The Lost Art of Qualitative Research

Is it lost or did it barely exist to begin with?

As I think back through my academic career, I realize that qualitative research was the one major missing piece. I took innumerable courses on statistics and design, but the focus without exception was always quantitative.

As part of my undergraduate studies, I did contribute to an ethnographic study of small companies, and also for a content analysis study about babies who failed to thrive. Both led to fascinating discoveries about the respective topics simply through the analysis of words.

But, these studies were not part of the curriculum. They were simply some of my after school activities. They were just things I volunteered to do because they were interesting and I felt they enhanced my course work.

I don’t know why curriculums are set up like this, set up where you only need to know one side of the coin. With social media research just over the horizon and ready to pounce with force never before seen, perhaps it’s time for a change.

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    2 responses

    1. Annie, happy holidays! I totally agree with you – for someone who knows they’re wanting a career in MR. For me, my degree was in Poli Sci (American Elections and Voting Behavior), so the emphasis was on quant, which was just coming into practice in academia at that time. I left school as a quantitative person, who evolved into qualitative (which I do more of today). I’m not sure where Poli Sci is today with regards to qualitative research – in the “real world” it’s used all the time.

      My bigger concern with training overall is that most people who focus on research today don’t get trained on how the information will be used. It really can’t happen while at university and I’m not seeing that much of it in business. Your thoughts?

    2. I was forced to take a course in qualitative research in my doctoral progeam, which I did under protest. It turned out to be very useful later on. There were actually more courses offered in qualitative methods if I had wanted to take them. However, EVERYONE without exception was required to take one course in inferential statistics and one course in qualitative methods.

      Qualitative research methods were also taught as part of the research methods course I had in my masters program.

      While I took an enormous number of statistics courses, this was by choice and not dictated by the curriculum.

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