I was able to talk to fellow Research Assistants today. We shared details of our work projects and school projects, everyone seemed pretty excited to get to talk about their projects and the methods they are using to actually get to findings. One response to my use of Qualitative methods was,
We’ll you’re going to have to turn it into numbers eventually.
Yes, somethings should get turned into numbers to be used as statistics to explain rates and demographics and risks. Not everything needs to be turned into statistics. There’s definitely a perspective on qualitative research that views it’s only use is to inform the statistics and what numbers to be looking for. I don’t, and other qualitative fans don’t, think that this is the only way our research can be helpful.
I’m going to try using my thesis as an example of a research project that is qualitative and useful as a stand alone. My methodology is thematic analysis of semi-formal interviews.
I’m using thematic analysis to explore my interview data. I’m looking for the textual themes. When you’re trying to get insight into why people do or think something it’s best to just ask them, as many of them as you can. Then, explore the thoughts they share. I talked to women about sexual consent and sexual assault and they told me their thoughts and shared stories from their lives. I was able to listen to them talk about sexual assault as a problem that women are faced with and then when things got too close to their lives they reminded me, “but it happens to guys, too. We just don’t talk about it as much.” This is an occurrence that demonstrates a desire to not feel like this issue of sexual assault impacts them specifically, it’s a way of distracting from the need to feel scared in the world. Quantitative data could miss these “why”‘s about what is happening. These “why”‘s can help build new resources for women to learn about sexual assault and consent and there does not need to be a supplemental Quantitative study to make this information useful.