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Categories, Classes and Types

tekijä: Tanja Tuulikki Välisalo Viimeisin muutos maanantai 08. maaliskuuta 2010, 13.26


circle_aims aimsExploring BackgroundTemporal ProcessesRelationships and ConnectionsCause and EffectModels and TheoriesPredicting the FutureCritical Views and ChangeCaseCategories, Classes and TypesExperiencesBelieves, Opinions and AttitudesConstruction of MeaningsInterpretationPhenomena


One of the basic aims in humanistic research is to categorize, classify and typify diverse characteristics, qualities and notions related to the phenomenon being investigated. The research may aim to increase the understanding of the chosen phenomenon through systematic categorization, classification or typification. Categorization may be based on thematic analysis, by which you try to find a particular reoccurring theme either from the chosen phenomenon or its characteristics. Classification divides the information about the chosen phenomenon into various categories, groups and classes. Typification forms types of phenomena or their characteristics through generalizations. Typification or classification can also be secondary aims of the research, which deepen the understanding of the chosen phenomenon.



Research aiming to categorise, classify and typify diverse characteristics, qualities and notions through direct observations and from concrete materials such as documents, interviews, images or objects is empirical research. The process of categorising, classifying and typifying may also focus on a theoretical concept, model or way of thinking and therefore is also theoretical research.

You can also use other research strategies which contain the principles of categorising, classifying and typifying, for example: ethnographic research, historical research, comparative research, critical research or hermeneutic research.


Data Collection

When the aim of your research is to identify categories, classes and types, you can use different types of data collected by a variety of methods. You can use either data collected for previous research by another researcher (existing concrete materials) or collect / produce your own data during the research process.

You can use a variety of research strategies: Population research is suitable when the quantity of available data on a phenomenon is small. Sampling is suitable when the quantity of available data on a phenomenon is too large for you to analyse all of it. Random sampling enables you to select a small element without bias. Purposive sampling (goal-directed sampling) enables you to select samples that match the aim of the study. For example, archival texts and documents are typical in historical research and are usually available in large quantities. While the majority may be relevant to your research, you can regulate which documents you want to analyse.

You can collect data through interviews, questionnaires, observations, or analyzing stories or archival materials.


Data Analysis

Qualitative analysis methods suitable for categories, classes and types are: typification analysis and thematic analysis. Quantitative analysis methods are also suitable for classes.


Philosophy of Science

Qualitative analysis methods in the humanities are based on interpretivism. Views emphasising interpretation in the formation of meanings and subjectivity in meaning-making processes, obey the idea of relativism. Quantitative analysis methods are based on positivism, which stresses the production of knowledge through exact measurements and use of numeric variables. Views emphasising the exactness and correctness of measured knowledge are based on realism, which views knowledge as objective.