Quantitative research and qualitative research

The main difference between these two types of research is that while quantitative research is based on numbers and mathematical calculations, qualitative research is based on the subjective nature , and uses written or spoken narratives.

QualitativeQuantitative
objectiveUnderstand the phenomena through the collection of narrative data, studying the particularities and individual experiences.Understand the phenomena through the collection of numerical data, which will indicate preferences, behaviors and other actions of the individuals that belong to a certain group or society.
Type of dataCollects data and observations in a narrative form (diaries, open questionnaires, interviews) not coded using numerical systemsCollects data that can be coded numerically.
How it is usedUsed to understand the underlying motives, opinions and motivations. Provides information about the problem or helps develop ideas or hypotheses for quantitative investigations.

It is also used to discover trends of thought and opinions.

It is used to quantify the problem by generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into usable statistics.

The quantification of attitudes, opinions and behaviors is used to project the results of a larger sample population.

Focus typeSubjective, process-oriented.Objective, results-oriented.
SamplingSelected: a small sample is used, in order to gain an in-depth understanding.Random: a large representative sample is selected, in order to project results for a population.
MeasurementNot standardized, narrative (written word). The results are measured during the interview.Standardized, numeric (measurements, numbers). The results are measured last.
Collection methodFlexible, specified only in general terms prior to study.Structured, inflexible, specified in detail before study.
Strategies for data collectionSome common methods include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews, and observations.Online surveys, paper surveys, mobile surveys and kiosk investigations, face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, longitudinal studies, site interceptors, online surveys, and systematic observations.
Data analysisThe raw data is in words. The data is analyzed in the course of the investigation and involves the use of observations and comments to reach a conclusion.The raw data is numbers. The data is analyzed at the end of the study and involves statistics.
Interpretation of the dataThe conclusions are provisional and may change. They are reviewed continuously.

Inferences and generalizations are the responsibility of the reader.

Conclusions and generalizations are formulated at the end of the study, stated with a predetermined degree of certainty.

Interferences and generalizations are the responsibility of the researcher.

When to use qualitative or quantitative research?

Quantitative research has the advantage of scale. It allows large amounts of data, drawn from a large number of people, to be collected and analyzed.

Qualitative research, on the other hand, is done with small samples. From it, more subjective data is extracted, with open questions, which allows us to know more about the individual.

Qualitative research often opens up new options and ideas that would not be achieved with quantitative research due to its closed nature.

It may interest you Empirical, scientific, philosophical and theological knowledge .

Examples of quantitative and qualitative research

Qualitative research is used to study individual cases and find out how people think or feel about certain things.

They can also be used to explore a topic that is not yet known, as in the case of a company that needs to know how its image is in the market.

Quantitative surveys are used to study trends in large groups accurately, or to measure corporate data, as in the case of a census, or voting intention surveys.

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