Qualitative Research or Quantitative Research - Which is better and why?

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Both qualitative and quantitative research methods have their specific qualities which make them useful to a researcher, however in the course of this short essay I will explain why, for several reasons, qualitative research is better. As both methods operate within different assumptions, it is important to stem criticism for each method's respective theoretical base in order to adequately judge them. In the course of this essay I will highlight each method's theoretical assumptions and then I will assess each method by pointing out their positive and negative factors.

The underlying assumption behind qualitative research is that the entire subject needs to be examined in order to understand the phenomenon. Quantitative research however, places importance in collecting and analyzing data from parts of a trend and in so doing, can miss important aspects which could lead to a complete understanding of the whole phenomenon.

'There's no such thing as qualitative data. Everything is either 1 or 0'(Fred Kerlinger: 1999)Unlike quantitative research, there is no overarching framework for how qualitative research should be conducted; rather each type of qualitative research is guided by the particular philosophical stances that are taken in relation by the research to each phenomenon (Miles & Huberman: 1994, p. 40) This enables qualitative research to be more involved with the subject at hand whereas quantitative research has the same rules which it applies to every subject matter, thus making it easier to overlook important evidence.

As the researcher using qualitative methods becomes entirely immersed in the data collection phase of the project, he himself actually becoming the data collection tool as opposed to the questionnaires and equipment used by quantitative researchers, it allows him to gain a better understanding of the subject matter as a whole and observe the subject in its own environment:Human behaviour is significantly influenced by the setting in which it occurs; thus one must study that behaviour in situations. The physical setting ¬e.g., schedules, space, pay, and rewards ¬and the internalized notions of norms, traditions, roles, and values are crucial contextual variables. Research must be conducted in the setting where all the contextual variables are operating. (Marshall & Rossman: 1980)Quantitative research disregards these valuable contextual variables as most of the work is done in a laboratory with the researcher using the principles of impartiality and an objective portrayal of the subject.

In conclusion, qualitative research is better than quantitative research because it places emphasis upon the subject itself by studying it in an in-depth manner and becoming involved with it on a personal level. Quantitative research keeps a level of impartiality with the subject matter thus making it neglect important contextual factors crucial to the research itself.

1.Using British Election Study data for example, why is it problematic to do quantitative research on ethnic minorities?It is problematic to do quantitative research on ethnic minorities because the standard deviation is so small, thus the observations are spread out over a very small sample which would not accurately represent the entire ethnic group. There is such a small valid percent that subjects would need to be targeted as they are unlikely to be caught during random sampling.

2.Providing either hypothetical and/or published examples, how accurate is it to label content analysis as a quantitative method?It is quite accurate to label content analysis as a quantitative method for several reasons. The comparisons of their theoretical patterns are numerous and therefore it has more in common with quantitative than qualitative methods. In the course of this short essay I will explain why it is accurate to label content analysis as a quantitative method by using an example of research employing content analysis and pointing out the...
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