Qualitative research method refers to the research methods that are used to open up an individual’s thought, opinions and also to expound on a particular problem (Ablezova, 2014). Some of its typical examples are the use of group discussions, observations, and interviews. On the other hand, quantitative method emphasizes on the use of measurable quantities, mathematical and statistical analysis, computation of the variables, use of surveys and questionnaires. The two research methods, qualitative and quantitative are invariably used by the researchers in reporting the findings of their studies. This is because several factors should be considered in the selection of the right methodology to be used by the researcher in reporting his findings. Some of these factors are the familiarity of the researcher with a particular research methodology, the size of the data collected, the desired precision of the result, the data collection method used, type of the research and the education level of the researcher among many others. The inherent difference in the application of these two reach methods is mainly attributed to the different methods in which data is represented in each of the methods. The current paper, therefore, contains a complete contrast and comparison of the two research methods.
Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
Qualitative research mainly relies on the use of explanations during the research (Ablezova, 2014). In this case, the researcher has an obligation to seek for an understanding of the basic concepts, the respondent’s opinions concerning the issue and their motives. This is because in this type of research the researcher is given an opportunity to get into an actual contact with the respondents and hence giving him a chance to seek for clarifications on the responses that might not be clear. The qualitative method also gives the respondents an opportunity to ask for clarification on the questions that they might not understand and hence reduces the possibility of guessing. The ability of the researcher in qualitative research method to seek for explanations from the respondents, therefore, reduces the chances of errors or obtaining false information as the researcher only approves of the responses that he is convinced to be okay. Through the direct contact that the researcher comes into with the respondents during the research such as the direct interviews, the research may be able to understand particular social realities which might provide a general idea to the issue being studied. On the other hand, quantitative research quantifies the data in the forms of numerical data which can then be interpreted to quantify the respondents’ attitude, opinion, and thoughts. However, the generalization of these responses might lead to the transmission of errors in making the conclusion as some of the quantified results might not have been true as the researcher is absent to seek for the clarification of the vague responses but instead relies on the provided data.
Basing on the responses that the researcher might get while using the modes of qualitative research such as direct interviews, the researcher will be able to make insights into the issue being investigated or generate hypothesis which can then be tested if true or not once the entire data has been evaluated. It is, therefore, easier to transmit an error in the data while using the quantitative method especially in the case of significant data. The data collected while using the quantitative method may also form certain patterns that might make it difficult to make inferences from the result (Ablezova, 2014).
The use of qualitative data can also make it easier for the researcher to open up the trends in an individual’s thinking capability. This is because the researcher will spend the entire time of the data collection and hence make him familiarize with the respondents and hence enabling him to dispel any fears from him. In the case of a quantitative research method, it is not easy to open up the respondent’s thoughts as most the methods used to collect data does not grant a direct contact with the client hence making it impossible to gauge what might be going through the respondent’s mind. Instead, the respondents may just give an answer to the questions being asked so that they can please the researcher, but in this case, the research might have missed the real point that it was seeking for in the study.
The qualitative data is collected through the use of methods such as direct interviews, group discussions, observations, audiovisual materials and many others (Ablezova, 2014). The given methods utilized in this type of research, therefore, give the researcher an opportunity to get into actual contact with the respondents and hence he might be able to dispel any fears that they might be having towards the project. For example, in many cases most of the respondents usually avoid taking part in the research studies as they feel that some of those responses might be used against them, the presence of the researcher will, therefore, act as an assurance to them that nothing might happen to them. Through direct contact e.g. during the discussions, the researcher will be able to explain to the respondents that their participation will be kept confidential so as to avoid revealing their identity to the public. The researcher is also given an opportunity to acquire extra information that may be very helpful in the research e.g. the respondent’s opinion and reaction towards a particular subject. On the other hand, the methods used in collecting data in quantitative method does not provide an actual interaction between the researcher and the respondent and hence the researcher will obtain very limited information on the subject as they may not be able to observe the respondents reaction and attitude.
