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Types of Qualitative Research

Types of Qualitative Research

Types of qualitative research

Qualitative research methods are continually evolving, as patterns and styles of human interaction and communication change.

Current research may include:

  • Face-to-face, telephone, or online exchanges
  • Interviews conducted in a research facility, at a respondent’s home or business, or at a public location
  • Real-time communication and "time-lapse” techniques (e.g., diaries, electronic bulletin boards)

Regardless of venue or medium, qualitative research is always based on open-ended queries; it uses in-depth probing to uncover the thoughts and feelings behind initial responses; and it applies insights and learning to the research process in real time.


Typical qualitative methods include:

Focus group 

A moderator-led discussion among a group of individuals who share a need, habit, or life circumstance relevant to the research issue(s) at hand. Typically one to two hours in length, a focus group discussion often includes from two to ten respondents. While focus groups have historically been held in person (face-to-face), they can also be conducted remotely by teleconferencing, by videoconferencing, or through the Internet using text chat, online bulletin boards, online collaboration tools, desktop video conferencing, or various forms of tele/web conferencing.

In-depth interview (IDI, one-on-one) 

Interview with a single individual, typically lasting from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the subject matter and context. IDIs may be conducted in person at a research facility, the respondent’s home or workplace or a public location, or by telephone.

Dyads, triads

In-depth interviews with two or three people who often represent members of the same family or business team, who use a product or service and/or make purchase decisions together.

Paired interviews 

Consecutive or interlocking interviews with two people who use and/or decide to purchase a product or service together, e.g., husband and wife, parent and child.

Given the objectives of a particular study, the qualitative consultant will advise the client in selecting the most appropriate setting.

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