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Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

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Qualitative research refers to the method that is supported by a set of hypotheses, concerning how the social world functions. Therefore, it entails non-numerical data and as a result cannot be analyzed using statistics. According to Schwartz (2010), this method deduces much of its basic principles from the perspective that there are fundamental difference between the science of the natural human world and the science of the natural world, hence the need for the use of distinctive methods.  The pattern of qualitative research, like a scientific research: seeks answers to a question; systematically uses a set of guidelines to answer the question; collects evidence; generates new findings and produces findings that are useful beyond the immediate boundaries of the study.

The purpose of qualitative research is to put emphasis on describing and understanding complex phenomena. It investigates the relationship and patterns among factors or the context in which the activity happens, thus giving in-depth comprehensive information. According Schwartz (2010), this method also evolving theories or conceptual bases and in proposing hypotheses to clarify phenomena. The flexible nature of the qualitative method enables the researcher to ask open-ended questions. This also gives the participants the freedom to respond in their own words, which can be more complex than the simple ‘yes or ‘no’. The questions relate to the quality, described by nature and the essence of the phenomenon under investigation. Three common Qualitative methods are: participant observation; focus groups and in-depth interviews. The data is considered as real, rich and deep.

Quantitative research involves quantification of relationships between variables, the examples of which are height, weight, treatment or performance. The quantitative method is deductive and particularistic, and is founded on the formulation of hypothesis and the subsequent verification on a specific set of data. This method explains phenomena by collecting numerical data that are then subjected to analysis using mathematically based methods. This method: begins with an idea, usually a stated hypothesis; generates data through measurement; allows for conclusion through deduction and is reliable and valid if done well.

According to Hopkins (2000), the quantitative research methods can be descriptive, meaning that it can be measured only once, or experimental, that is, measured before and after treatment. The questions that are asked in quantitative research method such as, how much or how many, are concerned with quantity. The purpose of the quantitative method is to verify or generate new information by drawing conclusions from mathematical analysis of data based on formulated hypothesis. The fact that it focuses on the frequency of occurrence can help in guiding decisions around screening, diagnosis, and prognosis as well as establishing cause and effect relationships.

Due to increased competition and a quest to remain as a leader in the market, a certain company wishes to find out how customers perceive the company and its products. The company, instead of using its own employees to get the customer perspective decides to employ the services of an independent third party.  The independent third party will ask questions for both the company and its products. The data collection may involve the use of observation, customer participation or interviews. The data collected has both qualitative and quantitative aspects. By employing the services of an independent third party, the creation of triangulation perspectives the use of triangulation and overcomes the challenges of single observer surveys.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the use of triangulation, besides ensuring that the weaknesses associated with single observer design are eliminated, creates a high degree of validity due to convergence of data collected using different methods. The new information generated can form a platform for further research in the future. Recent research shows that qualitative and quantitative methods are compatible and complementary to each other, thus the weakness of one method is supported by the strength of another. Organizations that have used triangulation triangulation in their research have reported of credible and valid findings that helped their companies make decisions that resulted in improved profitability.

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