What Are the Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Method?

There are two standard types of research methodologies- qualitative and quantitative. It is very important to know the differences between these two separate ways because when you select a research topic, you must determine which methodology best suits your study. While qualitative methodology explores non-quantifiable variables (e.g. meaning), quantitative methodology deals with quantifiable variables (e.g. numbers, statistics). Moreover, this fundamental difference refers to distinct procedures in the research process. This article is going to demonstrate these differences with substantive examples.


Qualitative vs. Quantitative methodology

This table illustrates brief differences between Qualitative and Quantitative methodology.





Qualitative research is a sort of study that deals with non-numerical information which seeks to translate meaning from these experiences that helps understand the depth of the information. 

Quantative research is the systematic examination of data by gathering quantifiable information and performing factual, numerical, or computational strategies to conclude a decision.

Theoretical approach

Explores and interprets the research questions. Thus, it demonstrates inductive approach.

Examins hypothesis or existing theories. Thus, It depicts deductive approach.

Data collection

In-depth interview, participant observation, focus group discussion, ethnography, literature review etc.

Questionnaire survey, structured observation, experiment, fact checking, statistical test etc.

Sample size

Generally needs few but descriptive data.

It requires large number of data with variety of sources.

Data analysis

Content analysis, themetic analysis, narrative analysis, grounded theory etc.

Univariatte analysis, bivariate analysis, multivariate analysis. It demonstrates measuring statistical values such as central tendency, dispersion, correlation etc.


Comprehensive, descriptive.

Analytical, conclusive


Reveals the context of a specific experiences, explores the depth of the variables.

Concludes the inquiry, mathemetically sound and rational.


Difficult to apply conventional standards of reliability and validity.

Can't accomodate enormous non-numerical variables, 

Breaking down the Qualitative-Quantitative divide

The differences between qualitative and quantitative research imply epistemological and ontological contrast (Bryman, 2012). It elucidates a different point of view and interpretation style to the same event. For example, a study by Savage et. al. (2001) finds that there is a significant racial practice in day to day life of respondents while the survey report demonstrates a lower amount of racial allegation. Thus, sometimes it becomes challenging to disintegrate the findings of both approaches.

Another facet of the contrast emerges from the “number versus words” debate. For example, understanding the interaction between seller and customer can be considered. A number of factors can influence a customer to buy a product. Among these, codifying the impact of the seller’s behavioral approach is difficult. It’s not impossible, some of the researchers argued the model of “quasi-quantification” to resolve it. It elucidates a systematic quantification of behavior, such as “humble”, “more humble”, “less humble”. So, qualitative data does not represent the hard numbers.

The differences in the research process

Knowing the differences in the research process between qualitative and quantitative leads you to a methodologically sound research paper. In this part, you are going to explore several data collection methods.

Qualitative data collection

In-depth Interview: It illustrates an expression of the respondents with a storytelling approach. It follows an open-ended structure. The researcher basically observes respondents’ experiences. Though the researcher has a plan to guide the conversation, he/she remains open to the respondent’s way of telling.

Focus Group Discussion: A discussion among a group of people on a certain topic. The bunch of participants is guided by a moderator (or group facilitator) who presents subjects for dialog and makes a difference for the group to take part in an energetic and normal talk among themselves. The ideal number of FGD is between six and eight.

What Are the Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Method?
The ideal number of FGD is between 6 and 8

Ethnography: It includes inundating yourself in a specific community or organization to observe their behavior and interactions, it facilitates you to gain a participatory realization of a group’s social practice, cultures, norms, customs, lifestyle, etc.


Quantitative data collection

Survey: Survey implies collecting data around a group of individuals by asking them questions. A quantitative study generally puts the close-ended questions in the survey questionnaire.

Experiments: An experiment is a data collection strategy where you as an analyst alter a few variables and watch their effect on other variables. The factors that you just control are referred to as independent whereas the variables that alter as a result of control are subordinate variables

Polls: A poll is a short survey of knowing people’s choices and understanding what works for them. Polls can assist you to measure the degree of the success of any occasion or activity and are carried out at different stages.

In conclusion, there are basic differences between qualitative and quantitative research methodology. Researchers also choose a mixed-method where both the qualitative and quantitative are combined.


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