Waylaid Dialectic

October 31, 2015

The qualitative method

Filed under: Random Musings — terence @ 11:58 am

Speaking as a mixed methods person (so not a smug quant guy) I think Gore Vidal nails the perils of qualitative research, and the art of getting it right:

“History is gossip, but the trick is determining which gossip is history”



  1. But isn’t this true for any research that doesn’t rely on direct observation, biometric measurement, tracking device readings, smart pill bottles or similar? Any question that asks about past experience or even present reality, whether putting that onto a Likert scale or asking it in an open-ended way seems subject to the same concerns. And both demand researchers be quite transparent about the way a question was framed, data were cleaned and coded and aggregated, etc.

    Comment by hlanthorn — November 2, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

  2. Hey – good comment, I agree. Although I’d say that there are more hard and fast rules (many which even make sense) for quant research. Whereas in the case of qual research it’s more of an art (a ‘trick’ even). This isn’t to diminish qualitative research but simply to point out the gentle craft required in overcoming its challenges.

    Comment by terence — November 2, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

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