Qualitative vs Quantitative Research: Difference and Comparison

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


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Key Takeaways

  1. Qualitative research explores subjective experiences, opinions, and feelings, while quantitative research deals with measurable, numerical data and statistical analysis.
  2. Qualitative research methods include interviews, focus groups, and observations, whereas quantitative research methods involve surveys, experiments, and structured data collection.
  3. When used together, the two research approaches can be complementary, providing a more comprehensive understanding of a research topic.

Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

Qualitative research is used to explore and understand people’s experiences, attitudes, and behaviors through observation, interviews, and focus groups. Quantitative research uses numerical data to test hypotheses and make generalizations about a population and involves collecting data through surveys, experiments, or other methods.

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/purposeIt aims at exploring underlying ideas and formulating theories or hypotheses later.It aims 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 respondentsIt relies on only a few respondentsIt relies 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 inquiring into social phenomena within their natural settings. It mainly seeks to understand the reason behind these social phenomena rather than the 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 touch on the description of things rather than their actual sizes and numbers.

It mainly concerns itself with the symbols, metaphors, characteristics, and definitions as opposed to the actual data. All these forms 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 to the investigation of various phenomena.

The investigation correctly happens using mathematical, computational, and statistical techniques. In all, it seeks to deliver more in-depth and comprehensible outcomes.

Unlike the qualitative approach, the quantitative methods emphasize the objective measurements of data and phenomena.

After acquiring the data, it analyzes the same via surveys, questionnaires, polls, or further manipulates the present statistical data using computational techniques. The 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 concerning the kinds of terms used throughout the entire exercise. 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 primarily 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 data. However, the extra-wide scope of the quantitative research demands that it takes testimonies from many respondents before a viable conclusion may be reached.


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

The former is hence more straightforward to interpret than the latter.


Different techniques are employed to make meaning from these two kinds of research. Qualitative research employs 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 understandability.


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

However, this differs from quantitative research, which only aims to test theories and hypotheses rather than explore them.


Since 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.

On the other hand, the complicated nature of quantitative research necessitates in-depth expertise.


Qualitative research is mainly applied in social sciences as it seeks only to understand the given population‘s nature and behaviors. 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.

Quantitative research, however, studies the object from a distance without any input.

Time Implications

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

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

Overall Character

All factors considered in qualitative research are objective. 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.

It is hence more likely to yield biased outcomes.

Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research
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