Compare and Contrast Essay Example: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Research

Date:  2021-03-25 11:54:35
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Irrespective of the type of research, researchers have to choose between quantitative and qualitative approach as the main method of gathering and collecting information. Qualitative research entails exploring a situation from a close viewpoint while quantitative research focuses on approximating situations from a larger population by utilizing survey techniques. The choices of researchers vary greatly, and there are those who view the two approaches as totally different. Conversely, some researchers such as Creswell (2003) argue that the two approaches can be combined. In evaluating the aspects of qualitative and quantitative research, it is imperative to understand the definition of the term research. Research describes systematic investigations that focus on finding solutions to problems. In research, both quantitative and qualitative methods vary significantly. Nevertheless, their intents and applications overlie in numerous ways. Every method has its benefits and drawbacks and more effective in answering questions of particular nature. This paper aims to explore the differences and similarities between quantitative and qualitative approaches to research.

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Quantitative research gives room for the measurement of numerous aspects reaction to the predetermined queries. The answers to every question are limited; hence, it means that the outcome of the study can be analyzed and contrasted using statistic approaches. Moreover, it is possible to generalize the outcome to a bigger population according to the recognized limit of error. On the other hand, qualitative approaches provide contexts for understanding the outcome of the research. In this approach, peoples ideas and perceptions are collected and described broadly. It offers the feel of the reality in its aspects, supporting rationality and emotions that drive people to take action. It means that standardization is an important element of quantitative approach and the researchers focus on acquiring concise answers from the participants. In a qualitative approach, the researcher focuses on providing details from the answers obtained in relation to the participants. The approach that suits a particular research depends on with the key objectives of conducting the study. Also, in quantitative research, data can analyze in numerical form, and the outcome of the study is easy to interpret. It involves collecting facts about a phenomenon. However, qualitative approach entails collecting data of a different kind and rarely involves the use of numbers. Its focus is to explore details to gain an in-depth understanding of the issue of concern. It is more demanding and consumes more time as compared to the quantitative research.

The key comparisons between quantitative and qualitative research lie in the four categories that include the purpose of research, data collection, data analysis, and the results. In qualitative research, the method of data collection is rarely founded on unstructured and semi-structured; however, it follows a flexible methodology. It involves the use of interviews and dialogues whose aim is to gain in-depth information about the views of the respondents. The technique in quantitative approach follows a rigid structure that may include online and telephone surveys. As compared to qualitative research, qualitative research allows for an unlimited response from the participants on the presented queries. On the outcome, qualitative approach seeks to explore and investigate various aspects. The outcome of the research is inconclusive, and it may not be generalized beyond the study population. Nevertheless, it is vital in the development of thematic basis and justification for providing solutions to the various problem in the subject of study. In quantitative research, an extended insight is provided that recommends for finalized actions.

In qualitative research, small samples may be used and do not have to be representatives of large populations. During the study, the selection of the respondent follows a particular criterion. On the other hand, in quantitative research, the researchers select many cases that are believed to provide a god representation of the entire population. The participants are randomly selected. In data analysis, a qualitative approach is not statistical, whereas in a quantitative approach, the analysis entails working with statistics and the results focus on describing a situation. The results may be conclusive, but only within the statistical frame.

The two approaches have varied characteristics. Control is an essential element in quantitative, and it assists in the identification of the causes of the observation. The study focuses on providing answers to a range of questions such as why things happen, what is the origin of the phenomenon, and aspects that facilitate the occurrence of the event. In this approach, control plays a significant role as it prevents providing of ambiguous answers to the question being explored. To provide answers to various questions, the researchers should rule out the coincidental influences and separate the authentic causes of an event. Control is essential because in its absence; it becomes difficult to isolate the genuine causes of phenomena.

Operational definitions vary in the two approaches. In quantitative research, the true definition of terms is obtained from the process utilized in their measurement. The process is imperative for eliminating ambiguity in the definition. For example, considering the hypothesis Depression causes low performance among students, one may question what conditions a student is regarded as depressed. Different definitions may be a source of confusion. However, it is possible to follow a score chosen criteria that offer a true definition of the condition and allows other parties understand what the researcher means with the term depressed. Operational definitions prevent ambiguity as the empirical referent is presented.

