6 Types of Qualitative Research Methods With Examples (2023)

The design of qualitative research is a general way of thinking about writing a qualitativeresearch paper. It also helps to describe the purpose, stages, types, and methods of qualitative research.

Mainly, there are six types of qualitative research. They are considered as the most flexible research techniques that provide learners with the appropriate knowledge. Similarly, it also helps you to understand the behavior, beliefs, and opinions of individuals.

Nevertheless, these types use similar data collection methods but have different purposes of the study.

If you are new to the concept, we recommend you to go through this blog until the end. You will also find examples to get an in-depth understanding of the approaches.

What is Qualitative Research?

As per the qualitative research definition, it is exploratory research that is used to understand the reasons and opinions of individuals. Moreover, it is an important market-based research study that focuses on obtaining qualitative data through open-ended conversations.

The purpose is to comprehend the main problem and develop ideas and methods for future quantitative research.

People typically use qualitative study in opposition to quantitative research. However, sometimes, they are not completely aware of the differences betweenqualitative vs. quantitative research. Many think that both serve the same purpose, which is not true.

Moreover, the methods of qualitative research have a long history in the field of social science. It is used to obtain and use qualitative data to understand the social life of the targeted population. Here, the primary focal point is the micro-level interaction.

Types of Qualitative Research Methods

Researchers collect data of the targeted population, place, or event by using different types of qualitative research analysis.

Below are the most commonly used qualitative research types for writing a research paper.

The following is a detailed description of these research types.

Ethnography Method

The table shows the basic elements of the ethnography method.

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Ethnography Method
  • Describe cultural characteristics
  • Identify the cultural aspects and variables by reviewing the literature
  • Getting involved in the environment, live with the target audience, and collect data through observing and interacting with subjects
AnalysisDescribe the main parameters of culture
OutcomesA detailed description of the social morals

Ethnography is a branch of anthropology that provides a scientific explanation of human societies and cultures. It is one of the most popular and widely used techniques of qualitative research.

The fieldwork requires the researcher to get involved in the environment and live with the focus group. Such an interaction is done to understand the goals, motivations, challenges, and cultures of the individuals.

Similarly, it also helps to illustrate the cultural characteristics such as:

  • Location
  • Religion
  • Tribal systems
  • Shared experience
  • Life style

Rather than conducting surveys and interviews, researchers experience the environment and act as an observer. Thus, the primary data collection method is observation over an extended period.

However, it would also be appropriate to interview those who have studied the same cultures.

Ethnographic research becomes difficult if the researcher is not familiar with the social morals and language of the group. Furthermore, interpretations by outsiders may also lead to confusion.

Thus, it requires the researcher to validate the data before presenting the findings.

For Example:

A good approach to understand the needs of the customers is by observing their daily activities. Notice how they interact with the product.

For this, you don’t have to come up with any hypotheses to test. However, you only need it in the social life of the subjects.

Narrative Method

Have a look at the table given below.

Narrative Method
PurposeCollect data in the form of a cohesive story
MethodReview the sequence of events, and conduct interviews to describe the largest influences that affected an individual.
AnalysisAnalyze different life situations and opportunities
OutcomesPresent a short story with themes, conflicts, and challenges

The narrative research method occurs over a long period for compiling the data. It takes a sequence of events to form a cohesive story. However, similar to a story narrative, it takes a subject from a starting point and reviews different situations of life.

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Here, the researcher conducts in-depth interviews and reads various documents. Moreover, it also reviews the events that largely impact the personality of an individual.

Sometimes, interviews are conducted even after weeks, months, or years. Nevertheless, this method requires the outcomes to be presented in a short story with themes.

It may also include the conflicts, tensions, and challenges that have become a great opportunity for innovation.

For Example:

The narrative method can be used in a business to understand the different challenges faced by the target audience. Moreover, it can be utilized for further innovation and development of products.

Phenomenological Method

The following are the essential aspects of this research method.

Phenomenological Method
PurposeDescribe the experiences, events, or situations from different angles
  • Sampling and data collection by conducting interviews, observation, surveys, and reading documents
  • Describe and write the experience of the phenomena
Data AnalysisClassify the data and examine the experiences beyond human awareness
OutcomesA database is formed to describe the findings from a subject’s viewpoint

The word phenomenological means the study of a phenomenon such as events, situations, or experiences. It is the best approach to describe something from different angles and add to the existing knowledge. Similarly, it focuses on subjective experiences.

Here, a researcher uses different methods to gather data and understand the phenomenon. These methods include interviews, visiting places, observation, surveys, and reading documents.

Lastly, this technique takes into account how participants feel about things during an event or activity. Thus, a database with themes is formed to validate the findings.

For Example:

You can use this method to understand why students prefer to take online courses. Moreover, it will also identify the reason behind the rise in the number of students from the last few years.

Grounded Theory Method

Check out the table below to understand the elements of a grounded theory method.

(Video) 5 Types of Qualitative Research Design

Grounded Theory Method
  • Used to develop theory, identify social development and ways to deal it
  • Involves the formulation and testing of data until the theory is developed
MethodData collection methods such as interviews, observation, literature review, and document analysis
AnalysisTheory formation and development by a sampling of literature
OutcomesTheory supported by relevant examples from data

A phenomenological study describes an event. Whereas, a grounded theory approach provides an explanation, reasons, or theory behind that event. It aims to develop new theories by collecting and analyzing data about a phenomenon.

