Tips for Beginners: Writing Term Papers in a Qualitative Way


Qualitative researchers focus on socially construed realities instead of entities that can be measured and experimentally examined. They emphasize value of inquiry, and try to find answers to questions about social experiences and their meanings. People who specialize in social and behavioral sciences believe that qualitative inquiry is both a method and a perspective on how to approach the process of research.

When you are assigned to write a qualitative research paper, you will need to start by conducting the research properly. Understanding the characteristics of this particular type of research will definitely help.

Qualitative research design can be:

  • Emergent
  • It’s a dynamic form of research that is based on changing your methods, depending on the new discoveries that emerge during the process.

  • Naturalistic
  • This design is based on studying real-life situations. It allows the researcher to avoid predetermined constraints, but they need to be open-minded and ready to embrace new discoveries.

  • Purposeful
  • This research design will require you to choose certain groups of people to study, based on their relevance to your topic.

Unlike experimental research that is focused on a linear design, the organization of a qualitative study can vary greatly. As qualitative research deals with studying human behavior and its interpretations, you will have plenty of room to personalize your paper in a way that will ensure that the audience sees the matter in exactly the same way as you do. However, regardless of the liberties you take with your qualitative research design, you shouldn’t forget that it must always include 5 essential components.

  1. Conceptual framework
  2. This includes earlier studies of the topic, literature review, personal experiences you will base your paper on, etc.

  3. Research questions
  4. Since qualitative designs usually lack hypotheses, you will need to come up with specific research questions that frame your study.

  5. Goals
  6. Your goal is the central idea of the research. It is the main question you need to find an answer to.

  7. Methods
  8. An unstructured approach in applying methods to study will allow you to focus on a particular phenomenon. On the other hand, a structured approach will provide you with a better chance to explain the differences between the various phenomena that you study. You can switch from one to another depending on the circumstances.

  9. Validity
  10. One cannot rule out most threats to validity when working on a qualitative research. You will need to rely on evidence you collect during your research, and anticipate your opponents’ arguments.

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