Qualitative Method of Data Collection

What is
qualitative research?

research is a type of naturalistic inquiry that aims to learn more about social
phenomena in their natural setting. It focuses on the “why” of social
phenomena rather than the “what,” and it is based on people’s actual
experiences as meaning-makers in their daily lives. For the study of human
phenomena, qualitative researchers use a variety of methods of inquiry,
including biography, case study, historical analysis, discourse analysis,
ethnography, grounded theory, and phenomenology, rather than logical and
statistical procedures.

gathering of data, as it is known among researchers, is only the first step in
the study process. After the data has been gathered, it must be arranged and
looked upon. Data is used in quantitative analysis to provide quantitatively
stated solutions. This paper explores qualitative analysis, which is primarily
concerned with meaning. Data is a term that refers to accurate information that
can assist a researcher in answering a topic (s). It can come from a variety of

  1. Interview tapes and transcripts
  2. Notes/observations
  3. Newspaper clippings
  4. Personal journal
  5. Surveys/questionnaires

What are the key advantages and strengths of
qualitative research?

Qualitative research employs open-ended questions and
probing, allowing participants to react in their own words rather than being
forced to choose from predetermined responses as is the case with quantitative
methods. Open-ended questions can elicit responses that are:

  • meaningful and culturally significant for the
  • unexpected by the researcher
  • rich and explanatory in nature

Open-ended questions are those that don’t have a
simple “yes” or “no” answer and need the respondent to
elaborate on their arguments. Open-ended inquiries allow you to see things from
the customer’s point of view because you obtain feedback in their own words
rather than canned responses.

Another benefit of qualitative approaches is that
they allow the researcher to explore initial participant replies – to question
why or how they responded. This makes qualitative research particularly useful
for gathering culturally relevant information on a population’s beliefs,
attitudes, behaviors, relationships, and social circumstances. Qualitative
methods are also useful for identifying intangible aspects like social norms,
authority, position, gender roles, ethnicity, and religion, which may or may
not play a role in development results. It is extremely difficult to establish
policy and program initiatives that deliver good value for money without
first addressing these concerns. Qualitative research, when combined with
quantitative research (known as a ‘Q-square’ technique), can help us evaluate
and better understand the complicated reality of a situation as well as the
implications of quantitative data. While Q-squared techniques are generally
superior to employing one or the other strategy in isolation, it may be
sensible to commission only one type of study when some information on an issue
already exists (or time and resources are limited).

When should you commission qualitative research?

Qualitative Method

Should you commission a qualitative or quantitative
exercise when you discover a knowledge gap that has to be filled by
information? If there is a scarcity of data on the topic you wish to
investigate, qualitative research might be a good place to start. This will
allow you to better characterize and investigate the phenomenon, as well as
outline the questions you wish to investigate in a more concentrated study.

If enough qualitative research exists to understand
and explain the phenomenon, but you don’t know the extent to which the
phenomenon exists and for whom, whether there is causality, or how different
phenomena are related to one another (e.g., if there is causality),
quantitative research is the way to go.

If quantitative research exists, but there is
insufficient data to enable you to understand and explain variation,
relationships, individual experiences, or group norms then you need to
commission qualitative research.

Why do you want to do the interviews in the first

We’ll be concentrating on evaluating data from
one-on-one individual interviews, and a good place to start is by deciding
whether you’ll conduct a structured, unstructured, or semi-structured


What is the
definition of a structured interview? Questions for structured interviews are
planned and written ahead of time. The same questions are asked to all
candidates in the same sequence.


unstructured interview is one in which the interviewer asks questions that have
not been prepared ahead of time. Instead, in a free-flowing conversation,
questions occur spontaneously, which implies that various responses are asked
different questions.


Isn’t it
possible to do semi-structured interviews? A semi-structured interview is one
in which the interviewer just asks a few predefined questions, and the rest of
the questions are not scheduled ahead of time. Semi-structured interviews are a
hybrid of organized and unstructured interviews.

Before discussing the pros and disadvantages of
various qualitative research approaches or methodologies, it is helpful to have
a basic understanding of the various instruments that these approaches employ
and why they are used. In-depth interviews or interviews, focus group
discussions, participant observation, and participatory approaches are the most
prevalent tactics.

