There are two primary methods of researching social science. In the field of criminology, it is the appropriate method. This is because it focuses on the meaning and characteristics that define people and experiences. It helps criminologists understand the social concepts on how crimes occur. It is guided by ideas and perspectives (Babbie, 123). Qualitative methods tend to be driven by the subject as opposed to testing already developed theories. A more humanistic approach is adopted and the investigator focuses on the coping skills of the subject then tries to find a reason for the individual choosing the coping skill.
Qualitative methods allow the researcher to be part of the whole process. This is by drawing closer to the subject and allowing himself or herself to act as the research tool (p.145). The researcher may be forced to put himself into situations that make them come into contact with the subjects and gain their trust. During this process takes, notes are more on the mental manner than physical manner. This raises a concern to the effect that the finding of the research might not be very accurate as the researcher is bound to forget or overlook some details.
In quantitative research, the research questions are usually laid down before the research commences. The purpose of research in using the qualitative method can change in the course of the research. To counter this shortcoming, the researcher is supposed to ask more questions. This is only useful if the subject in question is one. If the subjects are asking many different questions may result in contradictory information, and this may end up confusing the researcher.
Sampling has always been very important in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Qualitative sampling uses the same methods of sampling as random sampling. The sampling process is faced with more challenges. At the beginning of qualitative research, there are no specific research questions to be asked. The researcher has to use probing questions that give different kinds of responses.
The data to be sampled usually is small in number because the researcher strives to maintain a personal relationship with the subjects. This also creates an environment where the researcher can manipulate the outcomes of the research. The subject naturally changes some aspect of his or her character on sensing intrusion (Stewart & Ronald, p. 25). The reliability of the results is low because they change with every new subject as people are very different.
In methodology, qualitative researchers make use of methods such as interviews, content analysis, and observation (p. 27). Interviews are meant to uncover information on the subjects’ life. Content analysis allows the researcher to compare information to other reliable sources of information i.e. media sources. Observation allows the researcher to participate either directly or indirectly in the activities of the subject and try to theorize them. In the field of criminology, the most important issue is the reliability of the analysis. The qualitative analysis method makes use of soft data that are varied from one subject to another. The analysis of this data is not standardized, and two analysts dealing with the same subject may draw different conclusions as much as the data provided is the same.
Most criminology-related training has not embraced qualitative analysis techniques. However, different areas in criminology have embraced the analysis method like offender decision making and social processes shaping offenders actions, (Babbie 154). Although the attention it has drawn is limited, it has prospects in the future. Attempts are also being made to ensure that there are studies that use both the qualitative and quantitative analysis methods (Stewart & Ronald 2007)
Babbie, Elis. The basics of social Research. Chicago: Words Worth Publishing, 2002.
Stewart, Eric and Ronald Simmons. Structure and culture in African American adolescent violence: A partial test for the code of the street. New York: Bantam Books, 2004.