Selecting a Methodological Approach

Selecting a Methodological Approach

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Phenomenology research methodology investigates the lived experiences of a subject within the world (Creswell & Poth, 2018). The focus is on the subjects’ lived experiences of a given phenomenon. The phenomena tackled by this methodology include feelings, opinions, and beliefs. Also, the methodology focuses on the internal context of those experiencing the phenomenon (Percy et al., 2015). On the other hand, the generic qualitative inquiry involves the investigation of the reports of study subjects of their subjective opinions or beliefs on their experiences of the external world.

Both phenomenology and generic qualitative research use interviews and participant observation in data collection. However, the phenomenology approach uses open-ended conversational interviews while generic qualitative research closed interviews (Percy et al., 2015). Other data collection methods in the phenomenology approach include participant observation, focus meetings, conversations, and action research while generic qualitative inquiry use surveys, questionnaires, activity-specific participant observation.  Also, both research approaches seek to investigate experiences. However, while phenomenology investigates the inward experience in making sense of a phenomenon, generic qualitative inquiry focuses on the outward experience, and what happened (Percy et al., 2015). In both research approaches, thematic analysis is used in the analysis of qualitative data.

The phenomenology approach is best suitable when; first, a researcher has an unstructured research problem with no or little evidence in the literature. Second, the approach is appropriate when the lived experiences of study subjects are more significant than other types of data (Patton, 2015). Generic qualitative inquiry can be used when; first, a mixed-methodology is required. Second, when other qualitative research methods are inappropriate (Percy et al., 2015). Third, the approach is appropriate when a researcher has some knowledge about the research topic that they want to explore further from a participant’s perspective.


Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (4th ed.). Sage.

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (4th ed.). Sage.

Percy, W. H., Kostere, K., & Kostere, S. (2015). Generic qualitative research in psychology. The Qualitative Report, 20(2), 76–85.