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You must have heard about quantitative and qualitative research projects! Especially if you are a research student. The prime objective of conducting research is to analyze the particular trends in the selected field. The research provides information about the action and promotes the theories based on scientific evidence. It further helps to develop the knowledge in the field, to offer the fruitful and progressive contribution.

Research is impacting our life directly or indirectly. It is conducted in schools, organizations, small offices, in a big company or whole society and nation. Most of us are not aware they have been a part of the research. When you watch the cinema or visit eateries, you must have been requested to fill the feedback form. And that’s where you are contributing to the research! Knowingly or unknowingly.

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What Are Qualitative And Quantitative Research?

There is certain research design qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. All these research methods depend upon their data collection methods. However, both the research methods are very different from each other in their approach. Let’s try to understand the characteristics of qualitative research and quantitative research.

Quantitative Research

The main focus of quantitative research is collecting numerical data, which is used to analyze data variables. The data in quantitative analysis is structured and statistical. The grounded theory method is applied in quantitative research based on the data collection and its systematic analysis.

The quantitative research methodology predicts outcomes derived from analyzing the general conclusions through research questions and secondary data. The most common quantitative research methods include – surveys, experiments, and observations recorded in numeric data. The expert’s tips on How to Write a Thesis For a Research Paper.

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Qualitative Research

Qualitative research focuses on collecting non-numerical data to gain insight into qualitative data variables. The data is non-statistical and not structured or semi-structured. It is designed to understand concepts, experiences, or opinions expressed in words by analyzing qualitative data. That is why data is not structured and measurable. Qualitative research is used to establish generalized facts about a particular topic or subject.

Qualitative research provides first-hand observations through interviews, questioning, and small chats from respondents in their own words. That helps researchers to gain in-depth insight into people’s thinking motivations, human behavior, and attitudes. However, qualitative research makes results hard to analyze.

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What Is The Difference Between Qualitative And Quantitative Research?

Qualitative and quantitative methods of research differ from each other. However, the main objective of both of them is to collect information and analyze data to give a prediction for betterment. Like, social work research methods, qualitative and quantitative approaches are used to benefit society.

Here are the basic difference between the two research methods. This will help you to compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative research easily.

Qualitative Research
Quantitative Research
Focus on exploring ideas and establishing a theory or hypothesis. Its prime focus is to test theories and hypotheses through quantitative counterparts.
Common methods to analyze are interpreting, categorizing, and summarizing. Analyzed by quantifying numeric data and statistical analysis.
Mainly expressed in words. Mainly expressed in numbers, graphs, or tables.
Qualitative questions include open-ended questions are used in this. Closed-ended or multiple-choice questions are used in this.
It requires few respondents. It requires many respondents to ask a quantitative question.
Keywords Example: Understanding, context, subjectivity, complexity Keywords Example: Measurements, testing, objectivity, replicability.

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How To Select Between Qualitative And Quantitative Research?

How to Select Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research?

Both the research relies on data collection and other complementary methods. Quantitative or qualitative data is collected using many data collection methods. Understanding these data collection methods and their objective will make it easy to decide between the two research methods.

So, let’s start the comparison of quantitative and qualitative research based on data collection methods:

Quantitative Data Collection Methods

  • Surveys: The surveys include a list of closed or MCQs distributed to the sample through phone, online, or in-person to the wider population.
  • Experiments: These are the situations that control the variables and are manipulated to analyze the relationship between cause and effect. 
  • Observations: The subjects are observed in the natural environment. Here the variables cannot be controlled.

Qualitative Data Collection Methods

  • Interviews: It involves asking them open-ended questions to the subjects.
  • Group Surveys: It involves discussing a group of people on a particular topic to gather information and opinions. This primary data can be further used for research.
  • Ethnography: Here, the researchers participate with the particular community or society to observe the subject matters for an extended period.
  • Literature Review:  It includes the survey of published work of other authors to gain new insights. 

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When To Use Qualitative And Quantitative Research Methods?

When to Use Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods?

Now you know the data collection methods of qualitative vs quantitative research. You can now easily decide when to use the particular research method. It will also help you to understand, what is the purpose of qualitative vs quantitative research. Let’s start with quantitative research:

Quantitative Research:

  • Validating the Hypothesis: Quantitative research designs are based on numeric data, which can be used for statistical analysis to validate the hypothesis. The facts collected will help researchers to make decisions based on objective observations and secondary data.
  • Finding General Answers: Quantitative techniques involves many respondents in comparison with qualitative research. It is easier to conduct multiple-question surveys followed by a series of interviews or focus groups. That is why quantitative research will easily answer the general questions.  

Qualitative Research:

  • Formulating Hypothesis: Qualitative research provides detailed information on the topic. Qualitative researchers use this to find out the problems or explore opportunities about people’s thinking. Those ideas can become hypotheses, which can be proved by quantitative research. 
  • When Human Element is Needed: As qualitative research involves interviews and discussion with respondents through open-ended questions. This way, direct and quality information is collected that can uncover many blind spots.    

Quantitative and Qualitative Research – Advantages & Disadvantages

Now you must have got a clear insight into both the research methods. Let’s go through the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative and quantitative research:

Advantages of Quantitative Research

  • The data is relatively easy to analyze.
  • The data collected is usually consistent, reliable, and precise.
  • The research directly answers the general questions.

Disadvantages of Quantitative Research:

  • The context of the phenomenon is difficult to understand.
  • Data can be robust enough to identify and analyze complex issues.
  • Statistics can be misleading.

Advantages of Qualitative Research:

  • It provides a clear picture of the situation.
  • The researcher can utilize past experience while analyzing the data.
  • It involves open-ended questions.

Disadvantages of Qualitative Research:

  • Qualitative analysis is based on the experience of the researcher.
  • It may require multiple sessions to gather data.
  • The results can be challenging to replicate.

Understand the Common Goal of Qualitative and Quantitative Research?

The data collected by the qualitative data analysis and quantitative data analysis have an order or scale to it. Some of the researchers classify the ordinal data in the category of quantitative data. Usually, qualitative data do not have a common scale. However, there is a common goal of qualitative and quantitative research. Both the research methods follow the primary, secondary quantitative, and qualitative research. The data collected by both of them are utilized in research and statistical analysis.

Examples of Qualitative and Quantitative Data Collection Examples

This section will provide insights into data collection examples utilized in quantitative vs. qualitative research methods. Let’s start with the quantitative research:

Quantitative Research Data Collection Examples

  • Yes/No Questions
  • Single Choice Questions
  • Multiple choice, or tick “all that applies” type of questions.
  • Ranking Questions
  • Numerical Range Questions
  • Quantitative Observations

Qualitative Research Data Collection Examples

  • Open-Ended Survey Questions
  • Unstructured or Semi-Structured interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Unstructured Observations
  • Documents or Content Analysis

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Conclusion

The history of qualitative and quantitative research is not so long. Qualitative research emerged in the 20th century. This was the time when psychoanalysis was influencing the commercial industry. The father of qualitative research, Paul Felix Lazarsfeld, in 1945 demonstrated how psychology could be used to interpret human behavior to increase sales. However, quantitative research is more recent as compared to qualitative research.

Qualitative and quantitative research are applied to achieve the common goal! That is to understand the trend, opinion, and pattern of social behavior or thinking. Both the research methods utilize different methods to gather data. The way of analyzing the data also differs. However, both focused on gaining insight into the recurring themes for the betterment of society.

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