Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Qualitative Research, History, Theories, Issues
Carolyn L. Wanat
The term qualitative research was first used in the social sciences in the 1970s to refer to a broad array of research traditions, assumptions, and methods. Many theoretical paradigms and disciplines employ qualitative methods. Widespread use in social sciences, humanities, and professional fields makes it difficult to concisely define qualitative research. However, qualitative research has common characteristics across paradigms and disciplines. Naturalistic qualitative research is conducted in the field where events occur. The researcher collects data through observation, interviewing, and document analysis. The researcher seeks to understand the context of research participants and sites. Concerned with process and meaning, the researcher tries to discover how participants interpret their situations. Data are descriptive. Research findings emerge from the data through inductive analysis. Multiple interpretations of data are possible, depending on the theoretical framework, yet all interpretations are grounded in the data. Qualitative methods were first used in social science research in ...