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The term qualitative research refers to the study of phenomena in their natural environments and to ascribing meaning to these phenomena through authentic interaction and interpretation. In qualitative research, the researcher becomes a participant in the datagathering process. This is in sharp contrast to quantitative research methods, which strive to systematically manipulate the environment in which observations are being conducted, for the purpose of eliminating any extraneous sources of influence which may impact the behavior of subjects.

Qualitative researchers generally deal with relatively small samples of individuals and collect data that are more exhaustive with respect to describing the complexity of those individuals and their environments. Qualitative researchers concern themselves with the description and interpretation of phenomena that may not be so easily assessed, for the ...

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