Have you been given a thesis or a research paper that requires you to gather data and analyze it to provide valid arguments for your hypothesis? How will you justify your stance for the subject matter being discussed? Such papers usually require you to employ sophisticated techniques like qualitative and quantitative research to represent your thoughts and express them effectively for your reader. You might need to use these techniques during your time at high school or college for your academic assignments & projects, so it’s a good idea to grasp a limpid know-how of the difference between qualitative and quantitative research for best results and the basics for the two methods.
Experts recommend going through concepts like qualitative research definition, qualitative research examples, Qualitative research questions, qualitative vs quantitative research and quantitative research definition before starting your study. This guide explains these in detail so you can awe your instructor or reader and deliver a wow-worthy research paper that will get you the top grade you deserve.
So how would you define qualitative research? Simply put, Qualitative research entails sharp focus on a natural, more interpretive approach to a certain aspect being evaluated or analyzed within a natural environment. It is in fact a form of empirical research that involves the study of non-numerical data. It’s more of a technique where you analyze and evaluate various types of data in their most natural form. The idea is to make interpretations and derive logical inferences for such data based on the meanings individuals associate with it.
The primary purpose of qualitative research is to understand the meaning of cultures, social groups and communities as how others feel it and interpret it in their most natural form. This type of research is usually more profound and explanatory, involving an in-depth study of natural phenomenon and social settings with a focus on the ‘how’ and ‘why’. You would look for aspects that explain the specific phenomenon’s behavior and operative traits within a certain context. The more detailed your research is, the more lucid your understanding of the concept and your chances of unraveling murky aspects and issues that are often overlooked or missed by using the traditional scientific approach.
As a result of qualitative research methods, you’re able to highlight possible rapports for a topic or a phenomenon including a range of other perspectives along with the reasons, causes, dynamic procedures and ensuing effects. Qualitative analysis is a great way to identify paradoxical notions, contradictory paradigms and subtleties for a certain phenomenon. The approach makes use of a particular narrative, more descriptive mode of study to gather relevant knowledge regarding a topic and access new forms of information for the subject not available to people otherwise while getting more insight in parallel.
Qualitative data like textual data, artifacts, user opinions, interview responses, personal experiences, survey responses, email feedback, pictures and other multimedia content may be gathered through different types of techniques highlighted below.
There is a cornucopia of sources that are available to researchers for collating qualitative data for detailed study and analysis. These types of qualitative research methods include options like case studies, interviews, focus groups, expert opinions, observational research and open ended survey questions.
I. Interviews: This a one-on-one interactive technique that is used to gather insightful information related to your subject of study. It’s more like a face to face conversational session where you learn about different paradigms and concepts from experts and other people. Interviews may include structured, unstructured or semi-structured questions.
II. Expert Opinions: This is important feedback that you solicit from influencers and subject matter experts from a variety of sources. The idea is to get vital information that is derived from the expert’s vast experience ambit and colossal know-how.
III. Focus Groups: These are small group discussions targeted around a certain perspective where each member expresses his or her point of view on a selected topic for further discussion and learning.
IV. Observational Research: This is another important data collection approach for qualitative analysis that makes use of behavioral traits like observation and pragmatic study. Researchers usually observe processes, community happenings and people as part of their normal routines to grasp a limpid idea of how a certain paradigm is interpreted by individuals.
V. Open-ended Survey Questions: Although questionnaires and surveys are usually considered common forms of gathering qualitative data, a most productive strategy more often used is open-ended questions in a survey that allow the participants, flexibility to freely provide personal, more detailed feedback and opinion about a topic.
Quantitative research is usually based on collecting numerical or statistical information from different sources which can later be organized, ranked according to a certain criteria and measured in specific quantifiable units or parameters. For example, studying the increase in growth percentage every year for a certain organization or the growth in the amount of employees holding a foreign technical education etc. The quantitative data collected can be used by researchers to create visual illustrations like graphs, tables and pie charts to evaluate different concepts and gain better visibility.
With the use of statistical methods, this quantitative data can be then transformed into productive feedback that can be used to make more informed decisions. These techniques can be used to categorize data into different sets and summarize it according to specific criteria, to clearly illustrate relationships, connections, trends and patterns. The statistical results may be descriptive or inferential in nature, depending on your chosen subject or topic.
With descriptive statistics, you can create a summary of your collected data while the use of inferential methods allows you to highlight statistically significant differences between various data sets, like control groups, for a certain study or intervention. It’s the most ideal approach to use when you want to test the validity and hypothesis of a certain concept or when you need to check the validity & testing of already defined constructed theories. With the application of quantitative research methods, you can easily test hypotheses from different sources and validate the authenticity and integrity of your specific stance using refined statistical software.
Using techniques like rapid analysis, state-of-the-art applications like statistical tools can perform data analysis for you and process large amounts of numerical information, or quantitative data, that eliminates the need for manual evaluation and data processing.
Experiments and studies with quantitative research methods help you highlight important numerical data, used to demonstrate insightful numerical data that can be further used to support your arguments in your related study.
Research approaches like questionnaires and controlled observations also allow you to extract relevant important numerical justifications that can be processed to substantiate your stance in the research work.
A rating scale or a questionnaire containing closed questions may get you feedback that is easily quantifiable as these responses usually entail answers like ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Typically with experimental methods associated with quantitative research methods, there is limited possibility for ways in which a certain research participant can express a particular social behavior and their understanding of the specific concept. These findings and inferences are context-bound and therefore a direct manifestation of the writer’s perspectives highlighted in the study.
Quantitative research entails the following key features as well:
Different types of quantitative data like percentages, numbers and other statistics to evaluate different types of phenomenon entail an array of techniques like statistical analysis, correlations of two items, model-driven evaluation and hypothesis testing for extracting productive inferences. Some of the common approaches used to gather data in this type of research include the following:
There is a wide range of quantitative methods that you can use to analyze the collected numerical data such as observation, surveys and secondary data analysis including observational research that helps offer more insightful explanation for the arguments provided in your research. Following are the types of quantitative research you may use for collecting quantitative data.
I. Surveys: These usually include questions that attempt at soliciting feedback from participants related to your chosen topic. These may include open ended or closed questions that may later be used for extracting numerical information for analysis & conclusive deductions. For example, ‘What do you think about a TV service?’or ‘How would you rate the quality of McDonald’s customer service on a scale of 1-10.’?
II. Secondary Data: This entails assimilation and evaluation of non-primary data such as company accounts and other pieces of related numerical data.
III. Observational Research: This includes counting the number of times a certain concept tends to happen or occur during a certain time period. For example, analyzing how many times a specific word or phrase is used to describe an entity like a food product or how many people tend to show a certain behavioral trait etc.
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