Qualitative versus Quantitative

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Administering quantitative research design had become a default option that many have grown accustomed to. However, recent years have proved to be more accommodating to alternative approaches to research by not only accepting qualitative method as a credible means of measurement but by enforcing a hybrid of the two research methods through a combination in mixed method. Shuval et al. (2011) writes that the most recognized standard in the conduct of medical research is quantitative, more specifically through randomized controlled trials (RCT) in contrast to qualitative which had often been dismissed and placed in the level of case reports and anecdotal findings. This, on the other hand, has changed as recognition for the value of a qualitative assessment has been seen to be significant in particular kinds of research in the medical field. Qualitative is suitable in studies that aim to measure behavior in what is regarded as naturalism as it supports answering questions on ‘how’ and ‘why,’ whereas, quantitative is geared towards answering questions that are fundamentally based on an inquiry of ‘what.’ Essentially, the basis of the research questions determines the most appropriate type of research design that must be adopted. John Creswell (2003), in his book ‘Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches’ has identified the different strategies associated with each kind of methodology. He notes that quantitative focuses on postpositivism and incorporates true experiments, correlational studies and quasi-experiments which often makes use of multiple variables to test data in strategies such as surveys and experiments. Alternatively, qualitative which is a more recent approach is a more diverse variation which could focus on ethnographies in cultural research and grounded theory which compares data in relation to theoretical sampling among others. Choosing the right type of research methodology is grounded on factors that determine the most appropriate approach to be applied. Creswell states that The knowledge claims, the strategies, and the method all contribute to a research approach that tends to be more quantitative, qualitative, or mixed (p.18). The distinctions between quantitative and qualitative are a helpful step in evaluating the tool the researcher must use. Dobrovolny and Fuentes (2008) provides for a comprehensive table distinguishing the two. Quantitative method is founded upon the testing of a hypothesis while qualitative places emphasis on context. Quantitative has a positivist objective while qualitative is more constructivist. The first usually has sampling frames from a population where individuals are referred to as subjects and the scientist maintains distance, where, the latter demarcates cases or groups from a whole as representative of the population and people are referred to as participants with the scientist generating a participant-observer dynamics. Quantitative focuses on numbers and predetermined variables from substantial sample populations through experiments while qualitative focuses on the meanings of human behavior in its original context through observations that describe participants’ actions. More important distinctions rests on the method of analysis where quantitative makes use of widely-acceptable statistical methods compared to