Scientific research methods fall into two broad categories: quantitative and qualitative. While the former focus on the mathematical analysis of observable phenomena, qualitative research is language-based and seeks a deeper understanding of its objects of study.
In this article we will analyze the 9 main differences between quantitative and qualitative research.
Differences between qualitative and quantitative research
The differences between qualitative and quantitative research manifest themselves in many different ways, from the objectives and applications of studies to their psychometric properties. Each of them has, in turn, advantages and disadvantages that make it more suitable in certain circumstances.
Although many people despise the usefulness of qualitative methods, as we will see, they allow us to analyze phenomena other than those which constitute the quantitative center of interest, as well as to approach the same facts from a more perspective. deep.
1. Purpose of the study
The object of study of quantitative research is static data from which probabilistic conclusions are drawn. Qualitative methods mainly focus on processes, That is, in the dynamic aspects, and focus on the subjective experience of the phenomena from the point of view of the subjects of analysis.
2. Objectives and applications
The main objective of qualitative research is the initial exploration, description and understanding of a phenomenon. In this sense, we can say that qualitative methods focus on the generation of hypotheses around certain facts; conclusions can sometimes be drawn from these induction studies.
On the contrary, quantitative methods are usually used at a more advanced stage of the scientific process: hypothesis testing, i.e. confirmation or refutation. Thus, they are mainly deductive in nature and in many cases are associated with the analysis of theory and the recommendation of courses of action around specific problems.
3. Analysis point of view
Since qualitative research focuses on exploring phenomena from the point of view of certain individuals, it is inevitably subjective, although this does not necessarily imply a lack of methodological rigor. Quantitative methods, on the other hand, seek to analyze the effects that can be measured objectively.
However, and contrary to what is often forbidden, quantitative methods are not entirely objective: They depend remarkably on the action of researchers, who choose the variables that will be the subject of the study, carry out the analyzes and interpret the results. Therefore, they are clearly subject to human error.
4. Data types
Quantitative research data is digital; this is why a certain solidity and capacity of replication are presumed to them which will allow them to make inferences beyond their own data. Qualitative research prioritizes the depth and richness of information about a particular fact, and inferences are limited.
Focused on numerical aspects, quantitative methods allow the specific and controlled measurement of many specific aspects of reality. In addition, it makes it possible perform statistical analyzes using the dataThis in turn will encourage comparison of different sets of information and generalization of the results.
In contrast, qualitative research primarily uses linguistic data, especially narrative recordings. The methods of analysis have a much more naturalistic character and greater importance is given to the context and the relationships between the elements that make up the phenomenon of study, and not just to these separately.
6. Techniques used
Researchers using qualitative methodology use methods such as in-depth interviews, participant observations or debates and group conversations. These techniques have a lower level of structuring than the quantitative approach, which includes methods such as questionnaires and systematic observation records.
7. Level of analysis
While quantitative research analyzes specific aspects of the objects of study, qualitative research is more holistic; this means that he tries to understand the structure of facts and the dynamics between the elements that make them up in a holistic rather than particularistic way.
8. Degree of generalization
In theory, quantitative methods use representative samples of a larger population in order to draw conclusions and generalize at that higher level; also there is techniques that measure and reduce the probability of error. The difficulty of generalizing the results is the most characteristic flaw of qualitative research.
9. Validity and reliability
The reliability and reliability of quantitative research depend primarily on the techniques and instruments used to measure and process the data. In the case of qualitative methodology, these properties are more closely related to the rigor and ability of the researchers, and may be more subjective.