Qualitative Study Design Chart


A research design is an integral part of any study and is represented as a specific plan that serves for the proper conducting of a research. In fact, there are two types of researches: a qualitative one and a quantitative one. Qualitative research designs represent systematic subjective approaches that are utilized in order to describe people’s experiences in their lives and identify their meaning. The major goal of such type of researches is to provide in-depth, detailed, rich and complexity inherent exploration of the issue. Qualitative research designs are used as research plans and methods in order to study individuals’ habits and behaviors. Qualitative researches often include individual case studies, interviews and various techniques for a survey design. A qualitative type of researches is believed to be the most ancient one. The reason is that the way in which ancient philosophers observed the world and tried to analyze it and everything that surrounded them resembles current research method. The focus of such studies is broad and complex. Among the characteristics for qualitative research designs, one can identify individuality, flexible science, subjectivity, holistic, public interpretation, individual interpretation, examination, communication, inductive and dialectic reasoning and words as a basic constituent of the analysis. The different research designs that can be considered for a qualitative study are case study, phenomenological design, grounded theory design, ethnographic design and narrative design.

A Research Designs Chart

A Research Design  The Description   The Type of Data Collection
 1. Case study  

Current research design is mostly used in psychology, ecology, anthropology and social science. The purpose of such research design is to provide a detailed description or depiction of the experience of one group, organization, community, family or a person. The method that is used for a case study research design is a direct interaction with and observation of the subject. The analysis that is utilized is synthesis of experience. The result of such research is the detailed description of the experience.


Non-participant direct observation.


 2. Phenomenological  

The goal of current research design is to describe outlived experiences. Phenomenological research design examines the uniqueness of the situations that a person experienced and suggests that every person has his or her own reality in his/her consciousness (Merriam, 2009). Therefore, reality is a subjective phenomenon. Phenomenological research design raises several questions within a research. The first question is what existence of experience or a feeling indicates in terms of the phenomenon that is explored in the research. The second question is what the nature of the human being is. Finally, the third question is supposed to reveal the sufficient and necessary constituents of experience or a feeling. The methods that are used for current research design are data collection and sampling. However, researchers often prefer not to limit the space for their creativity by setting some borders in a process of research. In order to conduct a proper phenomenological research study, a researcher needs to find people who comprehend the study and are eager to share their experiences and feelings. After that, he or she needs to describe and write down the experiences that he/she has received. Further, it is required to conduct a direct observation and include some video- and audiotapes. As a result of such type of research, a researcher receives findings that are described form subject’s perspective and the development of findings’ structural explanation. Besides, a researcher obtains an opportunity to identify themes of the research.


Participant observation.


 3. Grounded theory  

The development of a theory is the purpose of grounded theory research design. Current type of a research comprises creating, testing and improvement of propositions till a theory is properly developed. The research design is utilized in order to reveal problems which exist in the society and the ways that people choose for coping with them. In fact, the grounded theory research design is a continuous comparative process. Therefore, all the methodological steps occur concurrently. Data collection is also required for such research design and includes an examination, combination, record review or interview. The part that stands for an analysis comprises utilization of some particular concepts, such as concept combination and adaptation, concept construction and concept development (Creswell, 2014). In turn, concept development includes selective variety of subject and literature, emergence of key concepts and reduction. As a logical outcome of a grounded theory research design, a researcher obtains a theory that is supported by the information and data from the data collection section.



Interviews with video- and audiotapes.


 4. Narrative  

A narrative research design is aimed at describing individuals’ lives. In other words, the main goal of such research is to collect various stories about lives of different people and expound the narratives of people’s experiences in a research. Importantly, the stories should be organized in a research so that they complete a chronological order. First and foremost, a researcher must identify a problem of a research and to search for people’s experiences. Further, it is needed to conduct a literature review. After that, one must establish a purpose statement of a research and set questions of a research. In other words, it is necessary to comprehend the meaning of person’s experience that is revealed in the story. The next step is collecting qualitative and peer-reviewed data for a research, which further must be analyzed and interpreted in a proper way (Hatch, 2002). The last step is writing a research paper and assessing it, taking into consideration such aspects as persuasiveness, precision and pragmatism of the account and depth of the study.



Journals, articles, field notes.


 5. Ethnography  

An ethnographic research design’s goal is to describe major characteristics of a certain culture. First and foremost, a method of such research design comprises identifying a culture. In addition, it includes variables for a research and a literature review section. Data collection process also includes some particular steps. First, it is needed to gain an access to the culture. Second, a researcher must involve himself into the chosen culture. After that, it is appropriate to attain informants. Third, it is necessary to collect data by means of the contacts with subjects and the direct examination of them. The description of cultural characteristics is an essential part of the analysis in such type of research. A proper and in-depth description of the selected culture is an outcome of the ethnographical research design.



Non-participant direct observation.


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Qualitative research design is the most comfortable and easy to use among the other types of the research designs. The above-mentioned research designs are easy to be planned and even can be used in order to make some budgetary decisions (Maxwell, 2013). In contrast to the quantitative research designs, qualitative ones are much more reasonable and time-saving. In addition, qualitative research designs do not depend on sizes of samples very much. However, qualitative research designs require much attention and carefulness when being conducted. The reason is that without a proper planning and thought of the qualitative research process, a researcher may have inaccurate results that can lead to confusion (Padgett, 2004). Besides, the analyzed research design cannot be calculated mathematically in contrast to a quantitative one. The research that is based on a qualitative design provides observations but not results because it deals more with personal judgment and point of view. Moreover, due to its positive feature, which is uniqueness, it deprives a researcher of the opportunity to replicate the study.


As it is known, researchers have a particular amount of research designs that they can choose within the qualitative methodologies. One can see that among the available qualitative research designs there were chosen a case study, grounded theory design, ethnography research design, narrative research design and phenomenological research design in order to conduct a qualitative study.

A case study research design provides an in-depth and detailed description of the person’s, group’s, family’s, organization’s or community’s experience and uses a non-participant direct observation as a type of data collection. Grounded theory research design provides a development of a theory that a researcher must include into his paper. Such research design employs interviews and records videotapes and audiotapes in order to collect data. Phenomenological method provides the description of some personal experiences that a person lived through and utilizes a participant observation approach to collect data. Regarding the ethnographic research design, one can state that it provides a researcher with characteristics of a certain culture. The data collection approach that is used for the research design is a non-participant direct observation similar to a case study research design. A narrative research design collects various stories about people’s lives and describes them in a study. As a mean of data collection, such particular qualitative research design uses various peer-reviewed articles, journals and field notes.

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