Riya and Raghav are senior managers at a multicuisine restaurant. Recently, they’ve noticed a significant drop in the number of their monthly customers. Riya wants to conduct quantitative research through a survey to gauge their customers’ satisfaction levels; Raghav feels undertaking qualitative research by personally interacting with customers and understanding their needs would help them better address the issue.
Who do you think has the better idea? But, wait! Before we pit Riya and Raghav against each other in an epic battle of quantitative research vs qualitative research, let’s understand what the two concepts mean.
What Is Quantitative Research?
Quantitative research refers to the process of collecting and analyzing quantifiable data through computational, statistical and mathematical techniques. It attempts to quantify a problem in terms of objective measurements using tools such as surveys, polls and questionnaires.
The results of quantitative research allow organizations to identify the prevalence of a problem, define cause-and-effect relationships between the problem and its factors, assess current market position, improve business processes and make predictions about the future of a particular phenomenon, product or service.
What Is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative research refers to the process of collecting and analyzing non-numerical, textual data through contextual inquiries, conversational communication and in-depth interviews. It attempts to understand opinions and experiences while decoding why people feel the way they do about a particular phenomenon, product or service.
The results of qualitative research help organizations derive valuable insights on a problem and uncover underlying pain points and motivations of consumers. Such insights can give rise to innovative ideas and hypotheses that act as the basis of later research.
Quantitative Research Vs Qualitative Research
As we’ve seen, there’s a fundamental difference between quantitative and qualitative research. Now, let’s look at a few other aspects in which quantitative and qualitative research vary:
1. Research Method
The most significant quantitative vs qualitative research difference surfaces in research methods. Quantitative research adopts a more objective approach, employing structured research methods such as surveys, questionnaires with close-ended or multiple-choice questions, experiments, structured interviews and polls. Qualitative research, which is more subjective, deploys flexible, non-structured research methods such as focus groups, group discussions, unstructured interviews, case study research and ethnographic research. Researchers observe and interact with the target group of participants in a real-life environment, asking open-ended questions and recording their observations.
2. Type Of Data Collected
Another major quantitative vs qualitative research distinction is visible in the type of data each approach collects. Quantitative research gathers measurable data that can be expressed in figures and numbers. It displays final results in the form of graphs, tables and charts. Qualitative research collects intangible data that is descriptive and can be expressed in terms of text, images and audio-visual media. It represents final results through word clouds, concept maps and timelines.
3. Sample Size
Sample size refers to the number of participants selected from a target segment that an organization is researching. Quantitative research requires large sample sizes to be able to deliver more accurate and generalized results. Organizations conducting qualitative research work with smaller sample sizes.
4. Type Of Reasoning
While studying quantitative research vs qualitative research, an important area of focus is the type of reasoning used in each. Quantitative research follows deductive reasoning to arrive at results, while qualitative research prefers inductive reasoning.
Quantitative research produces conclusive results that act as the basis of making broad generalizations. Qualitative research is investigative and yields exploratory or non-conclusive results. Such findings don’t contribute to large-scale generalizations.
Both quantitative and qualitative research have unique advantages. The type of research organizations use depends on the purpose of research and available resources. A mixed-methods approach combining elements of both quantitative and qualitative research is preferred when the aim is to gain a complete picture by expanding upon derived conclusions.
Become A Better Thinker
While qualitative research fosters in-depth understanding of a particular situation, quantitative research suggests a final plan of action. Whether you opt for quantitative or qualitative research or go in for a mixture of both, Harappa’s Thinking Critically course can transform you into a mature, thinking professional. You’ll develop the skills required to separate opinions from facts and make well-reasoned arguments—all while connecting the dots through a careful selection of data, insightful observations and crisp evaluation.
This online critical thinking course will equip you to take action based on evidence and steer clear of fallacies in thinking. With frameworks such as Mental Models, Circle of Competence and the Ladder of Influence, you’ll learn to think through solutions, identify your area of expertise and better understand how people process information. You’ll also be able to ask the right questions, handle complex information and demonstrate intellectual humility at all times. Want to become a better thinker? Sign up for Harappa’s Thinking Critically course today!
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