In-depth key informant interviews

In-depth interviews are usually
semi-structured, meaning they don’t ask pre-determined questions and instead
focus on the dynamic flow of dialogue between the researcher and the
participant (s). The following are some of the benefits of semi-structured
in-depth interviews:

  • They acquire valid information about
    participants’ ideas, opinions, attitudes, and experiences, as well as how they
    explain and contextualize these topics, by allowing them to answer in as much
    depth as they wish.
  • Because of the more relaxed and
    conversational tone generated, participants are encouraged to be open and
  • The researcher can be flexible, adjusting
    questions and changing direction as the interview takes place; The researcher
    is able to probe, explore, challenge, and ask for clarification.

Key informant interviews are a type of
in-depth semi-structured interview used with participants that have
particularly informed perspectives and specialized or first-hand knowledge of

Focus Group Discussions

A focus group discussion brings together a
group of people (usually 6–8) with comparable backgrounds or experiences to
discuss a given issue. A discussion guide is used by the moderator to
facilitate the discussion. A good moderator can create an atmosphere in which
all members of the group are encouraged to engage in a vibrant and natural
discussion among themselves. Focus group discussions have the advantage of
allowing participants to agree or disagree with one another, revealing how a
group thinks about an issue, the range of opinion and ideas, and the
inconsistencies and variations that exist in a particular community in terms of
beliefs, experiences, and practices. As a result, focus group discussions are a
good method to use both before designing a questionnaire – to ensure that the
questionnaire includes relevant topics and frames questions in a way that
respondents will understand – and after a questionnaire has been administered –
to explore the meanings of survey findings that cannot be explained
statistically, as well as the reasons behind common or outlier opinions, views,
and experiences.

Participant observation

The practice of enabling researchers to learn
about the activities of the individuals under investigation by seeing and
engaging in those activities is known as participant observation. Its goal is
to get a close and intimate understanding of a certain group of people (such as
a religious, occupational, subcultural, or community) and it is practiced through active participation with people in their natural setting, usually over a
long period of time. It is the most common till used in ethnographic research.
Conversations about the topic areas the study wants to look into are usually
unstructured. Relaxed, informal, and participant-led interactions are the Centre.
Because participant observation is usually done over a long period of time, the
researcher is able to:

  • Obtain more thorough and precise information
    on the individuals, community, and/or population under study (though the method
    is often defined as qualitative research); – include quantitative dimensions
    (though the method is generally characterized as qualitative research).
  • Collect data on observable aspects (such as
    daily time allocation) as well as less visible information (such as prohibited
    behavior) that are best interpreted over time.
  • Find inconsistencies between what
    participants say should happen (the formal system) and what actually happens,
    or between different components of the formal system.

Ethnographic research is a qualitative
research method in which researchers watch and/or interact with study
participants in their natural surroundings. While anthropology popularised
ethnography, it is now employed in a variety of social science disciplines.

Participatory Methods

The goal of participatory tools and exercises
is to transfer power from the researcher to the study participants. After the
researcher has explained the exercise, research participants utilize the
application to generate their own data. This data is frequently visual (making
these tools appropriate for use with children and less literate participants),
and it is generated in a participatory manner in group settings, with group
members working and debating together. The researcher encourages participants
to examine and reflect on the data gathered during the activity in order to draw
any conclusions or insights. Ranking and scoring exercises, social mapping, and
body mapping are examples of participatory tools. Participatory research tools
can be used on their own or in conjunction with other qualitative methodologies
as part of a larger participatory research project. A researcher might employ a
rating exercise as part of an in-depth interview or a focus group discussion,
or a mapping exercise as part of participant observation.

In practice, after deciding on a topic for
qualitative research and conducting a thorough assessment of the literature on
the subject, we conduct interviews in which respondents are asked a series of
open-ended questions.

  • It has the ability to generate both
    quantitative and qualitative data.
  • It might be official or casual, scheduled, or
    unstructured, and the number of persons involved can vary.

Questioning, prompting, listening, and analyzing
are all part of this process.

The procedure of transcribing interviews for
qualitative research indicates that you should perform it by hand, that is,
listen to or watch the full interview and begin transcribing it. Manual
transcription, it is argued, encourages you to sit down and study all of your
video or audio footage, resulting in a more thorough analysis of your interview
videos. There is another option: find reliable transcription software.

Here’s an example of an interview

Transcript of Respondent Two’s

Interviewer R: Respondent two)

 I What is the importance of CSR for any
organization in general and especially for your organization?

R2 There is
an importance of CSR in our society generally and in our organization (there is importance).

