The Future of Qualitative Methods


Special issue of the International Journal of Market Research; Abstract deadline 30 Sep 2022

POSTING TYPE: Calls: Journals

Author: Dan Nunan

International Journal of Market Research –  Special Issue: The Future of Qualitative Methods

In recent years qualitative methods have been marginalised by the perceived effectiveness, speed and cost advantages of quantitative approaches. The perception of qualitative methods lacking status and legitimacy has been a feature of research over the last 70 years. Arguably, in the last decade the dominance of quantitative approaches has been reinforced by the growing availability of online ‘big’ data and the power and accessibility of technologies to analyse this data. For example, recent advances in Artificial Intelligence and data analytics have raised the possibility of replacing difficult and challenging unstructured data analysis with technologies such as automated transcription and sentiment analysis of audio and video interviews.

We suggest that this picture is misleading as research faces several crises. This includes a replication crisis that has called into question the role of the scientific method that has underpinned research in the social sciences. There is also an ethics crisis on the matter of consent for data gathered digitally. Additionally, there is a relational crisis since technology enables researchers to become increasingly detached from the phenomena they are researching, and there are concerns whether the same technologies lead to exclusion of vulnerable and minority groups. Many of these crises are associated with quantitative methods.

At the same time innovative qualitative methods are on the rise. This is driven by a growing volume and ease of access to digital data, innovative approaches to analyses, and a demand for insights that help understand nuanced and differentiated perspectives from smaller samples and ‘niche’ populations.

IJMR has been publishing research on qualitative methods since the 1950s, one of the longest established management journals to do so. In this special issue we recognise the flexibility and power of qualitative research to respond to the research environment in which we operate, and look to the future of qualitative research as having a core role in addressing the research problems of the future.


This SI is primarily concerned with papers that contribute to the advancement of the knowledge base on qualitative research methods. Whilst this is broadly defined, submissions should be able to demonstrate a contribution to the theoretical and empirical understanding and application of qualitative methods, which goes beyond providing interesting examples of qualitative research in practice.

Conceptual and/ or methodological contributions that offer insight into this area are
welcomed by the Guest Editors. The following is a non-exhaustive list of potential topics for
this Special Issue:

  • New thinking on theory underpinning qualitative research methodologies.
  • Defining/debating the boundaries of qualitative research. Should qualitative research differentiate itself from ethnography, semiotics, and cultural research practices? How are qualitative techniques being applied in traditionally quantitative fields (e.g.behavioural economics).
  • Use of qualitative research techniques in new contexts (including access to populations and samples, new methods and analyses).
  • Critical applications of the qualitative research process that address research problems of equality, justice and/ or inclusion while providing new knowledge (e.g. gender, sustainability).
  • Promoting the power of qualitative research beyond academia into industry and practice (e.g. consulting, outreach, professional development)
  • New technologies in qualitative research (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, use of digital, film and/ or multiple media in qualitative research).
  • The (ir)relevance of reproducibility and replication in qualitative research and alternative theoretical criteria for judging value and rigour of qualitative studies.
  • Reviews of the effectiveness of qualitative research.
  • Ethical issues, advantages, and challenges of qualitative techniques.
  • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on qualitative research. For example, how the increasing use of Zoom/Teams by consumers and researchers impact qualitative methodologies.
  • Discussions of transdisciplinarity and collaboration in the context of qualitative research.

Submission Details:
Authors wishing to propose an article for the special issues should initially send an abstract (no more than 500 words) to the coordinating SI Editor, by 30th September 2022. Authors will be informed by November 2022 if their abstract has been selected to be invited to progress further. Full papers will then be subjected to a double-blind review. Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Those full manuscripts that are successful after the review process will then be included in the Special Issue. Abstracts for both full papers and research notes are welcome. Details of word length and article formats are available at .

This Special Issue will be published in late 2023.

Special Issue Editors:

Lauren Schrock, University of Warwick  (*
Mark Saunders, University of Birmingham
Maria Di Domenico, University of Surrey
Wendy Hein, Birkbeck, University of London
Anca Yallop, Auckland University of Technology

* Please send correspondence specific to this special issue to the coordinating editor, Lauren Schrock, at

General queries about the journal, submission systems and formats can be sent to