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NURS 4321: Health Systems Leadership: Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research Research

Qualitative researchers assess the qualities of something; if the qualities are measured at all, they do not measure quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency. The data collected is more abstract and express itself in words, and not necessarily numbers. 

The benefits of using qualitative methods is the rich and detailed results it can produce. Researchers can use the data to then understand the social impact and influence of the research topic. 

Dr. Liz Fitzgerald at the Institute of Educational Technology provides a great explanation of qualitative approaches 

  • Any research that doesn’t involve numerical data
  • Instead uses words, pictures, photos, videos, audio recordings. Field notes, generalities. Peoples’ own words.
  • Tends to start with a broad question rather than a specific hypothesis
  • Develop theory rather than start with one; inductive rather than deductive 

Five Types of Qualitative Research

  • A Phenomenology study attempts to explain life experiences, or phenomenon. 
  • Narrative/Historical study investigates a person, event, or era to find meaning for current day issues, or to tell the story of the research item. 
  • Grounded Theory study allows for the exploration of existing issues/problems, and examine how society, groups of people, or individuals handle them. Researchers use this when they want to create a theory "grounded in observations. 
  • A Ethnography study examines different cultural, social, or ethnic groups to help understand the group more comprehensively
  • A Case Study allows researchers to analyze a specific organization/company, a singular event, or a multiple events. 

Center for Innovation in Research & Training. (n.d.) Retrieved from; University of Missouri-St. Louis. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Types of Research Tools

Qualitative data collection tools, or instruments, are focused on collection the experience, understanding, perspectives, emotions, and/or opinions of their research subjects. As these items are not adequately measured with numbers or stats, the instruments will need to collect word-based data, as opposed to numerical extraction. 

Some common qualitative instruments that are utilized frequently by researchers are: 

  • In-depth and open/fluid interviews 
  • Observation 
  • Document/Literature Review
  • Focus groups 

"Data collection methods". (n.d.) Retrieved from; Marczyk, G. R., DeMatteo, D., & Festinger, D. (2005). Essentials of research design and methodology. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Finding Qualitative Research Article