Qualitative research has been used for centuries in the realm of social sciences to examine the experiences, perspectives, and perceptions of people. In in the last century, however, qualitative research emerged as a reputable paradigm of research inquiry in the health sciences discipline. Qualitative research may be considered a research approach complementary to quantitative research, which is most commonly utilized in medical disciplines through the scholarly pursuit of randomised controlled trials and meta analyses of treatment effectiveness. Qualitative research aims to elaborate, explain, and describe social phenomena such as the relationship between patients and healthcare providers, how medical interventions may affect long-term care and quality of life, and how to contextualize the findings of randomized controlled trials to the complex lives of patients by considering the multitude of factors that influence treatment effectiveness. Qualitative research seeks to answer the “why” and “how” of phenomena as opposed to the “what” and “how much.” The majority of novice investigators will use the quantitative research paradigm for an independent study course or their thesis dissertation. When these investigators encounter the qualitative research paradigm, they are struck with the lack of simple and useful resources available that identify, clarify, and explicate the qualitative research process. This article aims to serve as an introductory guide for novice investigators who wish to immerse in the qualitative research tradition. The authors introduce the purpose, components, and process of qualitative research including common methodologies, data collection methods, sampling strategies, and data analysis approaches.
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