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Research Approaches: Quantitative
and Qualitative.
Introduction
When collecting and analyzing data, quantitative research deals
with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with
words and meanings. Both are important for gaining different
kinds of knowledge.
Quantitative research
Quantitative research is expressed in
numbers and graphs. It is used to test
or confirm theories and assumptions.
This type of research can be used to
establish generalizable facts about a
topic.
Common quantitative methods include
experiments, observations recorded as
numbers, and surveys with closed-
ended questions
Qualitative research
Qualitative research is expressed in words.
It is used to understand concepts, thoughts
or experiences. This type of research
enables you to gather in-depth insights on
topics that are not well understood.
Common qualitative methods include
interviews with open-ended questions,
observations described in words, and
literature reviews that explore concepts and
theories
The differences between quantitative
and qualitative research
Quantitative research
• Focuses on testing theories and hypotheses
• Analyzed through math and statistical
analysis
• Mainly expressed in numbers, graphs and
tables
• Requires many respondents
• Closed (multiple choice) questions
• Key terms: testing, measurement, objectivity,
replicability
Qualitative research
• Focuses on exploring ideas and formulating a
theory or hypothesis.
• Analyzed by summarizing, categorizing and
interpreting
• Mainly expressed in words
• Requires few respondents
• Open-ended questions
• Key terms: understanding, context,
complexity, subjectivity
Quantitative and qualitative research use
different research methods to collect and
analyze data, and they allow you to answer
different kinds of research questions
Data collection methods
Quantitative and qualitative data can be collected using various methods. It is
important to use a data collection method that will help answer your research
question(s).
Many data collection methods can be either qualitative or quantitative. For example,
in surveys, observations or case studies. your data can be represented as numbers
(e.g. using rating scales or counting frequencies) or as words (e.g. with open-ended
questions or descriptions of what you observe).
However, some methods are more commonly used in one type or the other.
Quantitative research
• Surveys: List of closed or multiple choice
questions that is distributed to a sample
(online, in person, or over the phone).
• Experiments: Situation in which variables are
controlled and manipulated to establish
cause-and-effect relationships.
• Observations: Observing subjects in a natural
environment where variables can’t be
controlled
Qualitative research
• Interviews: Asking open-ended questions
verbally to respondents.
• Focus groups: Discussion among a group of
people about a topic to gather opinions that
can be used for further research.
• Ethnography: Participating in a community or
organization for an extended period of time
to closely observe culture and behavior.
• Literature review: Survey of published works
by other authors
When to use qualitative vs.
quantitative research?
A rule of thumb for deciding whether to use qualitative or quantitative data is:
• Use quantitative research if you want to confirm or test something (a theory or hypothesis)
• Use qualitative research if you want to understand something (concepts, thoughts, experiences)
For most research topics you can choose a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approach. Which
type you choose depends on, among other things, whether you’re taking an inductive vs. deductive
research approach; your research question(s); whether you’re doing experimental, correlational, or
descriptive research; and practical considerations such as time, money, availability of data, and access
to respondents.
Quantitative research
• You survey 300 students at your
university and ask them questions such
as: “on a scale from 1-5, how satisfied
are your with your professors?”
• You can perform statistical analysis on
the data and draw conclusions such as:
“on average students rated their
professors 4.4”
Qualitative research
• You conduct in-depth interviews with 15 students
and ask them open-ended questions such as: “How
satisfied are you with your studies?”, “What is the
most positive aspect of your study program?” and
“What can be done to improve the study program?”
• Based on the answers you get you can ask follow-up
questions to clarify things. You transcribe all
interviews using transcription software and try to
find commonalities and patterns
Mixed methods approach
You conduct interviews to find out how satisfied students are with their studies. Through open-ended questions you
learn things you never thought about before and gain new insights. Later, you use a survey to test these insights on a
larger scale.
It’s also possible to start with a survey to find out the overall trends, followed by interviews to better understand the
reasons behind the trends.
How to analyze qualitative and
quantitative data?
Qualitative or quantitative data by itself can’t prove or
demonstrate anything, but has to be analyzed to show its
meaning in relation to the research questions. The method of
analysis differs for each type of data
Analyzing quantitative data
Quantitative data is based on numbers. Simple math or
more advanced statistical analysis is used to discover
commonalities or patterns in the data. The results are
often reported in graphs and tables.
Applications such as Excel, SPSS, or R can be used to
calculate things like:
• Average scores
• The number of times a particular answer was given
• The correlation or causation between two or more
variables
• The reliability and validity of the result
Analyzing qualitative data
Qualitative data is more difficult to analyze than
quantitative data. It consists of text, images or videos
instead of numbers.
