08-09 Qualitative Research

Credits: 100 hours
Teachers: Carla van Boxtel and Paulien Meijer (plus guest lecturers)
Mail: C.A.M.vanBoxtel@uva.nl


  • Articulate your own view on qualitative research
  • Study texts on different themes in qualitative research
  • Exchange experiences with doing qualitative research
  • Gain practical experience with the use of ICT tools to conduct qualitative research

Contents and Teaching Methods

This Master class is concerned with three themes: (a) know yourself, (b) know your data, and (c) convince others. These themes refer to some of the central questions in qualitative research. In the five meetings, the focus is on the mutual exchange of perspectives and experiences regarding those themes and the application in your own research project. Presentations by teachers and students are alternated with assignments, demonstrations, and discussions. Students are required to study the relevant literature beforehand, and to indicate the position of their own research in respect of the three central themes in a position paper.

The theme know yourself refers to the situated and strong interpretive nature of qualitative research. The researcher typically is part of the field of action and not an observer who is free from value judgments. This makes ethics and the personal viewpoints of the researcher important topics to take into consideration. In this theme, attention will also be paid to the own perspective of the researcher on the development of knowledge and theories.

The theme know your data focuses on research methods. The two parts of this theme are research strategies and data storage and analysis. In the first part, approaches such as case study, ethnography, narrative, design research and grounded theory are discussed. The central question is here: Which approach is most suitable for your own research project? Usually, qualitative research is dealing with different resources and various types of data. Bottlenecks in data storage and processing are then related to the annotation of resources (indexing) and to relating resources to each other. Good tools are indispensable for doing this. Special attention will be paid to the support that can be provided by ICT tools.

The theme convince others deals with issues such as interpretation and presentation. For the interpretation of qualitative data, a lot of effort is invested in triangulation and, especially, crystallization. Crystallization is the idea that observing or investigating various facets of an object of study can often best characterize the phenomenon under study. The combination of facets and ways of observing (i.e., the exposure) yields a multiple-shaded picture. The mutual strengthening that may result from a combination of qualitative and quantitative research is also important in this respect. For presentation we focus on the construction of research project proposals and journal articles. Special attention is paid to questions of generalizability.

Location and Planning

All meetings take place in the period of 9-12 June 2008.

The meetings on June 9, 10 and 12 will be held in the study centre of the Open University in Utrecht (Vondellaan 202 Utrecht). The meeting on June 11 takes place in Conference Centre Vredenburg (Vredenburg 19, Utrecht).


A syllabus will be sent to the participants.