Document Type

Journal Article


Everything you’ve heard about qualitative research until now is wrong. All researchers – except qualitative research professionals – hold one of three opinions about qualitative research: that it is ‘scientifically inferior’ to quantitative research; or that qual is merely a ‘pre-quantitative’ first step and is reliant on a second step of quantitative research for validation; or that qual and quant are alternative, independent but ‘complementary’ research methods that, used together, can get at the truth better than either alone by the mysterious grounded-theory process of ‘triangulation’ (or should that be ‘biangulation’ or ‘heteroangulation’?). Qualitative research professionals, on the other hand, believe – and regularly prove – that qualitative research is superior to quantitative research; that it is the totality, not the first step; and that by mixing methods you lose the truth or numerically batter it into a limp semblance of the truth. There are only a half dozen academic researchers who are genuine advocates of qualitative research, namely Bobby Calder (1977), Art Kover (1995), Gerald Zaltman and Jerry Olson (their ZMET method – see Zaltman 1997, 2003), Larry Soley (Soley & Smith 2008), and me (Rossiter & Percy 1997; Rossiter 2001; Rossiter & Bellman 2005). But I believe I am the strongest advocate, as this essay should make clear.