You are on page 1of 6



“Research is the systematic investigation into and study of materials, sources or information in
order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.” (Somers, 2009). Research may be in the
form of quantitative or qualitative. Tashakkori, Teddlie, (2000) argue that these two forms of
research are distinct in various in different ways. According to, qualitative research is
designed to reveal a target audience’s range of behaviour and the perceptions that drive it with
reference to specific topics or issues yet quantitative is explaining phenomena by collecting
numerical data that are analysed using mathematically based methods in particular statistics.
Ben-Eliyahu (2014) states that, the qualitative approach to research is focused on understanding
a phenomenon from a closer perspective. The quantitative approach tends to approximate
phenomena from a larger number of individuals using survey methods.

First and foremost, quantitative research is objective and qualitative research is subjective.
Klazema, (2014) argues that the difference being that the objective research provides results that
are not of opinion, but are actually backed up by the statistical mathematics behind them. The
subjective nature of qualitative research is focused more on feelings and theories and therefore
does not necessarily allow for such definitive conclusions to be drawn. It is this issue of
perspective that divides them Thus, quantitative research being subjective does not necessarily
allow conclusion to be drawn from the findings of the research yet quantitative takes certain
perspective and draws statistical conclusion on the hypothesis.

Quantitative research is mostly numerically based. Lisa M, (2008) views that the objective of
quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories or hypotheses
pertaining to phenomena. “Simply put, it’s about numbers, objective hard data. The sample size
for a survey is calculated by statisticians using formulas to determine how large a sample size
will be needed from a given population in order to achieve findings with an acceptable degree of
accuracy.” (Anderson, 2006). Myers, (2002) on the other hand argues that, qualitative research is
more based on theoretical deduce of the findings. Theory is developed inductively from a corpus
of data acquired by a participant-observer. This serves to asset that the difference between the
two methods is that quantitative research is numerically expressed and qualitative research is
theoretically expressed.

Another difference between the two is person conducting the research. As Klazema (2014)
states, A researcher conducting a quantitative experiment is going to remain separate from the
process. Their job is to view what is happening objectively and this means they have to stay
removed from the process. Thus one may deduce that in most if not all cases of qualitative
research, qualitative researchers are ethnographers as they would need to immerse themselves in
the lives and culture of the group being studied possibly to the end of the entire research.

Keele (2010) argues that quantitative research aligns with the positivist paradigm, whereas
qualitative research most closely aligns itself with the naturalistic paradigm. Thus, in the
quantitative research method, the researcher knows what he or she is researching about and thus
knows what hypothesis needs to be addressed in the research process. On the other hand, the
qualitative researcher would not know what questions to address and may have an entirely
different research from what he or she expected altogether.

“Quantitative research seeks explanatory laws qualitative research aims at in-depth description”
(Anderson, 2006). Qualitative research method seeks to fully and explicitly explain the
hypothesis. On the other hand, the quantitative method seek measures what it assumes to be a
static reality in hopes of reaching universal conclusion. With this, it would dictate that qualitative
research is more detailed than quantitative research as it has more explanation and in-depth
analysis than the other. It would further leave qualitative research to be more time consuming
than the quantitative method.

Ringim, (2013) eludes that, The accumulation of facts and causes of behavior are addressed by
quantitative methodology as the qualitative methodology addresses concerns with the changing
and dynamic nature of reality. Thus, this asserts that qualitative research is based on reality and
quantitative research is based on facts. For instance, it may be a fact that people living in
destitute are suffering and thus are hardly happy, but in reality, one may find that they are happy
from time to time and that no mood is ever constant throughout a person`s life.

Furthermore, “quantitative data is collected under controlled conditions in order to rule out the
possibility that variables other than the one under study can account for the relationships
identified while the qualitative data are collected within the context of their natural occurrence.”
(Ringim, 2013). This re-enforces the assertion that qualitative research is more based on the
ethnographic aspect. By this, there is no sample or controlled group in the test pr research as all
variables are left in their natural state. On the other hand, quantitative would not operate under
the same condition as there would be a need for a sample group and a control group from the
population. This would enable the research to be administered in such a way that it becomes as
effective as possible. For instance, when testing a new teaching method using the quantitative
method, random selection may be used to select a sample for the population leaving out a control
group which would ultimately leave two groups using different teaching methods so as to test the
new one. The qualitative would however leave all variables (students) being tested in one place
just to find the results to the research.

