Qualitative research

Qualitative research isn’t synonymous with interview or focus group. Here’s an example from neuroscience: Gray’s (1959) classification of the qualitatively different kinds of synapse, using electron microscopy.

Here is Gray’s summary description (p. 430).

“In type 1 synapses a large percentage of the length of the apposed membranes shows increased thickness and density. The post-synaptic thickening is more pronounced than the pre-synaptic thickening. These thickened regions of the membranes lie farther apart than where the apposed membranes are unthickened and in the extracellular region between the thickened membranes an intermediate band of material can be seen.”

“In type 2 synapses the percentage length of thickening is small, the pre- and post-synaptic thickenings are of similar dimensions, the intermediate band is not clearly visible and the membrane spacings at these regions differ little from the non-thickened regions.”

Figure 10 below shows an example of the material Gray was analysing:

Gray, E. G. (1959). Axo-somatic and axo-dendritic synapses of the cerebral cortex. Journal of Anatomy, 93, 420–433.