We do
things in the community because we believe it’s the right and important thing
to do. We try to treat people as we would as they would treat us. (it’s our social responsibility)

The right thing to do


I So, what
events led your firm to consider CSR activities? What CSR activities are
important for your firm?

R2 Ammm…
basically you can’t say any event but as per our social responsibility we are
adopting voluntary (No event is involved).
Due to lack of education in interior Sindh we felt to participate in CSR
activities. We help poor people and distribute books
among children for their smooth educational requirements.
To make better
employee policies and to help them, arrangement of free dastarkhwans in Ramzan,
donations to NGOs. (Donations to NGOs,
better employee policies, charity work, education support activities).

Need of
the people in interior Sindh

to NGOs, better employee policies, charity work, education support activities).


I Do you
think CSR activities really make a difference between you and your competitors,
if so – how?

R2 Amm..
there will be a difference. (there is
) Look.. if we are contributing for our society from where we are
earning the revenue the, surely it is our ethical responsibility to something
for them in return. Because what we are doing, we are doing just our business
and always striving to earn profit. But at the other hand if we are being
involved in such practices and if our competitors are not paying attention
seriously towards it then there is a possibility that we will be differentiated
in a good way. (Due to take active part
in society development)

image versus competitor

I Do you
have any predefined CSR goals? And how do you achieve them?

R2 (have few goals) Our CSR
goal is that whenever my employees give resign I compensate them by multiplying
3 of their salary, I reserve some amount% of their salary every month in order
to help & compensate them when they give resign. We provide our employees
medical facilities when they get emergency after investigation of that matter.
For medical facilities we keep almost every month certain amount of funds to
meet their contingent needs, in order to help them. (Compensation to employees by offering medical facilities).

Employee Welfare

Medical facilities

I What CSR activities
do you prefer as a manager and why? Do CSR activities increase your firm`s

R2 We prefer
education support practices, employee health policies and environmental
cleanliness activities etc. because as currently we are living in a society
where no body gives attention to the clean and healthy environment just everyone
is talking about it. But nobody is doing anything at such huge bases or at
individual basis to get rid of pollution free environment. (activities related with health & safety, activities to reduce
pollution, educational support activities).
I know we are also not doing at
such large bases but we are trying as per our capacity.
we are doing at some level but we are also trying to lead such
activities at much broader level as much as we can. Every company has its own
turnover. Our major CSR activities are medical facilities to employees,
donations to organization (NGOs) and buying books & clothes for poor kids
in order to support them to get education and creating a healthy and good
organizational culture, cleaning campaigns.

Don’t think
it increase our profitability. But, I would say it will have a positive impact
at long term on the profitability of our company. (not has any major impact on profitability).

Support Practices, employee health policies, clean environment

long term impact on profitability

I Please elaborate the existing CSR
perceptions in your SME?

R2 Amm.. CSR perceptions on corporate performances is constant, Corporate social
responsibility activities can improve a firm’s image, strengthen its
competitive advantage and have positive effects on customers’ attitudes toward
products, purchase intentions and loyalty. (CSR is important for customers attitudes & society development).

Image building

I Would you like to discuss the
types of resources allocated by your company for CSR activities?

R2 We do per month savings &
whenever any contingent/ unpredictable event happen with our employees we do
funding for them. Insurance policies and medical facilities. (through savings & insurance policies).


I What are the significant benefits
of CSR activities obtained by your SME for the staff and the environment?

R2 Yes, I offer medical facilities,
insurance policies to my employees. I also compensate them when they give
resign. So, these things are beneficial to them. I also grant them leave as per
their needs & financially help them, as they are part of the society and
for the environment we do take part in like: cleanliness your surrounding
activities and we also try to use energy and paper efficiently that  the maximum resources can be safe likewise
you can say it can leads to reduction in trees cutting. Our company… Amm.. I
think it will get a positive image in the society in which is it is operating
and we can attract our customers. But these things will be seem after along
period. Not in short term basis.(decrease
employees grievances, clean environment at some extent, business reputation in

Long term expected impact
(decrease employees grievances, clean environment at some extent, business
reputation in public).

I How are your CSR activities
playing a beneficial role to the society?

