Quantitative methods, like all social research methods, have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. This essay will attempt to critically assess those characteristics and draw a comparison between quantitative methods and qualitative methods. The quantitative versus qualitative debate is an interesting topic in Sociological studies. In Miles and Huberman's 1994 book Qualitative Data Analysis, quantitative researcher Fred Kerlinger is quoted as saying, "There's no such thing as qualitative data. Everything is either 1 or 0". To this another researcher, Donald Campbell, asserts, "All research ultimately has a qualitative grounding". This essay will look at both sides of the argument and provide a balanced conclusion.
Social research methods in general can be divided into two main branches or schools, quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research involves measuring quantities of things, usually numerical quantities, while qualitative research involves the analysis of data such as words(e.g. an interview), pictures or objects. These different research methods are used by sociologists to gather data. Both methods have their limitations and differences, which run deeper than the obvious distinction between quality and quantity. Quantitative research is depicted as the traditional scientific approach to research, driven by the positivist tradition which places considerable value on rationality, objectivity, prediction and control. Advocates of the quantitative approach could therefore be described as objective scientists. Qualitative research differs in that it emphasizes the importance of looking at variables in the natural setting in which they are found. Interaction between variables are important and the interviewer is an integral part of the investigation. There are many researchers who favour one method over the other, based on methodology or their particular discipline or research... [continues]
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