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Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research

Qualitativevs. Quantitative Research


Peopleoften use instinct and common sense to understand some aspects of theworld they are living in. However, research is used to have asystematic and explicit approach in finding things that cannot beunderstand by merely common sense. This process starts with aresearch question. Then it will have a literature review of theaspects related to the research. The methodology of the researchincludes what kind of data to be collected, how it is collected,where should the data come from and how it is to be analyzed.(Hancock, 2009)There are two approaches for the collection ofinformation in a research process: qualitative and quantitativeresearch.

Researchis a systematic way of explaining, defining, describing and exploringideas that can be done using different approaches. The knowledge thepeople acquired through the ages come from systematic methods ofcreating theories and proving through experiments and analysis.Basically, people cannot undergo analysis without the basic processof the systematic method. Systematic method involves defining theproblem, creating a solution, executing the methods and analyzing theacquired information. (Charoenruk1, 2010)

Theobjective of this paper is to compare and differentiate the two basicapproaches in systematic research. It also aims to explain themethods of each of the approach namely the qualitative and thequantitative research. It also analyses the advantage anddisadvantage of the two approaches as well as the factors consideredbefore choosing the right approach to use.

  1. Historical Development of qualitative and quantitative research

Researchbasically originated from the natural science such as chemistry,physics and mathematics which is concerned in investigating thingswhich we could observe and measure. The Greek philosophy introducedthe basic concept of scientific method which is objective and notambiguous. Since the natures of these sciences are concerned mainlyon the statistical data that are available, this research requiresmore on the measurable observations. This process is referred to asthe quantitative research. When the Greeks introduced the concept ofphilosophy, they are using objective and subjective method ofobservations. (Christensen,2010)However, people only believed in the measurable observations sincescience at that time are not standard yet. For example, theyintroduced the concept of geometry in different ways. Euclid’sgeometry focuses on the measurement of volumes, distances and areasor simply evolved in the deductive reasoning of science. This is aquantitative way of research and can be repeated by otherresearchers. Aristotle’s geometry on other hand explained thenature of science using physical laws of motion but it can be seen asa fantasy in a modern point of view. But his approach is complex andbroad which is a very organize way of collecting subjective ideasfrom the concepts available in their time. (Christensen,2010)

  1. Discussion


Quantitativeresearch is a good fit in deductive approaches, which usesstatistical analysis. It is typically considered to be more‘scientific’ method and uses specific definitions. Most questionsare simply suited to be answered using quantitative methods.Quantitative research is essentially about collecting numericalmeasurements to explain a particular event or concept. Its mainpurpose is to project the findings from the data collected from therelatively large population through an objective process. (Borrego,2009)

Basicmethod of quantitative research makes use of a hypothesis. Hypothesisis the tentative explanation that accounts for the set of facts to betested using experiments for further investigation. There is asystematic or statistical way of proving or rejecting the hypothesisfollowed. In quantitative research, data is collected from observingspecific units of population. These data collected from the units arecalled variables. The interpretation of one variable is meaninglessand cannot be used to describe or interpret any problem. If thesevariables came from the whole population, it can be analyzed usingstatistical tolls such as mean, median and mode. However, largepopulation is one of the hindrances of quantitative analysis due tothe restrictions of time and resources. Statistical analysis such asthe t-test, ANOVA and z-test are made for the analysis of a part ofthe population which can interpret the whole population of units.(Borrego, 2009)

Obviously,research demanding numerical answers are the main studies wherequantitative research is best suited for. Moreover, questionsregarding numerical change can be accurately be studied usingquantitative methods. Variation of phenomenon as well as theirsimilarities is explained using the variables collected andinterpreted using statistical tools. Finally, quantitative researchis best suited for testing the hypothesis. Conclusion of quantitativeanalysis which is based on numerical observations can be the sourceof predictions and the basis of trends. (Johnson, 2010)

Quantitativestudies can interpret the solution in a large scope using largepopulation variables. However, quantitative research can be tooshallow for studies that need to be discussed in a deep sense. Toreally explore the problem, it needs in-depth case studies likeinterview or other subjective methods. Hypothesis testing is the keyfor the quantitative analysis, but most of the hypothesis isdeveloped from subjective matter


Qualitativeresearch interprets social interactions and uses smaller group tostudy and not randomly selected. In this research, subjectivity isexpected. It is characterized by the collection and analysis oftextual data such as interviews and surveys. It also uses systematicand scientific method but is highly pragmatic in nature. It oftendoes create new knowledge and contributes theories. Qualitativeresearchers study things in a naturalistic approach and or simply,they don’t involve ordinal values. (Merriam, 2009)

Thereis a vast range of possible data collection in qualitative analysis.A qualitative data can be a text, an audio or visual presentationsuch as video or music. It can be analyzed as an example for an ideaor an observation to be analyzed. The most common inductive analyticapproach used in qualitative inquiry is the inductive thematicapproach which requires generation of free-flowing data. (Borrego,2009)

Qualitativeresearch is best suited to answer the questions which start with howand why. The biggest advantage of qualitative research is the abilityto have a detailed interpretations and explanations to theobservations and experiences. Though cause and effect researches arebest suited for quantitative analysis, qualitative studies can alsobe used. In statistics, there is a saying that “correlation is notequal to causation.” (Merriam, 2009 and Grosshans&ampCleminsky,2011)

Althoughthere is a wide range for qualitative data may come from, there is alimitation that is the analysis of these data is time consuming.Although it is not suited for large population of samples, theanalysis of data alone requires vigorous interpretation. Samples inqualitative data are small and non-probabilistic but statisticalgeneralization is not possible. It cannot measure the variation ofresponses in any meaningful way (Merriam, 2009) Case study is onebut the most significant research in handling issues in socialsciences. Case study is a descriptive analysis or explanatoryanalysis of people or groups. It is an empirical inquiry used by manyresearches in social sciences. There are three basic types of casestudy which are used in general. In can be exploratory, which expandsthe idea of one person or one group to limitless possibilities byexploring the interior of the individuals thought or a group’sculture. The other one is descriptive which seeks meanings to thingsusing its significance to itself or in others. The last one isexplanatory, which interprets the cause and effect of things to thesystem or to the surroundings. (Yin, 2009)

  1. Conclusion

Ingeneral, quantitative research is objective while qualitativeresearch is subjective. Quantitative research seeks explanations,interpretations and predictions but qualitative research seeks andin-depth descriptions.. Qualitative research is generally used inother fields of sciences such as anthropology and social sciences. Itis used to develop new theories and focuses on multiple realitieswhich are complex and broad. In quantitative analysis, the facts arefree and the bias are eliminated or sometimes measured but inqualitative research, the facts are biased depending on the samplesor the researcher itself. There are many mays to differentiatequantitative and qualitative research but it is often used together.Quantitative research generalize ideas leading to predictions,explanation and understanding while qualitative research strives foruniqueness and search patterns for new theories and discoveries.

Mostof the times, quantitative and qualitative research are mixed withregards to the science it is applied. Researches that require nonmeasurable data often used substitutes for the immeasurable entities.An example of the substitutes is the GDP of the nation. It is thestandard measure for the quality of living in a certain nation. Whenthe research’s objective is the social effect of the newtransportation system, it is basic to used mixed analysis. The beststrategy is to Use the quantitative research for the study of theeconomic development thus explaining the social growth and exploringnew theories using the qualitative research.


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