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Merits And Demerits Of Qualitative And Quantitative Methods Psychology Essay

Research methods are "strategy(s) for gathering data" (Harding, 1986) and tend to be dichotomized into being either quantitative or qualitative. It has been argued that technique has been gendered (Oakley, 1998), with quantitative methods traditionally being associated with words such as positivism, medical, objectivity, information and masculinity. In contrast, qualitative methods have generally been associated with interpretive, non-scientific, subjectivity and femininity.

Quantitative Research Techniques and Procedures

Qualitative evaluation is an activity that is usually the precursor to quantitative, statistical work; an activity to help make the tacit underpinnings of a concern explicit; a process you may use to deepen your knowledge of complex interpersonal and individuals factors that can't be understood with statistics; a process that helps you figure out what things to count and what to assess (Kerlin, 1999, p. 1).

A common way of conducting quantitative research is using a survey. Surveys usually involve filling in a questionnaire. You will discover, of course, a variety of sorts of quantitative research aside from the study. Observational research involves watching or observing various conducts and patterns. More complicated forms of quantitative research are experimental research or numerical modelling research (Peter J. P. & Donnelly J. H, 2000).

In the social sciences, quantitative research identifies the systematic empirical analysis of quantitative properties and phenomena and their romantic relationships. The aim of quantitative research is to develop and employ numerical models, ideas and/or hypotheses regarding phenomena. The process of dimension is central to quantitative research because it provides the important connection between empirical observation and mathematical appearance of quantitative human relationships.

Quantitative research is employed widely in public sciences such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and political science. Research in numerical sciences such as physics is also 'quantitative' by explanation, though this use of the term differs in framework. In the interpersonal sciences, the word relates to empirical methods, while it began with both philosophical positivism and the history of information, which distinction qualitative research methods.

Qualitative methods produce information only on this cases analyzed, and any longer general conclusions are only hypotheses. Quantitative methods may be used to validate, which of such hypotheses are true.

Qualitative Research Techniques and Procedures

Qualitative research is a universal term for investigative methodologies referred to as ethnographic, naturalistic, anthropological, field, or participant observer research. It emphasizes the importance of looking at factors in the natural setting up in which they are located. Interaction between factors is important. Complete data is gathered through open ended questions offering direct quotations. The interviewer can be an integral part of the analysis (Jacob, 1988). This differs from quantitative research which attempts to assemble data by objective solutions to provide information about relations, evaluations, and predictions and endeavors to eliminate the investigator from the exploration (Smith, 1983).

According to Andrew (2007), qualitative research is a way of inquiry appropriated in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in general market trends and further contexts. Qualitative analysts aim to collect an in-depth knowledge of human habit and the reasons that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and exactly how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but targeted samples are more often needed, alternatively than large samples.

According to Andrew (2007), qualitative research is employed to denote approaches which are reinforced by a couple of hypotheses concerning the way the communal world functions. It deduces a lot of its basics from the point of view that there are fundamental differences between the science of human world and research of natural world and consequently needs to use distinctive methods. Here, attention is targeted upon taking a look at the entire world through the eye of studied items and upon innovating concepts and theories which can be grounded in the collecting data. So, qualitative research linked with own accounts of the people of their behaviour and behavior. The significance of qualitative research is composed in arranging stress on describing, understanding sophisticated phenomena. It investigates, for illustration, the romantic relationships and patterns among factors or the framework in which the activity happens. It really is focused on understanding the entire many-dimensional picture of the main topic of investigation.

Qualitative methods produce information only on this cases analyzed, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses (beneficial guesses). The purpose of qualitative research is to deepen our understanding about something, and usually this implies heading beyond the statistics and the statistics. Qualitative research helps us to provide explanations why the numbers reveal what they do. It is often contrasted to quantitative research - and they are very often used along to obtain the 'bigger picture' of what we should are trying to find out. Qualitative research helps us 'flesh out the tale'.

Face-to-Face Interviews and Emphasis Groups

The most common varieties of qualitative research are face-to-face interviews and emphasis organizations. Face-to-face interviews are that: Reaching someone personally and discussing various problems. The informant - or person you are interviewing - may be an expert in a specific field (e. g. the editor of your newspaper) or they may be a person who is afflicted by the problems you are exploring (e. g. somebody who is HIV positive or who reads the mass media).

