Remember the people
Qualitative research is all about understanding people. That’s why clients want us to conduct it. While it is easy to remember that at the ‘data collection’ stage, it can sometimes be forgotten that qualitative analysis should be about people too.
One of the challenges is that some of the methods researchers use for qualitative analysis seems to turn the fascinating insightful people who have participated in the research into a dry list of themes. Of course, identifying the themes that have emerged from the research is important, but the best research goes beyond just themes.
‘Despite all the hype, machine learning is not a be-all and end-all solution. We still need social scientists if we are going to use machine learning to study social phenomena in a responsible and ethical manner.’
I came across this quote in an article in Communications of the ACM by machine learning specialist Hanna Wallach. The article is called ‘Computational Social Science ≠Computer Science+ Social Data’.