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how to differentiate Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

By Outworkerpost Support  1 year, 2 months ago

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The success and reliability of any research project is dependent on the type and accuracy of data collected. Therefore, a researcher that uses primary data has to make a decision between the uses of qualitative or quantitative research method. There are different factors such as type of data collected that have to be put into consideration before the research decides on the type of method to use. The method adopted should also enhance efficient analysis of the results so as to increase understandability among the users. Both qualitative and quantitative have distinct features that make them suitable for different scenario of data collection process but they all have similar objectives to achieve in the research project. Hence, the study will analyze the similarities and differences of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Moreover, the study will look at both the advantages and disadvantages of each method and provide a recommendation on the most preffered method for the collection of primary data.

Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods Overview

In quantitative research refers to the information collected from respondents is mostly in numerical form and the application of statistical and mathematical techniques are useful in providing an analysis of the data. From the definition it is evident that for quantitative data to be effective it is necessary for the availability of numerical data. However, the method can be used to analyze phenomena that do not constitute numbers because of the introduction of Likert scales. The research can use correlation and regression analysis in analyzing the data. Qualitative research on the other hand, does not incorporate the use of numeric but the research can use words and pictorial views to present the analysis. This method allows the researcher to do a conclusive research since it does not limit him/her on the phenomena to collect information. Therefore, the results obtained from qualitative research method are descriptive data. To collect data from respondents the research may use observation and interviews among others.

Differences between Qualitative and Quantitative

Some of the distinctive features of qualitative that differentiate it from qualitative data include the use of variables in explaining the different concepts of data collected from the study in quantitative as opposed to the use of motives and loose statements in qualitative to analyze the concepts. Furthermore, the measures used in quantitative are applicable to all the phenomena and data in quantitative method. For example the formula for the calculation of variance and standard deviation will remain the same and constant despite the type of data collected. However, in qualitative each data has different concept in which to approach it. The research has to look at the characteristics of the population and methods available so as to determine which technique is the most suitable in the prevailing context. Also, it is evident from the definition that data in quantitative research are presented in terms of numbers or numeric, as compared to the data presented in qualitative method which is presented in images and pictorial views. Moreover, during the analysis process the researcher can present the information in terms of tables, histograms, pie charts, and graphs among others in quantitative method. In contrast, the qualitative the information collected is presented in words and explanations (Winter, 2000).

Similarities between Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods

Despite the differences, both qualitative and quantitative research methods serve similar purposes and are designed to meet the same objectives of research survey. All the methods are subject to the researcher and will be affected by the decisions that the research will make. The person conducting the research will determine the type of information to gather whether he/she uses qualitative or quantitative method. The purpose of both the methods is to analyze a phenomenon into details so as to create an insight and understanding to the factors under consideration. For example, qualitative method may collect information regarding to the financial position of an organization so as to determine its competitive strength in the industry. The same company may also use quantitative method to analyze the reported and audited financial statement to determine its competitive strengths in the market. Hence, both methods are used to influence decision making in the firm on a particular aspect. Both methods have research questions that the respondent has to answer relating to the identified phenomenon. These questions are designed to solicit information relating to the subject matter under consideration (Creswell, 2013).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative Research Method

Some of the benefits that may accrue to both the researcher and users of the information as a result of using quantitative research include the following: quantitative results may be used by an organization effectively to compare between different analyses under the same topic hence creating increased understanding of the various components through creation of a pool of knowledge since it involves standardized procedures. The ability to control data variables in the study is useful in the prevention of collecting information that is less relevant to the study hence increasing the accuracy and validity of the research. Quantitative method enhances comparison between the dependent and independent variable which increases knowledge on the effect that one factor will have on the other. Lastly, quantitative research reduces the limitation of biasness by using subjects with no personal interests in the area of study (Ross & Israel, 2002).

Quantitative may also have disadvantages to an organization such as provision of limited data which lacks detailed description for human perception and understandability hence can be of little use in decision-making process. Respondents may provide unreliable answers to fit the situation hence reducing accuracy and reliability. Also, the development of standardized question may increase biasness so that the questions are designed to meet the needs of specific persons as opposed to meeting the objective of the study.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research Method

The first advantage of qualitative research is the ability to provide detailed information on the subject under study which is useful for human perception. Moreover, through the use of qualitative methods, new topics are brought up which were not available in the initial project hence increasing openness increased knowledge. The method can also give a detailed explanation for the reason why a particular phenomenon was chosen and why the other was bypassed hence avoiding stereotyping and pre-judgement (Patton, 2005).

The disadvantages include the research is not able to make comparison between different components. The result obtained from the characteristics of the sample is not a true reflection of the population under study because qualitative method uses smaller sample size. Lastly, the accuracy of the data collected depends on the skills of the researcher more so in areas such as interviews and observations (Malterud, 2001).

The study recommends that quantitative is the most preferred method since the users can effectively make comparisons between different studies hence ability to learn more about the subject matter. However, integrating the two methods may be most efficient since it will combine the benefits of qualitative and quantitative.


Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. Sage publications.

Malterud, K. (2001). Qualitative research: standards, challenges, and guidelines. The lancet, 358(9280), 483-488.

Patton, M. Q. (2005). Qualitative research. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ross, A., & Israel, D. (2002). Quantitative and qualitative research methods. London: Dudley-Hall Inc.

Winter, G. (2000). A comparative discussion of the notion of validity in qualitative and quantitative research. The qualitative report, 4(3), 1-14.