The Qualitative and Quantitative Research Approaches

By Joseph Cesar ADHM Year Four Research Method Module Commissioned by Miss Marie Harnett Submission Date: 2nd June 2011

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the various techniques they used. This type of research is mostly used by industry that needs short term results.” Jones & Phillips (2003. their strengths and weaknesses. their advantages and disadvantages. a method of critical thinking. 290) continues that “academics are often more exercised and interested in research question and the methodology than the results”. their philosophical origins. In that context the word research does not mean a scientific study and it does not follow a rigorously defined methodology nor be subject to critical peer review. two approaches are discussed and analysed. Jones & Phillips (2003. research = implicit questions + explicit answers + data to support the answers. Scridhar (2010. In this essay. These are the qualitative and the quantitative methods. 18) also gives an equation for the clarity of research and it reads. The two methods are sometimes used together in a single research which is known as the ‘mixing methods’. That it is an art of scientific investigation. Research can also be identified as. 290).” He further describes it as. and that it a systematic effort to gain new knowledge. which is what this essay focuses upon. etc. Scridhar (2010. and a careful critical inquiry in seeking facts for principles. 18) define research as “a voyage of discovery or a journey or movement from the known to the unknown. 2 . an experience.There are a few approaches to conducting research. The other chapters will outline the different perspectives of the two methods. an attitude. it is essential to understand the meaning of research itself. “a form of intelligence gathering to provide contextual background or more often is selectively used and presented to support a pre-determined business decision. their historical attributes. The use and justification for combining both methods is also discussed. Before going into the two approaches to research.

continuous data. Those data. are used to gather numerical data. 30). “Qualitative research involves quality or kind forms of data. statistical models. Interpretation of those data gathered. depending on what type of information being gathered. It helps to gain precise measurements. 30). As quantifiable classification of data can be a complex science.” Scridhar (2010. to knowing trends or changes over time and to comparing trends or individual units. etc. In order to give strategic credibility to any hypothesis. The data are analysed before interpreting so as to conclude if it can support the sought answers or if it cannot. ordinal or ranked data. It is the expression of a property or quantity in numerical terms. surveys. are processed through the various quantitative method techniques and formulas so that the result reflect accurately the sought answers. nominal or descriptive data. It is also identify as the second phase approach of during a research. It describes data rather that counting or measuring them. technological equipments. are classified as. It helps in having insight into problems or cases. and discrete data.The qualitative and the quantitative approaches have everything to do with the data that a survey produces. the researcher must decide on which method to use so as to better analyse and/or support the subject. This method is also associated with the positivism philosophical approach. “Quantitative research measures and expresses data in terms of quantity. Those data 3 .” Sridhar (2010. it uses tools like questionnaires. This method entails subjective ways of finding answers to questions.

46) states that “positivism adopts a clear quantitative approach to investigating phenomena. different results would be shaped. events. Therefore this approach also known as post-positivism is criticised for lacking generalisability. 54) The questions that are posed in a research have implicitly philosophical attributes. etc. Some limitations of the qualitative approach to research is that it is purely a gathering of story and personal impressions.involves here are commonly in the form of words. These are all philosophical questions that involve human values and beliefs.” Easterby-Smith et al. For example research in trying to answer questions like why a certain segment chooses a certain type of activity. objects. helping the researcher to refine and specify the research methods used in a study including the type of evidence gathered and its origin. (Crossan. enabling and assisting researchers to evaluate methodologies and methods and avoid unnecessary work by 4 . (Crossan. pictures. trends. which aim to describe and explore in-depth phenomena from a qualitative perspective. how it is interpreted. and how it helps to answer the research questions posed. scenes. This means that if a different researcher undertakes the same research. The term positivist and postpositivist have both philosophical implications. or like the development of technology and their impact on societies. behaviours. Another weakness of the method is that the researcher could take the research too personal that the latter may lacks reproducibility.. as opposed to post-positivist approaches. and strongly subject to the researcher’s preconception. activities. etc. (1997) cited in (Crossan. the development of tourism industry and its impact on different cultures or economies. 47) identify some reasons why philosophy is significant to research methodology such as.

