Research is often mandatory in various disciplines, usually, students and researchers get confused when it comes to choosing the approach of your research. Choosing the right approach for your research is the key to well-versed and good-quality work. Qualitative and Quantitative both are two important types of research. The decision to choose the right approach should be made by keeping in mind the availability of resources, the problem under investigation, researchers’ skills, and the targeted audience. All these factors play an important role in determining the appropriate approach for your research. Some researchers use a mixed method of qualitative and quantitative research. But in pure form, both methods are significantly different from each other in terms of their assumptions, methods of data collection, and process of analysis. Let us take a closer look at each research method.
What is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative research does not represent numerically, it deepens the understanding of a given issue or problem. It explains the discussed topic by using media, graphics, and different kinds of content excluding the numerical data. It gives an insight into the idea being presented in a more explicit and simple way. It is concerned with unquantifiable reality and focuses on the explanation of social relations dynamics. Qualitative research is used to understand a problem faced by society or humans from various perspectives. It is expressed in the form of words. A natural setting is used to conduct qualitative research.
The process of qualitative research involves building a comprehensive picture of the phenomenon under study. In qualitative research the point of view of a researcher is internal. It deals with well-structured hypotheses and a theoretical framework. Qualitative research plays an important role to conduct research on a topic in courses like education, sociology, and anthropology, etc.
What is Quantitative Research?
Quantitative research deals with the data which is quantifiable. It is used to investigate an identified problem. In quantitative research, we test a theory or assumption. It is measured in the form of numbers and statistics. Statistical techniques are used to analyze quantitative research. Data in this type of research is collected objectively and in a systematic manner. In quantitative research the point of view of a researcher is external. It deals with less structured hypotheses and theoretical frameworks.
Quantitative research is the opposite of qualitative research and involves numerical data in the research. It is usually conducted for topics involving averages, percentages, predictions, or testing relations. Quantitative research is important to conduct research in the courses like chemistry, biology, economics, and marketing. It also gives credibility to your research, as it shows the exact numerical data about the discussed idea.
Differences between Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Qualitative and quantitative research can be distinguished with respect to some features. Some main features include the following.
- Data collection
- Data analysis
– Inductive reasoning is used in qualitative research where you make observations based on surroundings. You either observe the present situations or recall the past experiences. In short, it is solely based on observations.
– It is used for interpretation and understanding of the phenomenon under investigation in details. We can consider interviewing the individuals for a certain cause as an example.
– Deductive reasoning is used in quantitative research where you relate the two assumptions. It requires logical reasoning to reach on a logical conclusion. It is a reliable method but sometimes yield false results.
– It is used to generalize, predict and to see causal relationships. We can consider sending survey to people asking them to rate questions on a scale of 1 to 5 as an example. It backs up the generalized scenario with a specific logic.
– It discovers knowledge in depth. It explains the discussed idea theoretically and gives a detailed insight to the readers.
– It is used to generate hypotheses. Usually, the data is collected from the audience based on a survey and then the results are used to develop a possible hypothesis.
– It discovers new knowledge in breadth. It gives you credible information in numerical form. The statistics show the exact nature of information based on the research of topic.
– It is used to test hypotheses. In order to test if the proposed hypothesis is correct or not, quantitative research plays an important role.
It is conducted in a natural setting. It is solely based on observations of surroundings, so are easier to accept as compared to quantitative research. It does not involve setting an artificial situation, but observations are based on real world.
It is conducted in controlled settings, for instance a laboratory setting. The observations are made by people present outside the setting being observed. The setting for quantitative research does nit reflect real life situation, as it is developed depending on the nature of research being conducted.
Common sampling method used in qualitative study is purposive sampling. In this type of sampling, the researcher’s judgment determines the population participating in surveys and observations. It ensures the effective use of available resources to bring the rich results.
Common sampling method used in quantitative study is random sampling. This is the unbiased representation of population, as all the parts and kinds of populations have an equal opportunity of participating. This data sometimes yields false results, so it requires greater convincing power to ensure its credibility.
The data collection of qualitative research is done by following methods.
. In-depth Interviews
. Focus Groups
. Participant observation
. Case studies
The data collection of quantitative research is done by following methods.
Data analysis for qualitative research is done in following ways.
