The following is a guest post by Niraj Rajput, cofounder and Head of Engineering at Chisel Labs
There are many ways to gather data in order to learn more about your target market. But, if you’re just starting out on the long road of research for your business, then you might be asking yourself “qualitative or quantitative?”
Qualitative research is a type of behavioral study that approximates and describes situations using non-numerical material such as observations.
To put it another way, it is focused on the user’s understanding of human nature.
Quantitative research comprises gathering numerical data. It uses predetermined techniques in order to uncover trends and patterns, draw conclusions, evaluate possible relations, and generalize findings to larger populations.
Today, you will learn about these two different types of studies in detail.
What is Qualitative Research?
Series of Steps Involved in Qualitative Research
Types of Qualitative Research
Advantages of Qualitative Research
Disadvantages of Qualitative Research
What Is Quantitative Research?
Multiples Stages Involved in Quantitative Research
Types of Quantitative Research
Advantages of Quantitative Research
Disadvantages of Quantitative Research
Key Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
When Do You Need Qualitative and Quantitative Research?
What is qualitative research?
Qualitative research is a form of behavioral study that utilizes non-numerical data such as experiences and recordings to approximate and describe events. Basically, it is focused on the user’s understanding of human nature.
It is a research tactic that aims to explore human behavior and learn more about it. In order to achieve this goal, qualitative researchers typically look for direct interaction with their participants. They do it by using interviews or focus groups as primary data collection methods.
Qualitative studies are used in all kinds of life-related disciplines such as social sciences, business management, and so on. But, they have become especially popular among marketing researchers who wish to do market segmentation and product testing.
They can also be defined as an exploratory method of doing a study. As in, you attempt to understand what motivates people from first-hand experience or observations rather than through traditional statistical analysis techniques.
With qualitative research, you might look at why customers choose one product over another based on what you observe them doing in their daily lives. This type of research is commonly associated with small sample sizes which might work well when studying some local issues.
Series of steps involved in qualitative research
Organization of your data is the first step in qualitative research.
The second step is open coding, where researchers assign codes to observations made while examining the raw text content of field notes based on commonalities between different statements that are similar enough for readers to connect with them as well.
The third phase entails axial coding, where analysis starts happening by connecting categories into complex networks.
Finally, selective coding happens when researchers choose appropriate chunks from previous phases that will contribute most towards developing an overall framework/understanding of what they are studying. This process should continue until every question is answered.
Types of qualitative research
There are 5 types of qualitative research which include:
- Grounded theory method: This data collection technique requires researchers to build on existing theories by inductively identifying patterns from qualitative interviews and devising new hypotheses that can be tested quantitatively.
- Ethnography: One of the most rigorous approaches to understanding how social groups live is ethnography which means ‘writing up’ or observing people who share some aspect of culture or behaviors. Ethnographers seek out specific individuals whose stories are then told for wider audiences.
- Phenomenology research methods: This form of study seeks to understand the meaning that people ascribe to their experiences. It is based on the assumption that individuals are able to interpret and use symbols in order to make sense of phenomena, including themselves.
- Narrative inquiry: A narrative approach entails researchers crafting research questions through detailed exploration of participants’ stories about significant events or problems.
- Case study method: It is a method of gathering thorough information about a specific person, group, or event. It is usually an in-depth study of a single case.
Advantages of qualitative research method
- Qualitative research can often provide deep insight into the human condition, and it can give a very thorough understanding of certain types of subjective phenomena.
- It also leaves room for flexibility in methods that allows researchers to answer more intuitive questions through their research.
- It can record dynamic opinions among the target market, which can be hard to capture through quantitative research methods.
- It also has the advantage of being able to generate ideas, which would otherwise not have been considered if only using numerical data alone.
Disadvantages of qualitative research method
- One of the main disadvantages of qualitative research is that it can be difficult to obtain a broad range of data since they are so subjective.
- It has the potential to leave out small groups in your target market, who might not have an opinion or experience specific enough for you to gain insight through their input.
- Another disadvantage is that these methods also require more time and effort on behalf of the researcher than quantitative studies do.
- Researchers need to be able to pick up on small details that may not necessarily come across in numerical data.
Now that we have got some idea about the qualitative research method, let us look at the quantitative research method.
What is a quantitative research method?
This method is the opposite of qualitative research and is used to gather information. This information can be quantitatively measured.
For example, it would allow researchers to measure changes in blood pressure over time.
Well, by asking participants to take their own measurements at different times throughout a study.
Most commonly, this method is applied in medical and social sciences studies where we want numerical data.
Such as height or duration of illness rather than subjective descriptions like pain levels or behavior patterns.
Multiple stages involved in quantitative research
- Framing questions: Framing questions is the first step in this process, as they help guide research.
- Sample selection: The specific population that will be studied needs to be determined before researchers can begin collecting data. This is called sampling. It helps cut down on costs by focusing efforts on a smaller group of participants with shared characteristics. It also ensures validity by ensuring only relevant data are collected.