The qualitative method is not suitable for collecting data over a large area. This is because it requires a lot of time and resources for the researcher to get into contact with the respondents. Furthermore, most of the interviewees may not agree to spare their time for the interview especially when they are not getting paid. The given research method is therefore well suited for the research in relatively smaller areas or in cases where a small data is needed otherwise it might be very expensive to finance the research. On the other hand, quantitative research method is well suited for studying large populations. This is because they take a shorter time and hence this might not be inconveniencing to the respondents. The methods of data collection such as questionnaires can also be administered to many respondents at the same time from which they can answer them and return them to the researcher for analysis (Ablezova, 2014). The given method is therefore well suited for use in large populations as it consumes less time and also cheap for researching large areas.
After the analysis and representation of the collected data, while using the quantitative method, the methods used in presenting the data makes it easier to be interpreted by the viewers to understand their meanings by just looking at them. For example, through the use of graphs and pie charts to represent the statistical information, one can make an easy reference and understand what the data depicts (Remler & Van, 2014). On the other hand, the use of qualitative methods does not make it easier to represent the information, and one has to read through very lengthy explanations to understand what is depicted by the data. It may, therefore, be tough for one to obtain the information that is obtained from the result as some people may find it tough to read through the long texts. Reading the explanations also requires one to be attentive and therefore this kind of data may not be suitably presented to an impatient audience.
Unlike the qualitative data, the quantitative data makes it easier to make a precise generalization of the data during the study (Remler & Van, 2014). This is because the data used in the quantitative method is normality taken from a larger sample of the population and hence this might depict the general characteristics of the entire population. For instance, a questionnaire can be utilized to gather a significant data in the particular area of research which will then give a good representation of the majority of the targeted population might be captured. On the other hand, the small sample of data that is collected in the case of a qualitative research method might not accurately depict the trend in the entire population as only a small population of the respondents under study are captured, and hence the assumptions might not be accurate.
The use of mathematical and statistical data to represent the information in quantitative research method might appear to be very sophisticated (Remler & Van, 2014). Besides, it is cumbersome to some people especially those who might be lacking in mathematical skills, and therefore they might not be able to interpret the results accurately, and hence this kind of method might not be well suited to all people. Unlike the quantitative research, the qualitative research utilizes very simple concepts in the representation of their result. One is only required to be well versed with the reading skills and the understanding of the language used in writing the document. The given method is therefore well suited for all individuals.
To the researchers, the use of quantitative methods might be very cumbersome as they require a lot of mathematical and skills in statistical concepts. The use of this method will also involve the application of complex mathematical formulas, and hence many of the researchers might avoid getting into such dilemmas and give very shallow details on the points being illustrated. The representation of the data using the quantitative methods also requires special skills such as the use of computer excel program, drawing of graphs which might be lacking in some people. Many of the researchers, therefore, avoid using the quantitative methods as they require one to be well versed with such sophisticated skills. On the other, the use of qualitative method does not need any advanced skills to represent or interpret the data, provided that the researcher has clearly understood his findings he/she will then use the necessary skill to explain the data using simple language. The viewers of this data may not require being endowed with any mathematical or statistical skills to understand what the research is about (Ablezova, 2014).
While using the survey method which is an example of the quantitative approach to research, it is possible to use the same survey among different groups of individuals after which the data can be compared and generalized to the entire group without the fear of its cost effectiveness. Unlike the quantitative method, one can use the interview for different individuals. However, one might be forced to spend a lot of resources in conducting the research.
