Research Method: A Comprehensive Qualitative Approach to Evaluation

15th June 2021

Funded Project:
Methods for Change

This ‘how to’ guide outlines a Comprehensive Qualitative Approach to Evaluation research method used by Mayra Morales Tirado from the University of Manchester. The image was created in collaboration with Irene Solé Canet.

Social scientists from the Methods for Change project came together to discuss the research methods they use and how methods create change in society. Drawing from the expertise in the Aspect network, they collaborated on a series of ‘how to’ guides which are step-by-step instructions and top-tips for adopting these methods in a range of sectors. Visual and multisensory pieces, including comics, illustrations, posters, booklets, short films and animations were then developed in collaboration with creatives to capture the key value of these research methods with a view to being able to convey them to a variety of audiences.

It is hoped that these resources will be useful for people in higher education, commercial, public sector, third sector and community organisations who are interested in experimenting with, and expanding professional skills in, the adoption of social science research methods.

Research Method: A Comprehensive Qualitative Approach to Evaluation

Taking a Comprehensive, Qualitative Approach to Evaluation means that quantitative approaches for evaluation complement qualitative research elements.

This can include various forms of interviewing, observation and documentary analysis, and different combinations of methods and materials depending on the nature of the research problem at hand. While quantitative approaches, such as those found in surveys and experimental studies, often allow researchers to produce and analyse large amounts of data, they tend to frame the problem rather narrowly. Conversely, qualitative approaches (e.g. interviews, observations) do not reduce problems to numeric values, instead providing a detailed picture of what is happening. Integrating qualitative elements challenges standard ways of doing evaluation, illuminating avenues for unexpected, fresh insights. The flexible perspective of such approaches enables researchers to consider significant institutionalised and systemic circumstances that shape the problem and its implications. This approach is instrumental in complex settings where interventions have repeatedly followed established dynamics in the past, but their impact remains unclear.

You can find all the research outputs from the Methods for Change series here

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