Qualitative methods: Beyond beliefs and desires

Karen Burt and Mike Oaksford define roles for qualitative methods in developing scientific hypotheses and in fields where objective experiment is impractical.
OVER the last few years, there has been much debate in The Psychologist about the role of qualitative research in psychological science (Morgan, 1996, 1998; Stevenson & Cooper, 1997; Cooper & Stevenson, 1998; Sherrard, 1997, 1998; and numerous Letters to the Editor). In this article, we argue that many of the protagonists in this debate have adopted polarised and indefensible positions on the nature of human knowledge and of psychological explanation. We argue that there is a middle ground that provides a significant scientific role for qualitative methods in psychology.

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