Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

When you want to perform any kind of research, you will find that research can be done in two ways as explained and differentiated in this article.

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Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

The difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Research is that Qualitative research is used to collect ideas from people, how they feel, and think, while quantitative research is used to find the variables through logic, statistics, and mathematical method.

Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

Qualitative data is in the verbal form, whereas quantitative data is in the numeric form, which is measurable.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonQualitative ResearchQuantitative Research
Aim/purposeAims at exploring underlying ideas and formulating theories or hypotheses laterAims at testing theories and hypotheses rather than exploring them
AnalysisThe analysis is done through summaries, categories, and interpretationsThe analysis is done through mathematical and statistical analysis
OutputThe outcomes are expressed in plain wordsThe outcomes are expressed by ways of tables, graphs, and numbers
Number of respondentsRelies on only a few respondentsRelies on many respondents to craft
Nature of QuestionsEmploys open-ended questionsEmploys closed or multiple choice questions
Key TerminologiesSubjectivity, complexity, context, and understandingReplicability, objectivity, measurements, and testing

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is the process of inquiring into social phenomena within their natural settings. It mainly seeks to understand the reason behind these social phenomena rather than the mere fact that they already exist.

It borrows and relies heavily on the direct experiences of those affected.

Throughout this kind of research, only non-numeric data is collected. These only touches on the description of things rather than their actual sizes and numbers.

It mostly concerns itself with the symbols, metaphors, characteristics, and definitions as opposed to the actual data. All these form the base for further research.

qualitative research

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research is a concept in both the social and the natural sciences. It is the use of a systematic and empirical approach towards the investigation of the various phenomena.

The investigation proper happens by use of the mathematical, computational, and statistical techniques. In all, it seeks to deliver more in-depth and comprehensible outcomes.

Unlike the qualitative approach, the quantitative methods lay special emphasis on the objective measurements of data and phenomena.

After acquiring the data, it analyzes the same via surveys, questionnaires, polls, or through manipulating the present statistical data further by the use of computational techniques. The end result in most cases is more precise and unambiguous.

quantitative research

Main Differences Between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research

Key Terminology

These two forms of research differ with regard to the kinds of terms used throughout the entire exercise. The qualitative research uses terms like subjectivity, complexity, context, and understanding while the quantitative counterpart uses replicability, objectivity, measurements, and testing.

Nature of Questions

The kinds of questions used to extract the data also differ significantly. In the case of qualitative research, the questions are for a large part open-ended i.e. they give almost no hint to the interviewee as regards what the answer might be.

The case of quantitative research is, however, the opposite.

Number of Respondents

Given its shallow scope, qualitative research relies on only a few respondents to generate sufficient amounts of data. The extra-wide scope of the quantitative research, however, demands that it takes testimonies from many respondents before a viable conclusion may be reached.

Output

Yet again, these two forms of researches differ with regard to the kinds of languages used to express the final outcomes. The qualitative research outcomes are expressible in plain words whereas those of the quantitative research is expressed in numbers and figures.

The former is hence easier to interpret than the latter.

Analysis

To make meaning from these two kinds of research, different techniques are employed. The qualitative research employs the summaries, categories, and interpretations to do so.

As for quantitative research, the analysis is principally carried out through mathematical and statistical analysis. These two approaches are way quite different in scope and understand-ability.

Aim/Purpose

On the whole, the overall purposes of these two forms of research also differ to a large part. The qualitative research basically aims at exploring underlying ideas and formulating theories or hypotheses later.

This is however different from the quantitative research which only aims at testing theories and hypotheses rather than exploring them.

Expertise

Considering that qualitative research mainly wants or seeks to understand the underlying principles of a given subject matter, it requires not too much expertise. Anyone who bears a basic level of education can carry it.

The complicated nature of quantitative research, on the other hand, necessitates in-depth expertise to undertake.

Applicability

Qualitative research is mainly applied in social sciences as it seeks only to understand the nature and the behaviors of the given population. Quantitative research, however, goes deeper. On account of this, it is applied in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Research Methodology

During the qualitative research process, there is two-way communication between the researcher himself and the objects or populations targeted. As such, there is hardly any room for ambiguity.

The quantitative research, however, studies the object from a distance and without any input on its part.

Time Implications

As explained beforehand, qualitative research is a bit shallow. As such, it is faster to implement and will hardly take that much time. The case is however completely different from the quantitative research.

Being complicated, it requires plenty of time to conduct and release the findings.

Overall Character

All factors considered qualitative research is objective in nature. This means that no theory is formulated in advance.

The whole purpose is to know an objective outcome. Its quantitative research counterpart is subjective though as the purpose is predetermined in advance.

It is hence more likely to yield biased outcomes.

Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

References

  1. https://ecommons.udayton.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=eda_fac_pub
  2. https://nepc.colorado.edu/sites/default/files/Howe_Eisenhart_Stds_for_Qualitative_Research.pdf
  3. https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/quantitative
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