Udemy logo

qualitative and quantitative researchAre you coming to the right conclusions?  These days, more and more non-researchers are populating many corporations’ department of research. If this applies, you might find yourself having to explain the differences of quantitative versus qualitative more often since most individuals think these are interchangeable. Basically, one way of classifying market research is through using qualitative and quantitative research methods. Think of qualitative data as information that is unstructured such as the kind that focuses on observations and focus group comments. On the flip side of the coin, quantitative data is often numerical and always structured. Always. This data can be analyzed with statistical methods or plugged into spread sheets. As a matter of fact, here is a course entitled Market Research Fast Track that helps you find and examine the right market to help you understand exactly what your customers want.

Qualitative Research Methods

By its definition, qualitative research is exploratory in nature and is used when you are unsure of what an outcome would be. It is also used to develop an approach to the problem and to define the problem. It is also used for going deeper into the issues you are interested in and explore related nuances to the problems you are focusing on. Common methods of data collection used in this type of research are ethnographic participation or observation, bulletin boards, uninterrupted observation, in-depth interviews, dyads, triads and focus groups. Here is a course entitled Breakthrough Research Discoveries and Laws of Human Nature that you can use to empower yourself with human nature knowledge based on proven facts and breakthroughs of science.

Qualitative research methods involve research done in natural settings. This is done since researchers want to learn about the behavior of human beings. One example is when a researcher wants to observe toddlers at play. They will then observe toddlers playing in a natural setting by setting up toys that are age appropriate and will watch how the toddlers play. They could also add other toddlers into the group to observe toddlers interactions.

Qualitative research gathers non-numerical types of information such as unstructured observations, unstructured interviews, open-ended questionnaires and diary accounts. Typically, data of this type is descriptive and is harder to analyse than data that is quantitative. When you are doing studies that are individual, then qualitative research is useful. It comes in handy when you need to find out methods of the way people feel or think, such as in doing a case study. By the way you might want to check out this article entitled Market Research Methods, which is the process of gathering information about expectations, trends, the competition and the market for you to gain insight before you upgrade an existing product or launch a brand new product.

Interest in qualitative data resulted from psychologists such as Carl Rogers feeling dissatisfied with the scientific study that behaviourists like Skinner did. Since people are the object of study in psychology, traditionally the approach to science is not viewed as the right way of doing research. This is because it fails to capture the essence of what it is to be human and the totality of the human experience. There are some arguments that when focusing on isolated behavior pieces, as is the case in quantitative data studies, it is somewhat superficial and does not take into consideration the context socially within which the behavior occurs. Given that research in psychology is something that occurs in a context that is social, the researcher’s objectivity, central to its methods of tradition are seen as false, essentially, within psychology.

Qualitative data analysis is not easy to do as this requires accurate descriptions of the responses of the participant, and you will need to do such things as sort responses to open interviews and questions into broader themes. Quotations from interviews and diaries might be utilized for illustrating analysis points. It is necessary to have expert knowledge in an area in order to interpret data that is qualitative. Extra caution needs to be taken when you do, especially when it involves looking for mental illness symptoms, for example.

Examples of qualitative methods of data collection would be group and unstructured interviews which generate data that is qualitative through the use of open questioning. This lets respondents talk deeply, with their own words. At least, when this happens, this helps researchers get a true sense of the way the person understands the situation. On the other hand, it can be time consuming to analyze the qualitative data and to conduct an interview that is unstructured.

Naturally, researchers have their own values and attitudes which they bring to each study, being people who study people. Thus, it is more honest that the values and attitudes a researcher has been acknowledged beforehand and forms part of the research context.

Unlike research that is quantitative, qualitative research is usually exploratory and unstructured in nature. In cases like this, researchers are not interested in finding out objective conclusions statistically or using hypotheses for testing. Rather, researchers want to gain insight about specific topics. Common techniques of qualitative research includes observation, interviews and focus groups. Since the data is unstructured, imagine a focus group meeting and a bunch of handwritten notes they hand it—it can be tricky presenting the findings and drawing conclusions. In the case of focus groups and interviews, moderators might simply take the needed time to write up the meeting’s key points that they heard and show these notes to parties who are interested. For instance, when there is a focus group about burritos, you might see it summarized as ‘common concerns were tough beans, greasiness, too much chilli or too much mess to eat.’

