Nova A.
Nova A.

Types of Qualitative Research Methods - An Overview

8 min read

Published on: Jul 6, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

Types of Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is a powerful way to get an inside look into how people think and feel. These methods emphasize capturing the depth, context, and meaning behind human behavior, beliefs, and interactions. 

This research method is often used in sociology, business, education, political science, and social work.

To write an effective research paper, you need to know about the different qualitative research methods. So why wait? Start reading this blog and learn about its methods with the help of examples.  

On This Page

Understanding Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is a type of research that involves collecting and analyzing non-numerical data. It can be used to collect data through open-ended questions. Qualitative research gathers information related to a problem and develops new ideas for further research.

In humanities and social sciences subjects, qualitative research is commonly used. Social scientists usually use this type of research to investigate people’s behavior, actions, and interaction with society and other individuals.

The main purpose of this type of research is to understand the problem in-depth. The qualitative research questions can be exploratory, predictive, or interpretive.

qualitative research stages

When to Use Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is an excellent way to gain insight into topics that may otherwise go unstated. This kind of study provides a basis for deeper exploration and understanding by exploring nuances related directly or indirectly to your issue.

The following are the reasons that show when qualitative research should be used.

  • Explore market segments
  • Develop new products
  • Study people’s behavior
  • Investigate market demographics
  • Understand the perceptions of the company

Characteristics of Qualitative Research

The main characteristics of qualitative research are:

Qualitative research can change easily. It can change during the research or based on changes.

  • Researchers share everything about themselves with the participants. Reflexivity also makes the participants participate in the research openly and willingly. 
  • In qualitative research, the researcher randomly selects participants from a carefully chosen group of potential participants. This increases the accuracy of the outcome of the research.

6 Types of Qualitative Research Methods with Examples  

Qualitative research is based on collecting data by studying the subject in-depth. The main goal is to understand the why and how of the particular subject.  

Qualitative research methods help the researchers understand a target audience's behavior about a specific topic. 

Qualitative Research Methods

Let’s discuss them in detail. 


Ethnography is a commonly used qualitative research method. In this method, the researcher analyzes a focus group. He focuses on people and their behaviors in the natural environment. The researcher involves, observes, engages, and embeds themself into the subject’s daily life and routine.

As participants or observers, the researchers experience the customs, traditions, situations, etc.

Moreover, the researcher takes notes and describes their experience in descriptive form, so the reader also experiences the same culture.

Ethnographic research is the most in-depth observational qualitative research design. However, it is often very time-consuming.

For Example:

A researcher can study the behavior of eight elementary school children on a playground. Observing them one child at a time for eight weeks. The researcher will notice the child's favorite toys and pieces of playground equipment, as well as any recurring behavior patterns.

Grounded Theory Method

The grounded theory method usually starts with a question or a collection of data. It is used to develop a theory by conducting interviews and reading documents. It provides an explanation or theory behind the events.    

The corporate sector uses this method to conduct user satisfaction surveys. This method helps to explain why a customer uses a company’s product or service. The grounded theory method helps companies to improve and maintain customer loyalty.    

The grounded theory method can also help develop new theories of the collected data about a particular subject. Different coding techniques are used in this method to identify themes and develop a better theory.

The sample sizes in this method are larger than in other methods. It is used to generate rich data on complex processes and develop theories. Moreover, it is a method for discovering a new theory.

For Example:

The HR department gathers data from employees about what they feel is lacking in their work. They use this data to examine the results and find the root cause of the problem. Then they present solutions to the employees.

Narrative Method

The narrative method of qualitative research is similar to narrating a story. The researcher collects data or facts through interviews, observation, documents, etc.

This research method follows the chronological order and describes the events in order. It can be useful for further research and development of products. The researcher presents a story with conflicts, themes, and challenges.  

For Example:

This method can be used to understand the different challenges your target audience faces. This involves understanding your customers' stories and experiences with your product.

Order Now

Paper due? Why Suffer? That's our job.

Case Study Method

A case study involves in-depth analysis of a particular individual, group, organization, event, or phenomenon within its real-life context. It is a qualitative research approach that aims to provide a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the subject under study.

In a case study, the researcher examines a specific case or cases to gain insights into complex social, psychological, or cultural phenomena. The case may be selected based on its uniqueness, significance, or relevance to the research question. 

This research method can be explanatory or exploratory. It is also a useful research method for building theories. 

For Example:

Some people might say that Iris Brown's life changed forever when a metal rod went through his head. It damaged important parts of the brain, which altered how he behaves.

Phenomenology Method 

This method is used to study an event or activity from various angles. The researcher uses different methods, such as conducting interviews, surveys, reading documents, watching videos, and visiting places for data collection. The researcher conducts many interviews to check the validity of the gathered data.           

The phenomenology method involves how the participants feel about things during an activity or event. Phenomenology is an experience or perception-based research method.

In the phenomenology research method, the researcher explores the experience of participants. A researcher conducts a lot of interviews to build a sufficient dataset to validate the findings.  

This research focuses on answering the ‘what is’ question rather than questions of magnitude ‘how much’ or ‘how many.’  

For Example:

The effects of Covid-19 are still being felt today. Those who have lost loved ones and survivors help us understand how people cope. Also, help us understand what they're going through emotionally and physically after such an event occurs in their lives. 

Historical Method

The historical method of qualitative research describes past events to present patterns. This method answers hypothetical based questions and then uses resources to test them.

Some companies use this method and take data from previous campaigns and then analyze it with new campaigns. And then determine which campaign is most effective.

The researcher selects the topic after reading the related literature and develops research questions in the historical method. Then verifies the validity and collects data. 

For Example:

The data and information from your past ad campaigns can help you create better ads for the future. 

Here’s a table that summarizes the main types and their purpose.

Type of Qualitative Research


Ethnography Method

To understand and describe the cultural beliefs, practices, and behaviors of a specific group or community.

Grounded Theory Method

To develop theories or concepts grounded in the data obtained from observations and interviews.

Narrative Method

To explore and analyze individual or collective stories, experiences, or accounts to understand meaning-making and identity formation.

Case Study Method

To conduct an in-depth analysis of a specific individual, group, or phenomenon within its real-life context.

Phenomenology Method

To explore and understand the subjective experiences, perceptions, and meanings that individuals attribute to a particular phenomenon.

Historical Method

To examine and interpret historical events, processes, and contexts to gain insights into social, cultural, or political phenomena.

Types of Qualitative Research Questions

Qualitative research is used to understand events or phenomena. It focuses on groups' experiences instead of statistics or numbers. 

There are three types of qualitative research questions.

  1. Exploratory Questions: Questions designed to learn more about something without bias are called exploratory questions. The goal of asking an exploratory question is to learn more about something without assuming anything.
  1. Predictive Questions: This type of question uses past information to understand future outcomes. 
  1. Interpretive Questions: Interpretive research studies how people make sense of their experiences in natural settings. 

Types of Qualitative Research Examples  

It can be difficult to know where and how you should start when it comes time for your own research. However, examples of qualitative studies are available. 

These will help you and provide insight into the process as well as give some ideas on what type or topic might work best with whatever goal is in mind. 

To Conclude,

Writing a good research paper needs good writing skills. It also requires a better understanding of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Utilizing an AI writing tool for help is a good way to start if you're struggling.

You can also get online help from professional writers who have years of experience writing research papers. is the best essay writing service that guides you in all types of research papers. We have a team of skilled writers who can take care of your qualitative research.  

So place your order now and get a high-quality paper.  

Nova A.


Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That’s our Job!

Get Help Top-class writers are here! Get Help!

Keep reading