We explain what qualitative research is and what quantitative research is, its differences and main characteristics.
Qualitative and Quantitative Research
An investigation is an exploration of the information available on a subject , in order to obtain some type of conclusions once the information is obtained and analyzed. But there are various types of research . By classifying them according to their work methodology , there are two main ways: qualitative research and quantitative research.
A quantitative investigation is one that uses numerical quantities to express its work, by means of experimental or statistical techniques, whose results are then mathematically representable. Its name comes from quantity or quantification , that is, numbering.
They are the type of research focused on the cause and effect of things , as in most natural sciences . They show descriptive results that can then be generalized.
A qualitative research is one that collects the existing discourses around the subject and then performs a rigorous interpretation. It does not require numerical, statistical or mathematical procedures, but it obtains descriptive data through a possible diversity of methods.
It is the research method used in the social sciences . It does not raise a priori hypothesis , but uses induction to get answers to its own questions asked on the fly. Its name comes from quality , that is, from the attributes of something.
Differences between qualitative and quantitative
The main differences between these two ways of investigating have to do with the approach. Although both obtain descriptive results, the quantitative uses experimental methods in which chance intervenes to a large extent, as a guarantee of objectivity of the results. In addition, to represent them requires formal numbers and languages .
In contrast, the qualitative methods are analytical, inductive . Its objective is to obtain conclusions from the perspective with which the problem is addressed. Their results are expressed through an interpretive verbal discourse , an explanation that takes into account the context.
In that sense, a qualitative investigation is multimethodic and not part of a hypothesis to be tested, but of the approach of a problem. It could be said that the quantitative values the objectivity (the object), while the qualitative values the subjectivity (the subject).
Other differences are:
- In its methods of obtaining information , the quantitative uses statistics, mathematical descriptions and formulas; The qualitative one uses stories, narrations , explanations and questionnaires.
- The quantitative uses large random samples, while the quantitative selected and representative. Their sampling methods also differ: the first uses standardized and numerical methods, the second flexible and narrative.
- The conclusions obtained in a quantitative investigation are definitive, formal and appear at the end of the study; in a qualitative one they are provisional, changeable, and are being reviewed continuously throughout the work.
- With regard to the type of science in which they are used , quantitative ones are commonly used for exact sciences, while qualitative ones are commonly used for social sciences and humanities.
Types of qualitative and quantitative research
There are various types of research of each type, such as:
Quantitative Research :
- Descriptive . Often equivalent to the initial stage of scientific research , in which the results obtained from the direct observation of reality are ordered , based on a hypothesis.
- Analytical . It establishes comparisons between the numerical data ( variables , statistics, etc.) of the different groups studied, as they occurred during the sampling stages.
- Experimental . Those that depend on the repetition and verification of natural events in a controlled environment, in order to obtain generalizable conclusions.
Qualitative Research :
- Ethnographical . Based on the participant observation, that is, on a kind of objective testimony (regardless of contradiction), try to obtain conclusions regarding the different human groups of interest. It is usually used in human sciences such as anthropology .
- Participatory research . Try to connect a series of specific events with the participation that various human groups have in their field, to find the objective or subjective link between them.
- Action research . It goes one step ahead of the description , proposing ways to act or participate in the problem studied and often solve it, considering the researcher as an actor and not a spectator.
Example of quantitative research
A common example of quantitative research is a drug test . A study population is taken, different concentrations of the drug are given in determined, controlled and regulated doses, in order to objectively measure the result, and thus determine a margin of product effectiveness.
This result has nothing to do with the perspectives of the subjects , or with what they think, or with who they are, but with the response obtained after the administration of the drug. Then, the results will be expressed in percentages (%) and will be referred to based on the amount of tests done in a randomly chosen population.
Example of qualitative research
A common example of qualitative research, on the other hand, is a political opinion poll . While it also employs a random population (in the sense that it interviews people on the street), it does choose what questions to ask based on the issues they want to address.
These questions will be answered subjectively by each interviewee, accumulating a database of answers that must then be interpreted by the researcher , who can obtain certain conclusions regarding the voting intentions of the population by extrapolating the sample at all.
The results also allow you to conclude certain trends, whether or not they are then deprived at the time of voting. The result will be partial, subjective, and will influence its own compliance, since the publication of the survey can orient the vote of the total electoral population in some way.