Advanced Qualitative Methods in Knowledge Society Research Codi:  63.501    Crèdits:  5
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Aquest és el pla docent de l'assignatura per al primer semestre del curs 2024-2025. Podeu consultar si l'assignatura s'ofereix aquest semestre a l'espai del campus Més UOC / La universitat / Plans d'estudis). Un cop comenci la docència, heu de consultar-lo a l'aula. El pla docent pot estar subjecte a canvis.


The goal of the course is to support students practice key qualitative methods while gaining exposure to how diverse theoretical lenses make use of these methods in their doctoral theses. Specifically, students are encouraged to apply the feedback and recommendations provided by the course instructor and the learning resources to their own research projects, in order to improve the basic aspects of their methodology.

The course is structured in study modules - according to the different aspects of qualitative research methods that will be dealt upon during the semester. First, the course starts with an all-encompassing methodological approach to doing research in social and human sciences (module 1). Furthermore, qualitative research designs are examined. Students will expand their understanding of a research framework in the context of qualitative research by analyzing and evaluating research questions in qualitative studies. They will also analyze the interrelated elements of a research study making the connection among theory, problem, purpose and, now, qualitative research questions and design. Next, the key qualitative data collection techniques are studied (module 2), which involves in-depth analysis and research. Qualitative data collection methods are mainly focused on gaining insights, reasoning, and motivations; hence they go deeper in terms of research (module 3). Module 4 focuses on the procedures of analysis of qualitative data. Data analysis in qualitative research is defined as the process of systematically searching and arranging the interview transcripts, observation notes, or other non-textual materials that the qualitative researcher accumulates in order to increase the understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. During the semester, students will have the opportunity to read and discuss different learning resources related to qualitative methods, from articles published in peer-reviewed journal to research methods handbooks and book chapters. The course offers students the possibility to work on their research proposal and the data they may have collected for their doctoral thesis. Feedback will be given on the methodological approach section, too, including research paradigm, design, ontological and epistemological assumptions (module 5).

In a nutshell, the course covers the following main aspects:

  • Fundamentals of conducting qualitative research
  • Qualitative research designs
  • Data collection in qualitative research
  • Data analysis in qualitative research
  • Evaluating validity, quality and reliability of data
  • The methodology section of a doctoral thesis


The course within the program of studies

This is an optional course which is recommended to all doctoral students who need some additional support with reflecting upon the methodological framework of their thesis. The course is designed to help doctoral students improve their methodological skills for doing qualitative research - especially regarding the development of their own research projects (making methodological decisions, collecting and analyzing data and presenting their results in a consistent and rigorous way.


Professional fields in which it is recommended

This course is useful for all doctoral students in Social Sciences at the Open University of Catalonia whose thesis has a qualitative research elements (either qualitative or mixed-methods studies).


Previous Knowledge

This course assumes that students have some basic notions on qualitative methods, thus the emphasis (beyond going over each single technique discussing whichever aspects are thought to be necessary in dialogue with the students) will be set upon the development of a general methodological approach to qualitative research in the social sciences; only understanding what we do, what we can do, and we seek to do in our researches, we can use techniques of data gathering and analyzing without losing a certain creative perspective that makes us masters of our own research.


Information before starting this course

Please consult with your thesis supervisor the expectations you have from this course, desired outcomes and ambitions in relation to qualitative research design. The course instructor will provide you with personalized feedback addressing your individual learning needs for the development of your doctoral thesis.


Course objectives

The course will contribute to the development of students' 

  • Knowledge of the most relevant qualitative methods
  • Ability to apply research methods from traditional social sciences qualitative research to their disciplines
  • Ability to use new ICT-based methods to study different phenomena and for overall empirical research
  • Ability to ponder the feasibility and reliability, the strengths and weaknesses of different qualitative methods
  • Knowledge of the ethical considerations of qualitative research
  • Ability to analyze qualitative data and draw conclusions


Starting date:

28 September 2022

End date:

6 February 2023



An all-encompassing methodological approach to doing research in social and human sciences

In this phase of your studies, the existing research in your field may seem immense, if not overwhelming.

In this module, you familiarize yourself with various frameworks and theories, to gain an understanding of the role of the qualitative research in social and human sciences. As you consider the role of theory in research you will explore the connection between philosophical orientations and the epistemological and ontological assumptions of theory.



Qualitative research designs

There are many tools and techniques available to shape a qualitative approach to research, some dependent on circumstances. In this module, you will expand your understanding of a research framework in the context of qualitative research by analyzing and evaluating research questions in qualitative studies. You will also continue to analyze the interrelated elements of a research study making the connection among theory, problem, purpose and, now, qualitative research questions and design. In addition, you will reflect on the criteria for evaluating the quality of qualitative research designs and you will consider the relationship between quality criteria and discipline standards.



