Which qualitative research approach should you select and apply in your article or thesis?

Which qualitative research approach should you select and apply in your article or thesis?


There are five qualitative research approaches proposed by Creswell and Poth (2018): narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and case study. Identifying a research approach in qualitative research is critical for presenting a qualitative research paper, thesis, or dissertation as a sophisticated and structured study, which is mostly admired by the reviewers or supervisors. If you are still in doubt regarding the necessity of research approaches, we are describing two scenarios (adopted from Creswell & Poth, 2018) for your understanding. 

First scenario: There is a researcher who does not adopt a specific approach to qualitative research he or she is using. However, the study can be simple and might be limited to data collection using face-to-face interviews. He or she might have presented the data by thematic analysis; however, the analysis is not systematic or organised, and those themes are not presented chronologically.   

Second scenario: A researcher has selected a specific approach to qualitative research, for example, phenomenological research approach. In this regard, in the method section of the study, he or she has provided a detailed explanation of the meaning of such an approach, how it informs, the procedure, and why it is being used. As a result, the results from this study are clear, chronological, and specific. 

Which scenario would you find to be most organised, scholarly, inviting, and sophisticated? Your answer should be the second one. Hence, adopting a research approach in qualitative research is essential. However, in selecting one of the research approaches, your research focus and research problem can help most because the problem statement grounds the reason for selecting one or more than one approaches in qualitative research. Hence, see the following figure to determine your research approach for your research paper or thesis.



Figure 1: Qualitative Approaches

Source: Creswell and Poth (2018)

Figure 1 illustrates how you can select your research approach to qualitative research. However, it is important to first understand the primary focus of the study and research problem (i.e. problem statement) before you select or adopt one of the research approaches. Therefore, careful attention to the development of the strong focus of your study and research problem is highly recommended to select the most appropriate approach.

For more information: 

Islam, M. A., & Aldaihani, F. M. F (2022) Justification for Adopting Qualitative Research Method, Research Approaches, Sampling Strategy, Sample Size, Interview Method, Saturation, and Data Analysis, Journal of International Business and Management, 5(1), 01-11.

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