Research Methodology (Quantitative, Qualitative, Mixed Method)

Research Methodology (Quantitative, Qualitative, Mixed Method)

Many times people undertaking social science research projects are not aware of the differences between quantitative and qualitative research. They often think that the two methods are interchangeable. There are several characteristic differences between the two types of research in social work. Qualitative research is majorly explanatory research and is used for gaining an understanding of the underlying opinions, reasons, and motivations (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). Nonetheless, it provides comprehensive insights into social issues and helps in developing hypotheses and ideas to be used in quantitative research. It is also used for uncovering the trends in opinions and ideas while gaining a comprehensive understanding of the problem. Some common qualitative methods of research included observations or participation, individuals interviews, and focus groups. On the other hand, quantitative research is used for quantifying opinions, attitudes, behaviors, and other variables. It is also used when a general result from a large population sample is needed. Quantitative research employs measurable data to uncover patterns and create facts in social research (Buckley, 2018). They have more structured methods of data collection compared to qualitative research. Among the major methods of quantitative research include face-to-face interviews, all types of surveys, website interceptors, longitudinal studies, systematic observations, and online polls.

Another major characteristic difference between qualitative and quantitative is methods of data collection. Qualitative research is generally collected in a face-to-face or ‘natural’ setting. Researchers are not only asking participants direct questions; they are also observing the environment (Buckley, 2018). For example, if the study is about people who like using social media at workplaces, researchers will go to any workplace and observe how people use social media. They will also have open-ended questions to ask participants. The key to qual research is that observational data count in the analysis and that participants can tell them why they feel the way they do. On the other hand, quantitative research gathers data in numbers – ‘quantities,’ – generally to aggregate a large number of responses where you can claim that results are statistically significant (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). In the same example, a quantitative study would ask participants to complete a survey.

An additional characteristic is the number of subjects needed. For quantitative, researchers need more subjects (if they are using subjects) and they will use statistics for their analysis. It is assumed that the results are transferable to the wider population. Generally, this is meant to be objective research without bias. In contrast, qualitative needs fewer subjects, results would not be transferable and researchers will not have any hypotheses prior (Buckley, 2018). They also do not have to use any established instruments for questionnaires as they would have to do in quantitative.

The characteristics identified are essential to the type of research methodology since they provide an understanding of how social research should be conducted. When it comes to qualitative data the methods used help the researchers to find the missed issues and giant insider’s view of the study through close researcher involvement (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). The number of subjects and analysis used allows for contractions and ambiguities in the information collected which relates to the social reality. The methods used in quantitative research are useful for validating and testing theories that are already constructed. Through the statistical analysis, results can be interpreted and because statistics are grounded on mathematics principles, they are viewed as rational and objective.




Buckley, R. (2018). Simultaneous analysis of qualitative and quantitative social science data in conservation. Society & Natural Resources31(7), 865-870.

Rutberg, S., & Bouikidis, C. D. (2018). Focusing on the fundamentals: A simplistic differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 45(2), 209-213.


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