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Differences between Quantitative and Qualitative Research

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Quantitative research – is a formal, objective, systematic research which bases on precise figures

While conducting such kind of research, an investigator collects and analyzes data and statistics. The main purposes of applying quantitative method of research are: description of variables; examination of relationship among variables; determination of cause-and-effect interactions between variables (Burns & Grove,2005).Qualitative research – in contrast to quantitative, is a kind of research which mainly concentrates on observations, questionnaires, reports and other ways of subjective investigations. The key features of qualitative research are: focus on meanings, perspectives and understandings; emphasis on process; inductive analysis, and grounded theory (Woods, 2006).

The basic differences between quantitative and qualitative research lie in methods and instruments they apply, types of data they collect and generate, in their main perspectives. The instruments used in quantitative research are strict about extracting information and dividing it into categories. Quantitative methods are highly structured and include various surveys, questionnaires, and structured observations. In qualitative research, more flexible and frequentative instruments are applied. Qualitative methods, unlike quantitative ones, are semi-structured. To these methods belong interview, focus group, questionnaire, and participant observation. Quantitative research, in contrast to qualitative, operates with numerical data. Qualitative research, as a rule, uses textual data (Mack, Woodsong, et al., 2005).

The most important feature which differentiates one research from another is flexibility

Usually, the procedure of quantitative research is prescribed in advance. Therefore, it excludes any unforeseen changes during the process of research. For instance, the questions in quantitative research are well thought-out, concrete, and closed. Moreover, the order of questions is also fixed. In such a way, quantitative research, due to its inflexibility, makes meaningful contribution to common investigation. The stages of qualitative research may be changed during the research procedure. The questions in qualitative research are mostly open. It enables the participants to give more reasonable answers and sometimes, even to go into detail. Therefore, spontaneity became a distinctive feature of qualitative research, which made the process of research less formal (Mack, Woodsong, et al., 2005).

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