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Quantitative Versus Qualitative Research Method


The two primary research methods are exclusively quantitative andqualitative research, and many of the researchers will conduct theresearch project using one of the methods depending on the researchdesign. The two can also be combined to obtain the benefits of eachresearch method. The two qualitative and quantitative have differingtheoretical principles. The investigations that the researchercarries out during the research design guided by the fundamentalprinciples will influence the choices of methods and techniques. Theresearch design will also be affected by the ontology of theresearchers themselves, the epistemology and also the methodology waschosen (Creswell, 2013). The two approaches to research methods haveoften been discussed in several disciplines, and the researcher willmake the choice of method in their research project depending on thestrengths or weaknesses of each approach. There are epistemological,theoretical as well as the methodological differences in the researchmethods traditions.

The quantitative method is objective while the qualitative method issubjective. The end data derived from the use of the differentresearch methods will be objective data and subjective datarespectively. Objective data from quantitative research is theinformation that stems from the scientific statisticalinterpretations of the collected data. The collection is done byusing high-tech machines or through numerical analysis which canfurther be mathematically manipulated and understood leading toconclusions. The quantitative research method is referred to beingobjective since it involves numerical data which can be transformedinto understandable statistics. Qualitative research results in dataderived from impressions and sensory observations. It necessitatesthe researcher to be an instrument thus his perceptions, personalmeanings or bias will affect the end results. The methods used in aqualitative research project add the subjectivity of the research.

The two differ in the aims attributed to each. Quantitativeresearch is conclusive while qualitative research is exploratory.Quantitative research has concentrated on the counts and measures ofthe subjects under study. It is used in the quantification ofattitudes, behaviors, opinions and other defined variables which arefurther used to generalize the results in the sample population. Thedata obtained is employed to formulate facts, uncover the patterns,and account for the outliers. The research questions posed are inregards to the measurement of the statistics in the sample populationthen extrapolated to the larger population. The questions include:’how many,` ‘strength of association,` ‘how much.` On the otherhand, qualitative research places its emphasis on the understandingof the participating population. The questions asked are exploratoryin nature with the aim of focusing the project on uncovering thereasons, motivations, or opinions through the unstructured andsemi-structured techniques of data collection (Babbie, 2013). Theresearch provides insights into problems challenges or assistancewhich will be then further investigated in future qualitativeresearch. Whereas quantitative research seeks to uncover patterns,qualitative research aims to understand the reasons that bring aboutthe trends.

The methodology employed in both of the research projects alsodiffer. The hypothesis and description are broad and focus on thewhole picture in qualitative research. In quantitative research, theyare narrow, and their focus is more concise. In other words,quantitative research is applied in one reality unlike the case ofqualitative research since it is applied to multiple realities. It isdespite the fact that the sample sizes used as subjects orparticipants may differ with quantitative research having a largernumber than qualitative research. The end results will also beapplied to different numbers of the universal population. In themanner of being exploratory in nature, qualitative research aims atformulating laws and facts that apply to the global population. Theconclusions that are made using the statistics derived fromquantitative data are only meant to be applied to the population thatis represented by the sample subjects.

The role of the researcher differs in both research methods. Theresearch design is influenced by the ontology and epistemology inregards to the researchers’ views and opinions towards the mannerin which the research project is conducted. The researcher bringsabout the objectivity or subjectivity of the research projectdepending on the role that they take up. The researcher is separatefrom the research process whereas he or she is part of the process inthe quantitative research. When conducting quantitative research,researchers have to ensure that the methodology of research will haveno personal opinions and bias which in the case of qualitativeresearch it is a side effect of the role of the researcher. Toensure scientific data is obtained, the researcher employsinstruments (Bryman, 2015). The methodology used in qualitativeresearch requires the researcher to be part of the instruments indata collection thus it cannot be scientifically objective.Communication and observation are part of the role of the researcher.

Quantitative research methodology can be summarized as reduction,control, and precision while that of qualitative research isdiscovery, description, and understanding and then shared aninterpretation. The literature review in the quantitative research isundertaken before the study begins to ensure that the methodologyfollows the outline and that the objectivity of the research isretained. It is crucial that the research establishes therelationship and causation of the variables under study in thepopulation. Quantitative research seeks to use a sample size in thesurvey which is a representation of the population under study(Robson, &amp McCartan, 2016). The application of instruments orcomputer software ensures that the sample population can adequatelycover the whole population in regards to the variable that are beingstudied in the research. Control is exerted during data collectionhaving similarly structured questions during the survey questions orinterviews. The precision and accuracy of the methodology are throughthe calculations undertaken during the design and after the datacollection. It ensures that the margin of error produced is slight.

Qualitative research is powered by previously conducted research andwill be driven by the need to explain the meaning or reason behind aview or opinion and lead to discovery. The communication between theinterviewer and the interviewee is the central part of the researchwhere the data collection takes place. The in-depth description iskey to answering the research questions posed in the project. Theemphasis is on building an understanding of the view or reasonsbehind the phenomenon. The induced conclusions from the research areoften used in developing universal laws, however, with multiplereality views and its complexity, the conclusions may not bereplicable without the shared interpretation.

From that research methodology, quantitative research is best suitedin the cases where test theories are investigated. The hypothesisstated in the research project has to be proven correct or incorrect.The task is best done using objective data and can be scientificallyvalidated and statistically understood. Objectivity ensures that thefacts deduced from the data are value-free and furthermore unbiased.Thus, it can be proved of the hypothesis being correct or incorrect.The hypothesis is decided after the literature review has been doneand that it is either leaning towards or against the hypothesis. Thereasoning behind testing a theory should be deductive and logistic.On the other hand, qualitative research is mainly used in developingtheories. The literature review is based on previous research studiesconducted and is often done as the study is carried out or afterward.From the in-depth description during data collection, the researchquestions are tailored to direct the interview to understand theideas, views, and reasons that back the phenomenon under study. Theconclusions are induced, and dialect since the sample of theparticipant is small. The facts are biased and value-laden thus theresearch is interpretive. From the discovery made, the theory can bedeveloped, or it is from such research studies that future study baseto further develop the theories.

The basic elements of the research methods vary and thus there areconsiderable differences between the two methods. Quantitativeresearch is measurable thus the basic element number, and from these,statistical analysis can be made whereas the qualitative research isinterpretive. It is thus based on ideas, and their analysis will leadto narrative interpretation which can be developed to a theory. Thereare strengths and weakness in both research methods and thusdepending on factors that suit a research project, the best-suitedmethod can be employed. However, the combination of the two has giventhe researcher the strengths that can be utilized depending on theneed.


Babbie, E. R. (2013). The basics of social research. CengageLearning.

Bryman, A. (2015). Social research methods. Oxford universitypress.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative,quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.

Robson, C., &amp McCartan, K. (2016). Real world research.John Wiley &amp Sons.