Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

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INTRODUCTION TO QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS

There are generally two kinds of research: qualitative and quantitative. For any research project the researcher needs to be clear about which type of research will provide the information required. The role of qualitative research is to tell you why; quantitative research tells you how many. The methods are quite different.

Definition of Quantitative research?
"There's no such thing as qualitative data. Everything is either 1 or 0"- Fred Kerlinger Different researchers and educators have given different definitions to “quantitative research.” Below are a few of them: Quantitative research refers to the numerical representation and manipulation of observations for the purpose of describing and explaining the phenomena that those observations reflect. It is used in a wide variety of natural and social sciences, including physics, biology, psychology, sociology and geology (Wikipedia Encyclopedia, 2005). According to Cohen (1980), quantitative research is defined as social research that employs empirical methods and empirical statements. He states that an empirical statement is defined as a descriptive statement about what “is” the case in the “real world” rather than what “ought” to be the case.

Creswell (1994) on the other hand, has given a very concise definition of quantitative research as a type of research that explains phenomena by collecting numerical data that are analyzed using mathematically based methods (in particular statistics). In studying this definition step by step, the first element to consider is explaining the phenomena. This is a key element of all research, be it quantitative or qualitative. When we set out to do some research, we are always looking to explain something. In education this could be questions, for example, `Does motivation affect work productivity in the public institutions in Gambia?', or `What factors influence the high rates of unemployed graduates in Ghana today?' The specificity of quantitative research is clearly spelt out in the next part of the definition. Numerical data is collected in quantitative research. This is closely connected to the final part of the definition: analysis using mathematically-based methods. In order to be able to use mathematically based methods our data have to be in numerical form. This is not the case for qualitative research. Qualitative data are not necessarily or usually numerical, and therefore cannot be analyzed using statistics. The last part of the definition refers to the use of mathematically based methods, in particular statistics, to analyze the data. The mathematical aspect of quantitative is often regarded as a very important part of quantitative research. However, the use of statistic to analyze data is the element that discourages a lot of people from doing quantitative research because the mathematics underlying the method seems complicated and frightening. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to phenomena. The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides the fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Quantitative data is any data that is in numerical form such as statistics, percentages, etc.

The primary reason for conducting quantitative research is to learn how many people in a population share particular characteristics or like a particular idea. It is specifically designed to produce accurate and reliable measurements that permit statistical analysis.

Quantitative research is appropriate for measuring both attitudes and behavior. If you want to know how many people use a product or service, then quantitative research is what you need. It is also used to size a market, to estimate business potential or volume, and to measure the size and importance of segments that...
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