Quantitative methodology was the first research approach used in social sciences. It was initially utilized in natural sciences such as biology, physics, and chemistry. It involved investigating things that a person could observe as well as measure. The research methodology was the most utilized approach in the educational sector. However, some researchers were not satisfied with the quantitative study as a method of conducting research as well as the generation of knowledge (Tuli, 2010). The researchers maintained that individuals ought to focus on understanding the meaning that the events have for the things being studied. Hence, they developed the qualitative approach so as to assist in understanding the people’s behavior as well as why things exist in different ways. Qualitative and quantitative studies are different in many respects, for instance, data collection, data analysis as well as theoretical approaches.
All studies involve various steps; however, the order in which they follow varies in qualitative and quantitative research. The initial step in conducting research is choosing the participants. The particular stage is different in qualitative and quantitative research. In quantitative approach members are selected randomly, the particular method is referred to as sampling (Park & Park, 2016). People or objects involved in the study are known as a sample. Additionally, the sample in quantitative research ought to be huge so as to avoid the possibility of biased outcomes. However, qualitative research is more focused on theoretical considerations rather than technical requirements. The sampling method in qualitative approach is at times known as purposive.
Another difference of the qualitative and quantitative approach is viewed in the data collection. Qualitative research gathers detailed data which can be hard to assess. The approach is less structured, and a researcher can have a more flexible relationship with the respondents. It is hard to evaluate qualitative data, and it needs an accurate description of the respondents’ answers (Monfared & Derakhshan, 2015). For instance, one needs to sort responses to open-ended questions and interviews into wide themes. A person also needs to have an accurate knowledge of an area so as to interpret qualitative data. Data analysis is significant in qualitative research as it influences the outcomes of every research undertaken. Researchers take different approaches when analyzing data in the qualitative method. For instance, some researchers may decide to start by analyzing data after they have gathered it and prepared all the information. Nevertheless, other individuals may choose to analyze and collect data at the same time (Marvasti, 2010). The qualitative research also allows a person to use open-ended questionnaires as well as field notes. Interviews are also important when collecting data using the approach. The interviews are less formal, and the participants can include other information that may help in developing the research.
On the other hand, quantitative research collects numerical data that can be put into diverse categories or can be measured. The statistical data is utilized to develop graphs as well as tables. Data is mainly yielded through experiments as they involve measuring things. However, quantitative data can be gathered through observation as well as questionnaires (Monfared & Derakhshan, 2015). For instance, a person can utilize a rating scale or closed questions so as to collect quantitative data. The most common scale employed in the assessment of the gathered numerical data is a ratio scale. Unlike the qualitative approach, the quantitative method does not allow a lot of flexibility. Experimental methods hinder the possibility of participants responding or expressing social behavior. Many researchers criticize quantitative data as they argue that it lacks in-depth description.
Qualitative and quantitative approaches also differ regarding the place and importance of social theory. The qualitative researchers separate theory from methods. The researchers start with the theory so as to establish the motivation of the entire project. Theoretical concerns during data gathering and assessment are understood based on the statistical and measurement issues. For example, research on racial discrimination would first consider the theoretical implication of defining the problem. The operational definition of the topic would require the researcher to perform a broad analysis (Monfared & Derakhshan, 2015). Nevertheless, when the researchers decide on the definition, they go ahead with the measurement as well as the analysis. In this case, a person does not need to focus on the definitional problems that updated the project in the first process. One then proceeds to collect random samples and data. Additionally, a person applies statistical techniques so as to show the frequency and the height of racial discrimination (Marvasti, 2010). Then a person can call for further research at the end of the project so as to offer other researchers a chance to improve the study. A person might go back to their original conceptualization of the issue so as to propose a new hypothesis. The particular procedure is at times known as the hypothetical deductive approach.
