Caleb S.
Caleb S.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research | Difference & Example

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Published on: Jun 23, 2020

Last updated on: Dec 25, 2022

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research

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When conducting research for a college assignment, it’s significant to understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research focuses on understanding individual cases, while quantitative research is more concerned with generalizing data.

So have you been wondering what the difference is between qualitative and quantitative research? Or maybe you know but aren't quite sure why one is better than the other. Well, wonder no more!

This blog post will explain everything you need to know about qualitative vs. quantitative research. This is how you can make the best decision for your academic needs. So, let's get this started!

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research Definition

Here is a definition of both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Qualitative ResearchQuantitative Research
Quantitative research deals with numbers and graphs. This kind can test or confirm theories and assumptions about certain topics.Qualitative research deals with numerical and statistical data. This kind can be used to understand thoughts, concepts, or experiences.

Below is a detailed description of quantitative research vs. qualitative research.

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Quantitative Research Definition

Quantitative research is a very important form of data collection. This type of research gathers information on attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

The final result of this process is data that has been organized, ranked according to certain criteria, and measured in specific units. The information from a large sample population will be formulated into facts or results. It is done after being analyzed thoroughly by the researchers who conducted it.

The use of quantitative research methods is an excellent way to gather and analyze data with minimal bias. This can be done through experiments, observations recorded as numbers, or mobile surveys with closed-ended questions for your study topic!

For instance, the company has grown by 2% each year for the last four years. In that time, they've increased their number of employees with foreign technical education to 15%. These statistics show how much your business has grown.

Using advanced analysis techniques to process large amounts of numerical information saves you time by eliminating manual data processing.

Qualitative Research Definition

Qualitative research is a method of collecting and analyzing data that can be more natural or interpretive. It generates text-based information, like interviews with people who have experienced something happening in their lives.

The research process starts with a clear understanding of the problem, then analyzed through various methods. These include numerical data collection and qualitative surveys to determine opinions on different topics related to your subject.

Qualitative research is a powerful tool for understanding the meaning of social groups, cultures, and communities. It also analyzes data by gathering deep insights on a topic for evaluation purposes.

It aims at understanding what people think about in their day-to-day lives and how they view other issues such as politics or religion. The primary purpose behind this type of qualitative research is to analyze various aspects that concern your specific culture.

It further gives insights into the research problem and assists in creating the hypothesis.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research Features

Below are some features of qualitative and quantitative research.

Quantitative ResearchQualitative Research
  • This research involves facts about certain phenomena.
  • It highlights numerical data and measurements of the research.
  • It happens in a stable and controlled setting.
  • All study aspects are carefully designed before data is collected.
  • This research always presents accurate results.
  • It presents data in charts, tables, and figures.
  • It uses statistical analysis.
  • This research focuses on large sample sizes and represents the wider population.
  • It uses open-ended questions.
  • The researcher uses tools such as questionnaires to collect data.
  • It happens in a dynamic and natural setting.
  • It interprets concepts that can’t be measured in numbers.
  • It analyzes various data types such as texts, images, interviews, and observations.
  • It involves the grounded theory that is based on real-time data.
  • It presents data in charts, tables, and figures.
  • This research is interested in the opinion of the study participants.
  • It focuses on target populations or locations.
  • It aims to focus on human interactions and experiences.
  • It helps you to understand people’s attitudes and thoughts on certain topics.
  • It describes factors associated with the problem as a whole.

Below is a detailed description of these features.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research Questions

Qualitative ResearchQuantitative Research
  • It begins with ‘how’ or ‘what’
  • It describes the main argument of research.
  • It has more specific sub-questions than quantitative research.
  • It begins with ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why.’
  • It has independent and dependent variables.
  • There are three question types, i.e., descriptive, casual, and predictive.

The questions with examples are discussed below.

Qualitative Research vs. Quantitative Research - Differences

Quantitative and qualitative research collect and analyze different kinds of data. They allow you to answer different types of research questions. Here is an extensive difference between both:

Quantitative ResearchQualitative Research
It focuses on test hypotheses and theories.It focuses on exploring ideas and generating new theories or hypotheses.
It analyzes the data through statistics and math.It analyzes by summarizing, categorizing, and interpreting.
The data is expressed in graphs, numbers, and tables.The data is expressed in words.
It requires many respondents.It only requires a few respondents.
It uses multiple-choice questions, but they are close-ended.It uses open-ended questions.
Key terms used: measurement, testing, replicability, objectivity.Key terms used: context, complexity, understandability, subjectivity.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research - Data Collection Methods

There are many ways to collect quantitative and qualitative data, but you need to choose one to answer your question.

For example, you can ask questions to people or watch them do things. Then the data is either numbers (e.g., using rating scales or counting frequency) or words (e.g., with open-ended questions or descriptions of what you observed).

Have a look at the types of methods both types of research uses:

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Quantitative Data Collection Methods

Following are the methods to collect quantitative data:

    • Surveys

It is a list of questions. Some are open-ended, and others are closed-ended. It is given to the people who will answer it. The researcher gets feedback from them.

Surveys can have both types of questions too!

    • Secondary Data

This includes collecting and analyzing data not found in primary research, such as company accounts and other related numerical data.

    • Observational Data

This type of research design shows what happens in a natural environment, and the variable can't be controlled.

    • Experiments

Experiments are when researchers do things to find out the cause and effect. Then, the researcher controls the variables and sees what happens.

    • Content Analysis

It is a way to tell what people are talking about. For example, you can record words and themes in texts to see how people talk with each other.

Qualitative Data Collection Methods

Following are the methods to collect qualitative data:

    • Interview

In-depth interviewing is a face-to-face session. You talk to experts about different concepts. In this interview, there are different questions; some are structured,semi-structured, and unstructured.

    • Focus Group

Discussion control groups are small groups of people who talk about a topic. They think about it, and then they find out more.

    • Ethnography

Ethnography is when you study a group of people closely. You will want to spend a lot of time with them and watch how they behave and what they do.

    • Case Study

Case studies are a study of a person, group, or organization. They are in-depth and cover all aspects.

    • Literature Review

A literature review is a detailed survey of things other people have written about.

Qualitative and quantitative methods are more structured. They provide a detailed explanation of the arguments in your research.

How to Analyze Quantitative and Qualitative Data?

Qualitative and quantitative data cannot stand alone. You need to analyze them to draw any conclusions. However, this is a different process depending on what kind of qualitative or quantitative information you have available.

Analyzing Quantitative Data

Quantitative data rely on numbers, and the data patterns are discovered through simple math or more advanced statistical analysis. Graphs and tables are often used to show the generalized results of the study.

Excel and SPSS are used to calculate quantities such as:

  • Average score
  • Correlation between variables
  • How many times an answer is given
  • Reliability and validity of the result

Analyzing Qualitative Data

The qualitative approach is often considered a more challenging form of data to work with. It contains text, images, or videos instead of numbers. Here are some great ideas to analyze qualitative data, that is

  • Qualitative Content Analysis: It is a useful tool that can track words and phrases in any text.
  • Thematic Analysis: When you look closely at your data, try to see any patterns or themes that might jump out. You can do this by asking questions about what you observed in the responses from respondents.
  • Discourse Analysis: What is the best way to understand how people communicate? You could study it by looking at the messages and topics.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research - Examples

Here are some well-versed examples for your consideration to provide you with sufficient help in conducting research.

Many students find it hard to use qualitative and quantitative research project methods. Without understanding, they can't write good papers. They search online for help.

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Caleb S.


Caleb S., Literature, Marketing

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

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