By Umer Farooq

I learned so many important things in the second research methods training week, but there are three precious points which I learned in the training which are mentioned below.

Firstly, I learned what qualitative data is and why it is an important type of data in the module called “Introduction to qualitative data”. Qualitative data is the type of data that we are not easily reduced to numbers. This differs from quantitative analysis and when collecting qualitative data, we start with questions like what, why and how. I also learned the general qualitative data collection methods: 

  • Focus group discussions
  • Interviews
  • Observation

Qualitative research is very important for us because of its many advantages such as, elaborating “Why” rather than just “what”, it can save our budget and, it is generates content.

Secondly, I learned that Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) are a good way to bring together people with different experiences to debate a particular point of fascination.

FGDs are usually used in qualitative research to gain a deeper understanding of social problems or issues. In a FGD we can record any type of information, including non-verbal cues. Actually, in FGDs people can feel more comfortable than compared to the interviews, so therefore we are collecting the qualitative data mostly using the FGD method rather than interviews.

FGDs are very important because in this type of discussion we can use different types of questions. We use primary questions, such as, “what is your main hobby?”, and we can also use probing questions if you require more details or information about the primary questions.

Thirdly, one of the most important things which I have learned is about ethics and safeguarding in qualitative data. The word “ethic” is derived from the Greek word “ethos” which means is ‘habit’. The definition of ethics is to do what is good for individuals and society. Another purpose of ethics is to use ethical principles to find out the issues that are occurring in the research. Safeguarding means to save people from harm with an appropriate measure and risk is the probability of something not good happening. There are many types of harm: physical harm, social disadvantage, psychological distress and inconvenience. It is ultimately necessary for a good research study to minimize the risk of harm to participants. I also learned that we must protect the participants’ personal information and should not share their confidential details with each other.