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    • Join Date: Jan 2006
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    qualitative vs quantitative research

    i know my query is not wholly in keeping with the basic purpose of this forum, but i could not help raising the question that is perplexing me for days. i want to know what basically is the difference between a qualitative and a quantitative research? moreover, which category of research (qualitative or quantitative) use of audio tapes falls into?

    best wishes,
    muhammad salman.

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
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    Re: qualitative vs quantitative research


    That is a question that divides a lot of academics. In simple terms the difference between the two is that:

    *Quantitative research is based on the positivist, scientific collection of data, and creation of research projects that strive for objectivity, and reproducability. The idea is that someone else should be able to take your experiment, do it again from scratch, and arrive at the same, or similar, conclusions. The data in quantitative research leans towards the gathering of statistics, and "facts". There are a good many arguements against the thinking behind such research, especially from those who favour qualitative research.

    *Qualitative research comes from a different angle, and grew out of ethnographic research- going out into the field and recording subjective and narrative/cultural responses from a sample of people. Here the emphasis is on the sort of data that cannot be contained in statistics- personal, experiential, subjective data.

    *As an example, if I were to present a group of people being researched with a multiple choice questionnaire, I could gather statistics on their responses: 56% of readers prefer cats to dogs, and so on. If on the other hand I asked [I]why[I] they prefered cats to dogs, I couldn't represent this data in a graph, but would have a greater depth of response. This is perhaps and oversimplification, but the first would be quantitative research (think Quantity=numbers), the second qualitative (think Quality=experience).

    Sorry if that doesn't help at all. With regards to the tape recorder, it would all depend on how you used it. Let me know if you have any more questions, or want some readings recommended.


    • Join Date: Jan 2006
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    Re: qualitative vs quantitative research

    Hi Michel,

    It was really kind of you to give such a nice, brief and comprehensive reply, that I certainly benefited from.

    As regards the use of tape recorders, I wanted to know if the speech of a bilingual group was recorded on a tape and analyzed to find out the motivations for code switching involved, then what could it be called-- a qualitative or a quantitative approach. First I thought it would be designated as a qualitative one (if no statistics were going to be taken), but the problem is that in such an analysis, there is no room for the subjects’ personal ideas and opinions: it is only the researcher who would give his opinions and conclusions. In this way an important part of qualitative research would be missing, i.e. subjectivity.

    Despite my being deficient at times in well-expressing myself (this is what my friends say about me), I hope I have made myself clear. And I am also looking forward to have your expert opinion on the issue in question.

    Best wishes,

    Muhammad salman.

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