R2 Amm..Yes,
here I want to say that due to poverty many fathers cannot financially support
their kids to continue their studies. So,
I support them by providing books, by meeting with their teachers in interior
Sindh villages& by purchasing uniforms for them.
Helping employees is
also like helping a particular sector of society too. (Helping employees by understanding them as part of society).
Sometimes we arrange 1 time meal for the poor people. So, in this way our firm
is helping to society and playing a beneficial role. (Arranging meals to somehow reduce the hunger of poor people).

in literacy rate

I Are there any issues that you face related to
organizing activities?

R2 No… we
don’t face any issues to do any CSR activity. But we are doing it at small
level. Amm.. but we intend to do more for our society ethically in future. (no
any issues)

No issue

I What role Trade associations can play in promoting

R2 Amm..
As such they are not involved in promotion of CSR but they have to be. They can
design benchmarks for the different sectors of businesses in order to adopt CSR
activities which can give them high and low ranking. That you have to abide the
given policies for your betterment and for societies well (set down the

Set Benchmarks for CSR activities

12.   I What
role the government can play in the promotion of CSR activities?

R2 Ok..
Amm.. Govt: ..my expectations from Government are that it must opens accounts
for CSR funding or create organization or hire employees to monitor these CSR
activities that whether the firms are contributing in the head of CSR or not. (do
funding in CSR head, monitor the CSR related policies implementation, hire
employees to do this job of checking
).To collect the funds from firm. Because,
for me government initiatives about CSR are so disappointing, I mean from last
many years we are even unable to create a good environmental culture. (fail
to create good environment culture
).Its hard actually that we haven’t got
any help whatsoever. Run awareness programs (run awareness programs and help
firms to initiate such CSR activities).

Provide funding

Monitor Firms

Start coding

We’ll compile a table of codes and
focus codes based on multiple interviews. Start coding — Go back over the data
piece by section. Make a mental note of your research question. Now begin to
consider recurring topics. In the transcript, circle the appropriate thought
processes. Next, write a note next to each pattern with the dedicated keyword /
or key phrase. A pattern is represented by keywords/keyphrases. On paper, a
text marker may be used to highlight phrases, and a keyword note might be
appended to the margin. It will be easier to skim through the keywords and
refine them if the keyword is added to the margin.
 Use different colors to distinguish groups or keywords. You
could also mark the text, cut it out, and then put all text snippets from one
keyword on a heap. Similarly, in a text editor phrases can be marked in the
text and keywords can be added as, e.g., comment. If you apply a visual
approach, start writing all keywords on a paper, initially, this will be
unsorted. Try to place related keywords together in the next revision.

of Coding & Focus Coding 


Thematic map

(map) analysis can be used to examine qualitative data from user studies like
interviews, focus groups, workshops, diary studies, or contextual inquiries. A
thematic map analysis can be used to examine data with behavioral elements or
attitudes (thoughts, beliefs, and reported needs, for example). Significant
data segments are first discovered and then summarized in keywords or key
phrases during the analysis phase. These keywords or key phrases are then used
to derive underlying “themes” in an iterative process. In the data,
“themes” are recurring mental patterns or notions. A mind map can be
used to visualize the “themes” that emerged from the investigation.

Thematic map

What is the outcome?

analysis yielded a set of themes as a result. The thematic map analysis
approach given here focuses on a visual way to derive themes and present them
in a mind-map at the conclusion. Finally, the resulting themes can be further analyzed
by placing them in context with the study issue and comparing them to previous

Based on the above-mentioned steps, the abstract of the paper is as follows:

purpose of this study was to learn how SMEs in Karachi see and practice their
Corporate Social Responsibilities. Using a purposive sample technique, we
conducted semi-structured interviews with nineteen CEOs, executives, and
managers of various SMEs operating in Karachi. The data were analyzed using a
technique called thematic analysis. We discovered that SMEs prefer to provide
assistance in the form of donations for the benefit of society, most commonly
in the form of free medical treatment. Donations to schools or running these
institutions for poor children are the second most popular CSR action. The
management of these SMEs indicated that their staff is more productive and
positive as a result of their CSR initiatives within the firm. CSR activities
are an effective tool for image building and provide a competitive advantage.
Trade organizations and the government must do more to promote CSR initiatives,
which is currently lacking. SME management practices CSR not only as a required
activity but also as a humanitarian endeavor. This research will aid
policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels in developing policies and
laws to promote CSR. These policies are required when poverty levels rise, and
the economy is experiencing inflationary conditions.

The complete paper, “Perceptions and
Practices of Corporate Social Responsibility among Small and Medium Enterprises
in Karachi,”
is available to read.

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