Some common approaches to analyzing qualitative data
include:
• Qualitative content analysis: Tracking the
occurrence, position and meaning of words or
phrases
• Thematic analysis: Closely examining the data to
identify the main themes and patterns
• Discourse analysis: Studying how communication
works in social contexts

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research Qualitative vs. quantitative research

  • 2. Introduction When collecting and analyzing data, quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings. Both are important for gaining different kinds of knowledge. Quantitative research Quantitative research is expressed in numbers and graphs. It is used to test or confirm theories and assumptions. This type of research can be used to establish generalizable facts about a topic. Common quantitative methods include experiments, observations recorded as numbers, and surveys with closed- ended questions Qualitative research Qualitative research is expressed in words. It is used to understand concepts, thoughts or experiences. This type of research enables you to gather in-depth insights on topics that are not well understood. Common qualitative methods include interviews with open-ended questions, observations described in words, and literature reviews that explore concepts and theories
  • 3. The differences between quantitative and qualitative research Quantitative research • Focuses on testing theories and hypotheses • Analyzed through math and statistical analysis • Mainly expressed in numbers, graphs and tables • Requires many respondents • Closed (multiple choice) questions • Key terms: testing, measurement, objectivity, replicability Qualitative research • Focuses on exploring ideas and formulating a theory or hypothesis. • Analyzed by summarizing, categorizing and interpreting • Mainly expressed in words • Requires few respondents • Open-ended questions • Key terms: understanding, context, complexity, subjectivity Quantitative and qualitative research use different research methods to collect and analyze data, and they allow you to answer different kinds of research questions
  • 4. Data collection methods Quantitative and qualitative data can be collected using various methods. It is important to use a data collection method that will help answer your research question(s). Many data collection methods can be either qualitative or quantitative. For example, in surveys, observations or case studies. your data can be represented as numbers (e.g. using rating scales or counting frequencies) or as words (e.g. with open-ended questions or descriptions of what you observe). However, some methods are more commonly used in one type or the other. Quantitative research • Surveys: List of closed or multiple choice questions that is distributed to a sample (online, in person, or over the phone). • Experiments: Situation in which variables are controlled and manipulated to establish cause-and-effect relationships. • Observations: Observing subjects in a natural environment where variables can’t be controlled Qualitative research • Interviews: Asking open-ended questions verbally to respondents. • Focus groups: Discussion among a group of people about a topic to gather opinions that can be used for further research. • Ethnography: Participating in a community or organization for an extended period of time to closely observe culture and behavior. • Literature review: Survey of published works by other authors
  • 5. When to use qualitative vs. quantitative research? A rule of thumb for deciding whether to use qualitative or quantitative data is: • Use quantitative research if you want to confirm or test something (a theory or hypothesis) • Use qualitative research if you want to understand something (concepts, thoughts, experiences) For most research topics you can choose a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approach. Which type you choose depends on, among other things, whether you’re taking an inductive vs. deductive research approach; your research question(s); whether you’re doing experimental, correlational, or descriptive research; and practical considerations such as time, money, availability of data, and access to respondents. Quantitative research • You survey 300 students at your university and ask them questions such as: “on a scale from 1-5, how satisfied are your with your professors?” • You can perform statistical analysis on the data and draw conclusions such as: “on average students rated their professors 4.4” Qualitative research • You conduct in-depth interviews with 15 students and ask them open-ended questions such as: “How satisfied are you with your studies?”, “What is the most positive aspect of your study program?” and “What can be done to improve the study program?” • Based on the answers you get you can ask follow-up questions to clarify things. You transcribe all interviews using transcription software and try to find commonalities and patterns Mixed methods approach You conduct interviews to find out how satisfied students are with their studies. Through open-ended questions you learn things you never thought about before and gain new insights. Later, you use a survey to test these insights on a larger scale. It’s also possible to start with a survey to find out the overall trends, followed by interviews to better understand the reasons behind the trends.
  • 6. How to analyze qualitative and quantitative data? Qualitative or quantitative data by itself can’t prove or demonstrate anything, but has to be analyzed to show its meaning in relation to the research questions. The method of analysis differs for each type of data Analyzing quantitative data Quantitative data is based on numbers. Simple math or more advanced statistical analysis is used to discover commonalities or patterns in the data. The results are often reported in graphs and tables. Applications such as Excel, SPSS, or R can be used to calculate things like: • Average scores • The number of times a particular answer was given • The correlation or causation between two or more variables • The reliability and validity of the result Analyzing qualitative data Qualitative data is more difficult to analyze than quantitative data. It consists of text, images or videos instead of numbers. Some common approaches to analyzing qualitative data include: • Qualitative content analysis: Tracking the occurrence, position and meaning of words or phrases • Thematic analysis: Closely examining the data to identify the main themes and patterns • Discourse analysis: Studying how communication works in social contexts