Advantages And Disadvantages Of Qualitative And Quantitative Research Pdf

advantages and disadvantages of qualitative and quantitative research pdf

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Qualitative and quantitative are widely used research methods that act as powerful sources of insight for marketers. Generally speaking, qualitative research explores what people think, feel and do while quantitative gives a measure of how many people think, feel or behave in a certain way.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Quantitative and Qualitative Research

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. Fernando Almeida. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. IntroductionThe scientific methodology is a tool of fundamental importance for the knowledge of the methods that are used in the elaboration of a scientific document, such as a manuscript, dissertation or a work of completing a university course.

Scientific methodology includes the study of the methods or the instruments necessary for the elaboration of a scientific work. Flanagan claims that the scientific method is the most powerful tool for discovering truths about the world, explore new theories and perform their empirical validation.

Therefore, scientific research is the process of performing systematic and intensive inquisitions, which aims to discover and interpret the facts that are inserted in a certain reality. In relation to its approach, scientific research can be qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative research is not concerned with numerical representativity, but with the deepening of understanding a given problem. In qualitative research, the researcher is both the subject and the object of his research.

The objective of the qualitative methodology is to produce in-depth and illustrative information in order to understand the various dimensions of the problem under analysis. Qualitative research is therefore concerned with aspects of reality that cannot be quantified, focusing on the understanding and explanation of the dynamics of social relations. Maxwell advocates that qualitative research works with the universe of meanings, motives, aspirations, beliefs, values and attitudes, which corresponds to a deeper space of relationships, processes and phenomena that cannot be reduced to the operationalization of variables.

On the other side, in quantitative research, the data can be quantified. Disciplines such as mathematics and statistics assume a fundamental importance in the process of analysis and generalization of the results obtained.

Quantitative research focuses on objectivity and is especially appropriate when there is the possibility of collecting quantifiable measures of variables and inferences from samples of a population. Quantitative research adopts structured procedures and formal instruments for data collection. The data are collected objectively and systematically. Finally, the analysis of numerical data is performed through statistical procedures, often using software such as SPSS, R or Stata.

The study of the potentialities and weaknesses of the various research methodologies has been of interest to several researchers. However, in practice, there are several difficulties in choosing the most appropriate research methodology and methods best suited to a given study.

This work intends to give an important contribution in this decision process, through the systematic analysis of several research methods in order to emphasize its strengths and limitations. The paper is organized as follows: First, we perform a review of the state of the art in the field of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Then, we present the adopted methodology, followed by the comparison of the most relevant advantages and disadvantages offered by each research method.

Finally, we draw the conclusion of our work. State of the ArtThere are several studies that analyze generically the fundamental models of scientific research, in which qualitative and quantitative methodologies are used. Atieno MethodologyIn order to get a comprehensive background for understanding the current knowledge in research methods for qualitative and quantitative methodologies we adopted a narrative literature review. Two very important of this approach are the following i it is helpful in developing conceptual or theoretical frameworks Coughlan et al.

For each methodology, we capture its main methods and we describe the various needed steps in the application of each of the methods. A mind map representation of these identified methods may be found in Figure 1 and After that, we synthesize the main characteristics and properties of each of the identified methods, both for qualitative and quantitative methodologies. In a first step, we present the evolution of the total number of publications for each method.

Then, we describe each method and, in a second phase, we perform a comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each method. This approach will enable a reader of this manuscript to easily identify in which situations the use of each of the methods is advised.

Figure 4 shows the distribution of the total number of publications by each qualitative method. We highlight the following three kinds of methods: i case studies; Results and Discussion Qualitative Methodologies ii field research; and iii focus group. ObservationObservation is a systematic process of collecting information, in which researchers observe a given phenomenon in their natural environment. This method is especially indicated when a given topic is relatively unexplored and it becomes important to understand in detail a given phenomenon, while maintaining the environmental conditions in which it occurs.

Observation is a good way of collecting data simultaneously with the occurrence of the event, without interfering with the occurrence of the event. It is an unobtrusive and very flexible method, oriented to the discovery of knowledge. In some situation, such as the analysis of the behavior of people and animals, is the only way to obtain data in a reliable way. On the other side, it is a very time consuming method, which requires prior preparation and the availability of the researcher to visit the place where the event occurs.

EthnographyEthnography consists of observing a situation and conducting interviews with its participants. In an ethnographic research the researcher tries to interpret the situation being observed from the perspective of the participants. According to Nurani , Field researchField research allows researchers to have a depth perception about people and processes.

The collection of data is done on the field and it can occur over an extended period of time. As stated by Blackstone , social facts may not appear and be revealed to a researcher in a first moment, but they can be discovered over time during the course of a field research project. Focus groups can provide a broader range of information and they offer the opportunity to seek clarification, if there are topics that need further clarification.

However, focus groups can be hard to control and manage. Additionally, it can be difficult to encourage people to participate and, therefore, they may not be representative of non-users. Case studiesCase studies provide a mean to investigate complex situations with multiple variables under analysis. Case studies are particularly appealing for advancing a field's knowledge base.

