Welcome to qualitative methods

If you are about to embark on a major research project, this site might help. It is not organized as a methods course. Rather, it is a digest of materials related to qualitative methods (like the books on the left) that might be useful for someone commencing research on conflict, violence, or military studies.  Most research involves both qualitative and quantitative methods at some level. There are well established rules for statistical reliability and validity, but there is a wider range of accepted methods in different academic disciplines and professional practices. If you have never taken a methods course, or if you are starting something for which your experience and academic background doesn’t prepare you, this is for you.

Overview of content

This is an attack in four reiterating phases: design, collect, analyze, and disseminate.  For each phase I provide a range of alternatives, mostly taken from major reference works that are widely respected.  They should be in libraries if you are near a university, and may be available through interlibrary loan or the CAF Virtual Library if you are not. Some of the content overlaps, and sometimes different disciplines (like anthropologists and sociologists) will describe similar techniques in different ways. I recommend skimming the whole digest first, then getting a sense of which approach is most likely to work for your research problem (this is an abductive process) then lining up the appropriate techniques for designing, collecting, and analyzing. 

How to use the material

Keep it simple. If you are using more than one technique in each phase, or if your approaches, methods and techniques don’t line up, then you may be making things harder than they need to be. If your work is part of an academic program, then you have a supervisor -  use their expertise. You will get better advice if you are using a technique and addressing a problem they are familiar with (although this isn’t always possible for staff officers doing real-world research). 

This is a privately hosted personal website. RMC, DND, and Government of Canada are not responsible for its content.  Last updated July 2020. 

David Last, CD, PhD

Associate Professor, Political Science

Royal Military College of Canada

Call: +1(613)532-3002