While using the qualitative research method, the researcher is in a position to obtain in-depth information from few cases in the study. This is because the researcher has got the freedom to seek for further explanations from the respondents. Besides, the researcher can also enquire and exhaust more on the other related issues that might not have been planned for in the guidelines for the research. Moreover, the researcher is also given an opportunity to make inferences by looking at some of the aspects of the respondents such as their behaviors, reactions and characteristics that might not have been reflected in the paper. Unlike to the qualitative research methods, the researcher can obtain a little information from many cases of study (Remler & Van, 2014). This is because the quantitative methods of data collection do not give the researcher an opportunity to seek for further clarifications from the respondents. It does not also provide an actual contact between the researcher and the respondents and hence the researcher might not be able to get extra information outside the ones being tested for in the study. The quantitative methods of collecting data also seek for similar concepts from the respondents, and hence this makes it difficult to outside information. The responses to such questions might also be fixed and direct to the point and hence does not allow the participants to give information that is outside what is expected of them.
Qualitative research is utilized to increase understanding in various reasons, motivations and views. Besides, it helps in developing ideas for relevant quantitative research (Bickman & Rog, 2009). It’s further used to identify trends in thoughts and views and go deeper into problem whereas quantitative research just like its sounds it is utilized to measure or quantify facts in an of coming up with numerical information or data that is transformed into invisible statistics used to tell behaviors, views and the defined variables.
Qualitative research is more conceptual as it is concerned with the understanding of human behaviors from the informant’s point of view or perspective it also assumes a dynamic and negotiated reality whereas in quantitative research is more concerned with discovering facts about social phenomenon being studied and considered a fixed measurable effect since it relies on measured facts. Information gathered in qualitative research is not in numerical facts, the methods of data collection are very unstructured or semi-structured techniques. This method of data collection in qualitative research include group discussions whereby a group of people can be queried based on their beliefs, perceptions, opinions, and attitude towards the phenomenon under investigation (Bickman & Rog, 2009). It also involves individual interviews and observations, quantitative research data is typically descriptive, and in that case, it is tough. In quantitative studies, information is gathered mainly in the numerical form which can be categorized, ranked in order or measured in measuring units. It is easy to construct graphs and raw table using facts generated from the research since they are in numeric forms as compared to qualitative research. Methods such as experiments typically come up with quantitative data since they are very concerned with measuring things. Qualitative research questionnaires are open ended possible answers are not suggested, and the respondent answers it in his or her words while in quantitative research the questionnaires are in a closed form where interviews are asked to respond and decide where they belong along the scale which is used. Besides, the questions expect specific answers.
Similarities Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
In spite of the many inherent differences between the qualitative and quantitative research methods, the two approaches also exhibit a range of similarities in various aspects of their applications. The two research methods are both limited particular variable being measured. This means that a distinct method will only remain constrained to the specific variables that it is measuring; this is to ensure that the research does not deviate into other issues that may make its results to be irrelevant to the issues that were being investigated by the study. To ensure that the research is limited to the variable the researcher must make sure that he adequately plans for the activities to be conducted in the research.
The two research methods can be used to study the same phenomenon (Bickman & Rog, 2009). As it was stated earlier that some of the factors that determine the correct method to be used during the survey depends on the researcher’s experience and the ability to use any of the method. The preference of the researcher to any particular research method will, therefore, play a significant role in determining the type of method that they will use. However, any of the methods can be used to measure the entire phenomenon.
Each of the research methods is affected by the researcher. This is because of every researcher chooses the information that they intend to use in their research, and therefore it is the choice of the researcher to decide on what information or data that they might decide to omit. In both cases, the researcher, therefore, has a lot of influence in determining the outcome of the research irrespective of the method chosen to be used.
According to the discussions above, comparing and contrasting the qualitative and quantitative research methods, it is evident that the two approaches are widely different on their mode of application and the skills that are required to use any of them. The quantitative research method is more suitable for use with a significant data while the qualitative research method can be applied in a small data size. The quantitative analysis method can be used to generalize findings of the studies in a wide area, unlike the qualitative research method. In spite of the differences in the two approaches, they also have similar traits which I exhibited in both of them some of the mentioned similarities are; both of them are influenced by the researcher, both can a limited to specific variables, and they can be applied to both phenomenon. A proper research should, therefore, implement both methods in the same research.
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