7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Rethinking the justifications for Qualitative Research
2020-12-01, 19:45–21:00, Zoom Conference Room

Qualitative research is often regarded as the poor relation of quantitative research: less rigorous and less credible. In this talk, I suggest three reasons why this critique might be justified.

1. Too much qualitative research is based on brief data extracts selected to give uncritical support to researchers’ claims.
2. The overwhelming dependence of qualitative research on ‘manufactured’ data such as interviews and focus groups is questionable.
3. Qualitative researchers’ claims to be able to offer ‘authentic’ descriptions of people’s ‘experience’ naively mirror the assumptions of psy professionals and social media postings.

By contrast, I suggest that qualitative researchers do best when they employ rigorous data analysis to study behavior using naturalistic data. Rather than compete with quantitative researchers, this means our work can be complementary to them, studying phenomena unavailable to quantitative methods.