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Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Last updated date: 09th Apr 2024
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Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

A research methodology is defined as the specific procedures used to identify, select, process and analyze information about a particular topic. Researchers have to clearly define the methods by which he/she has collected information about the subject. It is essential to list the research methodology because it allows the reader to understand the study better.

Whenever a researcher undergoes research, there are some pointers which need to be answered before jumping into the research methodologies. These are:

  • The argument/aim of the research undertaken.

  • The type of research; if the study is exploratory or to prove any underlying theory.

  • Clearly defined limits of the research.

It is after answering the question, the researcher jumps into the methodologies through which he concludes the research. Now, we will discuss the differences between the research methodology in detail.

Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Research methodologies signify the steps or procedures taken by the researcher to understand the topic at hand. There are tools available for the researcher to dive deep into a particular topic. We classify these as qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Qualitative research: Qualitative research, as the name suggests, deals with the study of observation and understanding human behaviour. The qualitative research methodology is based on the interpretation of people. We try to understand what goes into the people’s mind when they make a decision. These are usually carried out with the help of interviewing people personally or involving in a group discussion. A common feature in qualitative research is open-ended questions. As we are interested in people’s point of view more here, we want them to be able to communicate more.

This is to allow them to communicate their opinions and beliefs to the researcher freely. A simple yes or no answer might not help the researcher; therefore, the researcher uses methods or techniques that will allow the other person to be in the driving seat. Qualitative research is flexible and is also prone to personal biases. It also depends on how the researcher interprets the information received.

Quantitative Research: Quantitative research can easily be defined as the study of numbers. Quantitative analysis believes in the strict use of a statistical approach to arrive at a conclusion. The objective is to remove the room for personal error. Using a more systematic approach in solving, quantitative research methods try to develop concrete data points.

The aim is to arrive at a cause and effect relationship between variables of the study. The types of questions asked in this type of research are quantifiable. When using a statistical approach, the researcher uses statistical methods such as sampling, median, variance, frequency, mean values etc., to better understand the bigger picture.

The primary differencing factors between qualitative and research methodology is what is the aim of the researcher when he undergoes research. Is it to test an underlying theory, or is it exploratory in nature?

Both qualitative and quantitative research methods have their own unique features, and therefore both are used in combination in any study.

The key points of difference between qualitative and quantitative methods of research are:

Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

Qualitative Research

Quantitative Research

It uses a subjective approach to understanding the topic.

It uses an objective approach to arrive at a conclusion.

It is the study of human behaviour, opinions, beliefs and thought process.

It uses a more systematic approach to generate quantifiable data and understanding the cause and effect relationship between variables.

It uses the help of studies of social sciences, decision making and human behaviour.

A more statistical and mathematical approach is taken to obtain concrete data points.

It is expressed using words.

It can be expressed in the form of numbers or can be graphically represented using graphs and charts.

The sample size required is usually low.

A larger sample is needed to arrive at a conclusion.

Data collection methods used are interviews, group discussions, focus group study, etc.

Experiments, survey and quantifiable observation methods are used.

Research is exploratory in nature.

Research underwent is conclusive in nature.

Data points are verbal.

Concrete data points in the form of numbers are available.

Synthesis of data is inductive in nature.

Data synthesis is deductive in nature.

It is often used to obtain an initial understanding of the data.

It is used to come at a conclusion of the study.

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FAQs on Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Q1. Distinguish Between Quantitative and Qualitative Data Points?

Ans: The main aim of qualitative and quantitative research methods is to obtain data points to understand the bigger picture of the research better. When researching any topic, the researcher is interested in these data points and uses both of these methods in combination.

Quantitative Data - Quantitative research methods such as experiments and surveys give us quantifiable data. The information is usually in the form of numbers that can be operated upon using various statistical methods.

Qualitative Data - Qualitative research methods give us more detailed and verbal data. These are usually in textual form that are answers to various open-ended questions. Techniques include interview and focus group study, which give us an understanding of the person’s belief or opinions.

Q2. What is Mixed Methods Research?

Ans: Data points are of utmost importance to a researcher. A researcher wants to get as many data points as possible and therefore uses both the quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to arrive at a conclusion. It is the combination of both of these techniques and data points that help the researcher.

Qualitative data points help the researcher in understanding personal beliefs and opinions, which allow him to formulate theories regarding the study.

Qualitative data points are concrete data points which give him the cause and effect relationship between variables of the study. Also, these data points help the researcher to prove his data points arrived at from the qualitative methods of analysis.