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Is research with qualitative data more prevalent and impactful now? Interviews, case studies, focus groups and ethnographies

by   Mike Thelwall, et al.

Researchers, editors, educators and publishers need to understand the mix of research methods used in their field to guide decision making, with a current concern being that qualitative research is threatened by big data. Although there have been many studies of the prevalence of different methods within individual narrow fields, there have been no systematic studies across academia. In response, this article assesses the prevalence and citation impact of academic research 1996-2019 that reports one of four common methods to gather qualitative data: interviews; focus groups; case studies; ethnography. The results show that, with minor exceptions, the prevalence of qualitative data has increased, often substantially, since 1996. In addition, all 27 broad fields (as classified by Scopus) now publish some qualitative research, with interviewing being by far the most common approach. This suggest that qualitative methods teaching and should increase, and researchers, editors and publishers should be increasingly open to the value that qualitative data can bring.


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