Difference Between Qualitative and Empirical Research

Empirical research is the research that draws its conclusions strictly from the ’empirical’ or ‘verifiable’ evidence.

This mode of research analysis can be further bifurcated into two subsets known as qualitative and quantitative research where the former deals with general description to studied phenomenon whereas the latter is based on the numerical analysis.

Qualitative vs Empirical Research

The difference between qualitative and empirical research is often misinterpreted as the empirical method being the independent method of research dealing with numerical data and facts whereas qualitative method concerned with the descriptive analysis and opinions of the subjects.

Qualitative vs Empirical Research

But, empirical research is not the independent category and entails both qualitative and quantitative methods as its subcategories.

The empirical method gathers information from the numerical data by working on the predetermined notions and also by the qualitative method which incorporates non-numerical data such as interviews, focus groups, etc to get a more detailed idea of subject.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ConclusionEmpirical ResearchQualitative Research
ConceptBy using the quantitative mode it assumes fixed notions of reality but for qualitative it uses the varied notions of reality. Quantifies data and makes sense of it in qualitative ways.Assumes a dynamic and negotiated reality i.e. qualitative mode of research works on the principle of descriptive data
MethodologyData is collected by measuring things both statistically and descriptively.Data is collected through participant observation and interviews.
AimsCombines both qualitative and quantitative aspects of a data to get the desired hypotheses.Multi-method in focus because it is more naturalistic in the approach to understanding the social reality of the subjects.
Elements of analysisLanguage, interviews, focus groups, data collection, numerical data, etc are the key elements.Numerical and statistical data are the key elements of research.
ApproachThis mode of research can be both objective as well as subjective depending on the researcher.This mode of research is subjective as it involves different individualistic traits of subjects.


What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative method is the research practice that takes into consideration the human subject to develop an understanding of human and social behavior and to find a way how they feel and react.

Advantages of Qualitative Research are as follows:

  1. It allows exploring the hidden approaches of the research which numerical data alone is not capable of doing.
  2. Along with the research analysis, it allows for the contradictions to suggest the social reality of individuals.
  3. It follows no conventional standards therefore duplication of data is not possible in most cases.

Along with the advantages this research method has certain drawbacks as well such as:

  1. Sampling size is often not enough to provide the true reflection of ideas that the researcher wants to carry forward.
  2. It is consciously or unconsciously influenced by a personal bias towards certain notions.
qualitative research

What is Empirical Research?

Empirical research is the analytical form of research method which collects information based on the numerical data by employing statistical, mathematical, and numerical techniques as well from the descriptive (qualitative) sources.

Surveys, focus groups, polls, experimental research, etc are some of the elements of the analysis that it takes into account.

Advantages of Empirical research are as follows:

  1. One can easily collect a higher number of samples in less time by doing it quantitatively.
  2. Researchers can focus on specified cultural realities that they want to carry forward in their research.
  3. Most of the times it doesn’t require direct interactions with the subjects.
  4. It can be performed in a lab-like setting or on some naturalistic grounds.

Along with the advantages this research method also has certain drawbacks such as:   

  1. This kind of research is very time consuming and demands patience.
  2. It can also prove to be an expensive deed because the researcher will conduct the research at different locations.
empirical research

Main Differences Between Qualitative and Empirical Research

  1. The elements of analysis in Qualitative research are interviews, group discussions, case study, etc whereas in the Empirical research the key elements are surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc.
  2. Qualitative mode of analysis is multi-method in focus, therefore, it allows ambiguities and contradictions but the Empirical method works by measuring things and drawing explanatory inferences, therefore, doesn’t always provide space for the contradictions.


  1. https://rmitchel.uoregon.edu/sites/rmitchel1.uoregon.edu/files/resume/articles_refereed/1998-JED.pdf
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0169207095005917
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