Qualitative Design Chart


Quantitative and qualitative research methods are the two main forms of research designs in the scientific investigations. Qualitative research design is a form of a scientific investigation approach that allows researchers to collect primary data from participants, to produce a descriptive account about a practice or phenomenon (Baxter & Jack, 2008). Qualitative researchers have their interest in understanding the manner in which the primary research observers understand certain practices, occasions, or phenomena.

Although the qualitative research design appears in several scientific studies and learners and novice researchers interact with the practice more frequently, knowledge about its nature and its application in research is still very little (Baxter & Jack, 2008). Novice researchers fail to either comprehend the qualitative practice, or end up in recurrent confusions about its nature and application. The intent of this essay is to explore the various common techniques that are applicable in the qualitative research design and the manner in which researchers can effectively utilize these techniques.

Overview of the Forms of Qualitative Research

Qualitative research as a primary investigative approach is a strategic field activity that identifies the research observer in the real world. Since qualitative research is a pragmatic process that considers the researcher as the core driver of the process, the approach requires a series of techniques to investigate a scientific inquiry. According to Flick (2008), the framework of a qualitative research is often broad and with various methods of data collection that define the entire research practice.

Qualitative research has a continuum of different approaches that researchers use to collect data from the participants in the form of textual information, image or photo information, and audiovisual or sound information. The several forms of qualitative data range from the case study approaches, ethnographic approaches, phenomenological studies, the narrative research designs, the grounded theory approaches, and the mixed methods technique (Maxwell, 2012). Nonetheless, the focus of this qualitative design chart is on five main qualitative research designs: case studies, grounded theory research, ethnographic studies, and phenomenological studies.

Qualitative Case Study Design

Description Data Collection Procedure Data Analysis
  • Case studies are forms of qualitative research that focus on answering a research problem through investigating a single person, people with similar traits, or a single group of persons (Maxwell, 2012).
Data collection tools
  • Qualitative case studies are pragmatic in nature and involve a series of data collection techniques (Maxwell, 2012).
  • Data collection may involve the use of interview schedules, or the open-ended questionnaires
Data analysis methods
  • The collected data must undergo an analysis process.
  • Data analysis may take the form of discourse or conversation analysis.
  • The aim of the case studies is to make a problem understandable from an individual context commonly referred to as a case or cases (Yin, 2011).
  • Case studies use small groups of participants to investigate a common problem and generalize the findings to other contexts or cases.
Selection of Participants
  • The researcher identifies and locates the individuals, who are relevant to the research inquiry and develops a sample of the groups.
  • Participant selection considers people or events with unique properties that are requisite to the investigation of the problem (Flick, 2008).
Data analysis process
  • The discourse analysis is a recognized approach where the researcher analysis the subunits of each case alone (Flick, 2008).
  • The analysis entails focusing on the specific structure of the arguments and analyzing the interaction between the responses produced.
Data Collection Process
  • The process entails a series of in-depth interviews that occur in tandem with the data analysis process.
  • Data collection entails gathering data from the sampled population, while considering the research ethical principles.
Results & Discussion
  • The researchers investigate the data, sort the arguments, and analyze the information (Flick, 2008).
  • The results come in the form of opinions, written texts, and documented lectures (Flick, 2008).

Grounded Theory Research

Description Data Collection Procedure Data Analysis
  • The qualitative grounded theory is a form of a scientific inquiry that uses iterative techniques to identify concepts within a certain theoretical text (Merriam, 2009).
Data collection tools
  • Grounded theory may use in-depth semi-structured interviews, direct observations, diaries, or focus groups to collect data (Yin, 2011).
  • Researchers may consider a rigorous analytic process of data collection or a simple data-coding plan.
Data analysis methods
  • Grounded theory employs an inductive thematic analysis to analyze data
  • Researchers combine inductive thematic analysis and iterative research design to analyze the data collected from texts.
  • A grounded theory approach provides researchers with an opportunity to examine the relationship between certain theories (Yin, 2011).
  • A grounded theory also aims at developing a theory from an existing data or recorded information.
Selection of Participants
  • The researcher identifies and locates the required theories that deem relevant to the research inquiry and designs a sample of the groups.
  • Grounded theory involves a purposeful selection of qualified data analysts to extract the data of a particular phenomenon.
Data analysis process
  • Data analysis of the grounded theory takes a descriptive approach where a theoretical data coding style is essential.
  • The study also employs a constant comparative analysis and a negative case analysis in sequence (Merriam, 2009).
Data Collection Process
  • The grounded approach uses inductive and analytical data collection techniques to extract data from theories.
  • Researchers systematically peruse through theories to identify the themes of discussion from the existing texts.


Results & Discussion
  • From the chosen texts, researchers undertake a systematic comparison of the texts to develop vital themes.
  • Grounded theory involves a comparison of theoretical and practical inferences from the texts.

