Qualitative vs Quantitative Research - How do they Differ from Each Other?

Written by

Shane Jackson

11 mins read
qualitative vs quantitative research

Could not tell quantitative from qualitative research? It is a common dilemma that almost every other student faces in his academic life.

While both of these types of research are important, you must know the key differences between them.

You’re here and this shows that you are looking for help. This blog is for everyone who is looking for help and wants to understand how both of these research types work.

Key Takeaways of the Blog:

  • Quantitative research is about any kind of information that includes numbers of quantifiable data. Qualitative research is descriptive and the data is non-numerical in nature.
  • Quantitative research is about numbers or numerical data. Whereas qualitative research focuses on the ‘quality’ of the data.
  • It is nearly impossible to carry out effective research without both of these kinds of research. Both of them have significant pros and cons.

Read the blog to get complete details.

What is Qualitative Research?

Not only does qualitative research help you gather data. It also allows you to grasp the patterns and meanings behind natural behaviors. It's adaptable and iterative.

Qualitative research focuses on users' characteristics—the things that drive the numbers. It's a descriptive study. The qualitative technique is also subjective.

It is concerned with documenting an action rather than assessing it.

Here are some examples of qualitative research:

  • The sunflowers had a pleasant fragrance that filled the room.
  • Cream cheese was used in every single bagel that had a high sales ratio.
  • A white-haired man with a blue cap was seen.

What is Qualitative Data?

Qualitative data, unlike quantitative data, is descriptive and presented in terms of language rather than numbers and numerical values. It is based on thematic analysis, for example, case studies in Psychology use this kind of approach.

The term "qualitative research" refers to data analysis that cannot be quantified or counted. It is concerned with the words or labels that are used to describe certain features or qualities.

You'd use qualitative data to answer "why?" and "how?" questions. It's frequently utilized in open-ended research, allowing people (or clients) to express their actual feelings and behaviors without guidance.

Consider qualitative data to be the sort of information you might obtain if you asked someone why they did something. In-depth interviews, focus groups, and observation are three common data collection techniques.

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What is Quantitative Research?

The goal is to get as many people as possible to say what you want them to say. It's all about the numbers. The study of quantitative research is based on the gathering and interpretation of numerical data.

It emphasizes quantifying (using inferential statistics) and extending findings and its theory and hypothesis are based on it.

Here are some examples of quantitative research:

  • What is the financial investment in this service?
  • What is the typical number of times a button was dead clicked?
  • How many people are really clicking this button?

Quantitative research, in a nutshell, is a simple way to get an overview of what's going on at a high level.

Quantitative research yields more objective findings because it uses more accurate numerical data.

What is Quantitative Data?

Quantitative data is based on "numbers" that may be quantified or expressed as a number of digits. Anything quantitative is defined as such if it can be counted or measured and given a numerical value. Consider it a measuring stick.

The numbers that make up quantitative measurements can be referred to as "how many," "how much," or "how often." It focuses on collecting and analyzing numerical data.

The following are some examples of numerical data:

  • How many people were in attendance at the last webinar?
  • Last year, how much money did our firm earn?
  • How frequently does a consumer use this app to express their dissatisfaction?

You'd typically employ a sort of statistical analysis to analyze these research questions and make sense of this quantitative information.

This sort of analysis is easier with quantitative data since it's numerical and can be readily analyzed mathematically.

Even though conventional methods have been used for years, computers now dominate statistical analytics. However, today's data volumes make statistics more valuable and helpful than they've ever been.

Surveys, experiments, polls, and other common data gathering approaches are used in the quantitative research method.

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Qualitative vs Quantitative Research - In a Nutshell

When it comes to performing data research, you'll need various collection methods, hypotheses, and analysis techniques.

So it's vital to understand the distinctions between quantitative and qualitative data.

  • The data in quantitative research is numerical, quantifiable, and measurable. Qualitative information is subjective and concerned with language.
  • In computations, quantitative data indicates how many, how much, or how frequently. Qualitative data can help us understand why, how, or what occurred behind certain actions.
  • Quantitative data is consistent and universal, whereas qualitative data is custom and distinct.
  • Counting and measuring are quantitative research methods. Interviewing and inspecting are qualitative research techniques.
  • Statistical analysis is used to analyze numerical data. Qualitative data is analyzed by categorizing the data and identifying themes.
Qualitative Data Quantitative Data

Categorical

Gender

Religion

Marital Status

Native tongue

Social status

Education

Type and language of instruction

Treatment methods

Teaching approaches and methods

Problem-solving strategy

Numerical

Age

Height

Weight

Income

Size of university

Size of group

Self-efficiency test score

Percentage of attended lecture

Clinical skills

Number of errors

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Pros and Cons of Qualitative Research

Advantages of qualitative data;

  • Qualitative data provides a wealth of rich context and insight.
  • It's a fantastic tool for learning about something new.
  • Qualitative research adds a predictive element to continuous data.

Disadvantages of quantitative data;

It's not a statistically representative method of gathering data because the host (who might lose it) is involved.

It can also demand numerous data sessions, which might lead to incorrect conclusions.

The takeaway is that it's difficult to do a good data analysis without both.

They have their benefits and drawbacks, to an extent, but they also complement one another. The benefits and drawbacks of each type of data set vary.

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Pros and Cons of Quantitative Research

Here are some benefits and drawbacks of this kind of research;

Advantages of quantitative data;

  • It's quick and simple to gather, as well as simpler to draw judgments from.
  • When you're tracking numerical metrics, the type of findings will determine which statistical tests are appropriate.
  • As a result, analyzing and presenting your data is much more accurate and less subjective.

