Welcome to Qualnation!

Research...it's not a four-letter word.  In a lot of our academic pursuits, research may have seemed like a daunting task.  The twists and turns of research questions, methodologies, hypothesis statements and data pools can be overwhelming.  The trick is to identify a form of research that is meaningful to you and will add value to your personal and professional path.

Qualnation is a forum to promote qualitative research methods as an avenue to conduct research.  Whether you are working on a class project, a masters degree thesis or a doctoral dissertation, qualitative research methods may be the right tool for your area of research.

What is "qualitative research"?

Qualitative research is a form of research that allows you to dig deep into social issues.  Are you interested in exploring the experiences of individuals who experienced the trauma of the World Trade Centers falling on 9-11?  Are you interested in understanding the perceptions of women in a predominantly white-male work environment?  Or how about the life experiences of individuals who have tested as HIV positive?  These are only a few of the types of areas that qualitative research methods can help us dive deeply into and gain an understanding of the experiences of others.

Tools used in qualitative research include:

- Participant interviews where people involved in your area of research are asked open-ended questions regarding their experiences

- Participant observation where you as the researcher enter the environment of your research and observe and record what you see, hear and experience

- Review of written records associated with your research topic, such as letters, policies and journal articles

Why is qualitative research important?

Qualitative research adds a significant dimension to our understanding of the world around us.  To use a sports example, we can look at Tiger Woods.  He is arguably the best golfer that the sport has seen.  But what makes Tiger Woods great and how do we understand his success?  We may think that "practice makes perfect".  We could study Tiger's game from a quantitative perspective by defining how many golf balls he hits in practice each day and what types of shots he practices each day of the week.  We could also research his workout routine by defining how many miles he runs each day and how much weight he lifts in different types of exercises.  This research will yield valuable information for the aspiring pro golfer.  It can help us understand from a quantitative perspective the volume of work that we must be willing to commit to in order to play the way he does.  We can also study Tiger's game from a qualitative perspective through:

- Interviewing him

- Researching previous recorded interviews on paper or through video

- Reading works that he has authored

- Interviewing coaches he has had

- Observing his performance

This type of qualitative research can help us more fully understand him as an athlete and as a person.  It can help us understand how he reacts under pressure and what drives him to perform at the level of excellence he achieves each Sunday afternoon on the golf course.  Qualitative research adds a dimension of understanding that goes much deeper than the surface indicators that we may typically rely on to tell us the story of an individual.

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