Sample Literature Review On Research Methodologies
When conducting studies, researchers can adopt a qualitative approach, quantitative approach, or a mixture of the two. Qualitative research method simply encompasses approaches used to gather and analyze data that is non-numerical in nature (Östlund et al., 2011, p. 370). A quantitative method, on the other hand, encompasses approaches for gathering and analyzing numerical data. A mixed method involves using approaches for gathering and analyzing numerical and non-numerical data in the same study (Östlund et al., 2011, p. 370). This paper presents an analysis of the three research methods mentioned above.
For us to understand the nature of the mixed research method, it is vital to explore how qualitative approach differs from the quantitative approach. One factor that leads to the differences is the general framework under which each of the methods is based. As Shazia (2014, p. 87) explained, the qualitative method focuses on exploring a phenomenon to gain an in-depth understanding of variations or various aspects of that phenomenon. In contrast, the quantitative method usually focuses on confirming a hypothesis about a given phenomenon (Plonsky & Gass, 2011, p. 327). Second, the qualitative method involves adopting semi-structured approaches of gathering data, such as participant observation, focus groups, and in-depth interviews (Shazia (2014, p. 87). Conversely, the quantitative method involves adopting strategies structured methods of gathering data, such as structured observation, surveys and questionnaires (Plonsky & Gass, 2011, p. 327). The instruments used for collecting data in qualitative research are designed in a way that they allow flexibility in data collection and they elicit a response from the targeted respondents. The instruments used in quantitative method use a more rigid approach to eliciting responses from the respondents, and they allow for categorization of the answers (Walsh, 2012, p. 10).
Apart from the general framework, qualitative methods differ from the quantitative methods regarding analytical objectives. As Walsh (2012, p. 10) explained, the qualitative methods involve focusing on understanding and describing variations in certain aspects of a phenomenon. In contrast, the quantitative methods involve focusing on recording and quantifying variations in various aspects of a phenomenon. While the quantitative approach involves focusing on explaining and describing relationships between various aspects of a phenomenon, quantitative approach mainly involves focusing on predicting causal relationships. In qualitative studies, researchers focus on describing experiences of the respondents as well as their experiences with a phenomenon. In quantitative studies, researchers focus on describing the characteristics of the population of study. Unlike the quantitative research, qualitative research focuses on understanding behavioral aspects of a phenomenon such as norms (Walsh, 2012, p. 11).
Further, qualitative methods differ significantly from quantitative methods regarding how research questions are developed and formatted. In a qualitative study, researchers usually use open-ended questions that allow the respondents to give their thoughts and describe their experiences about the targeted study phenomenon (Shazia, 2014, p. 87). In a quantitative study, the researchers use close-ended questions that only allow the respondents to select the most suitable answers to the questions (Plonsky & Gass, 2011, p. 328). As stated earlier, the methods vary regarding the type of data they generate. While qualitative research leads to the generation of non-numerical data, such as field notes, field notes, and audiotapes, quantitative methods involve generating numerical data. In a qualitative approach, the researchers usually apply content analysis on the data collected. However, quantitative research mainly involves using statistical tools such standard deviation, mean and percentages to analyze the data gathered (Walsh, 2012, p. 112).
A remarkable difference between the two methods lies in flexibility. The qualitative approach is flexible to the extent that a researcher can modify the wording of questions when gathering data. The researcher uses the responses of the respondents to adjust research questions at the point of data collection in an interactive process (Shazia, 2014, p. 87). In quantitative approach, the researcher uses the same questions, and research design during the entire data collection process and the respondents do not influence research questions and study design (Plonsky & Gass, 2011, p. 329).
In some cases, researchers find it appropriate or are compelled to use quantitative and qualitative approaches to the same study, an approach regarded as the mixed method. As Ostlund et al. (2011, p. 374) explained, the mixed method involves combining various aspects of qualitative and quantitative approaches. The mixed research method, for instance, involves combining the instruments used for gathering quantitative data, such as surveys and questionnaires, with the instruments used to gather qualitative data, such as depth interview schedules. Consequently, the mixed method generates both numerical and non-numerical data. Content analysis is applied to numerical data in the mixed method, whereas the numerical data is analyzed using statistical tools. The researcher engages in a discussion process that facilitates the combination of the results of qualitative and quantitative methods (Ostlund et al., 2011, p. 375).
Overall, qualitative research differs significantly from the quantitative approach regarding general framework, research objectives, format and type of questions used, the kind of data generated, analysis of the data derived and flexibility. A researcher can choose to use either of the two approaches or adopt a mixed method that involves combining the two strategies.
Östlund, U., Kidd, L., Wengström, Y. & Rowa-Dewar, N. (2011). “Combining Qualitative and
Quantitative Research within Mixed Method Research Designs: A Methodological Review,” International Journal of Nursing Studies, Vol.48, No. 3, pp. 369-383
Plonsky, L. & Gass, S. (2011). “Quantitative Research Methods, Study Quality, and Outcomes.
The case for Interaction Research,” Language Learning, Vol.61, No. 2, pp. 325-366.
Shazia, J. (2014). “Qualitative research method-interviewing and observation,” Journal of Basic
and Clinical Pharmacy, Vol.5, No. 4, p.87
Walsh, K. (2012). “Board Editorial: Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research: a False Dichotomy,”
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Introduction When conducting studies, researchers can adopt a qualitative approach, quantitative approach, or a mixture of the two. Qualitative research method simply encompasses approaches used to gather and analyze data […]