Ok, so I’ve briefly spoke about qualitative and quantitative in my previous blog “Do you need statistics to understand your data?”. But this week I’m going to discuss if either scientific researchers should pick one method over the other. I have mentioned before that I preferred qualitative ways of research, however, after playing around with qualitative methods in the small group session on Wednesday, I began to reconsider my opinion.. as at times I felt as though I was doing an English assignment rather than a scientific assignment..
I mentioned in my other blog post that qualitative research wants to find explanations for behaviours/patterns rather than numbers and statistics. But you could say that even if qualitative methods do provide answers to theories, how are we to know if they’re the correct answers? What we do know however, is that statistics do give us either a right or wrong answer. Kerlinger (1999) was not a believer of qualitative data; he believed that everything is either 1 or 0.
So why is quantitative research so great?? Because this type of research allows the researcher to measure variables and analyze the findings, also, relationships between variables can be studied in depth. As quantitative methods have the ability to measure data using statistics, quantitative researchers can test hypotheses and produce reliable results. Unlike qualitative research, quantitative researchers are less likely to have a subjective view of the participants as they’re not as heavily involved, which means the outcome is less likely to be bias.
However, quantitative research isn’t so great all the time… A huge downfall with this type of research is that it ignores the context of the study, there does not tend to be an outcome of explanations of how to improve/solve a theory.
This is where qualitative research pops back up.. the only way to solve the issue of quantitative research lacking explanation, is to introduce qualitative research back in! Like Campbell (1994) would suggest… all research needs underlying qualitative research!!
Even though I may have felt as though I was back in an English class when playing around with qualitative research, I am able to appreciate the fact that qualitative research allows us to gain detailed data in written descriptions. Qualitative research even allows researchers to analyze visual evidence and produce answers from photographs, something that quantitative cannot do. Unlike quantitative research, qualitiative allows the researcher to look at the context and try and find out how something is affecting individuals and how it can be improved.
This little video basically sums up my blog!!! Lol
So to conclude, I don’t think scientists should choose between the two. To get the best results possible, quantitative and qualitative methods should be combined together :-).