Qualitative vs Quantitative

Qualitative vs Quantitative

Qualitative vs Quantitative

This section is expected to take you approximately 3 hours
The most important decision a researcher has to make when planning a piece of research it to decide which research method(s) or approaches will best address the research question or idea. While the research undertaken will always be constrained by the resources available, the type of research is likely to be determined by answering the following questions:

Question: Has any prior research been conducted in this field?

Answer: No previous research- then descriptive or exploratory research might be needed. If the phenomena to be studied can be measured in some way then a quantitative study would be appropriate. In other situations, qualitative research could assist in providing detailed observation or exploration of the phenomena as a first step to understanding.

Answer: Previous research has been conducted-then you need to establish whether the research has been conducted in the context you are interested in. If not, you might consider establishing the extent to which the research evidence is applicable, or generalisable to your context; this would suggest that a replication or modified replication study might be needed. Through analysing the strength of evidence currently available you can ascertain whether there are any knowledge or method gaps, that need to be addressed, or whether there are hypotheses or problems that can be tested or investigated.

In either case, you would need to determine whether the research tools are sufficiently well developed to address the research idea.

Irrespective as to whether you conduct research that is labelled qualitative or quantitative, the research principles will still apply, even if they have been given different names or terms according to the discipline within which the research takes place.

Qualitative and quantitative research is frequently presented as distinct and polarised choices for a research methodology. Qualitative research is viewed as subjective while quantitative research is said to take an objective viewpoint. Broadly speaking we can say that qualitative research involves analysis of words, pictures or objects while quantitative research involves the analysis of numerical data.

 

IDevice Icon Activity 7: Qualitative vs quantitative methods

Complete the following activity online to receive feedback and in your log book as a record.

Task1

Task 2

Consider the following statements and decide whether they are more applicable to qualitative or quantitative research methodology:

IDevice Question Icon Multi-choice
1. The aim is a complete and detailed description.
Qualitative?
Quantitative?
Correct
Wrong

2. The researcher uses a pre-designed questionnaire to obtain numerical data
Qualitative?
Quantitative?
Wrong
Correct

3. The researcher wishes to test a hypothesis
Qualitative?
Quantitative?
Wrong
Correct

4. The research design emerges as the study progresses
Qualitative
Quantitative?
Correct
Wrong

5. The data consists of video clips
Qualitative?
Quantitative?
Correct
Wrong

6. The researcher attempts to maintain an objective view of the subject
Qualitative?
Quantitative?
Wrong
Correct

IDevice Icon Activity 8: Research approach

This activity is divided into three tasks.

Task 1 requires you to consider how each research approach (qualitative and quantitative research) handles certain issues, such as, the context (or situation) within which the research is conducted, any events and conditions associated with the research, numerical or personal relationships, establishing authenticity and/or truth, and handling current evidence, hypotheses and literature. How are validity, reliability, triangulation, and generalisation and/or transferability accounted for by each paradigm?

Task 2 asks you to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.

Task 3 encourages you to read through some research ideas and then, decide which type of research you would choose for the first phase of these studies. How might you carry them out? How would you deal with issues of access, ethics, objectivity, and/or researcher involvement?

Now open your log book and complete Activity

 

 

We have considered qualitative and quantitative approaches as if they are quite distinct. In fact taking such a polarised view may not be helpful. This is a subject that causes controversy amongst researchers. Have a look at the following two links:

http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/research/gentrans/pop2f.cfm and http://www.markwebtest.netfirms.com/Appendix/App_Qualitative/App_Quant_Vs_Qual.htm which is an appendix of The Instructors' Site for the text Research Design Explained.

 

IDevice IconActivity 9: Polar or continuous?

This activity requires you to write a few paragraphs in your log book to summarise the debate about the dichotomy, or otherwise, between the two research paradigms and to consider where in this continuum you feel your own, planned research may fall. Now open your log book and complete Activity 9.

In the next section you will take a more in-depth look at qualitative approaches to research design and analysis.