Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative and Qualitative Research: The purpose of research is to enhance society by advancing knowledge through the development of scientific theories, concepts and ideas. The key aim of research is to have a detailed understanding of a subject matter which can be achieved by exploration, description and explanation.
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Meaning of Quantitative Research Method
Quantitative research involves the gathering of information and collection of data in quantities and numbers. It involves the observative strategy of research and uses statistics, computational methods and mathematics in developing theories.
It is purely a scientific/experimental method and does not rely on opinions. Rather this form of research is heavily based on formulating theories about events or phenomena through quantification before reaching a conclusion.
An example of Quantitative research is conducting surveys to determine the approval ratings of students in a Public University regarding the increase of tuition fees. In this scenario, one can distribute paper questionnaires, online surveys and polls to collate the figure representing the number of students who are either in agreement or in disagreement of the increase of tuition fees.
Advantages of Quantitative Research
I. It allows you to reach an accurate conclusion no matter how large the subject matter is. Take for example the scenario above, if the number of students were 2000 in number and you want to do a research on the approval ratings annually. The approach makes it simplistic for the researcher to easily deduce the accurate conclusion no matter how fast the number of students grow.
ii. It is less time consuming since it is based on statistical analysis. Thus, researchers are not burdened by drawing out explanatory strategies to generate an outcome.
iii. Quantitative research does not focus on opinions but only on accurate data which is more reliable and concrete.
iv. The research approach keeps the personal information anonymous. It protects the identity of the information provider. It only focuses on collection of data and people with this knowledge of identity preservation give honest opinions.
v. The research does not require a study group to be observed on a frequent basis. The problem of monitoring the subject matter to provide adequate information is eliminated by adopting this research. There is no need for face to face conversations or time consuming cross examinations to get the data the researcher needs.
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vi. Objectivity: The objectivity of quantitative research is one of its key benefits. The foundation of quantitative research is the utilization of numerical data, which is frequently considered to be more unbiased and trustworthy than qualitative data. Statistical methods make it simple to assess numerical data, and the results can be impartially understood and extrapolated to larger populations. This makes it possible for researchers to make accurate and trustworthy findings based on actual data.
Disadvantages of Quantitative research
I. As society grows, the opinions of people become so diversified and they are susceptible to the changes in the society when giving their opinions.
ii. There is no accurate generalisation of data the researcher received. In simpler words if for example, a researcher wants to know how many people are in support of secession in Nigeria. Qualitative research may show a large percentage in support of it but because there is no available option to revisit the data, the opinions could change in some time.
So it is an initial success but an eventual fail. Present circumstances may influence the opinions and ultimately the conclusion. It is the dynamic of society; As society evolves, so do the people’s perspectives and quantitative research does nit make provision for this dynamic.
iii. The cost of Quantitative research is relatively high. If you have ever conducted a physical or online survey which involves the distribution of questionnaires among targeted study groups, you will attest to the expensive nature of this research. Sometimes high profile firms and companies are involved which makes the research work more expensive.
iv. Experienced researchers are usually uncertain about the eventual data: The purpose of research is to explore a subject matter and generate an accurate conclusion. What happens when the data collected do not represent the entire study group?
It becomes extremely difficult to reach a valid conclusion when the data gathered is not an accurate representation of everyone involved especially when it involves a large study group. This is one of the worries that concern expert researchers.
v. Reductionist: One of the main criticisms of quantitative research is that it can be reductionist in nature. Quantitative research often focuses on specific variables and measures, which may not capture the complexity and richness of human experiences.
It may overlook important nuances, context, and qualitative aspects of a phenomenon, leading to a limited understanding of the research topic.
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Meaning of Qualitative Research Method
This type of research involves investigating methodologies by collecting data where the researcher engages in open ended questions. This means that the researcher is more engaging in his questions and attempts to elicit the most positively accurate data from his targeted subject group.
Unlike Quantitative research, it does not quantify hypothesis by numbers or statistical measurements. Rather it has a more exploratory approach with the “how” and “why” which is more detailed than a “yes” or a “no“. While Quantitative research deals with numerical figures, qualitative research deals more with words and meanings.
Advantages of Qualitative Research
I. Due to the depth of qualitative research, subject matters can be examined on a larger scale in greater detail.
ii. Qualitative Research has a more real feel as it deals with human experiences and observations. The researcher has a more concrete foundation to gather accurate data. Take for instance, if there is a survey on the evaluation of academic performance in secondary schools.
A Qualitative researcher has an advantageous position in knowing the reason behind the increase or decline of academic performance by having long and stretched out conversations with the students to get a comprehensive data and accurate conclusion.
iii. The researcher can flow with the initial data by asking further questions in respect of the answers. This is not the case in other forms of research.
iv. Qualitative Research allows the researcher to provide a more generalised data notwithstanding the multiplicity of perspectives and opinions. For example if majority of the students are split concerning the reason for academic decline with half of them saying it is due to bad teaching while the other half attributes the decline to inadequate facilities, all these are different opinions which only a Qualitative researcher can accommodate to arrive at a definite conclusion.
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v. The respondents to the researcher are authentic, unfiltered and creative with their answers which promises a more accurate data.
vi. Rich and Detailed Data: One of the main advantages of qualitative research is its ability to provide rich and detailed data that captures the complexity and nuances of human experiences. Qualitative data can provide in-depth insights into the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals, and can offer a holistic understanding of the research topic.
This can provide a deeper and more nuanced understanding of social phenomena and human behavior.
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Disadvantages of Qualitative Research
I. One of the challenges in this type of research is that the collected data is purely based on open ended discussions. This makes the researcher the controlling figure as the interviewer which results to gathering of data which he may find useful or not, necessary or unnecessary because of its highly subjective nature.
ii. The researcher may become too opinionated in the subject matter which may influence his recollection of data. Hence there is likely to be error in gathering the right information.
iii. Qualitative Research takes a lot of time and effort in execution. The means of eliciting information from a subject group and analysing the data received, filtering the relevant ones from the irrelevant ones are tedious processes. This is more complex when large companies are involved in the research.
iv. There is the possibility of lost data in the process of gathering. Qualitative Research is more demanding and requires a more meticulous approach than quantitative research. It is an enormous responsibility which non experienced researchers may have difficulty to bear.
v. Researchers must be experienced and have detailed knowledge in the subject matter in order to attain the most accurate data. This requires a special skill set and the process of searching for those researchers that fit the right caliber is not only costly but equally difficult, depending on the subject matter.
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vi. Subjectivity and Bias: The subjectivity and potential for bias of qualitative research are two of its key complaints. The interpretation and analysis of data used in qualitative research are subject to the researcher’s own biases, viewpoints, and preconceived beliefs. Given that various researchers may interpret the same data in different ways, the subjective aspect of qualitative research can have an impact on the validity and trustworthiness of the conclusions.
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In conclusion, it is worthy to note that both Quantitative and Qualitative researches are equally beneficial in the field of gathering data or information. Whether it is mathematically based or more of open ended discussions, it is imperative for a researcher to evaluate the essence of the research, the size of the target group or subject matter and the expenses involved. All these factors will guide a diligent researcher in determining the most trustworthy approach in research.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.