6 Qualitative Research Best Practices You Should Follow

Qualitative research best practices include defining research objectives, selecting the right participants, using open-ended questions, active listening, and more.

Sriya Srinivasan
March 24, 2023
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Qualitative research is the key to understanding “why” consumers behave the way they do – assuming the research is conducted accurately.

Conducting a qualitative study that does not truly represent your users’ sentiments is not only a loss of your time and effort but also detrimental to your business. Given that it is a broad subject, being aware of qualitative research best practices beforehand can help you;  

  • ensure your research is truly relevant
  • assess the validity of other research findings, and  
  • convince stakeholders of the need for a particular research approach or study.  


Here are some of the critical qualitative research best practices you should keep in mind to boost the effectiveness of your research.

1. Setting specific goals

A specific goal set lies at the heart of a well-structured qualitative study. Qualitative research is designed to yield vast amounts of information due to the nature of open-ended questions and in-depth information. To figure out the information that’s pertinent to your business, it helps to begin the research with a clear target or desired result that isn’t broad or vague.

By clearly defining goals, you can focus your efforts in the right direction; every step of the research is determined by its goals. For instance, if the goal of your study is to gain information about individual perspectives and experiences, it is better to ask questions that allow for more than a simple yes or no answer.  

By asking open-ended questions and follow-up questions, you can maintain an open dialogue with your participants, helping you gain more insights.

2. Leveraging the power of online research

Qualitative data is a valuable tool to understand the true motivations behind consumer behavior. But the road to gathering rich insights has historically been a time-consuming and difficult process. All qualitative studies had to be conducted either via phone or face-to-face through interviews or focus groups.

Today, online qualitative research offers many significant advantages in terms of saving time and resources and providing greater convenience for everyone involved. By removing obstacles to accessing respondents where they are, online qualitative research can help you source more diverse customer voices.

And the cherry on top? There are integrated market research platforms in the market today that help you do exactly that. Platforms like Entropik – a unified research cloud offer robust features like automated, multi-language transcriptions and translations. You can not only conduct all your interviews via the platform but can also sync any previous recordings and get all the transcriptions associated for easy data analysis and decision-making.

3. Choosing the right research method

Qualitative research techniques comprise (but are not limited to) face-to-face or phone interviews, focus groups, observation in natural settings, and textual analysis like polls and surveys. Each qualitative research method has its own distinct aim and purpose.  

For instance, if you need to garner user opinions and expectations from your product, methods like focus groups or interviews can help you collect relevant data.

But if you want to understand how people shop for your product, self-reported data may not be enough. Using behavioral research techniques like moderated usability testing can help you make a more accurate conclusion about the flow of the buyer journey and where users get stuck while shopping for your product. Eye tracking can further augment usability testing to give you pinpointed directions on improving the user interface/user experience.


4. Steering clear of research bias

There are several ways for bias to seep into qualitative investigations, from mistakes in data collecting, to racial prejudice, to giving participants ample time and correct reporting. While it is natural to be biased, it can stand in the way of asking the right questions and having an open mind.  

In light of this, it’s crucial to set up procedures that not only get rid of bias but also make respondents feel at ease expressing their opinions. For instance, having a checklist beforehand can help you stay on track regarding how participants might view you or answer your questions versus how you want them to.

Furthermore, assisting your research methodologies with AI technologies (behavioral research techniques) can enrich your data in terms of accuracy. For instance, Voice AI can calculate the confidence scores of your panelists, helping you choose only those responses that are genuine. Facial Coding can capture emotions and help you gauge the overall sentiment or mood of the panelist towards your questions and stimuli.

5. Selecting relevant research participants

Finding individuals who fit your target audience is crucial. If the participants are not actually representative of the entire user population, there’s a risk of getting unreliable results.

But here’s the silver lining: Unlike quantitative research which requires a large sample size, qualitative testing only needs a small group (5-10) of people to get enough data. Some of the factors that affect the total sample size and sampling method include the purpose of your study, the range of groups you want to be represented, your market, and your budget.

Selecting the right research participants has also never been easier than today, with the help of comprehensive market research tools. For instance, Entropik offers online panels sourced from some of the world’s largest first-party data companies, giving you the best pick of the crop.

6. Properly analyzing research data

It’s no doubt that a qualitative study can help you gather a lot of data. But how much of that data is information that actually makes sense? More importantly, how much of that information are insights that can be turned into actionable changes for your customers?

If you don’t have satisfactory answers to these questions, you might need to revisit how you’re analyzing the treasure trove of data you have on hand.

Here are a few tips you can keep in mind to ensure valid interpretation of data:

  • Get your peers to evaluate the data. Different viewpoints will be useful to gain a better understanding.
  • Present your findings to the research participants. They can tell you whether your assumptions are valid.
  • Work with enough information regarding user experience and utilize a variety of qualitative user techniques to evaluate user interactions.
  • Use a market research tool that can give you a single view (and comparison views) of all generated insights. For instance, tools like Entropik also offer other useful data analysis features as well like benchmarking, so you can see in real-time how your study compares to the industry standard.

Boost your Qualitative research results with the help of an integrated market research tool

Qualitative studies can glean vital insights that can be channeled into improving customer loyalty and user experience, reducing churn, and more. Keeping the qualitative research best practices in mind can help you get closer to the quality of results you want to generate.  

However, traditional market research methods cannot generate hundred percent accurate data.This is where an integrated market research tool helps.  

You can combine your qualitative study with quantitative studies and behavioral research techniques to gather deeper consumer insights. You also get access to a customizable and collaborative dashboard that makes data visualization and analysis easy.  

Robust tools also offer other features like a research repository and access to online panels, making your research more straightforward. For more information, check out our blog on how you can gain actionable marketing insights with DIY platforms.  


Supercharge your research with actionable insights faster on Decode's integrated consumer research platform with Insights AI.
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Build the Right Products, the Right Way: Elevate your UX with Qatalyst's integrated user research platform with Insights AI.


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Author Bio

Sriya Srinivasan
With a background in management, Sriya has been actively helping B2B startups scale their content engines. She is well-versed in transforming complex brand stories into simple and engaging content. She is also passionate about building content marketing and product initiatives.

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