Qualitative data

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Qualitative Data is the form of data specialised within both ethnographic and netnographic studies.

"Quantitative research gives us a large general surface picture, and qualitative gives us an in depth picture" -Creswell 1994

Creswell 1994, says for ethnographers it is essential that the researchers are:

  • concerned with the process rather than the outcomes
  • interested in the meaning of the process
  • the primary instrument for data collection and analysis involves fieldwork
  • descriptive that the researcher is interested in the process, meaning and understanding
  • the process if inductive, so the research can build abstractions, concepts, hypothesis, and theories from the details.


"Most field researchers use data such as questionnaires, interviews, diaries and observations to attempt to get outside the 'black box' of social institutions" - Flick


"Interviews have a set of protocols" - Crewswell :

  • A Heading
  • Instructions for Interviewer
  • Key Research Question
  • Probes to follow key questions
  • Transition messages for the interviewer
  • Space for recording the interviewee's comments
  • Space for reflective notes


In Interviews, to "be able to hear the tone of their voice, the emotion of their experiences . They are all rich details'


  • "Netnographers grant great significance to the fact that people link to computer networks to part take in sources of culture as to gain a sense of community" - Kozinets 2010
  • "Qualitative online research such as Netnography is essential in shaping understanding of the Internet, its impact on culture, and culture's impact on the Internet' - Kozinets


  • "Cultural knowledge must be grounded in detailed field knowledge of that culture, and in the data that fieldwork creates"- Kozinets
  • "Data collection in netnography means communicating with members of a culture or community" - Kozinets
  • "Cultural knowledge must be detailed field knowledge of that culture, and in the data that fieldwork creates' - Kozinets
  • "Online communities are not virtual. The people we meet online are not virtual. They are real communities, populated with real people, which is why so many end up meeting in the flesh"
     -> Online communities should be afforded the same status as offline communities. 
     -> Community and culture can inhere in many familiar forums and 'places of the Internet' 


Creswell's other elements of additional qualitative data:

  • Personal Letters
  • Public documents
  • Autobiographers
  • Videotape a situation
  • Photographs
  • Collecting sounds
  • Physical Traces e.g. footsteps