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Quantitative vs qualitative research

Many forms of research design involve both quantitative and qualitative research.

Quantitative research

Quantitative research involves numbers: statistics, data analysis, timings, correlations, and measurements. The researcher is usually an observer or recorder, not a participant.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research involves the study of social or cultural events. The researcher is usually immersed "in the field," conducting interviews and observing and recording behaviors.


Quantitative Qualitative
Collected data is numbers and statistics. Collected data is words, pictures, or objects.
Researcher designs all aspects of the study before collecting data. The research design can change as the study progresses.
The researcher knows in advance what data will be collected. The researcher may change what is collected.
Data sets can be large; specific variables will be analyzed. Data sets could be small, and not randomly selected. Involves study of the whole and not selected variables.
The research method is confirmatory or top-down. The researcher tests the hypothesis or theory with the data, The research method is exploratory or bottom-up. The researcher can generate a new hypothesis and theory from the data collected.
Results can be generalized and applied to other settings or data. Results are not necessarily generalizable.
Results are explained with objective language. Researcher discloses biases and experiences that can impact the results. Results are subjective.

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