On the aspects of data replication, data is only replicable if it is dependable. It means that similar outcome should be obtained in other quantitative studies assessing the same phenomenon. It the results changes, and then the description and explanation of a study are perceived as undependable. In the quantitative approach, the hypothesis is tested empirically. The quantitative approach provides precise outcome because it utilizes reliable measurements. The second strength of this approach is the use of control which prevents ambiguous answers and facilitates ruling out of other variables. The results are replicable within a bigger population if the results are reliable. Nevertheless, the approach has some weaknesses. First, human life is multifaceted and may be difficult to rule out the majority of the variables with the control sample. Also, considering the nature of human experiences, different people respond differently to various aspects, which is different from what is experienced in physical science. This approach does not recognize and appreciate peoples capability to explain the occurrences in their live, develop their meaning, and take the desired action. This approach provides the suppositions are accurate and identical for everybody at any given time. Quantitative research cannot be described as objective because the study involves choosing a problem to investigate and interprets the outcome.

Alternatively, in quantitative research, an effective understanding of an event is obtained because the researcher is immersed in the environment under study. The areas of question are not fixed, and everything is left to flow naturally. It means that there are no predetermined factors and all issues that arise are viewed as important. A researcher conducting research by use of qualitative approaches wants to hear the people under study speak out on the subject matter. Hence, it involves an interactive procedure where the people under study provide the researcher with insight about their experiences. Hence, the researchers consider all the experiences and are not controlled by variables.

However, the aspect of reliability in qualitative approaches has been a subject of debate for a while. The approach takes a subjective stand, and the respondents are not representative. For this reason, the outcome may not be reliable in relation to the traditional standards of validity. It is impossible to replicate occurrences, experiences, and events to a bigger population from then one in the study because the standards of reliability have not been met. The procedure of collecting and interpreting data is long and time-consuming. Another the great challenge accompanied by qualitative findings is the issue of confidentiality. Nevertheless, the approach has numerous benefits. The researcher gets immersed in the context of the study, which facilitates an in-depth understanding of the issue. Data from qualitative research can be used to draw connections between factors and uncover dynamic aspects related to a particular problem.

There are various similarities between the two approaches. Quantitative research is mainly used to test theories; however, it is still useful in evaluating a setting and generating hypotheses and theories. Also, qualitative research is used to test hypotheses; however, it is mainly used to generate theories. Qualitative data may include aspects quantification. On the other hand, quantitative data may include a collection of qualitative data such as structured questionnaires. Qualitative research uses semi-structured and open-ended questionnaires. Hence, the aim of the research is to explore the research topic from the perspective of the participants and comprehend the origin of their perspectives. On the other hand, quantitative interviews focus on abstractions and generalized opinions.

However, interviews remain the most common method of data collection in qualitative approach (King and Horrocks, 2010). The relationship between the researchers and the interviewees remain an area of difference between the two approaches. In quantitative research, the respondents are viewed as research subjects, and completion of questionnaires, in this case, can be compared to participating in experimentation. The aim of the researchers, in this case, is to acquire precise answers from the respondents that are not impacted by other variables. Hence, the researcher expects answers that are free from relationship aspects. In contrary, a researcher conducting qualitative research understands that interviews cannot be free of relationship factors. In the view of this researcher, relationship aspects are important elements of the study, and the respondent does not have to stick to the predetermined questions.

The relationship between variables is an important feature of qualitative research. Also, just like in quantitative research, surveys may be conducted through phone interviews even though many researchers prefer face to face interactions. According to King and Horrocks (2010), qualitative interviews represent epistemological views and are founded on realist approaches. Under realist approaches, one assumption is that the experiences of the respondents provide in interviews present their actual account beyond the interview setting. This approach contrasts the radical constructionist approach whose assumption is that the accounts presented in interviews are specific to those settings and cannot be related to the actual life experiences of the respondents.

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(Bernard, 2011).

An example of a qualitative research includes a study by Knesting (2008) to determine the students at risk for school dropout. The author recognizes that the phenomenon of high school...

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