Qualitative and Quantitative Orientations toward Research
• One of the differences between the two styles comes from the nature of the data.
• Soft-data: in the form of impressions, words, sentences, photos, symbols, and so forth – dictate different research strategies and data-collection
techniques than hard data, which are in the form of numbers.
• Qualitative researchers often rely on interpretive or critical social science, follow a nonlinear research path, and speak a language of “cases and
contexts.” They emphasize detailed examinations of cases that arise in the natural flow of social life.
• Quantitative researchers rely on a positivist approach to social science. They follow a linear research path, speak a language of “variables and
hypotheses,” and emphasize measuring variables and testing hypotheses that are linked to general causal explanations.
Linear and Nonlinear Paths
• Linear: research that proceeds in a clear, logical, step-by-step straight line. It is more characteristic of a quantitative than a qualitative approach to
• Nonlinear research path: research that proceeds in a circular, back and forth manner. It’s more characteristic of a qualitative than a quantitative
style to social research. With each cycle or repetition, a research collects new data and gains new insights. A cyclical path is suited for tasks such
as translating languages, where delicate shades of meaning, subtle connotations, or contextual distinctions can be important.
Preplanned and emergent research questions
• First step to being a project is to select a topic. Then narrow it to a focused research question. Qualitative and quantitative researchers tend to
adopt different approaches to turn a topic into a focused research questions for a specific study.
• Qualitative researchers begin with vague/unclear research questions and the topic emerges slowly during the study.
• Qualitative research style is flexible and encourages slowly focusing the topic throughout the study. Uses early data collection to guyde how they
adjust the research question
• Quantitative researchers narrow a topic into a focused question as a discrete planning step before finalizing the study design.
• Quantitative researchers focus on a specific research problem within a broad topic.
• Limitations include time, costs, access to resources, approval by authorities, ethical concerns, and expertise. Access to resources too.
Qualitative design issues
• The language of cases and contexts: they rarely use variables or test hypotheses, or try to convert social life into numbers.
• Researchers examine motifs, themes, distinctions and ideas. They also use the inductive approach of GROUNDED THEORY
• GROUNDED THEORY: a researcher builds theory by making comparisons. Based on observations of an event, always looking for similarities and
differences. This theory isn’t used by all qualitative researchers though.
• They hold that the meaning of social action/statement depends on the context in which it appears.
• They examine the same case of set of cases over time.
• Explanations or interpretations are complex and come in the form of an unfolding plot or a narrative story about particular people or events.
• They pay attention to what happens, first, second, third and so on.
• Their results end up being more meaningful because they try to make their data understandable to other people Quantitative design issues
• The variable (an empirical value that can take on multiple values) is the central idea in quantitative research. They focus on the relationships of
• Attributes are the categories or levels of a variable
• Variables are classified into three basic types, depending on their