Far many methods of conducting a research study have been used by researchers depending on their nature and intention of their research; however, the most common methods of carrying out a research study are the quantitative and qualitative methods. Whereas quantitative methods have been mostly used in the fields of natural sciences to study natural trends, [Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. , 1990] qualitative methods have been used mostly in the fields of social sciences to enable researchers to study social cultural trends through the use of qualitative methods such as action research, ethnography and case study.
Some of the major qualitative sources of data range from observation and participant observation in field studies, document texts, interviews and questions, and the researchers impressions. [Myer, 2009] From this context, the distinction between quantitative and qualitative methods may still be blurred, however, it is imperative to emphasize on the observation that, human beings are very unique from the natural world which they live on, this uniqueness is seen from the fact that human beings have got the skill of talking.
It is this art of speech that forms the basis of distinction between quantitative and qualitative methods as the latter is designed to help researchers to understand a phenomenon by looking at the people and their social and cultural frameworks within which they live. A bid to study the same using the former method (quantitative) looses its meaning as textual data is quantified and therefore it becomes difficult to determine. [Kaplan and Maxwell, 1994] Qualitative research may assume the format of various theories or approaches such as; grounded theory, naturalist theory, ethnographic, heuristic, historical research, and focus groups.
Qualitative research methods have over the years diversified from the original social sciences disciplines and has cut across disciplines and subject matters. This is due to the fact that qualitative research seeks to unearth and develop a deeper understanding of the changing trends of the human behavior and the reasons that govern such behaviors. Through emphasis on smaller but focused samples rather than large random ones, “the why, and how” of issues is investigated unlike in quantitative research methods that answers the questions of “what, where, and when.
” [Denzim, Norman K. & Lincoln, Yvonna S. (Eds), (2005)] Similarly, due to behavior modifications techniques that were made during the early 1970s by psychologists and social workers in the field of mental health, the single-subject research design was developed to accommodate repeated measures of behavior to be extinguished or reduced. Since its inception this qualitative research approach has been the centerpiece of what was referred to as the clinical-research model.
The reason as to why the single-subject design became the centerpiece to this model was that one of the main convictions to the model had it that, it was the responsibility of human service professional to hypothesize and test the inventions used in practice. Again, this approach was seen as a worthwhile replacement to the unreliable “practice wisdom” method that was based on clinical experience gained from group experiments and which was initially the sole method used by clinicians in their everyday research endeavors.
This qualitative research approach often referred to as “interrupted time-series design” involves three phases called an A-B-A design. The first letter “A” stands for a period where no treatment is given or the baseline phase; the letter “B” stands for the period when the person is receiving the treatment, and; the last letter “A” stands for the period after the treatment is stopped. [Cherry, (1999)]