Comapre and Contrast Qualitative and Quantitative Appraoches to Research

Topics: Qualitative research, Research, Scientific method Pages: 15 (4860 words) Published: June 19, 2009
Compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative approaches to research

This essay will compare and contrast the 3 articles below in relation to qualitative and quantitative approaches to research focusing on the design and methods used in each study including sampling, data collection and data analysis. The first chosen article by Winkens et al. (2006) uses a qualitative method to look at the manifestations of mental slowness in the stroke population. Toulotte, Thevenon, Watelain and Fabre (2006) uses a case comparison quantitative study to identify healthy elderly fallers and non-fallers by gait analysis under dual task conditions and the study by Girou, Loyeau, Legrand, Oppein and Brun-Buisson (2002) uses a randomised clinical trail (RCT) to find the efficacy of hand rubbing with alcohol based solutions versus standard hand washing with antiseptic soap.

The purpose of research studies is to explore the information within the given environment and consider their viability and effectiveness and whether these can add value for learners to the overall experience (Sarantakos 1993). The term ‘Research’ can consist of different meanings, research enquires can be defined as; a methodical, formal and precise process employed to gain solutions to problems and to discover and interpret new facts and relationships. (Waltz and Bausell 1981, p.1). The goals of research are to formulate questions and aim to find the answers to those questions. The immediate goals of research are categorised as exploration, description, prediction, explanation and action, where they provide a strategy for figuring out which questions to ask and which answers to seek (Sarantakos 1993). Researchers can decide the type of research they want to carryout according to which methods would suit their research.

Qualitative research is a systematic method of inquiry which follows a scientific in depth method of problem solving deviating in certain directions (Thomas and Nelson 2001). With qualitative research a hypothesis is often not given at the beginning of research studies and develops as the data unfolds. The researcher is the primary data collector and analyser. Data can be collected via interviews, observations and researcher-designed instruments (Thomas et al. 2001). The goal of qualitative research is the development of concepts which helps us to understand social phenomena in natural (rather than experimental) settings, giving due emphasis to the meanings, experiences, and views of all the participants (Pope and Mays 1995). The researcher is able to gain an insight into another person’s views, opinions, feelings and beliefs all within natural settings (Hicks 1999).

A quantitative research method was originally developed in the natural sciences to study natural phenomena (Bryman 1988). This can be visualized as it uses numerical forms of representation which then can be presented in forms of graphs and tables (Denscombe 2003). Quantitative research is associated with many different approaches to data collection; the main fundamental characteristics are as follows; the approach is concerned with obtaining numerical information which can be analysed using statistics, where it does not need to go beyond the use of what is stated as ‘Descriptive’ (Silverman 2000, p 26).

The form that evidence should take has led to a lively debate about possible methodological approaches. Cormack (2000) suggested that the methodology section in research should clearly state the research approach to be used, to ask whether the method is appropriate to the research problem and whether the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen approach are stated. According to Hardey and Mulhall (1994), the methodology section should include an overall description of the research design and details of the proposed methodology. It is important to give a thorough description of how the research took place and to include all the steps taken in order to allow other readers to...
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