I know you are very eager to dive in. But,
Before we jump in to understand qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, let us first try to understand what exactly is research and the importance of research in understanding, interpreting, and presenting a solution to the problem.
Research is originally derived from the French term “recherche” which means “to go about seeking in the process of increasing the knowledge stock”.
According to the definition given by the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, “Research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. It involves both inductive and deductive methods.” Inductive methods involve analyzing an event, one such is qualitative research and deductive methods involve verifying the event, one such is quantitative research.
To put it in simple words, every problem will have a solution. So, the step-by-step actions involved in arriving at a solution can simply be termed as research.
There are so many methodologies involved in finding such a solution to the identified problem statement. But, this particular blog will speak only about qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. We will also deal with the rest of the methodologies in our upcoming blogs.
Focuses on the qualities of users— Perception & experience of people drive qualitative research (i.e.) the actions that drive the numbers
Qualitative research, the opposite of quantitative research is a descriptive, communicative and naturalistic approach to understand how people experience the world. Qualitative research methods originated in the social & behavioral sciences are based on the principles of psychology, sociology, and anthropology.
Therefore, Qualitative research methods are designed in a manner that involves collecting, analyzing, and understanding non-numerical data (e.g., text, video, or audio) which will reveal the perception of the target audience thus explaining ‘how’ and ‘why’ for a particular phenomenon. The Qualitative research approach is more subjective. It allows for an in-depth questioning of respondents that will help the researchers to gain insights and develop an understanding of the decision-making factors behind every purchase that will help in arriving at conclusions in market research.
Quantitative research is all about the numbers, interpretation of numeric data , and generalizing results across groups of people. The aim of a quantitative research study is to turn each data set into useful information which will either support or reject the hypothesis to help with decision-making. Unlike Qualitative research methodology, Quantitative research methodology is highly structured, systematic, and objective where numerical evidence is obtained from a large group of users which is logical, reliable, and unbiased.
|subjective approach||objective approach and conclusive|
|Expressed in words – verbal||expressed in numbers – measurable|
|open-ended questions||multiple choice questions|
|holistic in nature||particularistic in nature|
|exploratory research type methods||conclusive research type method|
|unstructured or semi-structured||considered to be much more structured than qualitative|
|It focuses on describing an action, rather than measuring it||It focuses on measuring an action, rather than describing it|
|engage and discover various ideas||examine the cause and effect between the variables|
|answer the "why?" or "how?" questions.||answers the “how many, how often, and to what extent?” questions|
Always remember to identify and choose respondents within your target market before proceeding with any of the following research methods.
The most common type of Qualitative research method is the Interview method which serves as a great opportunity to converse with the respondents. The interviews are generally one- on-one interviews conducted over the phone, skype, or even face-to-face with one respondent at a time.
Individual interviews paves way for researchers to gather in-depth and meaningful data from the respondents with the help of a prepared set of questions followed by a series of follow-up questions (i.e.) semi-structured interviews. Follow-up questions are an ideal way to read the body language of the respondents and collect further information for the research purpose.
The advantage of this method is that it provides a clear picture of the consumer behavior in formulating the marketing strategies. The respondent can feel comfortable as this is a one- on-one conversation which will allow the respondent to share their deep-rooted perceptions.
The drawback of this method is that sometimes the participants may also feel uncomfortable in sharing honest answers with the researcher which will affect the complete process.
A Focus group is a type of research method which involves interaction among a small group (around 6 to 10) of people. The set of people must be chosen based on the research area/topic of interest and other demographic factors that will pave the way to arrive at a neutral and unbiased conclusion. The questions must also be open-ended questions (exploration/engagement questions) in a way that can drive the discussion and uncover the perceptions/feelings that are deeply rooted.
Apart from participants, focus groups also include a moderator.
Moderator is the one who holds the responsibility of driving engagement among the group by
- Asking questions
- Observing the behavior, responses, and interaction,
- Taking notes and ensuring that everything is running smoothly.
