Lecture 1: Research methods–qualitative

by Dhanya Vijayan, Centre for Earth Science Studies

First day of ProSPER.Net Young Researchers’ School began at Maha Chulalongkorn Building, Chulalongkorn University with an illuminating symposium on ‘Partnerships in Water and Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’. The symposium was a great success with the keynote address and panel discussion and could reach to the students with its diversified contents on sustainability issues and water management. The afternoon session started with a brief introduction on overall programme which was followed by a lecture on qualitative research methods from Dr. Prachit Hawat, from the Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, Chulalongkorn University. Dr. Hawat is an expert in Management Information System. Her lecture was outlined on different qualitative research methods and characteristics of methods, how qualitative research methods differ from quantitative research methods and different methods and approaches involved in qualitative research. The speaker provided insights on how qualitative research can address certain issues that cannot be quantified or addressed by quantitative researchers. For example, certain things like behaviour of people, emotions, perceptions etc. cannot be counted or quantified but these can be described or illustrated meaningfully with qualitative methods. Dr. Hawat could well explain the benefits of adopting qualitative approaches including how it can reach to the minds of common people. She could raise few concerns on challenges of qualitative methods which broadly covered the complexities with multifaceted data, issues in data collection and analysis, the issues with data which are not self explanatory and the complexities in finding the ultimate meaning of certain issues. She could effectively explain the topic citing few research papers. The session ended with a discussion and the speaker happily answered questions from Yoshihiro Mihara and Nurrohman Wijaya which were focused on application of qualitative research methods in various social phenomena as well as the possibility of interlinking qualitative approaches with quantitative approaches. In short, the session was informative and could address many aspects from a broader perspective.