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Software and Qualitative Analysis

2. Introduction

There are a great many positions, attitudes, beliefs, even dogmas about qualitative research. There are those who use qualitative methods for exploratory research, and those who use them for confirmatory, theory-testing research. Some argue that qualitative methods are best used when the domain is poorly defined, in order to identify key constructs and make possible probability-based quantitative research. Others use qualitative methods to better understand the underlying meaning of quantitative findings. Further, there are a great range of approaches to qualitative research grounded in differing epistemologies.

The intent of this chapter is to provide an introduction to a set of methods that reap the unique benefits of qualitative research, and maintain standards of empirical rigor. No doubt, some will find these methods too “soft,” and some will find them too “positivist.” I hope that these readers will still find some value here.