They are very popular in the fields of applied sciences in the areas of social sciences, education and health. Case studies offer a good opportunity for innovation and challenge current theoretical assumptions. They can also be a good alternative or complement to the focus group method. However, it can be difficult to establish a cause-effect connection to reach conclusions and it can be hard to generalize, particularly when a small number or case studies are considered.

Structured interviews In-depth interviewsIn-depth interviews are a kind of unstructured, direct, and personal interview with each respondent. In this process, the researcher typically begins with a generic question, and then encourages the respondent to speak freely about the topic.

There is also a variant that considers the existence of semi-structured interviews, in which there is a set of predefined questions, but in which freedom is given to explore one of the questions in greater depth. In-depth interviews provide very rich information and it offers the opportunity to ask follow-up questions, probe additional information, justify previous answers, and establish a connection between several topics.

It also offers a comfortable atmosphere in which people may feel more comfortable to establish a conversation. However, there are some limitations and pitfalls, because it is time-intensive and it is not generalizable. Table 2 summarizes the main advantages and disadvantages associated with each method considered for the qualitative methodology.

Comparison of approaches Field experimentsField experiments take place in real life settings. It involves the isolation and manipulation one or more variables to test the effect. This approach is also common in sociology and applied science like bioengineering and medicine.

Field experiments offer significant strengths when compared to lab experiments. It offers a natural setting rather than an artificial lab setting. It is suitable to observe SimulationThe simulation consists in the adoption of certain mathematical techniques, used in computers, which allow imitating the operation of almost any type of operation or process of the real world.

Therefore, it represents the behavior of real systems through the exercise of models. Simulation can be used to describe the behavior of the system, construct theories and hypotheses considering the observations made, or use the model to predict future behavior. Simulation is an appropriate method to analyze complex and large practical problem, when it is not possible to model it previously using a mathematical model.

Additionally, it can be used to compress a time frame, which is suitable to investigate quickly the effects of a change in a real life situation. However, the simulation also presents disadvantages, such as model building requires deep knowledge of the field and it can be time consuming and expensive. SurveysSurveys are a research technique that allows the collection of data directly from a person involved in the researcher through a set of questions organized in a certain order.

It is one of the most used quantitative techniques, since it allows obtaining information about a given phenomenon, through the formulation of questions that reflect the opinions, perceptions and behaviors of a group of individuals. Surveys offer several benefits. Two of those most important benefits include the high representativeness of the entire population and the low cost of the method when compared to other alternatives.

On the other side, the reliability of survey data is very dependent on the survey structure and the accuracy of answers provided by the respondents. Correlational studyCorrelational research is essentially an exploratory technique that seeks to determine whether there is a relationship between two or more variables.

There is no manipulation of variables, but only an investigation of the extent to which the variables are related. The strength and direction of the relationship are two characteristics highlighted by a correlational study. Looking at the correlation coefficient, we can easily quantify observational data. At the same, we can collect a wide range of information from many domains at one time and it is possible to study the interrelations among those variables.

However, correlation doesn't indicate causation, because the association between two variables could potentially be explained by a third variable.

Multivariate analysisMultivariate analysis consists of a set of methods that can be used when multiple measurements are made for each individual or object of one or more samples. The methods typically applied are included in the large group of descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.

These techniques can be applied in a wide range of situations, such as market research, process optimization and quality control. Multivariate techniques allow researchers to explore relationships between variables using the most appropriate methods for each situation.

The statistical process to be adopted should be adjusted to suit the characteristics of the environment under analysis. However, these techniques are generally complex and require the use of specialized statistical software, which is generally expensive.

Table 3 performs a comparative analysis of the main advantages and disadvantages that can be found in each quantitative method. Comparison of approaches ConclusionScientific studies are fundamental to increase the horizons of theories and explain the phenomena of society.

Research methods are used for the development of scientific studies, which allow specific analysis according to the methodology employed by the researcher.

10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

Both qualitative and quantitative methods of user research play important roles in product development. Data from quantitative research—such as market size, demographics, and user preferences—provides important information for business decisions. Qualitative research provides valuable data for use in the design of a product—including data about user needs, behavior patterns, and use cases. Each of these approaches has strengths and weaknesses, and each can benefit from our combining them with one another. Quantitative studies provide data that can be expressed in numbers—thus, their name.


Selecting the best research method allows you to successfully answer a research question or test a hypothesis. Missteps at the onset of the research process may derail an otherwise promising study. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative methods will help you make a better decision.

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Qualitative research has the potential to complement quantitative data by providing depth and perspective to statistics. At its core, qualitative research data stems from the human experience. Qualitative research can change on the fly, based on reactions and responses by the participants as they come in. During a research session for an upcoming movie, data pouring in shows that respondents have fairly neutral feelings towards Ending A and Ending B.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Qualitative & Quantitative Research

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