A Guide to Using
Qualitative Research Methodology
© 2002 Michael Quinn Patton and Michael Cochran
Reproduced with kind permission of Michael Quinn Patton
This guide to using qualitative research
methodology is designed to help you think
about all the steps you need to take to
ensure that you produce a good quality
piece of work.
most important steps in your research!),
to how to develop a research protocol;
and finally giving you tips on the sampling
methods which are available and how to
The guide starts by telling you what
qualitative methodology is and when to
use it in the field (understand people’s
belief system, perspectives, ...view middle of the document...
Case studies will be developed throughout
the year and put on the open repository.
A Guide to using Qualitative Research Methodology
1. What is qualitative research? Aims, uses
(ii) Group interviews
and ethical issues
a) What is a group interview?
a) What is qualitative research?
b) Advantages of group interviews
b) When to use qualitative methods
c) Practical issues
c) Ethical issues
(iii) Contextual data
2. How to develop qualitative research designs
a) The research question
b) Reports and other written data
b) The research protocol
c) Oral data
c) A word on sampling
4. Data management and analysis
3. How to generate data
Confidentiality and security issues
a) Interviews- what are they?
b) Topic guides
c) Asking questions
d) Interviewing skills
Thematic analysis of data
e) Managing expectations
The use of computer software
1. What is qualitative research? Aims, uses and ethical issues
“Not everything that can be counted counts,
and not everything that counts can be counted “
(a) What is qualitative research?
Qualitative research is characterised by its
aims, which relate to understanding
some aspect of social life, and its methods
which (in general) generate words, rather
than numbers, as data for analysis.
For researchers more familiar with quantitative methods, which aim to measure
something (such as the percentage of
people with a particular disease in a
community, or the number of households
owning a bed net), the aims and methods
of qualitative research can seem imprecise.
Common criticisms include:
samples are small and not necessarily
representative of the broader
population, so it is difficult to know
how far we can generalise the results;
the findings lack rigour;
it is difficult to tell how far the findings
are biased by the researcher’s own
However, for many research projects, there
are different sorts of questions that need
answering, some requiring quantitative
methods, and some requiring qualitative
methods. If the question is a qualitative
one, then the most appropriate and
rigorous way of answering it is to use
qualitative methods. For instance, if you
want to lobby for better access to health
care in an area where user fees have been
introduced, you might first undertake a
cross-sectional survey which will tell you
that 16.5% of your population does not
have access to care. This is...