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An outline of qualitative methods of research

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  1. Introduction
  2. Panel (or jury) method
    1. Delphi method
  3. Use of surveys
  4. Data collection using questionnaires
  5. Types of questionnaire
    1. Structured questionnaires
    2. Unstructured questionnaires
    3. Checklists
    4. Self completed questionnaires
    5. Interviewer completed questionnaires
    6. Good questionnaire layout
  6. Types of question
    1. Behavioral questions
    2. Attitudinal questions
    3. Classification questions
  7. Uses of different types of question
  8. Sentence completion
  9. Response or rating scales
  10. Piloting your questionnaire
  11. Data collection using observation
  12. Advantages of observation
  13. Disadvantages of observation
  14. Field experiments
  15. Value and interpretation of data
  16. Types of personal interview
  17. Reliability Of research
  18. Deciding survey goals
  19. Conclusion

Some types of research do not involve numbers or analysis of past performance but, rather, finding out people's opinions, feelings, likes and dislikes, and the motivations behind their buying behavior - in other words, the psychology underlying buying decisions. Research into these areas is known as qualitative research, and it is done in very different ways from quantitative research. Qualitative research becomes increasingly important as we try to predict further into the future, as the further we try to project, the less reliable are historic results and the more important people's opinions become.

There are problems associated with qualitative research; one is the fact that people often find it very difficult to explain their behavior or their motivations. Another problem is that many people are reluctant to tell a researcher what makes them do what they do. Sometimes interviewees will try to guess the answers the interviewer is looking for and answer and on other occasions respondents may give answers that they believe are true but are simple versions of the true reasons.

[...] At this stage any extreme views will be discarded, and an overall impression of a possible agreement will be established The initial agreement is distributed to each panel member for further thought. The agreement will be amended at this stage as a result of the comments received The new agreement is sent back to each member for further comments. This process will be repeated as many times as necessary. Use of surveys The methods discussed above rely on 'expert' opinions and those of people in the trade. [...]

[...] A narrow choice Using prompt cards Prompt cards may be used to remind respondents of particular brands or goods, and the prompts listed on the card may each have an allocated number HMV 2. Virgin 2. Our Price 3. Woolworth 3. WH Smith The respondents can answer by giving a number, making it quicker for them and also allowing ease of analysis. Piloting your questionnaire If time and cost constraints allow, you should pilot your questionnaire by trying it out on some test respondents. [...]

[...] Start with general questions that establish an overview of the respondent's opinions or preferences, and then gradually work down to the specifics of particular areas or products. Easier questions should come at the beginning, and harder ones should come later, once the respondent feels comfortable. The principle is to put the respondent at ease early on, and you will then receive more in-depth replies to trickier questions later. The questionnaire should be laid out attractively - it should not be cramped up with tiny print, but questions should be spread out across the page with good use of space. [...]

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