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Quantitative or Qualitative Research?

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The question: "What is at the heart of the debate regarding the two paradigms: the use of quantitative or qualitative research. Which side of the debate do you stand on? Support your position."

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Indeed there has been a paradigm conflict between qualitative and quantitative research methods.

While the debate is highly contentious, it seems to have spurred a false dichotomy between two modes of research when they are both vital in their respective regards and complementary of each other (Mertens, 2004).

Quantitative psychology approach relies heavily on fleshing out a very solid, structurally patterned, mathematical method towards collecting and analysing data. It is ideally suited for large population scenarios and for forming ideas that can be easily generalised on to ...

Solution Summary

A discussion inspired by what I consider the false dilemma that is created over qualitative research and quantitative research when there's an underlying relationship between the two that can be appreciated and used to support the view that they are not mutually exclusive and should not always be treated as opposing paradigms, but rather, complimentary concepts.

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This solution will explain what validity and reliability are in qualitative and quantitative research.

In the field of psychology, scientific researchers use the nomothetic approach to study groups of people in an experimentally controlled way. They are more apt to use large scale (rather than individual) studies via survey questionnaires to gather their quantitative data, and to compare differences and similarities between groups of people. Quantitative data results in numerical, statistical data that can provide a measure of association and causes between variables in a precise, mathematical way. Qualitative data, on the other hand, produces verbal summaries of research findings, with no numerical or statistical summaries that can be mathematically compared.

Seeing as that reliability and validity are represented in quantitative data as numerical figures, how can they apply to qualitative data in which there are no numerical figures to work with? It is hard if not impossible to determine the reliability and validity of qualitative research, so they have adapted other terms such as "precision", "credibility", "transferability", "trustworthiness", "dependability" and "goodness" to provide the criteria for determining the reliability and validity of qualitative research (Golafshani, 2003). Another problem with trying to explain the reliability and validity of qualitative research is that the researcher is a highly involved instrument of measurement, rather than some anonymous, scientific machine, so the results are always measured in a subjective rather than an objective light.

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