Key Differences Between Qualitative vs Quantitative Research
Data analysis is a topic that is complex and oftentimes intimidating. When an everyday person thinks of research methods they often think of qualitative and quantitative research methodology. This association is unsurprising considering that qualitative data and quantitative data make up all data that will ever be analyzed!
Understanding the key differences between qualitative vs quantitative research methodologies is crucial for proper application. Likewise, researchers should understand similarities between qualitative research methods and quantitative research methods. Quantitative research is defined as the mathematical, numerical, or statistical analysis of data collected via questionnaires, polls, or surveys. Additionally, technological advancements make quantitative research possible through the manipulation of preexisting statistical data. Qualitative research focuses on the rationale behind the actions of cultures, societies, and individuals. Qualitative research utilizes open ended and exploratory questions for qualitative data collection purposes.
Qualitative data is almost universally considered semi structured or unstructured data. Semi structured or unstructured data contains minimum structure and is loosely formatted. Due to the properties of semi structured or unstructured data, qualitative data is not collected nor analyzed conventionally. Alternatively, quantitative data is almost universally considered structured data. Structured data is relational database compatible which allows for accessible searchability and swift organization capabilities. A common structured data example is spreadsheet values.
Data generation differs between quantitative research and qualitative research methodologies. Qualitative data is generated through images, symbols, interview transcripts, and focus groups interviewed. Additionally, video and audio recordings, observations, and notes can be used for qualitative data generation. Many times texts and documents are primary qualitative data generators. Alternatively, quantitative data is generated through tests, experiments, and surveys administered. Additionally, metrics and market reports can generate quantitative data.
Differences in Usage Between Qualitative vs Quantitative Research
Though there are clearly differences in qualitative vs quantitative research methodology both are useful. There are various different types of research methods that a quantitative and qualitative researcher can use. Qualitative research is associated with case studies performed and quantitative research on generalizations. One difference qualitative and quantitative research has is quantitative research begins with hypotheses while qualitative research includes hypotheses from data. While qualitative data is interpretive and subjective in nature, quantitative data is objective and conclusive.
Quantitative research does not occur in a natural environment. Due to respondents not being in a natural environment research question answers are objective in nature. Quantitative research measures the attitudes and opinions of subjects. Research question responses are translated into measurable statistics. Graphs, charts, or tables can then be created for visual analysis. A downside of quantitative research is that closed ended questions do not allow respondents to elaborate on research question answers. If a respondent does not understand the question or interprets it incorrectly quantitative data may not be as accurate as possible.
Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research occurs in the natural setting. A natural environment simply means that respondents may discuss and supplement answers. Open ended questions are commonplace in qualitative research. Open ended questions invite participants to provide supplemental information and reasonings behind research questions answers. As such, quantitative research is largely interactive and personal compared to quantitative research methods. Data quantitative researchers extract supply both informed and comprehensive insights.
Qualitative research methods like focus groups and open ended questions are executed for the insights they provide. Unsurprisingly, the insights industry is highly interested in qualitative research. Qualitative research supplies valuable insights into consumer behaviors and motivations that quantitative research could not explain. As such, qualitative research for insight industry purposes is largely focused on sociological, ethnographical, and psychological research methods. However, qualitative researchers recognize that due to human behavior constantly evolving qualitative research is never fully complete.
Quantitative data is generally considered more suitable for data analysis purposes. Currently, quantitative research is largely conducted online. Online research question administration supplies researchers with a broader audience to select sample sizes from. With a sample size broader selection available, population representation is more likely accurate. Additionally, the instantaneous nature of modern day technology allows for the conduction of quantitative research swiftly and seamlessly. Likewise, qualitative research is also occurring much more often online than ever before.
The qualitative vs quantitative research methodology competitive framework can actually be unproductive. Yes, both research qualitative and research quantitative offers are useful in different ways. However, many researchers utilize both research method types to solve research aims or research questions that are more complex. Whereas quantitative research methods bring to light knowledge of a specific situation, qualitative research methods supply underlying reasoning and context. Instead of the competitive framework of qualitative vs quantitative research methodologies, the research methods should be viewed as complementary.