Qualitative research typically uses interviews, open-ended questions, participant observations, etc., to identify patterns, themes, and features. These factors cannot easily be reduced to numbers. Qualitative research is common in the social sciences.
A classic form of qualitative research is the focus group, often used for market research. In a focus group, a few people are interviewed in depth about particular products or services. Because the sample group is so small, their opinions cannot be effectively analyzed using statistics, but their impressions can offer valuable insights into the ways that consumers think.
Another example is the case study, common in psychology and medicine. In a case study, a doctor or counselor documents in detail one patient’s experience of a disease or disorder. Case studies are particularly useful when the disorder is rare and thus cannot be studied in large populations.
Example of a case study:
And here is another example of qualitative research:
A literature review, also known as a review article, is an article whose sole purpose is to provide an overview of previous important research on a particular topic. Although valuable to researchers, literature reviews are not considered primary research. However, they can help you identify research trends and major articles published on a topic.
Almost every research article begins with one or two paragraphs looking at prior research on the same subject, in order to place the new study into context. However, in a pure literature review, no new study is conducted.
Examples of a literature review:
A systematic review is similar to a literature review, but has greater depth. A systematic review usually focuses on a single, well-defined research question and seeks to comprehensively gather all existing studies that address this research question.
A meta-analysis takes the results of several existing quantitative studies and analyzes them in a new way. Meta analysis looks for previously unnoticed patterns or trends among existing study results, or seeks to pull out new data from them. Meta analysis is usually considered another form of quantitative research.
Check with your professor before you use a meta-analysis in your research.
Example of a meta-analysis: