Quantitative Research VS Qualitative Research : Complete Comparison


In recent blogs, we elaborately discussed quantitative and qualitative research techniques.

But what is the difference between the two? Let’s find out.

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.

Learn more: Class Survey Questions + Sample Questionnaire Template

How is Quantitative research conducted?

1. Questions : Quantitative research method uses surveys and polls to gather information on a given subject. There are a variety of survey questions and question types used based on a nature of the research study.

For Example : If you want to conduct a customer satisfaction quantitative research, the Net Promoter Score is one of the critically acclaimed survey questions for this purpose.

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.

3. Statistical Analysis : Quantitative research uses a wide range of data analysis techniques such as Conjoint Analysis, Cross Tabulation and Trend Analysis.

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 data and measurements.

How is Qualitative research conducted?

1. Conversation : A conversation takes place between the researcher and the respondent. This can be in the form of focus groups, in-depth one-on-one 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 web 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 vs Qualitative Research

Now let’s compare the two research methods :

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.


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