Quantitative research often "forces" responses or people into categories that might not "fit" in order to make meaning. truth.” Huberman (1994. But although there exist different views on which method is best or not. “Quantitative research methods were originally developed in the natural sciences to study natural phenomena. online). Some researchers states that “there is no such thing as qualitative research and that everything is either 1 or 0” Huberman (1994. Examples of quantitative methods now well accepted in the social sciences include survey 5 . encompassing such aspects as the mind. nature of knowledge. researchers on all sides of the debate are correct: each approach has its drawbacks. At this stage it is supportive to reflect on Myers (1997. researchers should find the most effective ways to incorporate elements of both to ensure that their studies are as accurate and thorough as possible. on the other hand. Rather than discounting either approach for its drawbacks. and proofs for knowledge. cited in (Crossan. Hughes (1994). 40). 48) explained that “the philosophical level of a research method relates to its assumptions based on the most general features of the world. 40). it can be accepted that “to a certain extent. though.identifying limitations. sometimes focuses too closely on individual results and fails to make connections to larger situations or possible causes of the results. and by helping researchers to be creative and innovative the selection or adaptation of methods.” There are different views by different researchers onto which method is better and/or that it is better to use both methods simultaneously or using both alternatively at different stage during the research. matter. reality. reason. Qualitative research.

The quantifiable data can be compared to the qualitative findings and can further determine if the hypothesis of the research is justifiable. epistemological (what can be known?). and the researcher’s impressions and reactions. Qualitative research methods were developed in the social sciences to enable researchers to study social and cultural phenomena. The bulk of data that are gathered by this method can be time consuming and stressful to analyse.methods. interviews and questionnaires. case study research and ethnography. and methodological (how can a researcher discover what or she believes can be known?)”. It makes use of both qualitative and quantitative analysis for a study. 6 . or the ‘triangulation’ approach. The triangulation is detailed as the “interrelationship between the ontological (what is the nature of reality?). Qualitative data sources include observation and participant observation (fieldwork).g.” The combination of the two methods when carrying one single research is also known as the ‘mixing method’. (Crossan. formal methods (e. 47). Examples of qualitative methods are action research. documents and texts. laboratory experiments. This approach has everything to do with gathering more credible data thus ensuring a more accurate result. The need to have participants with expertise in both methods can be expensive and difficult to materialise. But it could be argued that this method does results in more accurate and/or credible research results. econometrics) and numerical methods such as mathematical modeling. There are however a lot of shortcomings to adopting mixing method.

NURSERESEARCHER. 7 . 46-55. 11 (1). F. England: Glasgow Caledonian University. Issues in Research: Research Philosophy: Towards an understanding.References Crossan.

M. 46-55. 40) The Qualitative Versus Quantitative Debate. Available from: http://www. (1997) Research Methodology [Online]. 11 (1).up. P. 4655. D.ac. Huberman (1994. (2010) Introduction to Research Methodology: Problem Selection.com/doc/16995449/Introduction-to-Research-Methodology-Problem-Selection-Formulation-and-Research-Design [Accessed 31st May 2011] 8 .cfm [Accessed 31st May 2011] Hughes. 290-293 Myers. Available from: http://www. et al.colostate.za/thesis/available/etd-07302006-065725/unrestricted/05chapter5. [Online]..edu/guides/research/gentrans/popzf. F. Issues in Research Philosophy: Towards an understanding.upetd. Essex: Longman. Cited in in Crossan. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. (2003) Research in brief: What use is research anyway? Industry and academe’s differing views.A. 15 (5). M.scribd. England: Glasgow Caledonian University. [Accessed 31st May 2011] Jones.S. NURSERESEARCHER. 11 (1)... Issues in Research Philosophy: Towards an understanding. NURSERESEARCHER. Cited in Crossan. [Online].pdf Scridhar. (1994) The Philosophy of Social Research. England: Glasgow Caledonian University. & Phillips. J. London: Sage.. (1997) Management Research: an introduction. F. Formulation and Research Design. Available from: http://www. Available from: http://www.Easterby-Smith.

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