A discussion of the relationship between social science research philosophy, methodology, and methods and conservation, written in response to a Methods in Ecology and Evolution special feature on qualitative methods for conservation. The paper specifically emphasizes the importance of a clear distinction between the reality of qualitative data versus the notion of qualitative methods.
Excerpt from the abstract:
We start with a brief discussion on the value of thinking about data as being qualitative (i.e., text, image, or numeric) or quantitative (i.e., numeric), not methods or research. Thinking about methods as qualitative can obscure many important aspects of research design by implying that “qualitative methods” somehow embody a particular set of assumptions or principles. Researchers can bring similar, or very different, sets of assumptions to their research design, irrespective of whether they collect qualitative or quantitative data.
Read the full manuscript here and a related manuscript: A guideline to improve qualitative social science publishing in ecology and conservation journals (Ecology and Society, 2016).