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This paper outlines a strategy for using a qualitative methodology for the research to be performed for a dissertation.

Qualitative research design is a multi-method in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This approach allows qualitative researchers to study people and culture in their natural settings and in doing so to attempt to make sense of and interpret a wide range of phenomena in terms of the meanings that people bring to them. Because of the broad scope of such research qualitative researchers deploy a wide range of interconnected methods rather than a single methodology (as is often the case with quantitative research) in the hope that the different methods will “triangulate” with one another to produce a richer and more accurate understanding of the subject matter at hand as Leedy & Omrod (2000) emphasize.

There are fundamental differences in the approaches that qualitative and quantitative methodologies bring to bear on a problem that tends to result in one approach or the other in being more productive in any given research situation. Here is a nice summation of the ways in which these two methodological perspectives differ:

It is often argued that the best empirical strategy to approach a highly complex problem is to use a whole set of different methods. More specifically a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research is seen most apt to respond to the multi-layered nature of social phenomena. Kromrey’s characterization of the two methods outlines the fundamental differences:

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