Interpretive Research Approach: Characteristic and Criteria

What Is Interpretive Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is usually conducted in many fields such as the social and natural sciences. It is usually based around looking for patterns in how people respond to things such as different forms of interviews or by reviewing literature etc. Many today, however, are looking to the interpretive thesis research approach.

It is often criticized due to the lack of hard numerical data that can be reviewed when doing quantitative research and is often seen as being open to the bias of the person conducting the research. This can often lead to different people reaching different results from the same base information. There are many different methods that are used within qualitative research to try to eliminate bias and other issues, not all, however, are 100% effective.

Another method that can be used is to look at interpretivism in research. This seeks to look at not just at the raw information but also at the environment that has produced that information and how it may have affected it in some way.
interpretive research sample

Using Interpretivist Research Methods

Interpretive thesis, on the whole, has originated from work conducted at the University of Chicago and can be used within your own research if you want to better understand why you are getting the results that you are observing. The following are some tips for conducting your own interpretative research:

  1. Have a very clear research question. Without a very clear question or set of questions that you wish to answer it can be hard to focus your research. It is very important that you spend the time on your initial literature review to identify a clear area in which you will conduct your research and to identify that question that you will seek to answer.
  2. Define your methods for data collection. You need to have a clear reason for the type of methods that you use to collect data and must be able to show that it is going to reliable. It must also offer a reasonable method to answer your research questions. Most common methods are interviews or questionnaires as well as observational type studies. Always have a clear idea of the Who, Where, When and How as often these will have a major impact on how you will be able to interpret the information that you gather.
  3. Conduct your data collection. Remember that when collecting any data you should have an impartial role to collect the data without influencing it in any way. You should avoid anything that will lead the participants to react in a particular way or that restricts the choices that they are able to make.
  4. Data Analysis. Qualitative type data collection will often generate a huge amount of information. Typically you will need to develop some form of coding system to help you to analyze the information that you collect.
  5. Generate your findings. This is where you will look for recognizable patterns within the responses that you have received. Often this can be a very time-consuming part of your research as you may have copious notes or even videos to work your way through.
  6. Validate your findings. This is where the interpretive research approach will try to review how the background of the responders and other factors may have influenced how they have responded. You will also want to consider the background of the interview and how that may have biased the way that they have conducted the interview and recorded the information to get a truly holistic view of what has been found.
  7. Create your report. Whether you are writing a full blown thesis or simply putting together a PowerPoint presentation you will now need to write up what you have found in a coherent manner. Ensure that you carefully proofread and review everything that you do so that there are no errors.

The University of Southern California offers a good and simple to understand explanation of Interpretative research and how it should be implemented:

quote about interpretivism in research

Of course, understanding and implementing the interpretive research approach is far from easy, if you need any help within this area then our highly qualified specialists are available to help.

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