Seminar: Telling it like it is – the power of qualitative methods

Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Venue: Room 3.009 Alliance Manchester Business school, Booth Street West, Manchester, M5 6PB

Speaker: Isabella Pereira (IPSOS)

Title: Telling it like it is - the power of qualitative methods


Qualitative methods are core elements of research enquiry in the social sciences, recognised as essential to both the exploration of human behaviour, and the explanation of its complexities. Yet they are less typically applied in the health, engineering and computing sciences, where statistical and quantitative approaches predominate.

In this lecture, I will discuss the role qualitative evidence can play in multidisciplinary enquiries, and describe its potential in the understanding of complex systems.  I will raise and discuss some of the problems of generalisability, inference and the interpretation of qualitative data – and how these problems can perhaps be resolved in the service of better explanations.

To illustrate these issues, I will share my experience of conducting large-scale qualitative research studies for major government social programmes, demonstrating the illuminating and explanatory power of qualitative case studies. 


Isabella is a Research Director in Ipsos MORI’s dedicated qualitative social research methods team, which she helped found in 2013.  She directs large-scale, complex qualitative and mixed methods research studies for government departments, think tanks and charities.  These currently include the evaluations of Vulnerable Persons (Syrian refugees) Resettlement Programme for the UK Home Office and the evaluation of the Rough Sleeping Initiative for the Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government.  Isabella also leads Ipsos MORI's qualitative social research training programme and their in-house research ethics committee. Isabella has been a trustee of the Social Research Association since 2017.