- Data collection: There are two main types of quantitative studies – observational and experimental. Observational studies monitor behavior without influencing it. Meanwhile, experiments manipulate variables under controlled conditions to measure their impact on what happens next.
- Data analysis: Once all the information has been gathered, it then must be analyzed for patterns using statistical methods. For instance, mean median or model calculations lead to the development of the final results and findings.
Types of quantitative research
There are five types of quantitative research:
- Descriptive research: This type of research aims to help us understand the current situation and come up with a solution. It does not seek to prove any hypothesis but instead serves as an observational study that provides information.
- Predictive research: In contrast, predictive research is focused on testing hypotheses. In order to make future predictions about how certain variables will affect outcomes or behaviors, this type is used.
- Experimental research: This type of research is focused on testing whether a hypothesis is true or not by conducting an experiment. The results are then used to validate the original idea.
- Correlational research: This style allows us to explore associations between two variables without establishing causation. Also, it can be helpful in finding patterns within data that may reinforce hypotheses later on through other types of studies.
- Causal-comparative research: This technique of research is used to establish the effectiveness of two variables. But it will be against one another by using data from several different studies.
Advantages of quantitative research method
- The quantitative approach assists you to test your hypothesis in a “controlled environment.”
- This simply means that you will be able to manipulate variables with ease. This is unlike the qualitative approach, which requires more preparation and planning as it focuses on real-world scenarios.
- The results of your hypothesis can be easily presented using graphs and tables, which is not possible with qualitative research methods.
- This enables you to get a better understanding of why certain people behave in a particular manner or react in a specific way under different circumstances.
Disadvantages of quantitative research method
- The data can sometimes be misleading since it is created by humans.
- It can be difficult to find participants for this form of research that are completely unbiased and honest in their responses.
- The data gathered must be analyzed with care so the findings do not become warped or biased due to human error during analysis.
We got to learn about both qualitative and quantitative research methods in-depth. What’s next?
Key differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods
As we already discussed, The key difference between the two is that quantitative research produces numerical data. Whereas, qualitative research uses non-numerical information to approximate and describe events.
Qualitative research focuses on descriptive analysis which aims to understand certain situations in depth. This is done by studying them from different perspectives rather than utilizing direct observation alone. Understanding this basic concept will help you better grasp how these scientific studies function.
Quantitative study often employs surveys or questionnaires as its main method of collecting numerical data. It is done through a series of structured questions. It will be both open-ended and close-ended. These are then analyzed. Statistical methods are used for comparison purposes across various subgroups within the population being studied.
Qualitative research focuses on what participants say about their own behavior. Whereas, Quantitative research involves objective observations.
Qualitative research focuses on gaining knowledge about something through detailed descriptions from participants. Quantitative research aims at finding answers to questions with real-world implications.
Qualitative researchers attempt to understand what causes certain behaviors by studying a single event in detail without controlling any factors influencing it since this type of research is exploratory in nature.
Contradicting to this, in quantitative studies, variables are identified before being studied so as not to influence the outcome of the results. This allows for accurate representation across various subgroups identified previously through statistical methods.
When do you need qualitative and quantitative research?
You would have to apply qualitative research when needed to answer a question that requires in-depth or rich information. This type of study is particularly helpful when you seek an understanding.
Because it allows for the discovery and interpretation of data from subjective responses, such as people’s thoughts, feelings, values, and opinions about something [to be researched].
Qualitative is particularly beneficial when you want to know why and how something is happening.
It aims at developing an understanding of complex phenomena that are not easy to capture by numerical data. This method is going to be highly useful in disciplines that are subjective, such as social sciences and humanities.
You would have to apply quantitative research when needed to answer a question that requires numerical data or hard facts. This type of study is particularly helpful when you seek an exact number.
Because, it allows for the testing of hypotheses through scientific processes, such as controlled experiments and statistical analysis [towards measurable criteria].
Quantitative research is used when you need to know the quantity of something or how much effect one thing has on another.
It is an appropriate methodology for testing hypotheses about relationships between variables – what causes a behavior change above, both methods have their advantages and disadvantages thus it’s important to use them wisely depending upon your specific needs.
For example: if you want to create new products based on market conditions (quantitatively) then the quantitative method will come in handy but if you’re looking at cultural phenomena (qualitatively), then the qualitative method will help you.
A few companies use both methods to get a full and clear view of their consumers’ needs and desires which is the most effective strategy.
Qualitative data is subjective whereas quantitative data is objective.
The difference between these two kinds of studies can be easily summarized by understanding that one provides context for behavior.
Whereas, the other explains the frequency and likelihood of specific outcomes or events occurring.
Which among the two would you rather choose for your research?
Niraj is co-founder and Head of Engineering at Chisel Labs, a premiere agile product management software company that brings together roadmapping, team alignment, and customer connection. Niraj is passionate about building scalable infrastructure and systems and he also happens to be a huge fan of Cricket!