Focus groups require discussions with two or more members. While questions for target groups have to be prepared to guide and focus the discussions, the responses are often free-ranging, as the individuals should explore the issues at hand in an in-depth way.

While focus groups and interviews can help you develop explanations for quantitative data, sometimes they can offer you with quantitative data themselves

Basic Variations between Quantitative and Qualitative Research Techniques

Quantitative and qualitative research methods change primarily in:

their analytical objectives

the types of questions they pose

the types of data collection musical instruments they use

the varieties of data they produce

the amount of flexibility included in study design

The key difference between quantitative and qualitative methods is their versatility. Generally, quantitative methods are rather inflexible. With quantitative methods such as research and questionnaires, for example, research workers ask all individuals identical questions in the same order. The response categories from which individuals may choose are "closed-ended" or fixed. The benefit of this inflexibility is the fact that it permits meaningful comparison of responses across members and examine sites. However, it requires a thorough understanding of quite questions to ask, the ultimate way to inquire further, and the range of possible replies.

Qualitative methods are usually more versatile - that is, they allow higher spontaneity and version of the connections between your researcher and the study participant. For instance, qualitative methods ask largely "open-ended" questions that are not automatically worded in a similar way with each participant. With open-ended questions, members are free to act in response in their own words, and these replies tend to be more complex than simply "yes" or "no. "

In addition, with qualitative methods, the partnership between your researcher and the participant is often less formal than in quantitative research. Members have the possibility to act in response more elaborately and in greater detail than is normally the truth with quantitative methods. In turn, researchers have opportunity to respond immediately from what participants say by tailoring subsequent questions to information the participant has provided. Merriam (1988) provided a basis for differentiating qualitative and quantitative research techniques predicated on their characteristics.

Characteristics of Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Point of Comparisons

Qualitative Research

Quantitative Research

Focus of research

Quality (aspect, essence)

Quantity (how much, just how many)

Philosophical roots

Phenomenology, symbolic interaction

Positivism, rational empiricism

Associated phrases

Fieldwork, ethnographic, naturalistic, grounded, subjective

Experimental, empirical, statistical

Goal of investigation

Understanding, description, breakthrough, hypothesis generating

Prediction, control, explanation, confirmation, hypothesis testing

Design characteristics

Flexible, developing, emergent

Predetermined, structured


Natural, familiar

Unfamiliar, artificial


Small, non-random, theoretical

Large, random, representative

Data collection

Researcher as major tool, interviews, observations

Inanimate instruments (scales, tests, studies, questionnaires, pcs)

Mode of analysis

Inductive (by researcher)

Deductive (by statistical methods)


Comprehensive, all natural, expansive

Precise, thin, reductionist

However, there is a range of overall flexibility among methods used in both quantitative and qualitative research and this flexibility is not an indication of how scientifically rigorous a way is. Rather, the degree of flexibility demonstrates the type of understanding of the problem that is being pursued using the method.

Merits of Quantitative Analysis

The use of studies permit a researcher to review more variables at one time than is normally possible in laboratory or field experiments, whilst data can be collected about real life environments.

The usefulness of an survey is the fact that the information you get is standardized because each respondent - the individual who fills out the questionnaire - is responding to the very same questions. Once you've enough responses to your questionnaire, after that you can put the info together and examine it in a way that answers your research question - or what it is you wish to know.

Since circumstance studies follow a organised format, different situations can be likened or analyzed comparatively. Case studies are usually short (often no more than 5 webpages long) and usually only contain the essential information needed to present a situation and, if necessary, to spell it out and properly examine an issue.

Quantitative data can determine when students have achieved or failed an activity, and they can offer national ranking, percentiles, and invite researchers to execute comparison analyses. Nevertheless, they can not provide the "total" picture of why a specific learner has either succeeded or failed (Burnaford et al. , 2001; Gall et al. , 1996 and Mc Bride-to-be & Schostak, 2000).

In quantitative research, the researcher neither participates in nor influences what is

being examined; thus, he/she examines the circumstances objectively. In some qualitative research, the researcher may play a far more subjective role and participate when you are immersed in his/her research. That's, the observer can be the professor or the facilitator. This role is often the circumstance with when action research, circumstance studies, and focus groups are being used in educational research.

