Qualitative Research Features Overview

Strategies to Organize Qualitative Data

When conducting a qualitative study, research nurses usually collect a large amount of data. They receive it using methods such as interviews, observation, and collecting photos and documents (Chicca, 2020). In order to effectively analyze the data and answer research questions, scientists must manage and organize it. These processes happen to take into account ethical principles and may require additional action to preserve study participants’ confidentiality. For easy information management, researchers can use grouping and coding.

After conducting field studies, scientists transcribe the data into text for further review. The researchers re-read the text several times, which is necessary for the initial theme identification and grouping. Re-reading is essential since additional connections and topics may arise in the process. After that, coding takes place – creating codes in the form of phrases or words for specific topics and problems and then assigning them to parts of the data for systematization. During this process, if there are a few researchers, it is crucial to compile a single set of codes to avoid confusion and disputes (Wolff, Mahoney, Lohiniva, & Corkum, 2018). Codes for analysis can be entered manually in the spreadsheet or with special software.

The encoded data can be used conveniently to further grouping of the information into topics and subjects. The use of codes helps analyze precisely those parts of the data that researchers need at a certain point. Grouping and coding processes can be repeated since the analysis process can begin when only a part of the information is collected. Moreover, in the process of analyzing the coded material, researchers can see new connections and add codes. Since in qualitative research, scientists themselves act as a tool for analyzing data, the conclusions they make need to be challenged and discussed between several specialists.

Types of Qualitative Research

Before conducting the study, scientists choose a design and method that is better suited to answering a research question. There are three main types of qualitative research used in nursing – phenomenological, grounded theory, and ethnographic. In this work, approaches such as ethnographic and phenomenological research will be compared. They differ in the methods used, the researcher’s role in them, and the side of the problem that is being studied.

While phenomenology emphasizes individual experience, ethnography draws attention to the collective one. Ethnographic research studies people’s experiences within the framework of a particular culture (Green & Johnson, 2018). For example, Guptarak et al. (2020), in their research, describe how Thailand’s culture affects the work of nurses and the provision of health services to the public. On the other hand, the phenomenological approach studies a specific phenomenon through the experiences of the individuals (Green & Johnson, 2018). Such a study was conducted by Baumbusch, Mayer, and Sloan-Yip (2018), investigating the feelings of parents whose children have a rare disease. These examples demonstrate the primary contrast between the two approaches and determine the other differences.

The specifics of the selected study determine the methods that the researcher can use. For example, in phenomenology, a personal interview is the main way to collect information for research (Sanjari, Bahramnezhad, Fomani, Shoghi, & Cheraghi, 2014). In this case, the author interprets the experience in a written form, which usually takes less time than other types of studies. On the other hand, in ethnography, a set of methods, in addition to interviews, includes observations and the review of documents (Sanjari et al., 2014). Simultaneously, researchers immerse themselves in culture and can live in it for several months or even years.


Baumbusch, J., Mayer, S., & Sloan-Yip, I. (2018). Alone in a crowd? Parents of children with rare diseases’ experiences of navigating the healthcare system. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 28(1), 80−90. Web.

Chicca, J. (2020). Introduction to qualitative nursing research. Web.

Green, S. Z., & Johnson, J. L. (2018). Research ethics and evaluation of qualitative research. In Nursing research: Understanding methods for best practice (Chapter 2). Web.

Guptarak, M., Conway, J., Stone, T. E., Fongkaew, W., Settheekul, S., & Baxter, E. (2020). Health beliefs of nurses in Northern Thailand: A Q-Methodology study. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 31(4), 350−359. Web.

Sanjari, M., Bahramnezhad, F., Fomani, F. K., Shoghi, M., & Cheraghi, M. A. (2014). Ethical challenges of researchers in qualitative studies: The necessity to develop a specific guideline. Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, 7, 1-6.

Wolff, B., Mahoney, F., Lohiniva, A. L., & Corkum, M. (2018). Collecting and analyzing qualitative data. Web.

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