Qualitative research methods

Stemming out of history and the humanities, hermeneutics and interpretation have been around since the dawn of societies.

Placing into meaningful categories we are able to make sense out of phenomena, whether it is hot gasses swirling in nuclear fire or Ra the powerful god of the Egyptians. The categories themselves matter not, only that they have psychological and often social and physical impacts on human life.

Particularly this is the case when dealing with notions of the self or person. Seemingly opaque and easy to classify and quantify, it often eludes classification because of the mixing meaning system that create and attempt to understand it.

On the surface humans all appear to be similar, however the subtle nuances that emerge through social construction lead us into the most unusual blends that stand beyond the categories of the older generative systems. New categories are needed to understand and express the meaning of the human experiences that appear unique or iconoclastic.

Once you have had some experience generating qualitative analysis, consider the criteria below in terms of how well you have done this task.

but first, a brief look at the past: Natural vs. Human science

Operationism and the Rise of Social Constructionism

Operationism and the operational definition form a central part of the dogma of neo-positivist influences in psychology

Cultural Psychology is an area where this view has grown. Often contrasted with cross-cultural psychology which is neo-positivist.

It is a place where qualitative methods have also spread in helping to understand the meaning of people from other cultures.

Cozby suggests that Naturalistic Observation is tied to qualitative research. The relationship is not absolute.

Qualitative research involves the description of setting and the behaviours or actions, conversations, etc...

Interpretation is also integral where meaning is made of the data but drawing out examples that fit into themes or characteristics.

May involve a variety of techniques ranging from open-ended questions to focus group discussions.

coding systems are developed to placed the data into categories or classifications. Try to have codes that are easy to use, clear and simple. When dealing with complex phenomena (cultural identity) it often becomes a challenge to find the right categories.

Case studies or narrative are often developed as a way to describe human experience and to articulate some theoretical perspective.

Erik Erikson and the history psycho-making method Metropolis

Content Analysis is also done where responses are classified into categories and counted to provide quantitative data on categories. Using nominal scales can still count how many...

Criteria for accepting qualitative studies and interpretations:

Elliot, Fisher, & Rennie (1999). Evolving guidelines for publication of qualitative research studies in psychology and related fields. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 215-229.