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Qualitative vs Quantitative Studies

In conducting the majority of research studies, the researcher adopts both qualitative and quantitative techniques. These two studies can help to fully exhaust the research in terms of behavior, theories, ideas, and so on. Understanding what each of these studies entails helps in choosing the right approach and method to use.

Differences between qualitative and quantitative studies

Qualitative studies Quantitative studies
Used to explore concepts hence formulate hypothesis about a theory Aim at testing theories and hypotheses
Mainly expressed in words Expressed numerically, graphically or in tabular form
Gather in-depth information from small samples Require large number of respondents
Less generalizable More generalizable
Questions are open-ended Closed or multiple choice questions are used

Data collection methods

Since the data collected in these two studies is different, so are the methods used to gather it.

  1. Qualitative studies
  2. In qualitative studies, the aim is to understand concepts, thoughts and experiences which differ from one respondent to the other. Unstructured and semi-structured methods come in handy. These include; focus groups, individual interviews, observations, documents, and case studies.

  3. Quantitative studies
  4. As for the quantitative studies, the researcher seeks to test theories or assumptions, hence coming up with generalizable facts. Therefore, the methods used here should provide quantifiable data. Methods used are such as experiments, surveys and controlled observations.

Data analysis in qualitative and quantitative studies

Remember that data collected using qualitative studies is in word form, which means the same will happen when it is analyzed. The researcher analyzes the information using qualitative content analysis, thematic analysis and discourse analysis. Content analysis involves understanding the context, respondents’ stand and words used. In thematic analysis, the researcher closely examines the data to establish any themes and patterns presents. Discourse analysis entails linking communication to social contexts. Quantitative studies, on the other hand, are rich in figures, graphs, tables and other quantifiable statistical data. Statistical tools such as SPSS, R, and Excel are used to analyze such data. The researcher can obtain average scores, frequency, correlation, and reliability and validity results, among others.

Merits Demerits
Researcher has a closer view of the environment, hence can record anything missed in the answers Used for only small samples since the process can be time-consuming
Descriptive and narrative style used by the researcher is useful in unearthing new insights Validity and reliability is highly dependent on the researcher’s skills and knowledge
Can help to identify possible relationships, causes and effects Difficult to make generalizations about situations
Allow for ambiguities and contradictions, a typical social expectation Analysis of data from qualitative studies is difficult

Strengths and limitations of qualitative studies


  1. Data can be analyzed using statistical methods
  2. Easy to conduct validity and reliability tests
  3. Analysis of data even if it is in large volumes made possible by statistical analysis software
  4. Facilitates testing of hypothesis


  1. Researcher expertise greatly affects the results
  2. Occurs in a limited context, thus limiting the respondents
  3. Larger samples are required for higher accuracy

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