Research Topic

Qualitative Methods for Studying Groups

About this Research Topic

Definitions of the group are as varied as groups themselves, but a commonality shared by many of these definitions is an emphasis on social relations that link members to one another and the presence of a shared purpose or a common enterprise. Embracing a constructivist epistemology, we believe that, by adopting an emic point of view, qualitative research can capture the complexity of the phenomena that occur in groups in everyday life. Qualitative approaches suit research with the purpose of exploring hard to measure phenomena and developing a complex understanding of experiences, including analyses of group action and interaction. The call targets studies of “naturally-occurring” groups, that is groups that spontaneously exist in ordinary or institutional settings.

Within the epistemological and methodological framework of qualitative research, we aim to:
- Study groups across work, educational, healthcare, clinical, community-based, and political settings from an interdisciplinary perspective.
- Collect and describe -across contexts- the perspectives and concepts used to study groups, the variety of group’s characteristics.
- The contribution that being in a group brings to the phenomena under scrutiny, the methods used in the studies.

By encouraging multiple approaches, we aim to explore new ways of thinking of groups and to discuss the grouping potential in different settings.

The focus of this Research Topic is to collect group research that relies on qualitative approaches, including various methods such as observation, case studies, focus groups, phenomenological approaches, ethnography, discourse and conversation analysis, grounded theory, and others. We encourage a variety of article types, including (but not limited to) Original Researches, Reviews, Hypothesis and Theory, Perspective, Brief Research Reports.

Authors should highlight:
- Perspectives and concepts used to study the group;
- The group’s characteristics, how being in a group gives shape to the phenomena under scrutiny.

Among the phenomena that we would like to cover are the following:
- Decision-making;
- Communication and social interaction;
- Knowledge building and learning;
- Social identity;
- Problem-solving and planning;
- Creativity;
- Therapeutic alliance and change.


Keywords: groups, qualitative methods, constructivist epistemology, emic point of view, naturally occuring phenomena


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Definitions of the group are as varied as groups themselves, but a commonality shared by many of these definitions is an emphasis on social relations that link members to one another and the presence of a shared purpose or a common enterprise. Embracing a constructivist epistemology, we believe that, by adopting an emic point of view, qualitative research can capture the complexity of the phenomena that occur in groups in everyday life. Qualitative approaches suit research with the purpose of exploring hard to measure phenomena and developing a complex understanding of experiences, including analyses of group action and interaction. The call targets studies of “naturally-occurring” groups, that is groups that spontaneously exist in ordinary or institutional settings.

Within the epistemological and methodological framework of qualitative research, we aim to:
- Study groups across work, educational, healthcare, clinical, community-based, and political settings from an interdisciplinary perspective.
- Collect and describe -across contexts- the perspectives and concepts used to study groups, the variety of group’s characteristics.
- The contribution that being in a group brings to the phenomena under scrutiny, the methods used in the studies.

By encouraging multiple approaches, we aim to explore new ways of thinking of groups and to discuss the grouping potential in different settings.

The focus of this Research Topic is to collect group research that relies on qualitative approaches, including various methods such as observation, case studies, focus groups, phenomenological approaches, ethnography, discourse and conversation analysis, grounded theory, and others. We encourage a variety of article types, including (but not limited to) Original Researches, Reviews, Hypothesis and Theory, Perspective, Brief Research Reports.

Authors should highlight:
- Perspectives and concepts used to study the group;
- The group’s characteristics, how being in a group gives shape to the phenomena under scrutiny.

Among the phenomena that we would like to cover are the following:
- Decision-making;
- Communication and social interaction;
- Knowledge building and learning;
- Social identity;
- Problem-solving and planning;
- Creativity;
- Therapeutic alliance and change.


Keywords: groups, qualitative methods, constructivist epistemology, emic point of view, naturally occuring phenomena


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 February 2021 Abstract
31 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 February 2021 Abstract
31 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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