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What is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative research refers to the collection and evaluation of non-numerical data to understand different experiences, opinions, and concepts. It focuses on data that is obtained through open-ended and conversational communication. It tries to understand “what” people think, but more importantly, “why” they think so. Such information helps identify underlying reasons and motivations, and can provide insights on the causes for certain trends.
What is Quantitative Research?
Quantitative research refers to the collection and evaluation of numerical data by performing statistical, computational, or mathematical operations on the data. It can be used to find patterns, correlations, and trends within numbers to reflect generalizations of wider populations. Quantitative research is often used within the social sciences and natural sciences, in subjects such as economics, biology, physics, chemistry, marketing, and sociology.
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These are a few commonly used qualitative research methods:
Includes a limited number of respondents that help answer the “what”, “why”, and “how” questions. This method is typically used to explain complex processes. Focus groups are usually more expensive than other methods of qualitative research.
One-on-one interviews allow for the collection of in-depth data. This is a conversational method of data collection that can be used to obtain precise data about people’s opinions, beliefs, and motivations. Interviews are usually performed face-to-face or over phone calls.
Ethnographic research is an observational method of data collection that involves studying the target population in their naturally occurring environment. It is often used to understand different cultures and settings.
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These are a few commonly used quantitative research methods:
Surveys can be used to ask questions to respondents through many different channels, such as through social media, websites, email, phone, or in-person. The biggest advantage of this method is that a large volume of data can be obtained by simply sending out surveys through different channels.
Experiments allow researchers to collect quantitative data by controlling or manipulating an independent variable to measure and study its effects on a dependent variable.
This method involves using quantitative data that has already been gathered for other purposes, such as government census data.
Quantitative data is concerned with discovering facts about different social phenomena, whereas qualitative data is more so concerned with exploring and understanding human behavior from the informant’s/respondent’s perspective.
Quantitative data is obtained by measuring different variables, and the data is analysed by conducting numerical operations, numerical comparisons, and statistical inferences. Quantitative data is reported through statistical analyses.
Qualitative data, on the flip side, is often collected through interviews and participant observation. The descriptions provided by informants are collected and analysed to extract meaningful insights that are relevant in answering the research question.
So which is better; Qualitative or Quantitative Research?
Quantitative research and qualitative research both serve different purposes and provide different kinds of information. Therefore, the one that is “better” would be the one that is more suited to answer your research question. If you want to measure certain variables, or test out a hypothesis, quantitative research may be better suited to your study. However, if you are trying to explore concepts relating to opinions, experiences, and motivations, qualitative research will be better suited.
There are many tools that can be used to obtain quantitative and qualitative data, including the following:
Some surveys contain open-ended questions to understand the reasons for respondents’ answers. This is an example of qualitative research, as it aims to understand the underlying reasons for why respondents have certain opinions or preferences.
The research method you choose should be suited to the type of data you require to answer your research question. Quantitative research will be more suited for when you want to measure something or test a hypothesis. Qualitative research, on the other hand, will be more suited for when you want to explore concepts, opinions, and motivations.
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