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Qualitative VS. Quantitative Research: How To Use Appropriately and Depict Research Results

calendarMay 13, 2024 |clock13 Mins Read

What is qualitative and quantitative research? 

Before a researcher begins their research, they would need to establish whether their research results will be quantitative or qualitative. 

Qualitative research observes any subjective matter that can’t be measured with numbers or units, usually answering the questions “how” or “why”. This type of data is usually derived from exploratory sources like, journal entries, semi-structured interviews, videos, and photographs.

On the other hand, quantitative research is numeric and objective, which usually answers the questions “when” or “where”. This data is derived from controlled environments like surveys, structured interviews, and traditional experimental designs. Quantitative data is meant to find objective information.

What are the main differences between qualitative and quantitative research?

The main factor of differentiation between qualitative and quantitative data are the sources that the data is gathered from, as this effects the format of the results. 

Sources of Qualitative DataSources of Quantitative Data
Participants’ recollection of eventsPolls, surveys and experiments
Focus groupsDatabases of records and information
Observing ethnographic studiesAnalysis of other research to identify patterns
Semi-structured interviewsQuestionnaires with close-ended questions
Questionnaires with open-ended questionsStructured Interviews

When to use qualitative and quantitative research? 

When conducting a study, knowing how the results will be depicted drive the methodology and overall approach to the study. To understand whether qualitative or quantitative research results are best suited for your current project, we take a deeper dive at the several advantages and disadvantages of each. 

  1. Qualitative research

Advantages: 

  • Allows researchers to understand “human experience” that cannot be quantified
  • Has fewer limitations, out-of-the-box answers, opinions and beliefs are included in data gathering and analysis
  • Researchers can utilise personal instinct and subjective experience to identify and extract information
  • Easier to derive and conduct as researchers can adapt to any changes to optimise results 

Disadvantages:

  • Responses can be biased, as participants may opt for answers that are desirable. 
  • Qualitative studies usually have small sample sizes, this impacts the reliability of the study as it cannot be generalised to certain demographics.
  • Researchers and other’s who read the study can have interpretation bias as the information is subjective and open to interpretation
  1. Quantitative research

Advantages: 

  • Usually observes a large sample, ensuring a broad percentage is taken into consideration and reflected
  • Produces precise results that can be widely interpreted
  • Minimises any research bias through the collection and representation of objective information
  • Data driven research method that depicts effectiveness, comparisons and further analysis.

Disadvantages: 

  • Does not derive “meaningful” and in-depth responses, only precise figures are included in findings
  • Quantitative studies are expensive to conduct as they require a large sample 
  • When designing a quantitative study, it is important to pay extra attention to all factors within the study, as a small fault can largely impact all results.

How to effectively analyse qualitative and quantitative data?

Since the data collection method for qualitative and quantitative studies are different, so is the analysis and organisation of the gathered information. In this section, we dive into a step-by-step guide to effectively analyse both types of data and information to derive accurate findings and results. 

Analysing qualitative data

  1. Types of qualitative data analysis
Content analysisIdentifies patterns derived from text. This is done by categorising information into themes, concepts and keywords.
Narrative analysisObserves the manner in which people tell stories and the specific language they use to describe their narrative experience.
Discourse analysisUsed to understand political, cultural and power dynamics. This methos specifically focuses on the manner in which individuals express themselves in social contexts.
Thematic analysisThis method is used to understand the meaning behind the words participants use. This can be deduced by observing repeated themes in text.
Grounded theoryMostly used when very little information is known about a case or phenomenon. The grounded theory is an “origin” theory and other cases and experiences are examined in comparison to the grounded theory.
  1. Steps to analyse qualitative data
  1. Once your data has been collected, it is important to code and categorise the information to easily identify the source. 
  2. After organising the information, you will need to correlate the information logically and derive valuable insights.
  3. Once the correlations are solid, you will need to choose how to depict the information. In qualitative data, researchers usually provide transcripts from interviews and visual evidence from various sources. 

Analysing quantitative data

  1. Types of quantitative data analysis
Descriptive analysisThis method focuses on summarising the collected data and describing its attributes. This is when mean, median, mode, frequency or distribution is calculated.
Inferential analysisThis method allows researchers to draw conclusions from the gathered statistics. It allows researchers to analyse the relationship between variables and make predictions; this includes cross-tabulation, t-tests and factor analysis. 
  1. Steps to analyse quantitative data
  1. Once the data has been collected, you will need to “clean” the data. This essentially means that you’ll need to observe any duplications, errors or omissions and remove them. This ensures the data is accurate and clear before analysis. 
  2. You will now need to decide whether you will analyse the data using descriptive or inferential analysis, depending on the gathered data set and the findings you’d like to depict.
  3. Now, you’ll need to visualise the data using charts and graphs to easily communicate the information in your research paper. 

Conduct your research on Zendy todayThis blog thoroughly covered qualitative and quantitative data and took you through how to analyse, depict and utilise each type appropriately. Continue your research into different types of studies on Zendy today, search and read through millions of studies, research and experiments now.

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