My colleague, Brian Koma, has taken to describing qualitative and quantitative research as the yin and yang of market research. In Taoism, yin and yang are opposing forces that are nonetheless bound together and interdependent, each giving rise to the other. For market research, many research initiatives start out as open-ended, qualitative questions. Once enough qualitative research is gathered, it discovers sentiments that can be tested across a wide range of respondents, giving rise to quantitative research. A survey can then be conducted to determine how representative these sentiments are of the target audience. When that survey is done, analyzing the results will produce some surprises, with some data for which the context is missing; this will give rise to further qualitative research, prompting further questions that need to be probed in detail, qualitatively. And so the two types of research play off of one another.
Characteristic of Qualitative Research
Qualitative research has many form of inquiry. However, all of them help us to explain the social phenomenon. The key philosophical assumption upon which all types of qualitative research are based on the belief that reality is constructed by individuals links with their social world. There are five characteristics on quantitative research.
Firstly, qualitative research “are interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed” (Merriam, 1998, p.6). Secondly, “the researcher is the primary instrument for data collection and analysis” (Merriam, 1998, p.7). Thirdly, qualitative research is usually involves fieldwork (Merriam, 1998, p.7). Fourthly, qualitative research primarily employs an inductive research strategy (Merriam, 1998, p.7). Finally, the product of a qualitative study is richly descriptive (Merriam, 1998, p.8).
The qualitative researcher must have an enormous tolerance for ambiguity. This is because the best way to proceed will not always be obvious. Sensitivity is a second attribute needed in qualitative research. The researcher must be sensitive to the information being gathered and aware of any personal biases. Finally, the good qualitative researcher must be a good communicator. A good reporter emphasizes with respondent, establishes understanding, ask good questions, and listens intently. However, being good communicator involve more than oral skills. Researcher need to be able to express the perception by writing in qualitative research. These all skill need to be train and practice always to gain more experience in this type of research.
I have recently found this blog (http://onqualitativeresearch.blogspot.com/) for my preference on what qualitative research is.