Difference between Quantitative and Qualitative research
What is the difference between quantitative and qualitative research?
In a nutshell, quantitative research generates numerical data or information that can be converted into numbers. Qualitative Research, on the other hand, generates non-numerical data.
Qualitative Research is primarily exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Qualitative Research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into the problem. Qualitative data collection methods vary using unstructured or semi-structured techniques. Some common methods include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews, and participation/observations. The sample size is typically small, and respondents are selected to fulfil a given quota.
Qualitative research is considered to be particularly suitable for exploratory research (e.g. during the pilot stage of a research project, for example). It is primarily used to discover and gain an in-depth understanding of individual experiences, thoughts, opinions, and trends, and to dig deeper into the problem at hand. The data collection toolkit of a qualitative researcher is quite versatile, ranging from completely unstructured to semi-structured techniques. The most commonly applied qualitative methods include individual interviews, group discussions (focus groups), and behavioural observations.