A focus group can be led by two moderators where one can consider asking questions and the other can take the observational role.
The advantage is that Focus groups are less time-consuming when compared to in-depth interviews.
The drawback of this method is that it is truly challenging to assemble the sample and get honest opinions.
The oldest practice of closely watching the behavior of others is the observation method of collecting qualitative data. This method generally relies on the ability to observe the target audience rather than communicating with them. So, Qualitative observation generally deals with the 5 major sensory organs – sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing. and their functioning patterns in a particular situation.
Qualitative research method is a process where researchers will get involved in collecting data only by closely watching the behaviors of the target audience and their thoughts on a particular subject/Setting rather than actively interacting with them. The researcher can be a complete observer/complete participant/observer as a participant/participant as an observer to gain deeper insights into the real-world dimensions of the research problem.
Another example of qualitative research is the Case Study which involves a deep dive and comprehensive examination of a particular subject, person, or event to obtain in-depth data and complete knowledge of the subject. Case studies are very useful to formulate strategies, understand influences, and devise new methods in fields like education, social sciences, law, business, and health. Many companies use this as a technique when marketing their products/services to a range of new customers in a way to tell them how their business offerings can solve a particular problem. The case study is a unique method of conducting research, collecting data from various sources, and in building conclusion theories.
Surveys are the most fundamental research tool for any research methodology to gather data. In quantitative research methodology, the researcher will use surveys as a tool to collect numerical data from the respondents. This type of research can be conducted among a wide range of target audience to whom you can ask multiple questions and analyze the collected data.
Traditionally, researchers used to ask a predefined set of questions either face-to-face or via phone calls but with the evolution made by online mediums, survey research has spread across email or social media as well. The data analysis has also become so simple since there are plenty of online survey tools that can help you in creating responsive and interactive survey forms and built-in analytics that analyze the collected data in real time.
A prerequisite is that the sample of respondents must have randomly selected members based on any demographic factors so that accuracy of the obtained results can be maintained.
There are two types of surveys,
- Cross-sectional surveys are observational surveys where the data is collected from a sample of the target population at a given point in time.
- Longitudinal surveys are used when you want to observe market trends and customer behavior changes across different intervals of time.
A correlational research method is generally conducted to examine a relationship between two closely associated variables, how one impacts the other, and how it changes the relationship between the two variables. Researchers use this quantitative research design to analyze Patterns, relationships, and trends between variables in their original setup and give value to the naturally occurring relationships using mathematical analysis methods without the researcher controlling or manipulating any of them
The correlation between the two variables is generally observed to know the direction and/or strength of the relationship
If it results to be a positive correlation between both the variables then the change is in the same direction.
If it results to be a negative correlation between both variables then the change is in the opposite direction.
If it results to be a zero correlation between both the variables then there is no relationship between the variables being studied.
In this type of research methodology, relationships, trends, and patterns between or among the variables are sought and interpreted. But that doesn’t mean that the observed patterns must prove the cause of the patterns as Cause and effect is not the basis of this type of observational research. The data, relationships, and distributions of variables are only examined.
The relationships between the types of activities used in play school and student’s active engagement.
Experimental research is a type of quantitative research mainly used in natural or social sciences to establish the cause-effect relationship among a group of variables guided by a specific hypothesis or hypotheses. In such research studies, an independent variable can be manipulated to determine the effects on the dependent variable. There can be multiple theories for which efforts are made to understand a statement that can be verified or refuted in experimental research. So, basically in experimental research, an analysis is done to prove or disprove a specific hypothesis which is very useful in decision-making.
Before launching a new gadget, multiple prototypes of the product are created to test performance and capability post which the most effective design will be launched in the market.
The three types of experimental research designs are:
- Pre-experimental research design
- True experimental research design
- Quasi-experimental research design
So, this brings an end to our article on introducing qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.
See you soon in the next article!