Ethnographic Qualitative Approach

Description Data Collection Procedure Data Analysis
  • An ethnographic qualitative study is a form of scientific inquiry that studies a group of people and most predominantly their culture with an attempt to understand their everyday life and norms (Maxwell, 2012).
Data collection tools
  • Ethnographic researchers use open-ended questionnaires, direct observations, face-to-face interviews, and simple field notes to collect ethnographic data (Merriam, 2009).
  • Ethnographic qualitative research may consider photography as a data collection technique to capture cultural features.
Data analysis methods
  • Content analysis is a common analytical approach that researchers frequently use to analyze ethnographic data collected from the field.
  • Document analysis and descriptive statistics may apply in analyzing secondary data from the texts.
  • The aim of ethnographic research design is to investigate life phenomena that do not have specific dimensions.
  • Ethnographic research design seeks to investigate human behaviors and social constructs, which are often complicated issues (Flick, 2008).
Selection of Participants
  • In the ethnographic research, the researcher identifies participants based on their shared cultural similarities (Flick, 2008).
  • Using, purposeful or random sampling, the research distinguishes and samples certain people who are capable of proving information cultural data.
Data analysis process
  • The analysis of ethnographic information involves assembling all the data collected from the field as sorting it (Yin, 2011).
  • The researcher uses qualitative analysis designed in an ethnographic manner to compare, contrast, and record, and code the collected data.
Data Collection Process
  • The ethnographic research involves locating potential observers who provide data (Merriam, 2009).
  • The researcher may opt to collect data personally through personal observations and make inferences about a phenomenon (Yin, 2011).
Results & Discussion
  • The long-term fieldwork allows the researcher to grasp and make own inferences about a cultural aspect (Flick, 2008).
  • The ethnographic data discussion takes the social constructivism approach and descriptive discussion.

Phenomenology Qualitative Technique

Description Data Collection Procedure Data Analysis
  • Phenomenology qualitative research is a form of a primary research approach of a social science and behavioral nature that seeks to explore a scientific research inquiry from a phenomenal perspective (Maxwell, 2012).
Data collection tools
  • Phenomenological studies use various qualitative data collection instruments and techniques.
  • Researchers who use this technique can use questionnaires, observations, interviews, telephone interviews, and focus groups to collect phenomenal data (Baxter & Jack, 2008).
Data analysis methods
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis is a common data analysis approach.
  • Inductive thematic analysis is also an appropriate data analysis technique that phenomenological researchers utilize (Baxter & Jack, 2008).
  • Phenomenological studies often seek to investigate survived experiences (Baxter & Jack, 2008).
  • Phenomenology techniques aim at investigating life experiences and the way they affect people.
  • It focuses on personal notions, experiences, or views.
Selection of Participants
  • Phenomenological researchers often identify a population with certain experiences related to the matter under scrutiny.
  • Researchers who use phenomenology study often select and sample their respondents purposefully to obtain real observers or witnesses (Baxter & Jack, 2008).
Data analysis process
  • The process of analyzing the phenomenological data collected depends on the data instruments used.
  • However, data coding is common because it helps researchers to extract the recorded data descriptively from the interview materials (Yin, 2011).
Data Collection Process
  • The designed questions and interviews concentrate specifically on the individual experiences.
  • The researchers use focus groups and face-to-face investigations to sort out normative insights and group experiences (Maxwell, 2012).
Results & Discussion
  • A descriptive analysis of the phenomenological data helps researchers to identify the main themes (Merriam, 2009).
  • Detailed descriptions of the collected data prevail during the discussion.


Conclusively, undertaking a qualitative research may prove challenging for the novice researchers who lack the knowledge about its planning and principles. The qualitative research paradigm is a vast scientific research inquiry that many researchers consider complex due to its pragmatic design. Lack of proper understanding about the forms of qualitative research makes this approach a complicated endeavor for the novice researchers to undertake.

The essay comprehensively covered the four major forms of qualitative research, which included the qualitative case study approach, the grounded theory, the ethnographic qualitative design, and the phenomenological research paradigm. All these are subsidiary forms of the qualitative research design, but consist of varied data collection approaches, data analysis strategies, and discussion techniques. The core aspect of all these qualitative techniques is that the research paradigms involve pragmatic processes of collecting primary data from the identified respondents.


Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative Case Study Methodology: Study Design and Implementation for Novice Researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544-559.

Flick, U. (2008). Designing Qualitative Research. London, United Kingdom: Sage Publications.

Maxwell, J. (2012). Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach: An Interactive Approach. London, United Kingdom: Sage Publications.

Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. New Jersey, United States: John Wiley & Sons.

Yin, R. (2011). Qualitative Research from Start to Finish. New York, United States: Guilford Publications Inc.

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