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Qualitative Research Methods


Course Description:

The aim of this course is to help PhD students who intend to use, or are already using, qualitative methods for research purposes, either as a stand‐alone design or as a complement to quantitative methods. Students will learn about the values and limitations of qualitative approaches, gain an overview of the variety of traditions and methods and learn hands on how to conduct a qualitative study from its design to data collection and analysis.  We will start the course by clarifying the ontological and epistemological foundations of qualitative research and outlining two of its key traditions (positivist vs. interpretivist stance) and their debates (e.g. validity/reliability vs. reflexivity/trustworthiness).  We then zoom into the interactive phases of a research project, including design (in particular designing case study research), data collection (employing multiple sources, in particular interview and observation based research), and data analysis (drawing on analytical methods widely used in social sciences such as grounded-theoretical coding, thematic analysis and process analysis). 


Pedagogical Approach:

Students will be required to do readings in preparation of each class and will practically work with specific methodological approaches during class, working also on their own PhD projects. The two instructors will do co‐teaching at the beginning of the course with the aim to engage in a lively dialogue between two central positions in qualitative research (realist vs. interpretivist stance) and to clarify their implications. MG will take the lead on the myth of N=1 when designing qualitative research (e.g. replication logic, outliers), address issues of rigor and transparency and outline how to design qualitative research. JM will address methodological issues in data collection (both interview‐ and observation‐based methods) and data analysis (from thematic analysis to communication sensitive interaction analysis). A final day will be used to bring together the various phases of qualitative research and students present and discuss their methodological reflections of a research paper. 



Gibbert M.

Course director

Mengis J.

Course director

Additional information

Academic year