Well the time will come when you need to get your findings coded in an attempt to form the unstructured data into something that can be summarized with charts or tables. If twenty five interviews are conducted by a research and each person was asked similar questions, responses might be coded or summarized into brief descriptions. For example, coded responses could be, ‘when do you wear sunglasses?’ and the answers can be something like, ‘1-never 2-almost never 3-on sunny days only 4-everyday’ with these coded responses summarizing the conversation. The data has then be converted from data that was purely qualitative into data that is quantitative and can be plotted in graphs and charts. Here is a course you might be interested in entitled How to Write an Effective Research Paper that helps you learn how to write research papers using easy steps.

Quantitative Research

In its purpose, quantitative research is conclusive as it attempts to quantify the problem and comprehend its prevalence by looking at a larger population’s projectable results. In doing quantitative research, you collect data through click streams, purchase transactions, points of purchase, audit and through surveys on paper phone or online.

Quantitative research compares the relationships between one item over the other. Many subjects can be used for studies. For instance, a lot of people in a study could be used numbering in the hundreds or thousands. These descriptive studies and are also considered to be experiments. A natural setting is used for descriptive studies, which means that the researcher does not change the conditions or the behavior in any way. In a study that is environmental, researchers do change the environment.

Quantitative research does data gathering in a form that is numerical which can be measured in measurement unites, be put into categories or be put in numerical form. This data type can be used to construct raw data tables or to make graphs.

Typically, experiments yield this type of data as they are concerned with things being measured. On the other hand, other methods of research such as questionnaires and observations can produce both qualitative and quantitative information. Methods of experiments limit the ways in which a participant in research can express and react to the right behavior socially. Therefore, findings are likely to be bound by context and just a reflection of the assumptions which the researchers bring to the investigations.

Closed questions and a rating scale on a questionnaire, for example would generate data that is quantitative as these produce either data that can be put into categories or numerical data, such as no or yes answers. Whereas questions that are open ended would generated information that was qualitative as they are a response which is descriptive.

Basically, this research aims to measure the topic at hand objectively, using statistics and math. If you are doing research of this type, you will most likely be analyzing raw data with the help of a software program for spread sheets like SPSS or Microsoft Excel. To get this analysis type facilitated, your data will need to be collected in a format which is structured. Quantitative methods are often conducted using methods of market research like experiments and surveys, which are best at structured data collection.

Keep in mind that primary original research may not be needed for conducting quantitative studies. There are many other data sources of secondary research that have data structured perfectly for quantitative analysis, such as gapminder.

For example if you want to find out what the favorite Disney character of people are randomly, you can send out surveys that can be numerically analysed, such as in the example below. The results are summarized in a statistical, objective fashion:

Question: Which Disney Character is Your Favorite?

Answer Graph %
Minnie Mouse //// 4.0%
Pluto //////// 10.5%
Goofy /////////////////// 22.8%
Donald Duck /////////////////////////////// 35.3%
Mickey Mouse ///////////////////////// 27.5%

 When to Use Which

If you have the budget, ideally researchers should use both quantitative and qualitative research, since these usually complement each other and provide varied perspectives. If you want to go through with these methods can only afford to do one method, be sure to select the best approach that fits the objectives of the research. Being aware of the caveats of each helps; it is never a good idea to assume that it would be a substitute for quantitative research for you to do more focus groups or that long surveys will give you all the qualitative research method in-depth information you need.

Hope this helps! Here is a course you might be interested in entitled A+ Research Paper in Biology which gives you the information you need to compose an exceptional paper in Biology from start to finish.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

Market Research students also learn

Empower your team. Lead the industry.

Get a subscription to a library of online courses and digital learning tools for your organization with Udemy Business.

Request a demo