Recommended Citation: Tracy, S. J. [Get Your Qual On]. (2016, month day). Why Go Qualitative? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/dC1JLc42Yxw
Hi everyone and if you’re new to my channel, I’m Dr. Sarah J Tracy, and what we do here is talk about tips, inspiration, stories, and best practices about all things qualitative research. It’s time to “Get Your Qual On”.
Why go qualitative? Research methods are all about using a systematic approach to solve a problem, explain a phenomena or just tell a really important story. At the same time, methods are about art as much as they are about science. There are a whole variety of research methods out there. And, as any expert will tell you, some tools are better equipped for the project at hand than others.
We’ve developed this YouTube station, “Get Your Qual On,” to focus specifically on the practice of qualitative research methods. Qualitative methods are those that focus on qualities in the world that are best understood holistically or contextually.
Qualitative methods takes a variety and number of forms depending on the project at hand, and there’s a number of tools available in its toolkit. They could include things like interviewing, watching or participating with people and taking notes - something called ethnography, or when you focus on yourself auto-ethnography. It could also include analyzing documents, textual data, photographs, or social media. You could even do something like ask people to take pictures of their life at-hand and explain those to you - that’s something we call “photo-voice.” All these methods provide insights that are fundamentally different than quantitatively measuring [“how much” or “how frequently” using scaled surveys or numerically rating someone’s behavior.]
So, what are some of the most valuable things about qualitative research?
(1) First, it focuses on lived experience in context; what are people doing, and saying, verbally and also nonverbally? (2) It honors participants’ local meanings, their viewpoints, their stories, their points of view, rather than imposing an external researcher viewpoint. (3) Third, qualitative research preserves the chronological flow, documenting which events lead to which consequences, and explaining how or why that process unfolded in the way that it did. (4) Qualitative research can also make sense of a lot of disparate data - bits and pieces of life as lived, I mean that’s really how life hits us - and through a process called bricolage, which we will cover in another video, you can make a holistic story from those bits and pieces. (5) Qualitative research is also rich and holistic: it offers more than a snapshot, and it tells the story of the data in living color; and this is especially important because then the research can be easily accessible, not only to other researchers but to multiple other audiences - people like journalists, everyday citizens or policy-makers. (6) Qualitative research can also help illuminate, enhance, or explain quantitative data. In short qualitative research methods are appropriate and helpful for achieving a variety of goals—either on their own or in complement with other methods. (7) Finally, qualitative research is appropriate for a number of topics and disciplines, things like family relationships, governmental policy, workplace norms, politics, social justice, consumer behavior, or the arts -- really, qualitative research can be useful to anyone who wants to have the methods to solve a contextual problem, provide vivid explanation, or just tell an important story.
For more information in formal text, see: Tracy, S. J. (2012). Qualitative research methods: Collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.