Overview of Qualitative Research

What is qualitative research?

Key Points

  • Qualitative research seeks to understand an experience from the perspective of those who experience it, often through interviews or participant observations.
  • There are many types of qualitative research, including ethnography, Grounded Theory, phenomenology, narrative inquiry, and qualitative descriptive. These approaches come from an interpretive paradigm, which aims to understand (or interpret) the world through the subjective experience of individuals. 
  • Qualitative research is exploratory and descriptive; it focuses on words/experiences versus numbers or trying to quantify something. 
  • Qualitative research focuses on meaning, not measurement.

Helpful Links, Videos and Online Courses



Online Courses

  • This is a 6-week introductory Qualitative Research Design Coursera course focused on public health-related qualitative research.
    • Note: You can audit the course for free (click ‘sign-up/enroll’ and then click the ‘audit course’ button); there is also a payment option for more access to materials and to earn a certificate.

Relevant Publications