design comes from understanding not just how to do research, but also the business context for that research and knowledge of the decisions that may be taken once the results are in. Sample and survey type The sample and survey type are the statistical bedrock on which quantitative research is based. Survey design relies on properly defining the target universe or population, finding means to make contact with this population and stratifying or dividing the population into a known classification scheme so that the sample can be drawn properly. The type of survey to be carried out will depend almost entirely on the target population and the subject under investigation. Options range from postal, to telephone, to face-to-face intercept surveys (street interviewing), to house-to-house and on-line research. Understanding the likely response rates, biases and properly defining the interviewing task will determine the true statistical quality of the final data. We carry out quantitative research in all forms whether postal, telephone, on-line or using face-to-face interviewers which makes us well placed to determine which technique will work best for your project.

Questionnaire Quantitative research, unlike qualitative research, relies on a fixed questionnaire that should be administered the same way, word-for-word, for each respondent to obtain a reliable measure of the market. Although not hard to design, questionnaires require a few basic rules to be followed so that ambiguous results are avoided. Such as avoiding double meanings or leaving the respondent unable to answer. A well designed questionnaire will be short, to the point, yet have a flow that the interviewer and respondent can use to get through it quickly and accurately. Ideally a questionnaire should be designed with analysis and

presentation in mind. Will I be able to use and explain the results? Have I covered off the key market metrics needed for analysis? Can I adequately segment and classify the different parts of the market? Increasingly questionnaires are not just about measuring "x% of the population said...", but also involve modelling and forecasting behaviours from the answers given. Proper thought to the statistical output and modelling possibilities should be strongly considered when designing the questions, particularly if the questionnaire is to be used in any form of long-term tracking where changes are difficult and often costly to make.

Analysis and reporting Quality analysis is the unsung hero of quantitative research. It would be fair to say that most market research quantitative studies are under-analysed, usually because of pressures of time and a desire to get the results into a presentation, so creating a pile of charts, but not the intelligence or interpretation the business really needs what does it mean? Here under-analysed shouldn't be taken to mean cutting and re-cutting the data into millions of tiny subgroups looking for miniscule gems of information (which is very time intensive and usually not very productive). Underanalysed means cross-referencing one measure against another within the same survey (and with external data too). For instance, looking at average sales size for your company against your competitors, or finding out what proportion of your customers are active in a market (see market metrics). The better the analysis, the shorter the questionnaire and the presentation will be. The reason being that good quality analysis means being able to focus on the important over the merely interesting. But to understand what is important, the analyst needs to have a good view of what the business is about and so what the audience need to hear. Presenting quantitative information is also a challenge. It is by its nature numerical and not particularly visual (fancy graphics may dress up and mask this fact). The challenge for the researcher is to bring out and illustrate the story, not merely present the list of answers to the questionnaire. If the research was mainly to collect information (such as a U&A) as a database, one question is whether you should ever present all the information to everyone all at the same go, or just need to communicate what you have and dip in and out. In particular, you might look at the tools that you have to access the data - for instance we often provide bespoke drill-down tools that help people explore the data in more detail or from a specific perspective in the future.