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Quantitative and qualitative

Definition :
 Quantitative methods are research
techniques that are used to gather
quantitative data - information dealing with
numbers and anything that is measurable.
Statistics, tables and graphs, are often
used to present the results of these
methods. They are therefore to be
distinguished from qualitative methods
This chapter will look at
virtual absence of:
A>>  Literature studies
1- statistical  Arts
2- quantitative
 Literary analysis
B>>  Literature as a
Define the nature discipline
and boundaries
Also ask :
1-How literature specialist encounter numbers?

2-Why there is a tension between quantitative

and qualitative approaches ?
3- why literary studies are impoverished by
continued avoidance of quantification?
 Introduce some basic
computational and statistical
procedure techniques to be useful
in literature research .
The nature and boundaries
of literary criticism :
 Confine themselves almost exclusively to
textual analyses, scarcely ever mentioning
of using number .
 Except those disciplines that are near
neighbors literary studies particularly
linguistics and sociology .
 Total absence of any sort of quantification
in studies of literary texts is a mistery.
Art and Humanities
 The great use of social scientific’
statistical and computer applications
in literature research like art and
humanities it seems to be neglected.

 Fig 8
Literary Researchers,
Texts and Numbers
 Catherine Belsey, Professor of Critical and
cultural Theory at Cardiff University

Her negative reaction to excesses of computer-

aided quantitative research in 1970s .
Concede that the result of quantitative analysis
did not have to be banal in principle.
Why there is such
 What encounters literature
specialists commonly have with
numbers and the nature of their
Literary works use
numbers for:
 Dates
 Prices
 Wealth
 Inheritance
Scholars tend to observe :
 Words, the meaning more than
analyzing the numbers.

 Example: In second chapter of Jane

Austen’s sense and sensibility
 Financial details
 Figures of wealth
Terry Eagleton
 What literature means?
 Questioned neglecting number
 He was disturbed by the
assumption of the neutrality of
numbers by using the description
of a cathedral as being built in
In the study of literature :
 Plot
 Readership responses
 Content
 No reference to Number in writing
the histories of the novel
Joseph McAleer
 History of Mills and Boon, passion’s
Fortune, uses quantitative as well
as visual and qualitative evidence .
 8.2 8.3
 Bar chart used by MCAleer
Figure 8.4
 Edward Copeland’s excellent
women writing about money:
women Fiction in England 1790-
 Employs bar charts
 Instructively it is about plot lines
rather than monies ,their meaning
or their disposition
Alienated reader(1991)
 Straddles the divide between literary
and sociological analysis Fowler gives
circulation figures for nineteenth
century journals…
 Fowler analysis 144 stories from
popular magazines between 1920
-1930 as a sample for popularity with
their readers and realistic style.
Fowler analysis of figures
is based on:
 Contemporary questionnaire data
 Determines typology of :
 Women readers
 Their literary taste
 Their motivations for reading
 Their politics
 Conclusion
 Oliver Wendell Holmes
 He was doctor and Novelist

 Introduce the issues in privileging

words over numbers

Jane F Thraikill(1999) Killing them softly
childbed fever and the novel
American literature
Qualitative /Quantitative
tension and Bifurcation
 In the boundaries of literary
research where social, cultural and
historical context and analysis
invoked and need for
quantification become important
numbers are hard to find in studies
of literature.
 Why ?
Choice of research
 Qualitative either or quantitative
 What is seen as a stake is not just a choice of
research method but of research methodology of
epistemological position.
 Textual researchers are thus concerned more than
ever to emphasis the absence of an anterior reality,
independent of spoken and written language.
 Researcher is engaged to study representations and
cultural production rather than reality.
 There is no methodological reason
for the assumption that numbers
carry positivistic dangers and that
words do not .
The similarities between
words and Numbers
 For many post modern critics, numbers
represent the cutting edge of the
modernity that they detest.
 Numbers are seen as exercising power
over individuals .
 All languages share with quantification
the production of oppressive categories
which promote or extol certain
individuals or groups and condemn
Our mistake
 We are too often presented with a
mutually exclusive choice between
words and numbers as if each
represented an entirely different
approach to knowledge.
Numbers as a Language
 Considering Numbers as a Language
 The use of numbers in Literary expression:
 W.G Sebald
 Whose corpus of work inspires by crossing
the boundaries between
 Personal -----Social
 Fact -----Fiction
 Literature -----Social analysis
Quantitative Methods:
some basic definitions
 Quantitative methods in the text-based humanities
can be divided in two main categories:
 1-Computational (concern the computer aided
storage, retrieval, and analysis text)

 2-statistical (analysis of plot ,concern the display

and analysis of quantitative data)
Computational Methods
 Easy accessibility of information technology
 Assist to analyzing various features of texts
 Aspects both of style and content
 Pick out words of similar construction
 Spelling variation
 Generate collocation
 Like The merchant of Venice (flesh and blood)
Literary Analysis
employing computational
Content analysis can be used to
the substance as well as the form .

-Richard Merrit : Analyzed eighteenth-

century newspapers in this way.
Statistical Methods
 Statistical methods employed in
the arts and elsewhere can be
divided in to two distinct
 1-Descriptive
 2-Inferential
 Qualitative research aims at
understanding. It answers
primarily to how? –questions.
Quantitative research aims at (causal) explanation. It
answers primarily to why? –questions.
Both qualitative and quantitative research can aim at
description of social reality.
Complementary - not contradictory
different kinds of research questions and objects of
different perspectives on the same research objects /
(methodological triangulation)
different stages in the research process
quantitative---------- qualitative
R/S B/w Quantitative and
qualitative methods
 Quantitative methods might be used with a global
qualitative frame. Qualitative methods might be
used to understand the meaning of the numbers
produced by quantitative methods. Using
quantitative methods, it is possible to give precise
and testable expression to qualitative ideas. This
combination of quantitative and qualitative data
gathering is often referred to as
mixed-methods research.
 in-depth interviews, and reviewsSurveysPrimarily inductive process used
to formulate theoryPrimarily deductive process used to test pre-specified
concepts, constructs, and hypotheses that make up a theoryMore
subjective: describes a problem or condition from the point of view of
those experiencing itMore objective: provides observed effects
(interpreted by researchers) of a program on a problem or condition Text-
based Number-based More in-depth information on a few cases Less in-
depth but more breadth of information across a large number of cases
Unstructured or semi-structured response options Fixed response options
No statistical tests Statistical tests are used for analysisCan be valid and
reliable: largely depends on skill and rigor of the researcherCan be valid
and reliable: largely depends on the measurement device or instrument
usedTime expenditure lighter on the planning end and heavier during the
analysis phase Time expenditure heavier on the planning phase and
lighter on the analysis phase Less generalizable More generalizable
February 2010

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