The difference between quantitative and qualitative research

Both quantitative and qualitative research uses a separate set of research methods to gather and analyze data, enabling you to answer a variety of research questions.

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Here‘s a summary of the major differences between the two.

Quantitative research

  • Emphasizes on testing hypotheses and theories
  • Data is analyzed through statistical and mathematical analysis
  • Results are typically expressed in the form of tables, numbers or graphs
  • It needs a number of respondents
  • Surveys comprise of closed, multiple-choice questions

Qualitative research

  • Emphasizes on exploring ideas and devising theory or hypothesis
  • Data is analyzed through classifying, categorizing and interpretation
  • Results are typically expressed in words
  • It requires relatively fewer respondents
  • Surveys mostly comprise of open-ended questions

Methods of collecting data

According to Researchgate, there are a variety of ways in which we can collect data, such as the collection of primary data, interviews, and other methods. Both quantitative and qualitative data can be gathered using a number, or selection of, these different methods.

But of all these data collecting options available, it’s important to use a data collection method that would help justify your research solutions.

Quantitative – methods of data collection

Surveys: Often entailing a list of multiple-choice or closed questions that are distributed to a sample population. This can be done either online or in person, but often in a controlled environment to reduce variables in the data.

Experiments: a scenario in which variables are controlled, to develop cause-and-effect relationships with as few anomalies as possible.

Observations: The act of observing the phenomenon understudy in a natural environment where the variables can’t be controlled.

Content analysis: Consistently registering the presence of particular themes or words in a set of texts in order to analyze communication schematics.

Qualitative – methods of data collection

Interviews: Verbally asking a variety of open-ended questions to a group of respondents. Environments are normally more informal to elicit a more natural response.

Focus groups: Conducting a debate between a group of people regarding a certain topic to gather ideas that can be used for further research.

Ethnography: Living within an organization or a community for a significant period of time so as to keenly observe culture and behavior.

Case studies: Thorough study regarding a group, person, organization, or event.

Literature review: Studying published works by reputed authors. Adding to theories, and/or offering alternative hypothesis.