Qualitative vs Quantitative | Difference Quantitative vs Qualitative?

Qualitative vs Quantitative Data: Know The Difference With Examples

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by Alan Jackson — 2 years ago in Business Ideas 8 min. read
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Last updated on 8th April 2022

Research is simply the investigation of existing facts, theories, or assumptions to create knowledge. Qualitative vs Quantitative research may be conducted to generate new methodologies, concepts, and understanding. Research can also be carried out to advance the development of business strategies and several techniques may be employed to achieve this.

Research is usually defined by the methodology used in investigating and interpreting facts. There are two main types of research techniques. They include quantitative vs qualitative research. You have probably heard the same thing in class.



But why does it seem impossible to understand how both of these research techniques work? The answer is simply because you are yet to understand the difference between them.

In this article, I am going to be discussing the difference between quantitative vs qualitative research.

Qualitative Vs Quantitative – Explained

Before I explain the difference between qualitative vs quantitative, it is essential to understand what it means for something to be quantitative or qualitative.

A thing is qualitative when it focuses on a property, attribute, and level of excellence, instead of numbers. Qualitative deals with a phenomenon that can be observed more than a phenomenon that can be measured.

A thing is quantitative when it focuses on the use, application, and implications of numbers. Quantitative necessarily involves the analysis of the relationship between a group of numbers. And a conclusion is usually inferred from the analysis.

You can identify which research technique to use by understanding the primary focus of the study.

Qualitative Vs Quantitative Data (A Detailed Guide)

In this section, I am going to be discussing research data and how it works in qualitative and quantitative research. Research data is simply any information that has been collected to validate or arrive at a research conclusion.

Generally, your research data is determined by the research approach you are using. Qualitative Vs quantitative data simply tells you the type of data that is used for each of these types of research.

What is Qualitative Data?

Qualitative data is any non-numerical information, and characterized by properties and attributes relevant to the study of a phenomenon.

The information can be derived from observing the phenomenon in its natural form. It may also be derived from a recorded video of the phenomenon in question. Qualitative data can be text, a photograph, audio files, or video.

Method of Collecting Qualitative Data

Qualitative data can be collected using either of the following-

  • One-on-one interview
  • Observation
  • Case studies
  • Study Review

A. One-on-One Interview

This involves a one-on-one question and answers session. Research data from interviews can be gotten by following these three essential steps.

  • Choose relevant interviewee
  • Design interview questions
  • Proceed with the interview

Generally, research interviews may be formal or informal depending on the research topic and the interviewee’s personality. The research may also require a recorder to ensure responses are captured accurately.

B. Observation

Observation is important when we talk about qualitative vs quantitative research data. This is used in both research approaches, and the only difference is how it is used. A qualitative researcher observes and records relevant information.

C. Case Study

Qualitative research data can be gathered through an in-depth study of a particular group or phenomenon. Case studies usually involve one or more methods of data collection. For instance, the researcher may combine observation, and documentaries to make inferences.

D. Study Review

This involves the study of existing reports and documents on the research subject. It is the use of existing information to run your research. Researchers may have to review what others have said on the subject.

What is Quantitative Data?

Quantitative data is simply any information expressing a certain amount, quantity, or range. This type of data is structured in nature – meaning it is specific and defined. 

Unlike qualitative data, its information cannot be derived through observation. It is measured using number, formulas, and values, hence making it more acceptable for data analysis.

Method of Collecting Quantitative Data

There are three main methods for collecting quantitative data, which include:

  • Experiment
  • Observation
  • Survey

A. Experiment

Quantitative data may be derived from manipulating variables to establish cause and effect relationships. This may be done on a large scale, or even for a small number of variables.

B. Observation

This involves a close study of a subject in their natural environment. Observation is used where variables can not be controlled such as in a natural environment. The researcher may be required to visit the subject’s natural environment.

C. Survey

A survey is different from an experiment and observation. It is something related to examining the real situation of a factual event using data in hand to know more about it.

Generally, surveys are used in most quantitative research. However, surveys have also been used in qualitative research such as customer feedback survey. Researchers use surveys to gather information from a selected sample of people.

Quantitative surveys are also used to test hypotheses by collecting numbers from data. While qualitative surveys collect data to describe a topic. A survey is not necessary for most qualitative research.

Sometimes students struggle with writing qualitative or quantitative research projects in college or university. A research paper service with professional academic writers can be a great solution for them.

Also read: Best 10 Email Marketing Tools in 2021

Significant Examples of the Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Let’s understand clearly the difference between these two statistical data i.e. qualitative vs quantitative data by referring to some definite examples.

Qualitative data example:

  • My colleague has curly reddish hair and brown eyes. 
  • My team leader has cool behavior and a louder voice.
  • The dinner was delicious.

Quantitative data example:

  • The customer has requested to change his address 10 times. 
  • Congratulations team on completing 15 years of journey.
  • 10 tons of onions were purchased this month.

Some other examples of qualitative data include sex, name, state of origin, color, etc. While examples of quantitative data include the number of people living in Africa in 2020, the number of students that wrote a particular test, etc.

Quantitative vs Qualitative Research

Quantitative vs Qualitative research deals with investigation, interpretation, and conclusion. Qualitative research involves the gathering and interpretation of non-numerical data to capture opinion and interest.

This research approach seeks to answer how and why a particular phenomenon functions the way it is.

Qualitative research data includes non-numerical materials in the form of text, audio files, and videos. This research technique is preferred to quantitative research where an in-depth understanding of a problem is necessary.

Qualitative research is used in the humanities and social sciences. Fields like Philosophy, Anthropology, Education, History, etc, favour qualitative research over quantitative research.

