"Qualitative research" is the naturalistic, interpretive study of social meanings and processes, using techniques such as in-depth interviews, observations, and textual analyses. This guide is an interdisciplinary resource for individuals who study and use qualitative methods. It is designed to inform (not replace) your own bibliographic work—it is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive.
To assist your library research on the topic, I outline proponents and critics of qualitative research, and I reference qualitative scholars with divergent methods and opposing views. The guide includes links to relevant books, articles, videos, and data archives. Some of these resources are only available to Stanford affiliates.
If you want help finding qualitative research in a particular discipline, do not hesitate to email a subject specialist at Stanford Libraries. If you need help finding a qualitative dataset or learning to use qualitative analysis software, please contact Social Science Data and Software (SSDS).
Table of Contents
Example: Let’s imagine that you want to learn more about Karl Popper and his epistemological arguments after you watch his YouTube interview under the Epistemology tab.
• Go to SearchWorks.
• Enter "Karl Popper" in the search field.
o To focus on materials with Popper’s name in the title, select “Title” on the drop-down menu of the search box.
o To limit your search to recent materials, click on “Date” (on the left-hand side), enter a date range, and then click “Apply.”
Example: Let’s suppose that you want to broaden your bibliography, discovering scholars and concepts linked to the debate over the views of Karl Popper (a proponent of empirical falsification) and Wilhelm Dilthey (an inspiration for qualitative research).
• Enter “Karl Popper” in the search box.
o A web of solid blue circles forms around his name below the search box. This web shows linked concepts.
o You can arrange the links for a better view of the web.
• Now enter “Wilhelm Dilthey” in the search box.
o New blue circles appear, linked to Dilthey.
o Solid orange circles also appear—the orange circles indicate concepts shared in the literatures about Popper and Dilthey.
o Note: A shared link in Yewno does not necessarily mean agreement—for instance, scientists who share the same focus (and thus are linked) may have different findings.
• To learn more about relations in the web, click on the link between them. The panel on the right will display related concepts, contexts, and documents.
o To find a resource at Stanford Libraries, click on the document. You will see a “Snippet.” Below the snippet, you will see a box to “Find Full Text.”
• For more information about using Yewno, see [SEARCH TIPS].
Yewno Search Engine
Epistemology is the study of ways of knowing. The methods that social scientists use emerge from their epistemological assumptions, which in turn may be influenced by their beliefs about ontology—their theorization of the nature of reality.
There are debates within the social sciences about the best way to study social reality. What can we know about the social world? How do power and culture shape ways of knowing? What are the best ways to gain knowledge? Are quantitative or qualitative approaches best? Can/should these approaches be combined? The texts and videos below address these questions.
CRITICAL INQUIRIES, ECOLOGICAL EPISTEMOLOGIES & INDIGENOUS WAYS OF KNOWING
Corey M. Abramson et al. (2017) The promises of computational ethnography: Improving transparency, replicability, and validity for realist approaches to ethnographic analysis. Ethnography (Early View).
Zheng et al. (2017) Computational Ethnography: Automated and Unobtrusive Means for Collecting Data In Situ for Human–Computer Interaction Evaluation Studies. In Patel V., Kannampallil T., Kaufman D. (eds) Cognitive Informatics for Biomedicine, pp 111-140.
APPROACHES & DISCIPLINES
The digital archiving of qualitative research enables secondary analyses with new technologies. This development is said to blur quantitative and qualitative approaches--a convergence that is applauded by some researchers and denounced by others. This section outlines views about the digital archiving and secondary analysis of qualitative "data" (some researchers disapprove of the term) and then lists archives that store qualitative research, in digital or physical form.
REFLECTIONS ON "DATA" ARCHIVING