Qualitative Vs Quantitative research
Hello! Back again! Hope everyone had a good Christmas and your exams all went well!
So, this time I’m going to be talking about the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, and which one might be better to use when collecting data.
First off, I’m going to briefly discuss the difference between the two.
Quantitiative research is probably what most of us are used to: collecting numbers and figures and using SPSS to see what those numbers and figures mean. Examples of this type of data are clinical trials or maybe a National Census.
Qualitative research is used to explore more deeply, to help understand people’s beliefs, attitudes, experiences and behaviours. In contrast to Quantitative research, it creates non-numerical data. For example, description rather than a measure. Qualitative research uses methods such as in-depth interviews and focus groups.
So, we have two contrasting ways of collecting data. What are their strengths and weaknesses?
We have quantitative which can produce large amounts of data, the researcher knows clearly in advance what they are looking for, all aspects of the study are carefully designed before the experiment starts, the researcher can remain objective.
However, quantitative research does have it’s limitations. It is not very flexible; there is no way to delve deeper into single participants as all participants answer the same set questions. It can be very vulnerable to statistical error.
In the book Qualitative Data Analysis, quantitative researcher Fred Kerlinger is quoted as saying, “There’s no such thing as qualitative data. Everything is either 1 or 0”
On the other hand, qualitative research gives researchers a chance to change their questions as research is being conducted to find out more in-depth information and get richer data. Qualitative research is flexible and highly focused. Because the results are seen or heard first-hand, the researcher can relate to the findings easily.
Qualitative research, however, is not without it’s limitations. The researcher may only know roughly in advance what they are looking for, it is very subjective and relies on the researcher’s own ideas and way of interpreting the data they collect, it often uses a small sample size which means that results are not easily generalized.
So, with both having such strengths and weaknesses, how can it be possible to say which is the better one to use?
Some researchers believe that qualitative and quantitative methods can’t be combined because the assumptions underlying each are too different.
Other researchers think that they can be used together if the methods are alternated. Qualitative and quantitative methods are right for certain conditions in their own rights.
Some researchers think that both methods can be used together to answer the same research question.
With so much disagreement, even between researchers, I don’t think it is actually possible to say which is the better one to use.
I personally think that it would be best to use a qualitative method to find out more about a research question, and then use a quantitative method to get more data.
So, that’s it from me. See you all next time 🙂