The Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative And Qualitative Research Methods In order for the advancement of human knowledge to take place, there must be a search for any systematic investigation. The main goal of any type of research is to establish facts and produce new knowledge. The two research methods that can be applied to a study are qualitative and quantitative research. However, the type of research method that will be used will depend on the properties of the subject matter as well as the objective of the research. Both types of research methods encounter their own advantages and disadvantages. With regard to quantitative methods, data is controlled and measured in order to address the accumulation of facts and to determine the causes of behavior. It is the theorists who choose the questions and define what areas are seen as relevant for a certain study. The researchers try to recognize and isolate specific variables in order to see correlations, relationships, and causality. They try to avoid the risk of variables, other than the one being studied, by controlling the environment in which the data is collected in. This data is usually objective, numerically, and statistically based. In most cases, the methods which are explained in great detail can be easily replicated. This leads to a high reliability. The results can be reduced to a few numerical statistics and then interpreted in short statements. The use of quantitative instruments can verify observations collected during informal field observations. (Westerman, 2006) It can be very likely for findings to be biased by the researcher’s perspective with regard to quantitative research. Researchers should use subjects who are unknown to them. Since research often takes place in an unnatural setting, the researchers must create an “artificial” environment in an attempt to control the relevant variables. However, they cannot be 100% positive that the results obtained will reflect and apply in the real world. In other words, their data may provide unrealistic information. The fact that results may be statistically reliable and significant can also lead to a disadvantage for the reason that some things that are numerically precise are not true and vice versa. This type of data overlooks motivations, feelings, opinions, and attitudes of the researchers as well as the participants. Quantitative research has a low validity because it uses measures that capture only a tiny portion of the concept that is originally under the study. In this case, the research might not even measure what the researcher claims it does. In addition, quantitative research projects tend to cost more than qualitative research because they include a larger number of respondents. (Westerman, 2006) Qualitative data spans a range of material from the descriptions of social life provided by participant observation and unstructured interviews, to information from written source. It can be viewed as “a systematic approach to understanding qualities or the essential nature of phenomena within a particular context” (Dollaghan, 2007). Qualitative methods view data from another’s perspective and allows the researchers to obtain a more holistic approach because the data is collected within the context of its natural occurrence. It “allows phenomena to be described from using their own words, by regarding experiences, intuition, feelings, and vibes as relevant”. This type of research depends on the interpretations of individual experiences which will have a bearing on the findings, making replication in repeated research difficult. These researchers will study documents, case histories, and carry out observations and interviews. (Kneale & Santy, 1999) With regard to qualitative research, data is provided in depth and in detail. A sense of “openness” exists for the reason that new theories can be generated and one can recognize phenomena that were ignored by previous researchers. It attempts to avoid pre-judgments by trying to capture what is happening without being judgmental. This type of research can be viewed as a holistic approach that allows the researcher to examine the “totality” of a unit as well as describe current situations and existing phenomena. These results can be helpful in “pioneering new ground”. Qualitative data emphasizes the importance in understanding how people see themselves and their lives, what their situations mean to them, and how they adapt and cope with the problems that arise. (Wenger, 1999) Sample sizes in qualitative research are often small and the sampling is often purposive rather than focused on statistical principles, such as randomization. The unit of analysis is usually written description rather than numerically derived data. However, this type of research makes it difficult to accumulate data and make systematic comparisons. It is dependent upon the researcher’s personal attributes, skills, and participation in a setting. Objectivity is impossible to have since the researcher includes personal experience and insight as part of the relevant data. This type of research has very low reliability since it does not have a structured design or a standardized procedure. Many scientists view this as “soft” and “unscientific” research because statistics are not used and graphical results are not displayed. If there is any potential for research bias, then it needs to be mentioned in relation to the finding and conclusions drawn. (Kneale & Santy, 1999) The major ethical principles involved in research include autonomy, beneficence, non- maleficence, and justice. It is important for researchers to report how each of these issues has been dealt with before the reviewer can conclude that the study has been carried out in an ethical manner. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods search for bias, reliability, replicability, objectivity, and etc. One can say that quantitative measurements often rely on qualitative assumptions, about which concepts or hypotheses are worth measuring and conceptualizing. When using qualitative methods, the disadvantage of collecting data from a small group within the study can be compensated for using a quantitative survey instrument that collects data from all parties. Quantitative researchers will want consistent data to enable them to replicate their findings. At the same time, qualitative researchers require validity of data to provide representation of a true and full picture. Combining methods ultimately strengthens the valve of the research. References Dollaghan, A.C. (2007). The Handbook for evidence-based practive in communication disorders. Baltimore,MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Kneale, J., & Santy, J. (1999). Critiquing qualitative research. Journal of Orthopaedic Nursing, 3(1), 24-32. Wenger, G. C. (1999). Advantages gained by combining qualitative and quantitative data in a longitudinal study. Journal of Aging Studies, 13(4), 369-376. Westerman, M. A. (2006). What counts as “good” quantitative research and what can we say about when to use quantitative and/or qualitative methods? New Ideas in Psychology, 24(3), 263-274.
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