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The online survey as a qualitative research tool

Braun, Virginia; Clarke, Victoria; Boulton, Elicia; Davey, Louise; McEvoy, Charlotte

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Virginia Braun

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Dr Victoria Clarke
Associate Professor in Qualitative & Critical Psychology

Elicia Boulton

Louise Davey

Charlotte McEvoy


Fully qualitative surveys, which prioritise qualitative research values, and harness the rich potential of qualitative data, have much to offer qualitative researchers, especially given online delivery options. Yet the method remains underutilised, and there is little in the way of methodological discussion of qualitative surveys. Underutilisation and limited methodological discussion perhaps reflect the dominance of interviewing in qualitative research, and (misplaced) assumptions about qualitative survey data lacking depth. By discussing our experiences of developing online surveys as a tool for qualitative research, we seek to challenge preconceptions about qualitative surveys, and to demonstrate that qualitative surveys are an exciting, flexible method with numerous applications, and advantages for researchers and participants alike. We offer an overview and practical design information, illustrated with examples from some of our studies.


Braun, V., Clarke, V., Boulton, E., Davey, L., & McEvoy, C. (2021). The online survey as a qualitative research tool. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 24(6), 641-654.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2020
Online Publication Date Aug 16, 2020
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Aug 24, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 17, 2022
Journal International Journal of Social Research Methodology
Print ISSN 1364-5579
Electronic ISSN 1464-5300
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 6
Pages 641-654
Keywords General social sciences, qualitative paradigm, qualitative survey, question design, research design, thematic analysis
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Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Received: 2020-05-13; Accepted: 2020-07-31; Published: 2020-08-16


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