Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

There are two approaches to collecting and analyzing data: qualitative research and quantitative research. 


Qualitative Research is particularly suitable for exploratory type of research which is generally used to uncover and gather in-depth insights of underlying reasons, individual opinions, experiences, thoughts, and trends, and to move deeper into the problem at hand.

Unlike quantitative research which usually deals with numbers and graphs requiring statistical measurements, qualitative research is expressed in words and helps to explore the reasons behind the actions of individuals, societies, and cultures or to gain deep understanding of a topic about which very little is known. This kind of research are often done with few respondents and supposed to provide insights of underlying reasons of a problem in order to generate hypothesis for subsequent quantitative research.

A researcher generally adopts qualitative approach if he/she wants to understand something (concepts, thoughts, experiences etc.). In qualitative research, data collection is generally done in natural environments using unstructured or semi-structured techniques such as:

Interviews: Collecting information verbally from individuals through personal interviews with unstructured open ended questions

Literature Reviews: Survey of related published works on a topic.

Focus groups: Gathering opinions/views on a particular topic through group discussions.

Ethnography (Participant observation): Observing human interactions, behavior, and culture closely by participating in a community or social settings for an extended period of time.

Inductive reasoning approach is usually applied in qualitative research as it moves from specific observations to broader generalizations. It begins with a research question and collection of empirical data which are then used to formulate hypothesis and theory. This approach is generally concerned with the generalization of new theory emerging from the data.  One specific inductive approach that is frequently used in research literature is Grounded theory developed by two sociologists, Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss.  Grounded theory provides systematic guidelines for gathering, synthesizing, analyzing, and conceptualizing qualitative data for the purpose of theory construction.

As compared to quantitative data, qualitative data comprising text, images or videos instead of numbers are more difficult to analyze. The analysis is generally done through content analysis by understanding the meaning and patterns of word occurrence.

Quantitative research is all about numbers and graphs that are generated with the intention to transform them into usable statistics that ultimately helps to uncover facts and patterns. It is used to quantify opinions, attitudes, behaviors, and other defined variables to support or refute theories and assumptions about a specific phenomenon.

Quantitative research generally involves large samples which are representative of a population and thus aims to generalize the findings of the research at least to that population. However, the findings can also be generalized to other similar populations.

Quantitative approach is usually adopted if a researcher wants to confirm or test something (a theory or hypothesis). Unlike qualitative research, quantitative data collection methods are much more structured and controlled which include the following techniques:

Surveys: Collecting information from the samples through various forms of questionnaires and surveys (paper, online and mobile survey) with closed or multiple choice questions.

Interviews: Structured face to face or telephonic interviews.

Experiments: Creating situations in which variables can be controlled and manipulated to establish cause-and-effect relationships.

Observations: Systematic behavioral observations of subjects/samples based on explicit coding and categorization schemes.

Deductive reasoning characterizes quantitative approach, which sets to test the hypothesis. This approach usually starts with an existing theory-driven hypothesis, which further guides data collection and analysis in order to test the hypothesis and draw conclusions. It moves from general to specific in such a way that conclusions are drawn on the basis of available facts. Unlike inductive approach which concerned with the generation of new theory, deductive reasoning is primarily aimed at testing an existing theory.

As quantitative data is based on numbers, statistical analysis tools such as Excel, SPSS or R are used to calculate and discover similar patterns or commonalities in the data. The results are usually reported in the form of graphs and tables.


1.     Which research approach is least concerned about generalization of its findings?
A.     Qualitative approach
B.     Quantitative approach
C.     Mixed approach
D.     None of the above

2.   Qualitative research is often exploratory in nature, having  all the following characteristics except:
A.     Inductive reasoning generally is used in this approach
B.     It typically relies on non-numeric data such as words and images
C.     It is used to generate hypotheses and develop theory about various phenomena
D.     It is generally used when a great deal is already known about the topic of interest

3.   Which of the following methods is based on testing of hypotheses generated from existing theories?
A.     Deductive method
B.     Inductive method
C.     Qualitative method
D.     Directive method

4.   The research which is ‘unstructured, qualitative, highly flexible’ is called as __
      A.    Exploratory
      B.    Descriptive    
      C.    Causal
      D.    None of the above

5.    Which of the following data collection methods is used in qualitative research?
A.    Closed ended questionnaires
B.    Structured interview schedule
C.    Unstructured interview schedule
D.   Observational checklist

6.    Which of the following reasoning characterizes qualitative research?
A.    Deductive
B.    Supportive
C.     Directive
D.    Inductive

7.   Which of the following approaches will be suitable in exploring the area about which very little is known?
A.    Deductive
B.     Supportive
C.     Directive
D.    Inductive

8.   Which of the following is not an appropriate source of data for qualitative study?
A.     Biographies
B.     Experiments
C.     Participant observations
D.     Historical records

9.    Which of the following variable cannot be expressed in quantitative terms?
A.    Socio-economic status
B.     Numerical Aptitude
C.     Professional attitude
D.    Marital status

10.  In the process of reasoning when we start with a general statement, and conclude to a specific statement, it is called __.
A.    Deductive reasoning
B.    Inductive Reasoning
C.    Transcendental Reasoning
D.    Abnormal Reasoning

Post a Comment