Qualitative and Quantitative Research: What is the difference?

Qualitative and Quantitative Research: What is the difference?

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Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Jun 19, 2024 13:32 IST

Qualitative and quantitative research are important for the proper analysis of data. However, these two methods differ in their approach towards research. While qualitative research takes a subjective approach, the quantitative approach is objective in nature.

difference between qualitative and quantitative research

In this article on qualitative and quantitative research, we will discuss the two methodologies along with the difference between the two. 

Table of Contents

Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

The following parameters set qualitative and quantitative research apart. 

Parameters Qualitative Research Quantitative Research
Format Expressed in words Expressed in numbers
Type Open-ended questions Multiple choice questions
Nature Holistic Particularistic
Interview Involves a process-oriented inquiry Does not involve a process-oriented inquiry
Approach Subjective Objective

What is Qualitative Research?

It is a first-hand market research method that focuses on data that is non-numerical in nature. ‘Why’ and ‘what’ are essential factors in qualitative research. The data is obtained from interviews, questionnaires, participant observation, and recordings in natural settings. The results of qualitative research provide data on consumer behaviour and requirements.

Importance of Qualitative Research 

Qualitative research is very important in any field as it helps in the following:

  1. Getting honest consumer feedback on products and services.
  2. Finding the target audience for your products. 
  3. Identifying the requirements and demands of consumers.
  4. Knowing about the areas of improvement.
  5. Understanding consumer sentiments to identify the latest trends.  

Types of Qualitative Research Method

The following are the different types of Qualitative research conducted:

  1. One-on-one interview: In this type of interview, researchers interview the participant. They question the participants about feedback, requirements, and problems they face. During these interview rounds, the interviewer not only records the responses but also records the body language of the participant. 
  2. Ethnographic research: It is a research method where participants are studied in their naturally occurring environment. The interviewer physically visits the respondent’s environment to collect data. Such research may vary in the timeline since it may take hours, days, or even years. Through ethnographic research, researchers gather very accurate data.  
  3. Focus group: In this method, a group of participants from within the target market is included in the research. The focus group can be either asked to visit a place for research, or they may be interviewed through an online survey. Focus can be of different types. They can be led by multiple moderators, or the participant can act as a moderator. There may also be two-way focus groups where one group observes the other group that conducts the study.
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What is Quantitative Research?

It is a research strategy that focuses on data analysis and quantifying the collection. This research is formed from a deductive approach that emphasizes the testing of a theory that is shaped by positivist and empiricist philosophies. The aim of this research is to develop theories, mathematical models and hypotheses pertaining to a phenomenon. Quantitative research focuses on measurements. 

Importance of Quantitative Research 

The following points emphasize the importance of quantitative research:

  1. Finding patterns in the data and accordingly making predictions. 
  2. Building a connection between mathematical expression and empirical observation.
  3. Drawing conclusions about the population based on the collected data.
  4. Decreasing and restructuring complicated situations to a restricted amount of variables.

Types of Quantitative Research Methods

  1. Comparative Research: It is a research methodology that is meant for making comparisons to discover something about things being compared. It helps in establishing a relationship between two or more phenomena with a valid reason.
  2. Correlational Research: This quantitative method is used for studying relationships among factors that are measured and recorded as research variables. Through these methods, patterns and trends are detected in the data. Since variables are not manipulated, results are not enough to establish the causes of patterns and trends. 
  3. Experimental Class Research: In this method, the researcher controls or manipulates independent variables to measure their effect on one or more dependent variables. The impact of independent variables is observed on dependent variables and is recorded over some time.  
  4. Descriptive Research: This research is focused on the ‘what’ part of the cause. No hypothesis is built in the beginning, but it is developed after data collection. Neither variables are manipulated in this type of research, nor the law of probability is used.

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Hope that this article has been helpful in understanding the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Both qualitative research and quantitative research are important for doing thorough data analysis. Therefore, it is important to understand both methods in detail. 


How is data analyzed in quantitative research?

Quantitative data analysis leverages statistical techniques such as descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, regression analysis, and hypothesis testing to interpret numerical data.

Can qualitative and quantitative methods be combined?

Yes, this is known as mixed-methods research. By combining these two approaches, one can gain a comprehensive understanding of the research problem by leveraging the strengths of both methods.

When do we need to use quantitative and qualitative methods?

Qualitative research is best for exploring complex issues, understanding social processes, and generating hypotheses through methods like interviews and observations, providing deep insight into behaviours and experiences.

In contrast, quantitative research focuses on testing hypotheses, measuring variables, and generalizing findings using statistical analysis and large sample sizes, making it practical for objective analysis and prediction.

About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio