12 Difference Between Qualitative And Quantitative Research (With Examples)

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Qualitative researchis a scientific method of observation to gather non-numerical data. It is primarily explorative research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions and motivations. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. It is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into the problem.

Qualitative data is collected through the following methods:

  • Individual interviews
  • Participation
  • Observation
  • Group discussions

Quantitative research is the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena through statistical, mathematical. Quantitative methods emphasize objective measurements and the statistical or numerical analysis of data collected through polls, questionnaire, and surveys or by manipulating pre-existing statistical data using computational techniques so as to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors and other defined variables and generalize results from a large sample.

Quantitative data is collected through the following methods:

  • Online surveys
  • Paper surveys
  • Mobile surveys
  • Systematic observations
  • Kiosk surveys
  • Face to face interviews
  • Telephone interviews
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Website interceptors
  • Online polls

Key Differences

Definition

Qualitative Research is a scientific method of observation to gather non-numerical data. This type of research refers to concepts, meanings, characteristics, metaphors, symbols and description of things. The research answers how and when a certain phenomenon occurs. Quantitative research on the other hand, is the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques.

Objective

The main objective of qualitative research is to provide a complete, detailed description of the research topic through precise measurements and analysis of concepts.  Conversely, the main objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and hypotheses pertaining to a certain observable phenomena. 

Data Collection Strategies

Both qualitative and quantitative researches employ various data collection strategies depending on the approach of the research.  Examples of data collection strategies used in qualitative research are individual in-depth interviews, narratives, focus groups, content, archival research, participant observation and documentary analysis. Conversely, quantitative research makes use of tools such as questionnaires, surveys, measurements and other equipment to collect numerical or measurable data.

The Reasoning used to Process Data

The reasoning used to process data in qualitative research is inductive whereas the reasoning used to process quantitative research is deductive.

Form of Data

In qualitative research, form of data is mainly image categories and words whereas form of data collected in quantitative research is based on precise measurement using structured and validated data collection instruments like rating scales.

Aim of the Research

Qualitative research is done with the aim of exploring and discovering ideas used in the ongoing processes. Quantitative research on the other hand, aims to examine cause-effect relationship between variables.

Nature of Research 

Qualitative research is primarily subjective in nature as it seeks to understand human behavior and reasons that inform such behavior. In this method of research, the researchers have the tendency to become subjectively enmeshed in the subject matter. On the contrary, quantitative research is objective in nature because it seeks precise measurements and analysis of target concepts to answer an inquiry. In this method of research, researchers tend to remain objectively separated from the subject matter.

Elements of Research

Qualitative research collects information (Data) that is free-form and non-numerical such as diaries, open-ended questionnaires, interviews and observations that are not coded using a numerical system. On the contrary, quantitative research collects information (Data) that can be coded in numerical form. Examples of quantitative research are questionnaires that use closed questions.

Presentation of Data

If you are conducting a qualitative research what will most likely appear in your discussions are figures in the forms of graphs, but in case you are conducting a quantitative research, what will most likely appear in your discussion are tables containing data in the form of numbers and statistics.

Ideal Stage of Use

Qualitative research is very ideal for earlier stages of a research projects whereas quantitative research is very ideal for later stages of a research project because it is able to provide the researcher with a clearer picture of what to expect in his research.

Nature of Sampling

Qualitative research is based on purposive sampling whereby a small sample size is selected with a view to get thorough understanding of the target concept. On the other hand, quantitative research relies on random sampling, whereby a large sample is chosen in order to extrapolate the result to the entire population.

Final Report

Form of final report in qualitative research is narrative report with contextual description and direct quotations from research participants. Conversely, form of final report in quantitative research is mainly statistical report which contains correlations, comparisons of mean and reporting of statistical significance of findings.

Difference Between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research In Tabular Form

Basis of Comparison Qualitative Research Quantitative Research
Definition Qualitative Research is a scientific method of observation to gather non-numerical data. This type of research refers to concepts, meanings, characteristics, metaphors, symbols and description of things. The research answers how and when a certain phenomenon occurs. Quantitative research on the other hand, is the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques.  
Main Objective The main objective of qualitative research is to provide a complete, detailed description of the research topic through precise measurements and analysis of concepts.  The main objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and hypotheses pertaining to a certain observable phenomena.   
Data Collection Strategies Examples of data collection strategies used in qualitative research are individual in-depth interviews, narratives, focus groups, content, archival research, participant observation and documentary analysis. Quantitative research makes use of tools such as questionnaires, surveys, measurements and other equipment to collect numerical or measurable data.  
The reasoning Used to Process Data The reasoning used to process data in is inductive. The reasoning used to process data is deductive.
Aim of the Research The research is done with the aim of exploring and discovering ideas used in the ongoing processes. The research on the other hand, aims to examine cause-effect relationship between variables.  
Nature of Research The research is primarily subjective in nature as it seeks to understand human behavior and reasons that inform such behavior. The research collects information (Data) that can be coded in numerical form.
Presentation of Data Data is presented in figures in the forms of graphs. Data is presented in tables containing data in the form of numbers and statistics.
Ideal Stage of Use The research is very ideal for earlier stages of a research projects. The research is very ideal for later stages of a research project.
Nature of Sampling The research is based on purposive sampling whereby a small sample size is selected with a view to get thorough understanding of the target concept. The research relies on random sampling, whereby a large sample is chosen in order to extrapolate the result to the entire population.  
Hypothesis Broad. Narrow.
Description Whole picture. Focused.
Type of Research Exploratory. Conclusive.

Similarities between Qualitative and quantitative Research

  • Both rely on a theoretical framework.
  • They both require a plan for carrying out an investigation.
  • Both at some point uses observation to collect data.
  • Both respond to research questions.
  • Both address the issue of errors.
  • Both are concerned that research methodologies should be appropriate to research questions.
  • Both are concerned with variations.

Summary

Qualitative Research is a scientific method of observation to gather non-numerical data. This type of research refers to concepts, meanings, characteristics, metaphors, symbols and description of things. The research answers how and when a certain phenomenon occurs. Quantitative research on the other hand, is the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques.