What can you learn about Qualitative Research in six hours?


What can you learn about Qualitative Research in six hours?

Ray Poynter
Ray Poynter
August 17, 2023
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I was recently asked to recommend the content for a six-hour module on Qualitative Research, to form part of a much larger module and post-graduate course at a Business School.  Here is my response.

My assumption is that the objective of the six hours is not to create qualitative researchers.  The two results I am hoping to produce are:

a) Business graduates who know when they should be using market research and when they should be considering
    qualitative research.

b) Some people who want to find out more about market research and potentially consider becoming a qualitative researcher.

To help answer this question, I crowdsourced my thinking and you can see a great LinkedIn discussion about this topic by clicking here.

Here are my recommendations, set out as six one-hour lessons.

  1. What is qual? How and why does it work?  What business problems is it used for?
  2. Five case studies, where organisations have used qualitative methods – utilising five different tools/approaches.
  3. Key methods of data collection, with video examples of focus groups, depth interviews and online discussions.
  4. How to analyse qualitative data, including transcripts, images, videos etc.
  5. The wider qualitative context, including ethnography, semiotics, netnography and discourse analysis.
  6. Placing qual in the wider insights picture, including combining qual with other data, using AI to enhance qual, CX and UX, auto-ethnography, culture and subjectivity.

Note, this list assumes that topics such as market research ethics, how to write a good research brief and how to work with stakeholders will be covered elsewhere in the course.

In terms of textbooks, my key recommendation would be to use Wendy Gordon’s book, Mindframes.

In terms of other books, and in particular some for background reading, the following books were all mentioned in the crowdsourced LinkedIn discussion.  Note, the books are listed alphabetically.  This is a crowdsourced list, not the views of any one person.

  • Goodthinking, Wendy Gordon
  • Moderating to the Max!, Jean Bystedt, Siri Lynn & Deborah Potts, Ph.D.
  • Netnography, Robert Kozinets
  • Outside Insight: Navigating a World Drowning in Data, Jorn Lyseggen
  • Paid Attention, Faris Yakob
  • Qual-Online: The Essential Guide, Jennifer Dale & Susan Abbott
  • Qualitative Market Research: A Practitioner's and Buyer's Guide, Wendy Gordon & Roy Langmaid (note this book was published in 1988, so the thinking is great, but it does not cover newer topics, for example digital).
  • Refocusing Focus Groups: A Practical Guide, Robert Morais
  • Secrets of a Master Moderator, Naomi Henderson
  • Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm, Christian Madsbjerg
  • Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends, Martin Lindstrom
  • Understanding Consumer Decision Making, Thomas Reynolds & Jerry Olson

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