Compare and contrast Qualitative and Quantitative research methods Monique Gowans
Charles Stuart University
Compare and Contrast Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods Qualitative research methods are complex meaningful analysis characterised by processes and meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured in terms of mathematical measurements (Lincoln, 2003; Sarantakos, 2005). Quantitative research however, relies and builds on mathematical procedures and methods, such as frequency, quality, amount and statistical procedure. This paper will compare and contrast both qualitative and quantitative research methods endeavouring to highlight differences and similarities between the two methods. Qualitative analysis is a detailed, focused and deep process that seeks to find meaning in social experience (Burton 2007/2010). Qualitative analysis adds emphasis to questions that stress ‘how’ or ‘what meaning’ is created and given to certain situations. This is done using ethnographic style, first person accounts, and biographical and autobiographical materials (Sarantakos, 2005). Qualitative research has an interpretative approach and is subjective. This style of research often sees the researcher spending many hours in direct personal contact with those being studied. This style of research is often referred to as an interpretative researcher; observing and recording amounts of information and understanding the meaning in regards to everyday life (Neuman, 2006). Quantitative research methods involve data that has numerical meaning, a measurement, such as height, weight, blood pressure or a particular score (Howell, 2008). The emphasis in this research method is on measurement and the understanding of the relationship between variables (Lincoln, 2003). Quantitative analysis therefore relies and builds on mathematical procedures, such as frequency, mode, median, amount and statistical procedure. The research is then usually reported in an impersonal, third person style (Sarantakos, 2005). Quantitative, statistical analysis is usually computed using electronic processes such as SPSS (Lincoln, 2003). Quantitative researchers normally base their research on large sample sizes which are to represent a greater population (Burton 2007/2010). This research is usually able to be replicated, this placing a greater amount of reliability on the given results. Evidence is abundant of the similarities and differences in qualitative and quantitative research methods. Both qualitative and quantitative methodologies are able to find empirical details or pass a judgement about social life. In both forms of analysis the researcher examines a body of information to identify multiple processes, cause and effect, properties and patterns in data and reach a conclusion based on the reasoning and complexity in the data (Neuman, 2006). However, qualitative analysis examines the patterns of similarities and difference across the data gathered and pulls conclusions from this; while quantitative analysis examines the differences among the data, with the main goal being to compare one variable with another. In both qualitative and quantitative research methods the researcher strives to avoid error and draw false conclusions. Quantitative research takes more of a deductive and objective approach (Burton 2007/2010), conclusions on the hypothesis are drawn from the results of scientifically controlled testing where as qualitative research involves the researcher making more of a subjective judgement about what the data means. Qualitative research differs from quantitative research in many diverse ways, for instance, quantitative research methodologies are specialised, standard sets of data analysis techniques that do not begin analysis on the data until it has been collected and condensed into numerical form. Quantitative analysis then looks for relationships and patterns in the data....
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Lincoln, Y., Denzin, N. Turning points in qualitative research: Tying knots in handkerchiefs. Walnut Creek, Calif. Altamira Press
Neuman, W. L. (2006). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. (Chapter 1). Boston: Pearson.
Sarantakos, S. (2005). Social Research (3rd ed.). Palgrave, Macmillan.
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