Qualitative vs Quantitative Research Methods: Application Fields

Qualitative vs quantitative research methods – how to distinguish them? What do you usually use, the first research kind or rather the second one? Which of them do you like more and which of them do you usually use more frequently? Come on, don’t you know what are the peculiarities for each of them?

Quantitative vs Qualitative Research Definition and Purposes

So, if you don’t have a clear idea about these two typical methods of data learning, we better start with the quantitative vs qualitative research definition. First of all, you should get a clear idea of what their differences and similar features are, and only then, we will be able to move further.

So, as you can see already from the name, quantitative research takes into consideration numbers as well as mathematical calculations based on numbers. The qualitative research considers narrative data (opinions, ideas, stories). So, in the first case, a conclusion is made based on numerical values. In the second case, however, a conclusion is made based on stories and opinions.

But what is qualitative vs quantitative research methods and in which fields each of them is used? You can make already some guesses, or rather, conclusions, based on the definition. However, those are just your guesses, so what about moving to further explanations?

What Is Qualitative Research and What Is It for?

If you define qualitative research, then, it should sound like “research that is based on some kind of narrative data.” But, what is conveyed by this simple explanation? The qualitative research definition already tells a lot about its application field. You definitely cannot use it in the areas where you need some statistical, some exact data.

For example, developing a medical preparation based on qualitative research would be a complete failure. However, developing a new psychological or behavioral theory could be successful if you use this particular method of the research.

What Is Quantitative Research and Where It Can Be Used?

This kind of research uses exact data, or rather numbers, to make decisions and conclusions. Yep, that could be a quantitative research definition. When you are developing new machines, tools, medications, preparations – whatever needs to be measured and tested correctly, you use this method, the quantitative method.

When to Use Qualitative vs Quantitative Research: Fields and Methods

These two traditional research methods represent entirely different approaches not only to data collection but also to the processing and application of the results. Hence, they are used in completely different fields. What about the significant difference between qualitative and quantitative research? Could you define it? When we speak about the qualitative method, we generate a hypothesis based on the acquired results. If we talk about the quantitative method, we generate a hypothesis and test it with the received results.

When you try to identify at least the major application fields of them, you will see, that one has nothing to do with the other one. So, a qualitative research method vs quantitative: the main differences between them:

Qualitative research method:
  • Is holistic, subjective, based on your impressions;
  • Hypotheses are formulated and tested;
  • Laboratory or controlled setting doesn’t matter;
  • Purposive sampling aimed to collect information from a particular group of people, to get a deeper understanding;
  • No measurement standards;
  • Narrative;
  • Highly flexible, limited only by general rules and codes, like, for example, Nonintervention regulation;
  • Data collection as the researcher prefers;
  • Data is processed by making conclusions, formulating ideas;
  • Findings aren’t fixed, they can change if the situation changes;
  • A conclusion equals a generalization.

Quantitative research method:

  • Objective, based on numbers;
  • Hypotheses are formulated based on the test results;
  • Only controlled setting;
  • Random sampling, the target is to collect as many samples as possible, to make a more precise generalization;
  • Standardized measurement;
  • Very structured and absolutely inflexible, based on specific and very detailed instructions or a protocol;
  • Data collection through observation and testing results administration;
  • Data is processed at the end of testing;
  • Conclusions have a certain degree of certainty, or at least they cannot be changed so easily.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative vs Quantitative Research in Details

Do the quantitative and qualitative methods have advantages and disadvantages? Well, we can say, that the lack of flexibility is a disadvantage of the quantitative research method. However, let us think more widely. Can you imagine variations in a medical preparation that you use for treatment? Any variation could cause an even more serious condition. So, does the lack of flexibility look like a disadvantage now?

Hence, we cannot say, that these methods have some disadvantages. Your task is to use each of them in a field where it should be used. And you should use it properly, of course. Then, you will see, that we cannot speak about any advantages or disadvantages.

Both research methods have their places in our lives and the world of science, any field of science. If you are dealing with humanitarian sciences, you, most likely, will deal more with the qualitative method. If you are in the mathematics or physics, or some science where numbers matter, you will use the quantitative method.