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Qualitative Research Methods for Social Scientists

Introduction: Qualitative Research Methods for Social Scientists 

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Qualitative research is used to identify the experiences of people. The researcher uses such a method to get a clear understanding of the behavior of the people. It also emphasized defining motivates and different characteristics of the people. This method of research is target-group oriented. The method of qualitative research includes case studies, structured interviews, narrative research, ethnography, and a few others. This kind of research usually works with unstructured data that are descriptive. This type of research method includes thematic analysis of qualitative data. The theme-based analysis process of qualitative data tries to find out the common theme that is coming out repeatedly from a transcript or an interview. There are the commonly used process of thematic analysis consists of multiple steps. It has six steps associated with coding, assessment of significant themes, writing up, and most importantly familiarization. This research report is based on an elaborate discussion of the qualitative research method and the process of theme-based analysis of qualitative data. This report emphasized the epistemology and the ethical issues regarding qualitative research methods.   

Epistemology and ethics

Ethics and epistemology are mainly concerned with the evaluation of beliefs and cognitive acts. There are several laws and ethics related to the methods of qualitative research. The ethics of research are associated with the concepts of practicing, integrity and honesty, informed consent, and confidentiality regarding the data of the interviewee. The epistemology and the ethics in research work involve developing a mutual relation between the researcher with the participant of the research work.  

Discuss epistemological issues about this research 

Epistemology is the theoretical support of its base knowledge and the process of dealing with knowledge and resources. It also includes an explanation of the philosophical standpoint of the researcher. As opined by Castleberry and Nolen.,(2018), the knowledge of the researcher has a huge impact on the interpretation of data. Qualitative research has been conducted about the information. The benefits of utilization of this particular method of research are to underlying the philosophical understanding from an epistemological perspective. Epistemological background in this context is associated with subjectivity, objectivity, and self-reflectivity. Self-reflectivity includes the differentiation process between the researcher and the participants and at the end of the research work; there is a necessity for constant reflexivity of the researcher. This is considered a powerful means for the evaluation and interpretation process of qualitative data and findings. The issues regarding the epistemology of qualitative research influence the quality of the research work. It also concerns the way the researcher communicates with the selected target group or the focus group.  Epistemology provides ethical weights that the values of the research work can be expressed in a normative format. Epistemology of research work is surrounded by the knowledge gathered by the project will be generated. This influences the methods and the methodology of the whole research work. These issues are concerned with the underpinned assumption and understanding regarding the research work.  The epistemological issues are more into the construction of knowledge in qualitative inquiry.  The epistemological background of qualitative research encourages the diversity of opinions, perspectives, and voices. The researcher must think in the process of implying an epistemological approach in their respective research work about this huge task. These issues are concerned with the clarity of the findings of the research work.  It also emphasized the philosophical justification of the findings from the qualitative research.  

Discuss relevant ethical issues

The ethical issues of qualitative research involve the confidentiality of the one who is covering the research and the people involved in the research work. It emphasized the privacy of the personal data of the participants of the research work.  Privacy regarding the findings from the research work also cannot be revealed publicly without the consent of the participant (Hitchings, and Latham, 2020). The role of a researcher as an instrument of collecting information is also under the segment of the ethical issue regarding qualitative research methods in social science. This type of research process in social science is related to work at the community level; here an important aspect is that the researcher cannot hurt the beliefs of the community. 

There are several ethical issues related to the design of the research work also it is perceived that good research work may consist of good adjustment and appropriate design, and the research work must be ethically approved. There are many ethical issues related such as living beings cannot be damaged or their health cannot be hampered due to the research work.  A proper data analysis is required to ethically approve a research work. Authorship from the researcher is necessary for the research work as well as for the participants of the research work. Conflicts of interest are a significant issue in the ethical background of research work. As the epistemological background suggests that, the research work should possess the philosophical understanding and the clarity of knowledge, so there must not be conflict regarding the distribution of the interest (Allan, 2020).  In the case of data, analysis it is the responsibility of the researcher to analyze the data while maintaining proper procedure (Barrett and Twycross, 2018.). It has been seen that there is a common tendency of the researcher to hide the negative findings of the research work and glorify the positive findings of the research work.  This is purely unfair. the researcher is required to provide the findings from the qualitative work process.  

Discuss methodology and methods

The main approaches to qualitative research work are grounded theory, phenomenology, and ethnography. The popular methods of qualitative research are case studies, analysis of the conversation, or transcription. Narrative, hermeneutic, historical research, and participatory action research, are some of the notable ones. Grounded Theory (GT) is a crucial component in the context of social science (physio-pedia.com, 2022). There are three common types of GT; they are traditional GT, Evolved GT, and constructivist GT. The GT aims to originate a theory to interpret the different social processes, and actions or reactions (Hamilton and Finley, 2019).  The most used process of obtaining information is the interview which is processed mainly by observation, and documentation (Hennink, et al., 2020).  There are several things that GT includes constant comparison, open and selective coding, and, many other fundamental aspects. The basic aim of phenomenology is to analyze the unique living experiences of the individual. The understanding of values in the context of universal aspects t is the key essence of the phenomenon (Byrd, 2020.). This process identifies the major themes of the research work. A key aspect of phenomenology is the search for the most common themes of the interview process, across the interview process. Ethnography shares the aim that is an examination of the patterns of behavior, language, and different beliefs among the cultural group (McGrath et al. (2019).  The process of ethnography gets started when the researcher sets his or her foot in the field of research work. Ethnography is a key tool for the detailed study of culture.   