On the other hand, the qualitative approach focuses on the reflexive link between social theory and approach. Most of the times, researchers do not separate the method of data collection and the place that they gather data. For instance, research on racial discrimination a person can start by analyzing the meaning of the topic (Marvasti, 2010). Moreover, the focus on the fluid and interactive nature of the phenomenon will recur on the every step of the study. Some of the researchers may consider the meaning of racial discrimination as an individual finding. The qualitative research is likely to be theoretically rigorous compared to quantitative studies.
There exist various types of qualitative as well as quantitative research. They both have diverse strengths and weakness, for instance, among the advantages of the quantitative approach is their ability to cover a range of situations (McCusker & Gunaydin, 2015). The method is also fast and economical; hence, it is appropriate when one has minimal resources. It is also vital to use the quantitative method when the research requires statistics results.
Nevertheless, the approach has its disadvantages, for instance, it is inflexible. It is also hard to predict any changes when using the quantitative method of research. The method offers very minimal understanding of the actions being demonstrated by the participants (Mayer, 2015). Additionally, the quantitative may not give details on how the link between the members differs and why it is different. Instead, the approach offers a general idea of the relationship of the job performance as well as managerial capabilities. Therefore, quantitative research method cannot be utilized in generating theories or understanding the problem extensively.
Conversely, the strengths of qualitative research methods are weaknesses that come up in the quantitative approach. One can observe changes while using the qualitative research. It also offers a better understanding of individuals’ meaning through interviews as well as observation. The data, ideas, and problems can be changed as they appear using extensive information. Hence, most of the researchers who want to generate theories at the end of the research prefer using the qualitative approach (Mayer, 2015). The procedure also appears to take place naturally in its environment as the researcher can talk to and observe the participants. However, it has its shortcomings; for example, it takes a lot of time and resources. The research method requires an individual to perform in-depth interviews and observation (McCusker & Gunaydin, 2015). Therefore, the approach cannot be utilized in a study that requires limited time for instance, when a person is performing a simple project. The data is also untidy as a person lacks control of the data collected. For example, it is difficult for the researcher to uphold the same discussion when interviewing different people. The method is flexible, and it allows individuals to offer open-ended answers; therefore they can talk about irrelevant issues during the interview. It is also difficult to analyze and interpret data using the qualitative approach as one has to deal with a lot of information.
The quantitative and qualitative research methods are different, and from the literature review, it is apparent that they both fit in various situations. I believe that the qualitative approach requires a small population, for instance, about five to ten participants. The particular method can be overwhelming when using a huge population as one may end up collecting a lot of data. A huge population can as well provide shallow results as one may end up with very minimal information. Therefore, it is important to have minimal participants so as to have clear outcomes. The quantitative approach also has its advantages and disadvantages. Statistics are important when describing groups; however, the method cannot be utilized in understanding people scientifically (Mayer, 2015). For instance, it can be difficult to expand on the quantitative approach. Additionally, the method does not offer a person a lot of choices as it uses closed-ended questionnaires. The respondents may also get bored answering the questions because they require close-ended responses.
Personally, I prefer using the qualitative approach as it allows a person to collect a vast array of information. The research method is also flexible, and one can have an informal conversation with the participants during the interview. It allows the subjects to feel at ease during the entire process. One is also able to have new insights as well as perspectives when using the qualitative method. I also prefer the method as it allows the researchers to observe changes over time. Moreover, the method allows a person to formulate new research questions during the process. The observation method of data collection is also useful as it allows a person to have first-hand experience (McCusker & Gunaydin, 2015). One is also able to collect field notes, for instance, in a study of teenage drug abuse, one can meet with participants on a one-on-one. A researcher is also able to make the members feel comfortable when using the qualitative methodology. For example, interviewing the teenagers can be difficult. However, use of open-ended questionnaires can get them feel comfortable. One is also able to include direct quotations from the participants. Another important aspect of the qualitative method is that a person can use a small group of individuals. An individual does not have to spend a lot of time interviewing a huge group of participants.
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