Advantages of Quantitative Over Qualitative Research

Some of the advantages of quantitative research over qualitative research include the following:

  • Research results are usually more reliable if the research is tailored towards objectivity.
  • The use of analytical tools makes quantitative research less strenuous than qualitative research
  • Qualitative research can be replicated anywhere in the world
  • Research design eliminates researchers’ personal bias
  • Research results can serve as benchmarks for generalizations

Disadvantages of Quantitative vs Qualitative

Quantitative research also has lots of disadvantages over qualitative research. Some of them are:

  • Qualitative research does not take place in a natural setting
  • Data quantity may affect the generalizability of research result
  • Expertise may affect the credibility of results
  • Inability to give up a theory or hypothesis may affect the objectivity of research

Advantages of Qualitative Over Quantitative Research

You may opt for qualitative research over quantitative research due to the following reasons:

  • Unlike quantitative research, you can easily modify the purpose and method of analysis in qualitative research.
  • Qualitative research provides a better platform for researchers to explore a research topic.
  • Qualitative research can capture changes in attitudes and patterns of a study group better than quantitative research.
  • Qualitative research is naturally suited for the in-depth study of a phenomenon.

Disadvantages of Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

Despite the good points, qualitative research has got its fair share of disadvantages over quantitative research. They include the following:

  • Qualitative research is usually limited by the size of the research subject.
  • It is difficult to generalize research results.
  • Personal bias may affect qualitative research results.
  • Qualitative research can be stressful as data analyses are usually done manually.

On the other hand, quantitative research involves the collection and analysis of numerical data. This research is often used to test the causal relationship between variables.

For example, quantitative research may study the percentage increase in cocoa production caused by an increase in the use of machines in Africa between 2007-2020.

This type of research may involve tables, graphs, and charts to represent relationships between numbers and a particular period. Qualitative research data are used to show averages and patterns, and make predictions. 

Quantitative research data are usually obtained from experiments, controlled observations, and questionnaires.


When To Use Qualitative Vs Quantitative Research

You may use quantitative research to find out relations, and differences in the object in terms of values or sums.

You may use qualitative research to measure or examine the subject’s value or to signify standards.

As a researcher, it is salient that you can identify when to use qualitative or quantitative methods in research. A common way to do this is by defining the purpose of the research.

Is the purpose to test or confirm something. If yes, then quantitative research is what you need. If the purpose of the research is to better understand a concept or a theory, qualitative research works fine.

Quantitative research is naturally suited for inductive research, while qualitative research is suited for deductive research. Quantitative research also favors experimental studies more than correlations and descriptive studies.

By defining the research purpose, method, and type, you can know whether to use quantitative vs qualitative methods.

Qualitative Vs Qualitative Analysis

Qualitative data analysis
Analysis in quantitative vs qualitative research involves some steps. In qualitative analysis, the researcher must decide whether the research will use the deductive or inductive approach.

Deductive analysis occurs when a researcher uses a predetermined structure to analyze data. This often happens when the researcher has an idea of the responses he or she will receive from a sample population.

While inductive analysis is used where the researcher does not know what he or she expects from the sample population. There are four simple steps to follow when you are doing qualitative analysis. They include

  • Collect and organize data
  • Set a code to the data collected
  • Ensure nothing is missing
  • Conduct the analysis

The above method is different from quantitative analysis. In quantitative analysis, the researcher makes use of mathematical or statistical models to interpret data. Some common techniques for quantitative analysis include-.

  • Regression analysis: used for estimating the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables.
  • Linear programming: used to ensure that optimal performance is guaranteed by a research result
  • Data mining: used to evaluate very large data to identify patterns and correlations within them.

Quantitative analysis should reveal the following information:

  • Trends, and causal relationships
  • Implications of data results
  • Limitation of result where possible

Conclusion: Qualitative vs Quantitative Data

Let me ask this you. How well do you understand these statistical research concepts related to Qualitative vs Quantitative Data or Structured vs Unstructured Data?

Still, confused…!

Imagine you’re referring to understanding these two polite concepts with yourself as an example. To learn qualitative data, consider quality identifiers such as the color of your hair and clothes, style of your hair, and nose shape. While determining quantitative data, consider measurable facts such as your age, height, hair length, and shoe size.

I believe you can identify each and apply each of them where necessary. All you have to do is to read our guide ‘Qualitative vs Quantitative Data’ anytime you are confused about them.

Qualitative vs Quantitative Data FAQ

1. What does qualitative mean?

The word Qualitative refers to a relation to the nature or standard of something despite its quantity.

2. What are quantitative and qualitative research?

Quantitative and Qualitative research is a part of Statistical research. Quantitative research involves the collection and analysis of numerical data. On the other hand, qualitative research is the study, collection, and interpretation of non-numerical data.

3. Is quantitative better than qualitative?

It is hard to say which one is better than the other amid both have more-than-substantial attributes. However, based on the nature of the research you could probably figure out from which aspect of research you could get better results. As per that you could conclude the better one.

4. What are examples of quantitative data?

Representation of quantitative data includes the number of students in high schools in a given location, the figure of medical doctors in a state, the inflation rate in the US during the lockdown, etc.

5. What are examples of qualitative data?

The research resulting in the measurement of conclusions other than number or value are representations of qualitative data. For example, the color of your hair, loud voice or music, etc.

6. What are the similarities between quantitative and qualitative?

The most obvious similarity between these two statistical research is that one does not negate the fact that the other can also be used during the research. Qualitative research can lead to quantitative research and vice versa. Both quantitative and qualitative require observation. However, the type and intensity of observations may differ.

Alan Jackson

Alan is content editor manager of The Next Tech. He loves to share his technology knowledge with write blog and article. Besides this, He is fond of reading books, writing short stories, EDM music and football lover.

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