The most popular method of qualitative research is a one-on-one interview. The interviewer can gather a certain amount of data that is associated with motivational factors and thought processes of the participants involved with this process (Thunberg and Arnell, 2022). In case the researcher is experienced enough he or she will be able to gather meaningful data that can lead to constructive findings. 


The interview was based on the current belongingness and the experiences of three older people. The key aim of such an interview was to find out the reason older people come and join the project "People keep moving". This is the time for older people to reminisce about their whole life and the experiences and memories related to life. It is difficult for older people to share their memories with family members in this busy world. The common reason for the three of them to join that venture or project was to get a partner to share their thoughts and get the chance to listen to the memories of others.


The interview is one of the most effective qualitative methods. Ben got an insight from the interview about the venture that he designed for old-age people. In this particular project. The older people get there to spend quality time by doing exercise, having snacks altogether, and doing many other things together. The most important task they have done was sharing many life events. Where they make a realization about their right deeds and wrong deeds. The opinion of others, they got feedback from others on the different memorable life events. The main result from the qualitative research proposed by Ben is that older people like Roy, Irene, and Vilma are suffering due to a lack of a partner to make conversation with. In one of the cases among the three cases, the daughter of Roy sends him over to the venture arranged by Ben. This was also found that Roy was struggling with depression because of the passing away of his wife. The decision to join the venture remains effective for Roy. He shared that it helps him to reduce mental stress.  Another question of the interview was how they came to know about the program. By this question, Ben was trying to understand the overall impact of this in society. The reach of the promotion of such a program can be identified by the organizer of the program. This question also encountered the acceptability of the program. In general, the humans are social animals. The relationship and connection with others help them to survive and flourish. However, with time they grow older, they start spending time all alone than they did when they were younger, in this situation, they have become more socially isolated, and lonely, and as a result, they are accompanied by health issues marked by cognitive decline, cardiac issues, and mental health problems. Fortunately, there are approaches to mitigate these harmful effects. Loneliness and social isolation are not usually related.

According to a report, 13.8 million older adults in the country, which represent about 28 percent of the population, live alone, but many of the population is not left out or socially isolated. Nevertheless, some individuals experience loneliness (nia.nih.gov, 2019). This research work gives a great chance to explore the biology or the scientific background of the loneliness encountered by older people. The perspective of a person about the world alters by their experience of the loss of something close to them. According to Steve Cole, the ex-director of the SGCL at the University of California, someone experiencing chronic loneliness feels intimidated and distrustful of others, which triggers a biological defensive mechanism. His government agency-funded research aims to identify the critical path of loneliness (the various ways that loneliness impacts the workings of the mind and health) also it aims to create social and cognitive therapies for the treatment. Instantaneously, according to Dr. Cole, loneliness may alter the immune system's propensity to cater to inflammation, which is essential for promoting our body’s regenerative capabilities from injury. However, persistent inflammation raises the chance of developing chronic illnesses. The most general factors generated by older people are briefly described It is commonly known that thanks to better living conditions and healthcare, society as a whole is living longer. While the senior members are getting older then there is a thing, several issues that the elderly face that we should be aware of. It has become a trend that family members pay less attention to lonely and aged people unless there are severe symptoms of struggling. In a society, it can be solved with a few initiatives and it can be started with improving the quality of life. It is the only way that can help elderly people live a  healthy life and therefore they can have the opportunity to age with proper dignity, peace, and respect.


In conclusion, it can be said that the key finding of this report research is that there are several methods of qualitative research. The key use of the qualitative approach for the research is to identify experiences faced by people. The researcher uses such a method to get a clear understanding of the behavior of the people. It also emphasized defining motivates and different characteristics of the people. The effective learning from the study report was that the epistemological background of the qualitative aspect of the research process enhanced the ability of the particular study to clarify the knowledge and provide philosophical support. The thing is that there are several ethical issues associated with the research methods. The most highlighted thing is the privacy of the personal data of the participants who are associated with the research work. The aims and analysis of the different methods and methodology of the qualitative research work was an effective learning of this research report.  It can be said that the given interview has provided a chance to explore the reason for feeling isolated from society. However, it can be reached at a point that qualitative research work is effective in the field of Social science. A common tendency has been found that sometimes the researcher tried to hide negative findings, the ethical issue related to the qualitative research work. 



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