Understanding the differences between qualitative vs quantitative research is essential when conducting a research project, as both methods underpin the two key approaches in conducting a study.
In recent blogs, we elaborately discussed quantitative and qualitative research techniques but what is the difference between the two? Which one is the best? Let’s find out.
Qualitative Research In a nutshell
Qualitative research is a research methodology where “quality” or opinion based research is conducted to derive research conclusions. This type of research is often conversational in nature rather than being quantifiable through empirical research and measurements.
Qualitative research: Methods & Characteristics
1. Conversation : A conversation takes place between the researcher and the respondent. This can be in the form of focus groups, in-depth interviews using telephonic / video / face-to-face conversations.
However, with the rise of online platforms, a bulk of qualitative research involves creating and maintaining online community portals for a more quantifiable and recordable qualitative study.
2. Conclusions : Research conclusions are subjective in nature when conducting qualitative research. The researcher may derive conclusions based on in-depth analysis of respondent attitude, reason behind responses and understanding of psychological motivations.
Quantitative Research In a nutshell
Quantitative research is a research methodology which uses questions and questionnaires to gather quantifiable data and perform statistical analysis to derive meaningful research conclusions.
Quantitative research: Methods & Characteristics
2. Distribution : Quantitative research uses email surveys as the primary mode of gathering responses to questions. Alternatively, technology has given rise to offline distribution methods for relatively remote locations using offline mobile data capture apps. For social sciences and psychological quantitative research, social media surveys are also used to gather data.
Qualitative vs Quantitative Research
Now let’s compare the two research methods in different aspects so that you can choose the right one in your next investigation.:
1. Objective and flow of research
Quantitative research is used in data-oriented research where the objective of research is to derive “measurable empirical evidence” based on fixed and pre-determined questions. The flow of research, is therefore, decided before the research is conducted.
Where as, qualitative research is used where the objective is research is to keep probing the respondents based on previous answers under the complete discretion of the interviewer. The flow of research is not determined and the researcher / interviewer has the liberty to frame and ask new questions.
2. Respondent sample size
Respondents or sample of a particular panel is much larger for quantitative research such that enough verifiable information is gather to reach a conclusion without opinion bias. In large scale quantitative research, sample size can be in thousands.
Where as, qualitative research inherently uses less sample size because a large sample size makes it difficult of the research to probe respondents. For instance, a typical political focus group study evaluating election candidates involves no more than 5-10 panelists.
3. Information gathering
Quantitative research uses information gathering methods that can be quantified and processed for statistical analysis techniques. Simply put – quantitative research is heavily dependent on “numbers”, data and stats.
Where as, qualitative research uses conversational methods to gather relevant information on a given subject.
4. Post-research response analysis and conclusions
Quantitative research uses a variety of statistical analysis methods to derive quantifiable research conclusions. These are based on mathematical processes applied on the gather data.
Where as, qualitative research depends on the interviewer to derive research conclusions based on qualitative conversations held with the respondents. This conclusion is effectively subjective in nature. This is why quantitative research recordings are often reviewed by senior researchers before the final research conclusion is drawn.
Differences between qualitative vs quantitative research
We hope that this information helps you choose your next research method and achieve your goals.
If you want to carry out any qualitative or qualitative research, ask about the tools that QuestionPro has available to help you with the collection of the data you need. We have functions for all types of research!.