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Quantitative vs Qualitative Research

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I need help identifying three characteristics of a qualitative study that are unique. Also three characteristics of a quantitative study. Can you discuss and compare these differences.

An example: a qualitative study will use what is called "purposeful sampling," while a quantitative study (specifically an experimental study) uses random sampling. The task would be to define and compare these different sampling methods and explain why each is important regarding the kind of design.

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Qualitative puts subject at the centre of investigation and often relies on the participant's narrative or observed behavior to inform the study.
Method of data collection includes interviews, focus groups, observation.

Qualitative analyzes the data using themes and tries to uncover the participant's complete story.

Qualitative is often used for critical sociology focusing on social change.

Quantitative relies on demographic information, census data, or survey data. Participant's words or data are interpreted as a number or scale.

Quantitative relies upon computers to analyze data.

Quantitative often adheres to a positivist perspective.

Both methods have strengths and weaknesses. Qualitative is better suited to small studies because data collection and analysis is very time consuming. Interviews, focus groups, and observation take more time, money and skill to complete properly. However, qualitative is able to uncover a rich detailed picture of the daily lived reality of participants. Quantitative studies are more feasible for larger samples and allow for larger studies. Nevertheless, it is restricted to explaining the world statistically.

The intent behind qualitative studies is to first allow participant's voices to remain central to the study, however it is mindful of the obstacles the researcher faces while trying to represent reality ...

Solution Summary

This solution examines the unique differences between quantitative and qualitative research. It outlines some of the unique characteristics of each approach. The advantages and disadvantages of these characteristics are compared and discussed. This focuses on data collection, analysis, at risk populations and the researcher's bias. 817 words.

See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

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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