Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Term Paper, 2002

7 Pages, Grade: 2 (B)



1. Introduction

2. What is Qualitative and Quantitative Research

3. Comparison of Quantitative and Qualitative Research 3.1. Forms and Methods of Data collection
3.2. Methods of Data Analysis
3.3. Strategies of Research Realization

4. When and Why to use Qualitative Research
4.1. The Humanitarian Basic Attitude
4.2. Certain Understandings & Findings
4.3. Political Interests

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

1. Introduction

As well in theory as both in the practicable reality the question arises repeatedly about the more convenient research method – the so-called method conflict between quantitative and qualitative research (Iberer 1).

To go into this discussion and finally draw a conclusion I first define and compare both research methods and as a next step question its purposes.

To get a better understanding for both research methods I limit my considerations to a clear distinction and do not go into the question of combining the two.

2. What is Qualitative and Quantitative Research

“Quantitative research methods were originally developed in natural sciences to study natural phenomena” (Myers, Overview of qualitative research).

It’s aim is to capture relevant facts […] and explain them causally with empirical – analytical methods (Iberer 1).

“Qualitative research methods [on the other hand] were developed in the social sciences to enable researchers to study social and cultural phenomena” (Myers, Overview of qualitative research). This method tries to clarify the basic issue of how subjects interpret and see the world, why and how they act and in which form changes take place (Iberer 1).

After this rough overview I cope with the issue in more detail by opposing one research method to the other.

3. Comparison of Quantitative and Qualitative Research

In the following comparison my aim is to impart the reader a basic understanding about quantitative and qualitative research. For this reason I clearly assign forms, methods and characteristics to either quantitative or qualitative research, knowing that a clear cut is not always possible. “[…] Methods are often combined. For instance, many case-studies combine observation with interviewing” (Silverman 9).

3.1. Forms and Methods of Data collection

In general quantitative research is based on data which can be described as numeric, statistic and analytic data. Examples are all types of statistics, surveys, timescales etc.

Usually the data consists of standard measurements, surveys, and any kind of source which provides rough, numeric information. The more information is available or the larger the samples are the better.

Qualitative research in contrast relies on data which is more detailed, variable in content, closely linked to everyday life and has a concrete meaning. Data with a concrete meaning are written texts and documents, photos, videos, interviews, questions, observations etc. Generally spoken the information is more detailed than just facts like numeric information (Witt, “Forschungsstrategien” 2). Meant is such data which “[…] consists of direct quotations from people about their experience, opinions, feelings […] knowledge […] - detailed description of program activities, participants’ behaviour, staff actions, […] the full range of human interactions […] - and document analysis yields excerpts, quotations, […] passages from records, correspondence, official reports, and open ended surveys.” (Patton 7)

The emphasis here is definitely on the quality of the data and not on the quantity.

Starting from the knowledge of two different categories of data it becomes clear that the analysis process is different, too.

3.2. Methods of Data Analysis

Numeric data and information is analysed quantitatively – in other words aggregated according to the applicable and common methods of evaluation.

“[…] in the treatment of texts and documents quantitative researchers try to analyse written material in a way which will produce reliable evidence about a large sample. Their favoured method is ´content analysis` in which the researchers establish set of categories and then count the number of instances that fall into that category.” (Silverman 9-10)

Thereby it is important to guarantee that the source has a minimum of quality, is standardized, reliable, comparable and representative. Given these attributes the results are expressive, can be used to be compared to other scientific researches and are representative for the main unit.

Qualitative data analysis is more difficult because the information is “neither systematic nor standardized” and is much more heterogeneous (Patton 11).

Useful qualitative data should demonstrate linguistic precision, comprehensiveness, specification, openness, expertise and seriousness to guarantee the required level of quality.

If these criteria are fulfilled the task of the data analysis is now to find parallels within heterogeneous sources of data. Some used methods in this context to simplify and support this process are among others the arrangement in groups or to put the information in contrast (Witt, “Forschungsstrategien” 3-4).

But not only the type or the analysis of data are typical characteristics of the two research methods. It is mainly the strategy of the research realisation which highlights the elementary disparity.


Excerpt out of 7 pages


Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Research
University of St. Gallen  (Research Methods)
2 (B)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
427 KB
Qualitative Research, Quantitative Research, Data Analysis, Data Collection, Data, Research, Form, Method
Quote paper
Andreas Ernst (Author), 2002, Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Research, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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