Advantages of Qualitative The purpose of qualitative data is to delve into the detailsand specificities of an individual/group’s experience, to describe and analysethe culture and behaviour of humans and to see the experience from their pointof view, to see through the eyes of the subject, allowing researchers to gainaccess to information from hidden populations (Maher, L. Derrtadian, G.

2008,pp170).Through this type of research, we can learn to understand underlying opinionsand motivations. Qualitative research allows for a close relationship betweenthe researcher and the subject, which can provide a rich and deep understandingof the data collected.

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Qualitative researchers are usually immersed inlongitudinal studies, sustaining close relationships with the participants (Adler1986, pp312). Qualitative researches tend to favour an approach withoutspecified hypotheses as it allows them to discover unexpected topics that maybecome important features in their research. Cohen’s (1978) study of Whalsayhad intended on looking specifically into two topics of concern, however afterhe had started the field research, he found that his formulated problems were irrelevant,and discovered other, much more connected and important issues of interest.Qualitative research is based on detailed answers to openended questions, observations and stories based on memory and therefore takes aconsiderable amount of time to analyse, which means that it usually consists ofa smaller number of participants over a longer period of time.Different types of qualitative research There are many different approaches to conductingqualitative research, for example a researcher could conduct an interview,which would consist of an interviewer and participant(s), the interviewerasking open ended questions with the aim of obtaining information that wouldrelate to their particular study, gathering information from the participant’sfacial expressions, gestures, and verbal responses to questions. Ethnography isanother popular method within qualitative research, which helps the researcherto understand how people see the world, the researchers can then develop theoriesabout society as an outcome, irrespective of preconceived ideas prior to research.Observations, commonly used in schools and workplaces is the viewing of aparticular trend or phenomenon in its original setting, with the aim ofgathering data for a study.

Focus groups, often used to stimulate conversation abouta topic of interest to the researchers, among a group of randomly selected people,using this research to gather information on public opinion of a trend orissue. Case studies, these are in-depth, often longitudinal studies of oneindividual, social group, institution, or any other social component of society,this is one of the most commonly used methods within qualitative research.Content analysis is the identification of specified characteristics of contentsof information. This may be the best method in terms of truth as it providesthe same depth and richness of information, from diaries, documents, recordsetc as they are with no knowledge of being used in research studies, however,because of this they may not be able to provide a direct answer to a researcher’squestions. Qualitative researchers often adopt an Interpretivist approach asthey view subjective research as the best way to achieve a rich understanding (Clarke2009 pp.28-36) Interpretivism involves a subjective interpretation of the peoplebeing studied, it allows the interviewer to see an individual’s views throughtheir personal perspective. Individual perspectives are very important withinthis concept.

Disadvantages of Qualitative When immersing oneself into qualitative research, a disadvantageto the research may be that researchers can become so absorbed in the researchthat they lose awareness of their role as a researcher and adopt the participants’perspectives. There is a problem here of reliability, in qualitative researchthere tends to be an extreme subjectivity in terms of data analysis which couldallow the researcher to interpret the findings in a particular way to achievecertain results. There is also the risk of collecting information that ismeaningless to the research at hand, which is detrimental to the efficiency ofthe research as it is time and budget consuming. Interviews for qualitativeresearch are usually face to face, in a room alone, or in a group. This mayaffect how a person answers questions and how truthful they are, they do nothave the same cover of anonymity as they would with other methods such as questionnaires.Advantages of Quantitative The role of quantitative research is usually preparatory, thereis a distant, often anonymous relationship between the researcher and the subject.It is typically to prove or disprove a theory, not to discover emergentconcepts in research.

The research strategy is structured and often includes aset number of questions that do not vary, for example, in questionnaires, structuredinterviews, Longitudinal studies, experiments, official statistics, legislation,police records etc which therefore creates hard and reliable data which iseasily replicable and repeatable. The method of conducting the research andquestions asked are set from the start of the research, this means that it isconstant in its structure and allows for a replicable study/experiment.Quantitative data typically goes hand in hand with the concept of Positivism (Clarke,C 2009 pp.

26-38), this concept favours quantitative methods such as structuredinterviews and questionnaires, and emphasises on replication and encouragesobjectivity within research.When studying groups, quantitative methods often chooselarger, randomly selected participants, as larger samples reduce the margin oferror and produce more accurate results. These samples of the public can range fromlocal or national to global, and allow the research to be easily applicable toother groups within one society or across multiple. The anonymity ofquestionnaires and other methods of collecting data allow participants to behonest in answering questions without fear of judgement or ridicule, many peoplemay choose not to participate in studies if they know their identity will beshown to the researcher and/or other participants, especially if the research includespersonal questions.

However, many aren’t aware that their data is being used insurveys i.e National statistics for populations, salaries, poverty etc. Quantitativedata is useful in identifying factors that influence an outcome, cause andeffect relationships such as, what is the relationship between household incomeand educational attainment? It is valuable in identifying change, such asperceptions of gender compared to the previous generation. As well asdescribing how much or little there is of something, or where something is themost popular.Disadvantages of quantitative Quantitative methods are very precise and provide a clearunderstanding of what the research was set out to provide, however there is nounderstanding of social meanings or reasons behind certain data. This method isclosed and strictly planned which disallows for opportunity for adjustmentduring the research or experiment period. Some social situations are to complexor fluctuate too often for a numerical explanation.

Because quantitative dataonly uses numbers and a limited about of words, it usually provides lessdetailed accounts of human perception, which limits the results. The researchis usually carried out in controlled laboratory conditions which are artificialand unnatural, this may not produce authentic results and therefore disadvantagethe research. Predetermined answers in questionnaires do not necessarily reflecthow a person feels about the topic in question, only the nearest estimate, thiscreates easily analysable data however does not give a true overall view.

Itcan lead to a structural bias where the statistics mirror the researchers’views rather than the subjects’. Quantitative and Qualitative The differences between the two approaches have a profoundimpact on how researchers conduct their studies. Brannen, J. (1992 pp.

3-37)argues that qualitative and quantitative paradigms overlap as well as differ,and to some extent are informed by similar logics of enquiry, howeverresearchers’ training and skills are impacted by the decisions they make concerningmethods of research. To create a combination between qualitative andquantitative data seems to be the perfect solution to the downfalls of each method,by bringing together the strengths of the two, an almost faultless method iscreated. Qualitative research is seen as useful in the preparatory stages ofresearch projects to suppose hypotheses and theories, which can then be testedmore meticulously through quantitative methods. Ensuring a more accurate, yet deepunderstanding through multiple combined methods, collecting both mathematic andrich social data. The distinction between the two methods are often vague, largeamounts of qualitative information can now be processed quickly with theassistance of new technology, and detailed quantitative information can be usedto discover meaning and understanding.               


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