Advantages of surveys

Good for comparative research.

Can get lots of data in a comparatively short time.

Can be cost-effective (if you are using the web, for example).

Can take less time for respondents to complete (compared to an interview or emphasis group)

Specific concrete example;

Can assist with problem resolving;

Are often interesting to learn.

Demerits of Quantitative Analysis

A key weakness of quantitative examination is that it is very difficult to understand insights relating to the sources of or processes involved in the phenomena measured. You can find, in addition, several sources of bias including the possibly self-selecting aspect of respondents, the point with time when the survey is conducted and in the researcher him/herself through the design of the review itself.

It could be argued that the quantitative researcher is more correct, but the

response would be that with people it is not possible to be so exact,

people change and the interpersonal situation is too complicated for numerical

description. Quantitative research tends to clarify where

clarification is not appropriate. (Mc Bride-to-be& Schostak, 2000, pp. 1-2)

Disadvantages of Surveys

Responses might not exactly be specific.

Questions may be misinterpreted.

May not get as many responses as you will need.

Don't get full tale.

Can take time to develop;

Depending on format, may need some level of good writing skills;

Do not usually give broad overview of issue at hand.

Merits of Qualitative Techniques

The solutions of the qualitative research differ from the techniques of the quantitative research. Quantitative methods have their purpose in dividing into evidently described parts, or variables. When we research an issue which we know how to quantify, for example, what can be quantified for sure, we may omit the factors which are necessary to the true understanding of the phenomena under study (Andrew, 2007).

Qualitative methods are helpful not only in giving wealthy explanations of intricate phenomena, however in creating or growing ideas or conceptual bases, and in proposing hypotheses to clarify the phenomena. Besides, value of the qualitative research comprises in validity of the information received; people are minutely interviewed so as the obtained data would be taken as appropriate and believable reports of their views and activities. Its major drawback is the fact small group of interviewed individuals can not be taken as representative (Andrew, 2007).

Case studies require an attempt to describe relationships that exist in reality, frequently in one organization. Circumstance studies may be positivist or interpretivist in mother nature, with regards to the approach of the researcher, the info accumulated and the analytical techniques utilized. Truth can be captured in more detail by an observer-researcher, with the evaluation of more parameters than is normally possible in experimental and survey research.

Another kind of qualitative analysis is site goes to. Site visits help you realize your quest better; site visits (e. g. when you visit a business, a manufacturing facility, a center or a housing project) are extremely useful and sometimes even necessary means of gaining additional perception and making your theoretical information concrete in your mind. They allow you to observe the proceedings, and ask questions you may not have thought about.

Qualitative research has a phenomenological concentration that can offer an enriched and

detailed description of the members' actions and/or viewpoints (Veronesi, 1997).

Advantages of Face-to-Face Interviews

Can allow for in-depth knowledge showing;

Helps to develop the bigger picture;

Helps with analysis of results;

Good for networking (e. g. you may well be referred to other people to interview).

Advantages of Concentration Groups

Good for community participation (grassroots type);

Helpful in developing ideas and showing latent, or hidden, knowledge spontaneously;

Enables one to get information from lots of individuals concurrently.

Advantages of Site Appointments and Observation

Demerits of Qualitative Analysis

Case studies can be considered weak as they are typically limited to a single organization which is difficult to generalize conclusions since it is hard to find similar instances with similar data that can be examined in a statistically significant way.

Disadvantages of Face-to-Face Interviews

Can be time consuming;

May be difficult to arrange an interview time;

Can be difficult to compare and analyze information.

Disadvantages of Concentrate Groups

Can be difficult to set up;

Participants might need to be paid;

Need to be delicate to who the facilitator is;

May need a translator;

Sometimes difficult to organize and analyze information.

Disadvantages of Site Visits and Observation

Take time;

Can be expensive (depending how far you need to travel);

With observation specifically, you need to be careful the method that you interpret what you observe. With site sessions, you might make sure you have a guide so that you can ask questions

However, the disadvantage of the quantitative as well as qualitative research is that they don't always underpin knowledge of multi-dimensional pictures (Andrew, 2007).

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