. Content analysis
. narrative analysis
. Discourse analysis
. Framework analysis
Data analysis for quantitative research is done in following ways.
. Statistical tests
Data Collection Methods
Data collection methods of qualitative and quantitative research are explained as follows.
In-depth Interviews are the most reliable methods of collecting data because of their credible nature. This interview has a specific structure and set of questions, and it involves a face-to-face discussion between two people on a specific topic. The questions for the interview are specifically structured in a way to get the interviewed person’s perspective on the specific topic.
Focus groups are also the type of interviews, but they usually take place in a setting of 8 to 10 people. In this setting, people are free to express their opinion on the discussed topic. The purpose of the focus group is to extract maximum ideas about the topic from maximum people. It gives the participants room for agreement and disagreement with each other’s points of view.
In this method, the researcher is focused to observe the people in a natural setting. This is the traditional method of obtaining information for observatory purposes. The researcher takes down the notes of people’s behavior. It can either be covert where people are noticed without letting them know or can be overt where people know that they are being observed.
Case studies can also be a possible way of making observations and collecting data. The case study about the scenario is developed and then the possible observations are made from it.
To get the statistical data from your audience, and engaging survey would be helpful. An engaging survey makes your audience answer the questions more truthfully and helps you get credible data for your research. Surveys are commonly used to get the statistics for a researched topic.
Experiments are also used for collecting data, but people usually are expected to act differently in experiments than what they would react to in a natural social setting.
Polls are also widely used to collect statistics, as they are an engaging source for getting the audience’s reaction.
When to Use?
The question arises of how a researcher can know what type of research is appropriate for him or her.
Qualitative Research is used
- When a researcher tries to understand a particular issue in depth.
- When a researcher wants to know how the affected community is perceiving the problem.
- When a researcher wants to understand the behavior and priorities of the community that is affected.
- When a researcher wants to put emphasis on a comprehensive approach.
- When the researcher has a rough idea about what to look for, prior to the research.
- When research is needed to describe the information collected using the quantitative research method.
Quantitative Research is used
- When a researcher tries to understand a particular issue in breadth.
- When a researcher wants to get social and demographic features of the population.
- When a researcher wants to compare relations between issues for example using statistical test correlations can be found between variables.
- When to the point and accurate data is needed as an end result of research.
- When the research has a clear idea about what to look for, prior to the research.
- When a researcher wants to provide evidence about the kind and magnitude of problems of interest.
Analysis of Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Let’s have a look at the analysis of qualitative and quantitative research.
Qualitative Research Analysis
Content analysis is the tool used to determine the relationships in text based on the presence of some themes, text, and concepts.
This tool is used to analyze the content of research with the help of stories that people have created.
Discourse analysis is the tool of analyzing qualitative research data by making interpretations based on the details of contextual information.
Framework analysis is the tool of analyzing the qualitative research data by sorting it in the forms of charts and tables by using five basic steps.
- identifying the framework
Quantitative Research Analysis
The tests are used to decide about a process to get enough evidence that can be used to accept or reject a proposed hypothesis.
A null hypothesis is presented which usually has no relation between the groups, then you match that whether the observed data falls outside this range or not. However, if you are aware of the variables used, you can simply use a flowchart to determine the right test for your data.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Qualitative and Quantitative Data
Strengths of Qualitative Data
- It can provide information in detail about the population that is affected.
- The data can provide the perspective of a particular social context.
- It can provide analysis in depth.
- The data can be collected with limited respondents.
- The process of data collection can be done within limited resources.
Weaknesses of Qualitative Data
- The process of analysis is labor-intensive.
- It requires skills on the part of the interviewer to carry out data collection from primary sources.
- The result data cannot be verified objectively.
Strengths of Quantitative Data
- It gives you estimates in numeric form.
- It is a great opportunity for data analysis that is uncomplicated.
- The data in quantitative research can be verified.
- The researcher can compare the data of communities located in different locations.
Weaknesses of Quantitative Data
- It does not address the issues that are not included in the instrument of your data collection that led to gaps in the collected information.
- The affected persons may not or have limited participation in the process of collecting information.
- The process of collecting data is labor-intensive.
Qualitative and Quantitative are not two conflicting research methods, both methods can work together. When you try to discover new problems, you can start with a qualitative method. By measuring your data with quantitative techniques, you can confirm and understand the problem in a better way.