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12 Key Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data

12 Key Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data

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 Jessica Moore   Published On May 11, 2022 | Updated on Dec 06, 2023  Writing Service

Researching is one of the vital cogs in the wheel in today’s world. Researching is widely used to brush up on one’s knowledge. In addition, research has a wide area of implementation. We can use it in marketing, sociology, business, science & technology, psychology, economics, and many more.

There are two standard research methods –


While qualitative research relies on spoken or written data, quantitative research relies more on logical and statistical observations to draw conclusions. Although there are a few similarities between qualitative and quantitative research, both have a scale to it, or both are used in statistical or research analysis. Yet, the number of differences between qualitative and quantitative research is greater in number. Here we will discuss what is qualitative and quantitative research? What is the difference between qualitative vs. quantitative research methods? We will also take an in-depth look into qualitative vs. quantitative research examples and qualitative vs. quantitative research questions. Hence, read along to know the twelve key qualitative and quantitative research differences –

1. Definition

Qualitative research refers to a method where the researcher needs to inquire about various questions to understand human and social sciences better. It is used to discover the way people think and feel.

On the other hand, Quantitative research is a scientific method that operates more on the basis of an observational approach. This method employs various statistical, logical, and mathematical techniques to generate tons of numerical data.

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2. Nature

Qualitative research is holistic in nature. Qualitative research is the process of understanding distinct methodological traditions by inquiring about prevalent issues among society or humans. The nature of the qualitative method is building a complex, holistic picture, analyzing words, and checking reports for a detailed view of information. This research is conducted in a natural setting.

On the other hand, Quantitative research is particularistic in nature. Quantitative research deals only with numbers and logic while taking an objective stance. Quantitative research is focused entirely on numeric and unaltered data. It used detailed, convergent reasoning instead of divergent reasoning.

3. Approach

Qualitative research follows a subjective approach. Here the researcher stays intimately involved during the whole research process.

In contrast, quantitative research follows a whole different approach. This method has a more objective approach. Here, the researcher remains aloof from the main experiment and attempts to observe and analyze the topic to answer the issues precisely.

4. Research Type

Qualitative research is exploratory. There are eight major research types that are followed in qualitative research. They are –

  • Grounded theory
  • Focus groups
  • Qualitative data analysis
  • Participant observation
  • Interviews
  • Card sorting
  • Surveys
  • Diary studies

On the flip side, quantitative research follows a conclusive research type. There are seven major forms of quantitative research. They are –

  • Causal Comparative Research
  • Cross-Sectional Survey
  • Sampling Methods
  • Commercial Information
  • Educational Institutes
  • Government Resources
  • Internet Data

5. Reasoning

The qualitative research method uses inductive reasoning to synthesize data. Qualitative research employs inductive thinking or inductive reasoning, shifting from specific observations about individual occurrences to wider theories and generalizations.

The reasoning used in quantitative research is deductive. Since quantitative research deals with numbers and logic, it uses an objective stance.

6. Sampling method

Qualitative research always implements purposive sampling while executing research. This form of sampling uses a small sample size to work with. A few are chosen to get a detailed understanding of that particular segment.

On the contrary, quantitative research uses a random sampling method. This research method does not believe in creating a controlled environment for research purposes. Instead, the researchers choose a large representative sample to extrapolate the results from the whole population.

7. Data Type

The only form of data used in qualitative research is verbal data. Qualitative data is of two types,

  • Nominal data
  • Ordinal data

It also considers numeric values occasionally. However, qualitative data doesn't have any numeric properties.

On the other hand, measurable data is gathered in quantitative research. Quantitative research quantifies everything like behaviors, attitudes, opinions, and other variables to prove or reject a hypothesis. The data used in the quantitative research method involves collecting numerical data using multiple-choice or close-ended questions.

8. Inquiry

Qualitative research undergoes a process-oriented inquiry. It is a form of psychological research that seeks a thorough understanding of people and society. Qualitative researchers typically study the experiences of people, relying on verbal material.

However, this is not the case with quantitative research. Instead, quantitative research helps us learn about a particular group of people, also termed a sample population. Quantitative research uses scientific inquiry and relies entirely on data measured or observed to form questions about the sample population.

9. Hypothesis

The elements researchers use for the analysis of qualitative research are

  • Words
  • Pictures
  • Objects

On the other hand, quantitative research only uses numerical data for its research.

10. Objective

The main objective of qualitative research is to explore and discover ideas used in the current ongoing processes.

Alternatively, the quantitative research method is done to examine the cause and effect relationship between two or more variables.

11. Methods of data collection

The methods used for data collection in qualitative research are –

  • One-on-one interviews.
  • Open-ended surveys and questionnaires
  • Focus groups
  • Observation
  • Case studies

In contrast, the methods used for conducting quantitative research are –

  • Probability sampling
  • Interviews
  • Surveys/questionnaires
  • Observations
  • Document Review in Quantitative Data Collection

12. Results

Qualitative research helps us to get an initial understanding. The results are not always directly related to specific hypotheses in qualitative research. You can modify your test results around key topics or themes emerging after analyzing the data.

Whereas quantitative research recommends a final course of action. This research is made on larger sample sizes. This form of research can be replicated or repeated since it’s extremely reliable. The researcher uses a clear and defined research question to find the objective answers.

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