Essay Writing Samples

Essay on Qualitative Research

Understanding the basics of qualitative research is an important skill for any aspiring student. This sample essay discusses the mixture of research methods important for any student writing a research paper.

Qualitative research writing

Academia uses several types of research. Students should learn how to incorporate each into their studies. There are two types of qualitative research:

  1. Phenomenological
  2. Ethnographic

Two types of qualitative research

These two types of research share several similarities as well as several unique differences. First, both these methods, being qualitative, are not concerned with hard data such as with quantitative research methods. Both types of research are concerned with finding a deep underlying reason or rationale for why a particular phenomenon or event occurs in the way it does. Both types of research are interested in observing and categorizing the individual to some extent.

Finally, the types of research have been seen to have overlaps. Stan Lester notes:

“Phenomenological research has overlaps with other essentially qualitative approaches including ethnography…” (Lester, 1999).

The specific overlap is in bringing the perceptions of individuals’ perspectives together to gain insight into how they feel about a particular event or occurrence. Though these two types of research are similar in many regards, they have their own unique traits that make the two distinct.

Phenomenological research

Phenomenological research questions are designed to “illuminate the specific, to identify phenomena through how they are perceived by the actors in a situation,” (Lester, 1999). This type of research places a great deal of importance on an actor’s personal knowledge and their subjectivity, which results in a placing a great amount of importance on that actor’s perspective of a given phenomenon.

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic research comes from the fields of anthropology and has specific interests within sociology. Ethnography works by observing individual’s behavior “on their terms” and can be used to see “the context in which customers would use a new product and the meaning that product might hold in their lives,” (Anderson, 2009).


The major difference between the two types of qualitative research can be summed up as follows:

  1. Phenomenological research is a way at looking how an individual perceives and understands an event.
  2. Ethnographic research identifies how individual places value on a particular phenomenon, item, etc.


Anderson, K. (2009, March). Ethnographic research: A key to strategy. Harvard Business Review, Retrieved from

Lester, S. (1999). An introduction to phenomenological research. Stan Lester Developments, Retrieved from

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