Essay on Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research
Number of words: 1320
Both qualitative and quantitative researches are valued in the research world and are often used together under a single project. This is despite the fact that they have significant differences in terms of their theoretical, epistemological, and methodological formations. Qualitative research is usually in form of words while quantitative research takes the numerical approach. This paper discusses the similarities, differences, advantages, and disadvantages of qualitative and quantitative research and provides a personal stand.
Both qualitative and quantitative research approaches begin with a problem on which scholars seek to find answers. Without a research problem or question, there would be no reason for carrying out the study. Once a problem is formulated, researchers at their own discretion and depending on the nature of the question choose the appropriate type of research to employ. Just like in qualitative research, data obtained from quantitative analysis need to be analyzed (Miles & Huberman, 1994). This step is crucial for helping researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the issue under investigation. The findings of any research enjoy confirmability after undergoing a thorough examination and auditing process (Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Both types of research approaches require a concise plan before they are carried out. Once researchers formulate the study question, they must come up with a plan for investigating the matter (Yilmaz, 2013). Such plans include deciding the appropriate research technique to implement, estimating budgets, and deciding on the study areas. Failure to plan before embarking on the research project may compromise the research findings. In addition, both qualitative and quantitative research are dependent on each other and can be used for a single research project (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Quantitative data helps the qualitative research in finding a representative study sample and obtaining the background data. In the same way, qualitative research provides the quantitative side with the conceptual development and instrumentation (Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Qualitative research seeks to explain why things are the way they seem to be. It provides well-grounded descriptions and explanations of processes in identifiable local contexts (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Researchers use qualitative research to dig deeper into the problem and develop a relevant hypothesis for potential quantitative research. On the other hand, Quantitative research uses numerical data to state and quantify the problem (Yilmaz, 2013). Researchers in quantitative research use measurable data in formulating facts and uncovering the research pattern.
Quantitative research approach involves a larger number of participants for the purpose of gathering as much information as possible to summarize characteristics across large groups. This makes it a very expensive research approach. On the contrary, qualitative research approach describes a phenomenon in a more comprehensive manner. A relatively small number of participants take part in this type of research. This makes the overall process cheaper and time friendly.
Data collection methods differ significantly in the two research approaches. In quantitative research, scholars use surveys, questionnaires, and systematic measurements that involve numbers (Yilmaz, 2013). Moreover, they report their findings in impersonal third person prose by using numbers. This is different from the qualitative approach where only the participants’ observation and deep document analysis is necessary for conclusions to be drawn. Findings are disseminated in the first person’s narrative with sufficient quotations from the participants.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research
Qualitative data is based on human observations. Respondent’s observations connect the researcher to the most basic human experiences (Rahman, 2016). It gives a detailed production of participants’ opinions and feelings and helps in efficient interpretation of their actions (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Moreover, this research approach is interdisciplinary and entails a wide range of research techniques and epistemological viewpoints. Data collection methods in qualitative approach are both detailed and subjective (Rahman, 2016). Direct observations, unstructured interviews, and participant observation are the most common techniques employed in this type of research. Researchers have the opportunity to mingle directly with the respondents and obtain first-hand information.
On the negative side, the smaller population sample used in qualitative research raises credibility concerns (Rahman, 2016). The views of a small group of respondents may not necessarily reflect those of the entire population. Moreover, conducting this type of research on certain aspects such as the performance of students may be more challenging. In such instances, researchers prefer to use the quantitative approach instead (Rahman, 2016). Data analysis and interpretation in qualitative research is a more complex process. It is long, has elusive data, and has very stringent requirements for analysis (Rahman, 2016). In addition, developing a research question in this approach is a challenging task as the refining question mostly becomes continuous throughout the research process.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative Research
The findings of a quantitative research can be generalized to a whole population as it involves larger samples that are randomly selected by researchers (Rahman, 2016). Moreover, the methods used allows for use of statistical software in test taking (Rahman, 2016). This makes the approach time effective and efficient for tackling complex research questions. Quantitative research allows for objectivity and accuracy of the study results. This approach is well designed to provide essential information that supports generalization of a phenomenon under study. It involves few variables and many cases that guarantee the validity and credibility of the study results.
This research approach, however, has some limitations. There is a limited direct connection between the researcher and respondents. Scholars who adopt this approach measure variables at specific moments in time and disregards the past experiences of the respondents (Rahman, 2016). As a result, deep information is often ignored and only the overall picture of the variables is represented. The quantitative approach uses standard questions set and administered by researchers (Rahman, 2016). This might lead to structural bias by respondents and false representation. In some instances, data may only reflect the views of the sample under study instead of revealing the real situation. Moreover, preset questions and answers limit the freedom of expression by the respondents.
I would prefer quantitative research method over the qualitative approach. Data management in this technique is much familiar and more accessible to researchers’ contexts (Miles & Huberman, 1994). It is a more scientific process that involves the collection, analysis, and interpretation of large amounts of data. Researchers have more control of the manner in which data is collected. Unlike qualitative data that requires descriptions, quantitative approach majors on numerical data (Yilmaz, 2013). With this type of data, I can use the various available software for classification and analyzes. Moreover, researchers are more flexible and free to interact with respondents. This gives an opportunity for obtaining first-hand information and learning more about other behavioral aspects of the population under study.
As highlighted above, qualitative and quantitative techniques are the two research approaches. Both seek to dig deeper into a particular problem, analyze the responses of a selected sample and make viable conclusions. However, qualitative research is much concerned with the description of peoples’ opinions, motivations, and reasons for a particular phenomenon. On the other hand, Quantitative research uses numerical data to state and explain research findings. Use of numerical data allows for objectivity and accuracy of the research results. However structural biases are common in this approach. Data collection and sampling in qualitative research is more detailed and subjective. Considering the different advantages and disadvantages of the two research approaches, I would go for the quantitative over qualitative research.
Miles, M., & Huberman, A. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd Ed.). Beverly Hills: Sage.
Rahman, M. (2016). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches and Methods in Language “Testing and Assessment” Research: A Literature Review. Journal of Education and Learning, 6(1), 102.
Yilmaz, K. (2013). Comparison of Quantitative and Qualitative Research Traditions: epistemological, theoretical, and methodological differences. European Journal of Education, 48(2), 311-325.