Data collection in qualitative research

In this module, you will evaluate the strengths and limitations of sampling methods and data collection methods, and you will consider their ethical implications. You will also be given some guidelines for the process of data collection, through examples from published research. There is a variety of sampling methods and various data collection methods being used in qualitative research and you will be able to focus on those which are closer to your own research project



Data analysis in qualitative research

Compared to quantitative data, which captures more structured information, qualitative data is unstructured and has more depth. The analysis of such data can help you answer your research questions, formulate hypotheses and build understanding on your research topic.

While qualitative data doesn't require statistics and mathematical knowledge, its analysis isn't easier. In many short scale qualitative studies the data is analyzed manually.

NVivo is a widely used computer assisted qualitative data analysis software package which provides a potentially useful tool for the management and analysis of qualitative research data. During this module you will have the opportunity to use this tool for the analysis of data you may have collected for your own research project.



The methodology section of your doctoral thesis

In this module you will have the opportunity to go through all the sections of the methodology chapter of your doctoral thesis. From the research paradigm, research design, research questions, data collection instruments, data analysis, and ethical considerations, to name a few. After reflecting on the most important elements to consider for this chapter, you will have the option to get personalized feedback on your own work, which can be shared with your thesis supervisor with who you will take the final methodological decisions


Material Suport



Please click on the course's "learning resources" tab to find a detailed list of literature for this course.

Below you will find the key readings you can consult for the preparation of the learning tasks of the course:

Please check the learning resources for this course below:

Textbook for the course

Additional learning resources



This course aims explore in depth to the world of qualitative research. For this reason, and within the framework of the university's own educational model, the proposed four tasks have both theoretical and practical nature.

Specifically, students, will determine their research problem and define their objectives and/or research questions. Once introduced to the different qualitative research designs, they will reflect on how to select the most suitable methodological approach for their study and to justify their selection in relation to the nature of their objectives and/or their research questions.

Then, they will evaluate the strengths and limitations of sampling and data collection methods, and they will consider their ethical implications. As a practical implementation of what they studied, students will be asked to collect qualitative data, following specific principles and guidelines.

Once the data is collected, students will study data analysis tools and methods with a focus on NVivo, which is a widely used computer assisted qualitative data analysis software package. NVivo will provide a potentially useful tool for the management and analysis of the qualitative research data of their doctoral thesis. As a practical implementation, they will analyze the data they collected earlier.

Finally, they will reflect on how to write a research report, from the methodological perspective (structure and transition among sections, academic writing mechanics) to the content perspective (what kind of information they need to introduce in each section of the report). As a practical implementation, they will present all the work done in previous tasks in a report, following the corresponding guidelines.

Students will do all of this following the guidelines provided by the course instructor through the Announcements Dashboard, participating in discussions that arise, and reading the learning resources, which are linked to the different tasks. While the tasks are individual, the interaction and collaboration with the course instructor is fundamental, as well as the exchange of comments, questions and good practices with their peers.


El procés d'avaluació es fonamenta en el treball personal de l'estudiant i pressuposa l'autenticitat de l'autoria i l'originalitat dels exercicis realitzats.

La manca d'autenticitat en l'autoria o d'originalitat de les proves d'avaluació; la còpia o el plagi; l'intent fraudulent d'obtenir un resultat acadèmic millor; la col·laboració, l'encobriment o l'afavoriment de la còpia, o la utilització de material o dispositius no autoritzats durant l'avaluació, entre d'altres, són conductes irregulars que poden tenir conseqüències acadèmiques i disciplinàries greus.

D'una banda, si es detecta alguna d'aquestes conductes irregulars, pot comportar el suspens (D/0) en les activitats avaluables que es defineixin en el pla docent - incloses les proves finals - o en la qualificació final de l'assignatura, sigui perquè s'han utilitzat materials o dispositius no autoritzats durant les proves, com ara xarxes socials o cercadors d'informació a internet, perquè s'han copiat fragments de text d'una font externa (internet, apunts, llibres, articles, treballs o proves d'altres estudiants, etc.) sense la citació corresponent, o perquè s'ha practicat qualsevol altra conducta irregular.

De l'altra, i d'acord amb les normatives acadèmiques, les conductes irregulars en l'avaluació, a més de comportar el suspens de l'assignatura, poden donar lloc a la incoació d'un procediment disciplinari i a l'aplicació, si escau, de la sanció que correspongui.

La UOC es reserva la potestat de sol·licitar a l'estudiant que s'identifiqui o que acrediti l'autoria del seu treball al llarg de tot el procés d'avaluació pels mitjans que estableixi la Universitat (síncrons o asíncrons). A aquests efectes, la UOC pot exigir a l'estudiant l'ús d'un micròfon, una càmera o altres eines durant l'avaluació i que s'asseguri que funcionen correctament.

La verificació dels coneixements per garantir l'autoria de la prova no implicarà en cap cas una segona avaluació.


Aquesta assignatura només es pot superar a partir de l'avaluació contínua (AC). La nota final d'avaluació contínua esdevé la nota final de l'assignatura. La fórmula d'acreditació de l'assignatura és la següent: AC.

Ponderació de les qualificacions

Opció per superar l'assignatura: AC

Nota final d'assignatura: AC


The evaluation of the course will be carried out through the delivery of four tasks.

The course instructor will make more detailed comments and give the appropriate guidelines for the development of each of the tasks through the Announcements Dashboard. Every task will have a brief, which will indicate the duration, the form of presentation and how the task should be delivered and named. There will also be procedural information and organizational guidelines.

In the aforementioned tasks, the student will have to demonstrate their ability to synthesize, to relate knowledge and information, to argue the decisions and different ideas presented, as well as the competence to apply the acquired knowledge, the ability to analyze and reflect on it.

In order to follow the continuous assessment model proposed in the subject, it is essential to respect the delivery deadlines of the activities. In case of failure to do so, any activity delivered outside the deadline will be evaluated, depending on the achievement of the proposed objectives, only as "pass" or "fail", with a C+ or C-/D, respectively.

In order to pass the subject, students must submit at least 3 of the 4 tasks. In all cases, students are obliged to submit the 4th task (mandatory for all). Successful completion of the course will be achieved with a minimum global average grade of C+ (pass).


Grading Standards

90 -100%


80 - 89%


70 - 79%


60 - 69%


59% or lower



Late Assignments:

Students are expected to submit assignments as scheduled. Submission of late assignments will only be permitted under extenuating circumstances. Students are expected to notify the instructor if they are unable to meet the deadlines.

Student responsibilities

As students in this class I expect you to feel responsible for your own learning process. Reading is fundamental in order to assimilate the most important and necessary contents and skills of this course. Please make the greatest effort to keep up with the readings, and share all your doubts and questions with your colleagues and me so that we can all engage in this fascinating learning process together. Do not forget that the successful achieving of this course's objectives is basically dependent on your active work and participation!

Plagiarism and ethics

A task in which there are signs of plagiarism will not be accepted under any circumstances. According to the Enciclopèdia Catalana, we mean by plagiarism "part of another's work inserted into one's own without indicating the source". Therefore, a task in which partial or total content is taken literally from a printed source, from the Internet, from the work of other colleagues or from any other source will not be accepted, without explicitly mentioning those sources through proper in-text citations and references.  

The UOC has efficient mechanisms and tools to detect plagiarism and copying between students.

Regardless of who is the student who has caused the copying/plagiarism, the academic reprimand for misuse of the continuous assessment system will fall, equally, on all the students involved, and these behaviors may derive the corresponding disciplinary sanctions for violation of the Normative of rights and duties.

The possibility of qualifying a behavior as academic misconduct/plagiarism and the eventual imposition of an academic warning and/or disciplinary sanction may occur at any time during the Continuous Assessment during the semester, even if some tasks have already been evaluated and/or the final mark of the Continuous Evaluation has been set.

From the university side, we work to prevent this fraudulent practice in two ways:

  • On the one hand, informing and training our students better on how to properly cite the sources they consult. The following link from the UOC's library contains a document that collects some useful examples to avoid falling into plagiarism:

  • On the other hand, we make sure that we communicate to all our students that this behavior, if detected, has consequences in their evaluation and also in their student file, given that the fact that any caution or sanction is recorded there. The academic regulations of the UOC applicable to EEES university studies (art. 101) govern the academic sanctions applicable in these cases. In turn, the UOC Rights and Duties Regulation (art. 9) states that "copying, plagiarism or the attempt to obtain a better academic result using any illegal means" is a conduct classified as a serious or very serious offense and regulates the applicable disciplinary procedures.


Final evaluation

The table below present the weighting of each task towards the final grade in this course.


Weighting (%) towards the final grade

1.  Presentation and justification of the methodological approach


2.  Qualitative data collection


3.  Qualitative data analysis


4.  Final report





The course instructor will be available for the students and will guide their knowledge building process by answering any doubts or concerns that may arise throughout the course. The discussion boards of the virtual classroom will be used for exchange of good practices, challenges and ideas. The course instructor will provide personalized individual feedback to every submitted task. Feedback will be sent to students at the latest within two weeks from the submission deadline. Finally, students will have the opportunity to receive feedback on their doctoral thesis, with a focus on their methodology chapter, with the course instructor playing the role of the "critical friend".