Here, a researcher makes use of various data collection techniques. It includes observation, interview, literature review, and relevant document analysis. Moreover, the unit of content analysis is a specific phenomenon or incident and not individual behaviors.

Usually, different coding techniques and large sample sizes are used to identify themes and develop a better theory.

For Example:

This method can be used in businesses to conduct surveys. It also helps to demonstrate why the consumer uses the company’s product or services.

The data collected through these surveys help companies to improve and maintain their customer’s satisfaction and loyalty.

Case Study

Here are the main characteristics of a case study method.

Case Study
PurposeDescribe an experience, person, event, or place in detail
MethodDirect observation and interaction with the subject
AnalysisAnalyze the experiences
OutcomesAn in-depth description of the subjects

The case study approach occurs over extended periods of time to compile information. It involves an in-depth understanding of a subject such as an event, person, business, or place.

Similarly, the data is collected from various sources, including interviews, direct observation, and historical documentation.

Case studies are carried out in different disciplines like law, education, medicine, and sciences. Therefore, they can be descriptive or explanatory in nature.

Furthermore, this method is used when the researcher wants to focus on:

  • ‘How’ and ‘why’ research questions
  • The behaviors under observation
  • Understand the phenomenon
  • The context of the phenomena

For Example:

(Video) Types of qualitative research design with examples in research methodology

Businesses can use case studies to show their business solutions effectively. Similarly, it also helps them to identify how they can solve a particular problem for the subject.

Let suppose a company AB introduces new UX designs into an agile environment. It would be considered as enlightening to many companies.

Historical Method

Have a look at the below table to understand the historical method.

Historical Method
PurposeDescribe and examines past events to understand present patterns and predicting future scenarios
  • Develop your idea after reading the relevant literature
  • Develop the types of qualitative research questions
  • Identify the sources - archives, libraries, papers
  • Clarify the reliability and validity of data sources
  • Create a research outline to organize the process
  • Collect data
  • Analyze the data by accepting or rejecting it
  • Identify the conflicting evidence
OutcomesPresent the findings in the form of biography or paper

The historical method describes past events to understand present scenarios and predict future choices. It answers the research questions based on a hypothetical idea. Later this technique used multiple resources to test the idea for any potential challenges.

It also requires the development of the research outline to organize the whole process. Lastly, the historical method presents the findings in the form of a biography.

For Example:

For creating new ads, businesses can use historical data of previous ad campaigns and the targeted demographics.

Types of Qualitative Research Examples

Check out the document for some more examples of qualitative research types for better understanding.

View Types of Qualitative Research Example Here

If you are assigned to submit a qualitative research paper soon, the above guide will help you.

Here, different types of qualitative research methodology can assist in understanding the behavior and motivations of people. Similarly, it will also help in generating original ideas and formulate a better research problem.

However, not everyone can write a good research paper. Thus, if you get stuck at any stage of writing your qualitative research paper, you can take professional help.

(Video) Types Of Qualitative Research Methods

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What are the 6 main types of qualitative research? ›

The six main forms are:
  • Phenomenological Method (deriving from phenomena)
  • Ethnographic Model.
  • Grounded Theory Method.
  • Case Study Model.
  • Historical Model.
  • Narrative Model.

What are the 6 types of research explain each in detail? ›

What are the 6 most critical types of research? The six critical types of research include exploratory research, descriptive research, explanatory research, correlational research, and causal research.

What are the 6 types of quantitative research? ›

What are the types of quantitative research?
  • Descriptive Research Design.
  • Survey Research.
  • Correlational Research Design.
  • Quasi-experimental Research Design.
  • Experimental Research Design.
Jul 15, 2021

What are the 6 characteristics of qualitative research? ›

Most forms of qualitative research have the following main features: • a focus on natural settings; • an interest in meanings, perspectives and understandings; • an emphasis on process; • a concern with inductive analysis and grounded theory. Let us consider each of these in turn.

What are qualitative data explain different types of qualitative data with examples? ›

Qualitative data is data that can be felt or described. The three main types of qualitative data are binary, nominal, and ordinal. There are many different types of qualitative data, like data in research, work, and statistics.

What are the most common qualitative research methods? ›

The three most common qualitative methods, explained in detail in their respective modules, are participant observation, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Each method is particularly suited for obtaining a specific type of data.

What are the six main research methods? ›

In conducting research, sociologists choose between six research methods: (1) survey, (2) participant observation, (3), secondary analysis, (4) documents, (5) unobtrusive measures, and (6) experiments.

What are the 5 major qualitative research designs? ›

A popular and helpful categorization separate qualitative methods into five groups: ethnography, narrative, phenomenological, grounded theory, and case study.

What is Chapter 6 in qualitative research? ›

Chapter 6 is the summary, conclusions and recommendations of all the previous chapters as well as an evaluation of the research goal, objectives and hypothesis.

What are the five 5 common qualitative research designs? ›

Here are five common design approaches:
  • Historical Study. A historical study is the ideal choice for studies that involve extensive examination of the past — including people, events and documents. ...
  • Phenomenology. Phenomenology is a wide-ranging form of study. ...
  • Grounded Theory. ...
  • Ethnography. ...
  • Case Study.
Nov 3, 2021


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