Humanistic research often aims to make an interpretation or various interpretations of a research object, such as a work of art, text, image or space. Interpretations can be made in different ways and the depth of the interpretations may vary. You should, by using the most simple of interpretations, aim to reveal and describe the content of a chosen object, or by using a complex interpretation to explore and explain broad and complicated cultural and social meanings. All research aims include a kind of interpreting. Interpretations are made during the process of a research project of: the bibliography, the data and the results of the analysis.
If the research problem concerns the meanings of the object of study, making interpretations may be viewed as a core purpose of research.
Research aiming to make interpretations on phenomena by exploring concrete materials such as documents, interviews, images or objects can be defined as empirical research. Qualitative research is the norm.
You can also use other research strategies. A case study enables you to research interpretations by focusing either on a particular or small group of research objects. Hermeneutic research is particularly suitable and enables you to research the formation of interpretations.
When the aim of your research is to make interpretations on phenomena, you can use different types of data collected by a variety of methods. The primary data may consist of various objects, such as works of art, which you interpret in the research process. The secondary data acts as a source of background information for the research and in enabling you to make alternative interpretations, also acts as a basis for your research argument. 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 need to be aware that an essential point in the selection of the materials is that they must increase understanding of the research object.
Population studies are typical in hermeneutic research. In hermeneutic research, the data may have diverse connections to the researched object. You can collect data from observations, various archival documents and other materials which enhance interpreting the chosen object.
Qualitative analysis methods are suitable for research aiming to make interpretations. Hermeneutic analysis enables you to make a general analysis of making interpretations. Close reading methods enables you to make an in-depth analysis. Semiotic analysis enables you to make an in-depth analysis. Discipline-specific analysis methods aim to interpret the form or content of the phenomena.
Philosophies in 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.