Quantitative and Qualitative Research
I. Quantitative research
i. - hard data
ii. - linear research path [below]
II. Qualitative research
i. - soft data -> highly interpretive [eg. Feelings, experiences; open ended
ii. - non-linear research path [not straight forward -> goes back and forth]
1 III. Contrasting qualitative and quantitative research
researcher‟s view participant‟s view
theory testing theory emergent
static [questionnaire; 1 time] process [back and forth]
structured unstructured [opinion]
hard, reliable data rich, deep data
generalization contextual [not the same in other
behaviour meaning [what the indiv says]
artificial settings [in a lab] natural settings [bar, school]
2 Issues in quantitative design
I. Unit of analysis
- the unit of analysis is the major entity that you are analyzing in your study
- any of the following could be a unit of analysis in a study:
- artifacts (books, photos, newspapers)
- geographical units (town, census tract, state)
- social interactions (dyadic relations, divorces, arrests)
II. Two research fallacies [better known fallacies]
An error you would make based on some false perception
i. - ecological fallacy
- the ecological fallacy occurs when you make conclusions about individuals based only
on analyses of group data
ii. - exception fallacy or reductionism
- occurs when you reach a group conclusion on the basis of exceptional cases
III. Exhaustive and exclusive attributes of variables
i. - exhaustive attributes
ii. - exclusive attributes
IV. Variables in quantitative research
1. Narrowing and clarifying the problem
The following general questions can be used to unpack a problem:
• What are the major concepts?
• What is happening here?
• What are the issues?
• Is one thing affecting, causing, or producing a change in something else?
• Why is this so?
“Some students get better marks than others”
RQ: “This study will consider the relationship between study habits and student success”
Four possible explanations:
i. some students are smarter than others
ii. some students study more than others
iii. some students eat better meals than others
iv. some students enjoy studying more than other students do
The Smith family has to decide on whether to send their daughter to a public school or a private
1. Is one system of education demonstrably better than another?:
• in terms of sport?
• in terms of test results?
• in terms of social life?
2. How do families make decisions like this?
• what factors do they consider?
• do the children participate?
3. Do socio-cultural factors shape these family decisions?
• is sex or gender an issue?
• do ethnic groups differ?
• is social class a factor?
4 2. Stating the Problem
A hypothesis is a statement that asserts a relationship between at least two concepts
i- it has at least two variables
ii.- it expresses a causal or cause/effect relationship between the variables
iii.- it can be expressed as a prediction or an expected future outcome
iv.- it is logically linked to a research question (and theory)
v.- it is falsifiable, i.e. it can be tested against empirical evidence and shown to be T/F
“attending religious services reduces the probability of divorce”
BUT it should be stated in predictive terms:
“couples who attend religious services have a lower divorce rate than couples who
rarely attend religious services
At an abstract level, a hypothesis consists of at least two CONCEPTS
A CONCEPT is a kind of VARIABLE:
i.- an idea that stands for something
ii.- an idea that represents a class of things
iii.- a general categorization of an impression of something
A hypothesis can take the following forms:
„Concept X causes concept Y‟ or
„Concept X is related to concept Y‟
Example (p. 97, in Neuman/Robson):
Example of “students‟ grades”
5 Observation: „some students get better marks than others‟
Topic: “the impact of the amount of study on marks”
- two concepts: „study‟ and „marks‟
Distinguishing between two types of variables:
i- independent variable and
ii.- dependent variable
- studying PRODUCES better marks
- better marks DEPENDS on studying
A variable is comprised of attributes on which cases differ from one another
A variable is a special type of concept that varies or changes in quantity, intensity, or amount
e.g. - gender is a variable because it can take on two values:
male and female
male and female are constants
“the higher the socioeconomic status of the husband, the greater the amount of
house work he will perform”
There is a relationship between these two concepts that says as one concept increases, so does
6 RQ: “This study will explore the relationship between the type of crime committed and the
severity of the sentence”