Another benefit is that it may be duplicated. Because your data gathering is measurable and tangible, it's feasible to repeat the study.

Disadvantages of quantitative data;

  • Quantitative data doesn't always reveal the whole picture (no matter what the vantage point).
  • It might be inconclusive with fragmented facts.
  • Quantitative research may be restricted, resulting in the neglect of broader themes and connections.
  • By focusing solely on numbers, there is a risk of missing larger focus information that can be beneficial.

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Qualitative Research Data Collection Methods

Here are the key qualitative research methods for data collection;

Open-Ended Surveys and Questionnaires

Open-ended questions, on the other hand, are opposed to closed-ended ones. The main difference between the two is that respondents must choose from the predetermined answers.

Whereas open-end questionnaires provide them a lot more range and creativity in their responses.

1-on-1 Interviews

One-on-one (or face-to-face) interviews are one of the most frequent data collection techniques used in qualitative research. The interviewer gets information directly from the interviewee using this method.

This data gathering approach is ideal for obtaining highly customized data because it is a very personal technique.

Focus groups

The focus group data collection approach is similar to an interview, but it's done in a group setting instead.

Focus groups are a useful tool when resources are restricted. Or you need to re-create a particular social situation to get people's opinions.

A group of about three to ten individuals, plus a moderator, is ideal. Depending on the study's aim, there should be certain similarities among all members of the focus group.

Direct observation

One of the most passive forms of qualitative data gathering is direct observation.

Direct observation might lead to bias in research since the participant may influence the researcher's attitudes and beliefs.

In addition, the fact that the investigator is also a subject may influence subjects' naturalness of actions and behaviors.

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Quantitative Research Data Collection Methods

Here are the data collection methods of this kind of research;

Probability sampling

A precise approach to sampling is done using some sort of random selection. With researchers able to make a probability assertion based on data collected at random from the target demographic.

Furthermore, since the samples are taken at random from the chosen sample rules out the risk of sampling bias.

There are three distinct kinds of probability sampling;

  • Simple random sampling - The population to which the survey is directed is usually chosen as the sample.
  • Systematic random sampling - In it, only the first unit is picked at random, the rest are chosen sequentially as if one out of every ten persons on the list.
  • Stratified random sampling - It's helpful when researchers choose people such as males or females, managers or executives, and certain kinds of people.

Interviews

Interviewing individuals is a typical technique for obtaining data. However, interviews are more formal in nature, with the researchers only asking a limited number of questions and nothing more.

There are three distinct sorts of interviews that may be used for data gathering;

  • Telephone interviews - For years, telephone interviews have dominated the field of data collection techniques. Now people use the internet, Skype, or similar online video calling platforms for video interviews.
  • Face-to-face interviews - The direct study of participants is a tried-and-true method for gathering information. It aids in the collection of high-quality data because it allows you to ask detailed questions and gather rich information.

    Although it might be both pricey and time-consuming, F2F interviews tend to have a higher response rate.

  • Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) - It's just a mirror image of the face-to-face interview, except that instead of having a desktop or laptop with them at the time of the interview, they carry one.

Surveys/questionnaires

Online surveys, which are available for free, are playing a key part in data gathering. They may be quantitative or qualitative research. The surveys are developed in such a way that the respondents' actions and confidence may be trusted.

There are two different types of online survey questionnaires used in quantitative market research.

  • Web-based questionnaire - This is one of the most popular and respected ways to conduct internet research.

    The recipient receives an email containing a survey link, which he or she must click on in order to participate in the survey and fill out the questionnaire.

    Web-based surveys are more popular among researchers since they are cost-effective, faster, and have a broader reach.

  • Mail Questionnaire - In a mail questionnaire, a survey is distributed to a large number of the sample population.

    The mailing questionnaire generally includes a packet that contains a cover sheet describing the kind of study. It also has a prepaid return envelope for data collection online.

Observations

The method of gathering numerical data known as polling is straightforward and uncomplicated.

Researchers who utilize a naturalistic observation method for collecting numerical data have more often a naturalistic observation approach.

Both forms of data may be obtained through naturalistic observation: qualitative and quantitative. However, structured observation is more popular than unstructured study.

  • Structured observation - In this form of study, the researcher must observe specific activities in a more formal setting rather than making naturalistic observations.

    In a structured observation, the researchers focus on only certain behaviors of interest rather than monitoring everything. It allows them to quantify the actions they're witnessing.

Document Review in Quantitative Data Collection

After reviewing the existing documents, document analysis is a procedure for gathering data. Documents are efficient and effective sources of data because they are manageable and provide accurate information from the past.

Aside from providing additional research data, document review has become one of the most useful methods for gathering quantitative research data.

The following are the three major document sorts that will be examined for obtaining quantitative research data;

  • Public Records - Official, continuing records of a company are investigated for further study under this document review. Annual reports policies and manuals, student activities, university game operations, and so on are all examples of such documentation.
  • Personal Documents - This sort of document review is concerned with personal accounts of people's behaviors, actions, health, physique, and so on. For example, the height and weight of the pupils, how far they are traveling to attend school, and so on.
  • Physical Evidence - Physical evidence or physical documents of an individual's or organization's past accomplishments in terms of financial and scalable development.

Usually, a researcher uses only one kind of research method but sometimes they go for a mixed-methods approach and employ both of these kinds.

This blog is a complete guide for you but, if you still need additional help, you can contact us for help. Our expert essay writer is here 24/7 and they help you understand difficult concepts and submit your work on time.