August 21, 2020

What’s the difference between qualitative and quantitative?

qualitative and quantitative

Quantitative research

When numerical data is collected and analysed by using mathematics-based methods specifically statistics; is referred to as quantitative research. Quantitative research is communicated with the help of graphs, charts, tables and is regularly used to assess and examine the theories and assumptions. This kind of research is used for establishing apparent facts about the subject matter. The quantitative methods which are commonly used are – observations which are recorded by way of numbers, a survey comprising of closed-ended questions, and experiments.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is articulated in words and assists in understanding the concepts, beliefs or proficiencies. It allows collecting in-depth perceptions of the subjects which are not well understood. Qualitative research is when non-numeric data is collected, the information is descriptive and includes phenomena which cannot be measured but can be observed. The qualitative methods which are commonly used include literature reviews which assist in exploring concepts and theories, interviews which consist of open-ended questions, and also observations which can be described in words.

Difference between Quantitative and Qualitative research

The qualitative and quantitative research uses different research methods to collect and analyse data and they allow to answer different kinds of research questions.

The differences between them can be drawn as follows-

 Points of difference  Quantitative research  Qualitative research
Emphasis It emphases on examining theories and hypothesis It emphases on discovering ideas and framing either a theory or hypothesis
Evaluation methods The evaluation is conducted with the help of mathematical and statistical analysis The analysis is done with the help of summarising, classifying and inferring.
Represenattion of data The data is represented in numbers, with the help of charts, tables as well as graphs. These are mainly explained through words.
Requirement of respondents In this type of research, there is a requirement of several respondents. In this kind of research, there are only a few respondents required.
Type of questions The nature of questions are closed-ended, that is multiple-choice questions. In this type of research, the nature of questions is open-ended questions that is a subjective type of questions.
Keywords The keywords used are such as testing, objectivity and reliability. The keywords used here are such as subjectivity, understanding, complexity and context.
Search design It includes a closed structure which is already planned beforehand. There is no defined structure, it is open, and in search of unanticipated options, it gets improved as the research progresses.
Type of respondent The type of respondent here is a variable individual. The respondent here is a unique individual.

Data collection methods

There are several methods in which quantitative, as well as qualitative data, can be gathered. It is essential to use an appropriate data collection method which will assist in answering the research questions.

Quantitative data collection methods

  • Observations – This method includes observing the participants in a regular environment where variables are not controlled.
  • Surveys – It includes a list of multiple-choice questions which is circulated to the subjects either personally or over online or phone.
  • Experiments – It involves the circumstance in which variables can be controlled and influenced to create cause-and-effect relationships.

Qualitative data collection methods

  • Interviews – In this data collection method, the open-ended questions are asked directly to the variables of interest, it is useful since the questions are subjective in nature and asking it personally enhances the results.
  • Literature review – This data collection method involves researching and surveying the other authors published works which can be journals, research articles.
  • Focus groups – In this, the opinions of the group of people are collected and it will be used in further research if the discussion between them is on the topic on which research is being conducted.

Ways to decide on whether to use Quantitative or Qualitative research

The thumb rule in order to decide whether to use quantitative or qualitative research is as follows –

  • When there is a requirement of confirming to a theory or a hypothesis or to test these theories and interpretations, then, in that case, use quantitative research.
  • When the researcher want to understand the concepts, beliefs and experiences, then they are required to use qualitative research.

For most of the researches, both quantitative and qualitative methods are used. There are other factors which must be considered while selecting the method of data collection – whether the research is descriptive, experimental or correlational, whether adopting an inductive or deductive research approach, depends on the research questions. Along with these factors, other practical considerations must be taken into account as well; such as –  availability of respondents, time and cost, and availability of information.

Analysing quantitative data

Quantitative data includes numbers, and commonalities and patterns in the statistics are learnt by using simple maths or more advanced statistical analysis. The applications such as Excel, R or SPSS can be adopted for calculating the following things

  • Reliability and validity of the results
  • Average scores
  • Correlation between two or more variables.
  • How many times a particular answer was given

Analysing qualitative data 

Qualitative data is comparatively more challenging to study than quantitative data. It comprises of images, videos or texts instead of numbers. There are certain common approaches for analysing qualitative data which are as follows

  • Qualitative content analysis – It assist in monitoring the occurrence, the situation as well as the connotation of words and phrases.
  • Thematic analysis – It includes a thorough examination of the information in order to assess the key subjects along with the patterns.
  • Disclosure analysis – It involves studying and observing the ways in which communication works in social contexts.

Therefore on the basis of the above discussion, it is to be concluded that quantitative research is different from qualitative research and the methods, tools and techniques involved for collecting data for both researches are different as well. Quantitative includes representation of data in numerical form which is depicted by way of table, chart and graphs. In contrast, Qualitative research includes the representation of data in the form of words.

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Bella Phillips

Bella Phillips is an essay writer at who is associated with the company for the past six years. She has finished her master's degree from the University of South West England and has served as a guest lecturer at several colleges.

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