The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Excellence


A term drawn from quantitative research, bias technically means a systematic error, where a particular research finding deviates from a 'true' finding. This might come about through errors in the manner of interviewing, or by errors in sampling. In qualitative research this is a problematic concept, since by definition the qualitative researcher is part of the process, and all researchers are different. This human factor has been said to be both the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of qualitative method. What can be done in commercial qualitative research, however, is to minimise obvious and avoidable sources of bias, for example by not confining all the fieldwork to one social group or geographic location, by taking steps to recognise the personal views of the researcher, (using techniques such as bracketing), and by working in teams.


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