Which Is Better Qualitative or Quantitative Research?

As a researcher, I was able to conduct studies using qualitative and quantitative research designs. But mostly, I utilize the quantitative method depending on the needs of the my clients. So let me begin my discussion with the quantitative approach to research.

In a quantitative study design, I generate numerical data to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors and other variables using a structured survey questionnaire that could either be standardized or self-made. I use various forms of surveys in my data collection such as online surveys and paper surveys. I used deductive process in testing hypothesis.Statistical tests are used for analysis.

In short, the quantitative study method is:

  • including surveys, structured interviews & observations, and reviews of records or documents for numeric information
  • primarily deductive process used to test pre-specified concepts, constructs, and hypotheses that make up a theory
  • more objective: provides observed effects of a program on a problem or condition
  • number-based
  • less in-depth but more breadth of information across a large number of cases
  • fixed response options
  • statistical tests are used for analysis
  • can be valid and reliable: largely depending on the measurement device or instrument used
  • much time is allotted on the planning phase and less on the analysis phase
  • more generalizable

Qualitative study design on the other hand, is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions and motivations which provide insights to the problem. I also use it to uncover trends in thoughts and opinions and to dig deeper into the problem. The method of data collection includes focus group discussions (FGD), individual interviews using key informant interview (KII) protocol and also participation or observations. The partipatory observation is about immersing with the target participants of the study. It is focused on understanding a phenomenon from a closer perspective with a deep comprehensive strategy or approach which require much time and resources. Mostly, I use only a small number of participants in this study.

Here, qualitative study method is:

  • including focus groups, in-depth interviews, and reviews of documents for types of themes;
  • primarily inductive process used to formulate theory or hypotheses;
  • more subjective: describes a problem or condition from the point of view of those experiencing it;
  • text-based;
  • more in-depth information on a few cases;
  • unstructured or semi-structured response options;
  • no statistical tests;
  • can be valid and reliable: largely depends on skill and rigor of the researcher;
  • time consumed on the planning is smaller but a large amount of time used during the analysis phase; and
  • less generalizable

Thus, these two general approaches of research are both used to gather data or information and allow a different perspective of a situation or phenomena.

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