Being of a positivist approach, quantitative research is objective, they will study characteristics
or features of individuals in order to explain a phenomenon. Alasutaari, (1995) argues that it is
highly bound to be accurate. However, the limitation of quantitative research is that some
methods for example experiment may lack meaning, it might not be able to address its social
significance but merely statistical evidence. “There is also a question of validity as the findings
happen in a controlled environment which may actually differ from a natural setting” (Mahoney,
2006). This leaves gap to deduce that quantitative research may also have flaws in their validity.

Ahmad, eludes that quantitative methodology employ large, replicable sample which is
representative of the entire population being researched. Results attained in quantitative research
can be used to assert the results for a population which is larger than the one which was the
sample group which the test has been administered upon. Qualitative research by contrast an in-
depth exploration of what makes people tick on a particular subject. The researcher often wears
the insider hat, trying to get them intimately involved in focus group discussions, one-on-one
interviews and the main purpose is to understand and explain from the actor’s own frame of
reference. However, this method cannot be used to refer to an entire population larger than the
one which the test was administered upon. For instance, the research may have been
administered upon an ethnic group of high traditional beliefs on their views on western cultural
views. The findings from a Zulu group and from an Indian group would greatly differ.

“Under planning and philosophy, quantitative research is based on rationalism. The human
beings achieve knowledge because of their capacity to reason.” (Bernard, 1994). For a person to
be able to reason an element of rationalism would be required so as to do so. On the other hand,
qualitative research is based on empiricism. Bernard (1994) asserts that the only knowledge that
human beings acquire is from sensory experiences.

Qualitative studies describe things happening more or less at the same time without expectation
of causal explanation. “Quantitative studies aim to establish cause and effect” (Eliot, 2010).
Thus, quantitative would already have forecast behavior of the phenomena being studied. The
outcomes of the research would be more based on perspective of the researcher whilst qualitative
research would tell things as they are without perspective that would be based on the perception
of the researcher.

“Qualitative Research is ideal for earlier phases of research projects while for the latter part of
the research project, Quantitative Research is highly recommended. Quantitative Research
provides the researcher a clearer picture of what to expect in his research compared to
Qualitative Research.” (, 2008) Thus, quantitative research may be asserted to be
the clear research method as it would be well advised to end with this method to find the end
result to the hypothesis.

Conclusively, both research methods are equally good with just a few differences. These
differences however would not change the validity of the finding of any phenomena from the
two. The two may also work together as mixed methods if the researcher fully understands both
methods in depth.
Ahmad, H. M. B. (2010). Essay on quantitative and qualitative methods in communication
Alasuutari, P. (1995). Qualitative and quantitative analysis as a continuum, Researching Culture:
Qualitative Method and Cultural Studies. Sage: London

Anderson, J. D. (2006). Imperial COE: Superintendent of School

Ben-Eliyahu, A. (2014). The Chronicle of Evidence Based Mentoring: Understanding different

types of research
Carson-Berndsen, et al (2009). Integrated Language Technology as part of Next Generation
Localisation. Localisation Focus

Eliot, S. (2010).

Jinjiri, K. (2013) Ahmadu Bello University Zaria

Mahoney, J. and G. Goertz (2006) - A Tale of Two Cultures: Contrasting Quantitative

andQualitative Research. Political Analysis

Keele, R (2010). Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice: Jones & Bartlett Learning

Klazema, A. (2014). Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Research: What’s the Difference?

Myers, M. (2000). Qualitative research and the generalizability question: Standing firm with
Proteus. The Qualitative Report,

Tashakkori, A. & Teddlie, C. (2000). An excellent introduction to mixed methodology research is

Mixed Methodology : Sage
Werner, O. and H. R. Bernard (1994). Ethnographic sampling. Cultural Anthropology Methods
Journal. Vol. 6