Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Research
Many times those that undertake a research project often find they are not aware of the differences between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research methods. Many mistakenly think the two terms can be used interchangeably.
So what is the difference between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research?
Qualitative Research is primarily exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Qualitative Research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into the problem. Qualitative data collection methods vary using unstructured or semi-structured techniques. Some common methods include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews, and participation/observations. The sample size is typically small, and respondents are selected to fulfil a given quota.
Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into usable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative Research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research. Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than Qualitative data collection methods. Quantitative data collection methods include various forms of surveys – online surveys, paper surveys, mobile surveys and kiosk surveys, face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, longitudinal studies, website interceptors, online polls, and systematic observations.
Debates have been ongoing, tackling which method is better than the other. The reason why this remains unresolved until now is that, each has its own strengths and weaknesses which actually vary depending upon the topic the researcher wants to discuss. This then leads us to the question “Which method should be used?”
If your study aims to find out the answer to an inquiry through numerical evidence, then you should make use of the Quantitative Research. However, if in your study you wish to explain further why this particular event happened, or why this particular phenomenon is the case, then you should make use of Qualitative Research.