Qualities of a Qualitative Researcher

Welcome to the post on qualitative research. Qualitative research is relatively new in the field of health sciences, so, I thought that it would be good to discuss a few characteristics of qualitative researchers. Qualitative research differs from quantitative, and so do the qualities of the researchers. Here are a few qualities which a qualitative researcher must possess to carry out research efficiently.

  • Bricoleur – Qualitative researcher collects information from experiences, life stories, observations, interview, historical monuments, etc.  Qualitative researcher is considered a ‘Bricoleur’ which means ‘quilt maker’ who brings together bits and pieces of cloth to create a beautiful quilt or bricolage. Similarly, qualitative researcher joins pieces of information from various sources to create new knowledge, or find meaning in a given phenomenon.
  • Researcher as an integral part of context – Qualitative researchers know that their presence influence the context and their gender, race, caste, background, etc. has an impact on the phenomenon being studied. The qualitative researcher is not separated from the context but becomes an active part of this interactive process.
  • Multi-tasking – A qualitative researcher does multiple tasks together, such as observing a phenomenon, interviewing or asking questions, self-reflection, analysis, and interpreting the data. Unlike quantitative research, qualitative data analysis occurs inside the mind of the researcher. Making meaning out of the information collected cannot be done by any software but by the researcher himself.
  • Research as an art – Qualitative researchers know that research is a complex and refined art wherein the researcher uses different patterns and colors to bring out the true meaning of a phenomenon. Qualitative researchers bridge chunks of information to create a dense collage-like masterpiece.
  • Phenomena in a natural context – Qualitative researchers study a phenomenon in its natural setting – as things are and not as it ‘should be’ in fixed laboratory conditions. They study a situation as an ‘insider’ and interpret events as it is occurring naturally. They understand that context is dynamic, ongoing, and are receptive to changes in the natural environment. Context is given the highest priority in qualitative research.
  • Importance for stakeholders – Qualitative researchers understand that the finding of the research applies to people and has social and political implications, so they conduct research more conscientiously. They understand, accept, and acknowledge that qualitative research is storytelling about a phenomenon studied from different perspectives.

These were the few abilities of a qualitative researcher. I did not aim to compare qualitative with quantitative but to highlight the nuances of qualitative research. For further reading, I suggest Denzin and Lincoln 1994 if you are interested to know more about qualitative research. Hope you found it useful 🙂

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