Whilstit is commonly misconceived that one method is superior to the other,qualitative and quantitative research methods serve different uses.1 Whilst qualitative researchdeals with verbal, non-numerical and descriptive or evaluative data, and theinformation it attains is subjective and impressionistic, quantitative researchis concerned with measurement, as it gathers the verbal numerical data orinformation, converting it into analysable and measurable data. 2 Whatare the differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods? i.
UseQualitativeresearch is ideal for exploring a subject, shedding light on a problem,developing ideas or hypothesis for potential quantitative research and gainingan insight about underlying reasons, opinions and motivations. Quantitativeresearch will quantify the problem, attitudes, opinions, behaviours or otherdefined variables, and generate results in numerical data that can be convertedinto useable statistics. For this reason qualitative is used early on in the researchsince it will help deduce the area of hypothesis whilst quantitative is used lateron in the research since it is more focused.3 ii.
GoalWhilstqualitative data can provide directional insights about people’s thoughts, feelings,and emotions and so on, quantitative data offers an insight about numericalfacts. In user research, quantitative data will give information about ‘what’the users did whilst qualitative data will provide information about ‘why’ theydid it.4 Thus qualitative data willgive the study meaning and factual interpretation, as well as the human anglethat quantitative data does not. As Gummesson says; “Counting and classifying can only take one so far. Meaning andinterpretation are required to give significance to counts and classificationsand these come from qualitative research.” Whilstthe hypothesis of qualitative research is broad, the hypothesis of quantitativeis narrow, and whilst the qualitative method will provide a whole picture view,the quantitative method provides a more focused view. Whilst qualitative methodattains more in-depth information on a few cases, the quantitative methodprovides less-in depth information but across a larger number of cases.5 In addition, qualitativeis an explanatory type of research whilst quantitative is a conclusive type ofresearch.
iii. Data collectionmethods Qualitativedata collection methods make use of unstructured or semi-structured techniques,which can be converted into structured data through analysis methods, such asfocus groups, individual interviews, in-depth interviews, observation orimmersion, diary studies and reviews of documents for types of themes. Thesample size is small since it does not aim to find statistical significance. Onthe other hand quantitative data collection methods, which use a larger samplepopulation, are more structured, making use of various forms of surveys, suchas online surveys, paper surveys, mobile surveys, and kiosk surveys,face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, longitudinal studies, websiteinterceptors, online polls, reviews of records or documents for numericinformation and systematic observations.6 iv. Other qualities;- Process: Theprocess of the qualitative method is a primarily inductive process used to formulatetheory or hypothesis, whilst the quantitative method process is a primarilydeductive one used to test pre-specified concepts. – Objectivity:Thequalitative method is more subjective, as it describes a problem or conditionfrom the point of view of the person experiencing it. The quantitative methodis more objective as it provides observed effects, as interpreted byresearchers, of a program on a problem or condition.
– Reliability: Thereliability of the qualitative method largely depends on the skill and rigourof the researcher whilst the reliability of the quantitative method largelydepends on the measurement device or instrument used. – Time expenditure: Theplanning phase requires heavier time expenditure using the quantitative method,whilst in the qualitative method, it is the analysis phase which requiresheavier time expenditure. – Response options: Theresponse options in the case of a qualitative method are unstructured orsemi-structured whilst in the case of quantitative they are fixed.7 (ii) Whilst for the firsthalf of the twentieth century the quantitative research method was dominant asthere was the positivistic belief that the social world can be quantifiedobjectively, through the influence of Kuhn’s work, and new approaches such ascritical research and phenomenography, there was a shift from the quantitativeto qualitative research methods.8 Both research methods havebenefits, and downsides, and this usually depends on the researcher’s aim andarea of focus.9Qualitative research ismost beneficial during the early stage of the study when the researcher isstill unsure of the hypothesis.
This method can be considered to be the moreflexible research method, as it allows for the amendment of the researchframework as new information emerges, thereby avoiding the heavy reliance ofthe researcher’s pre-determined assumptions. Furthermore, there is moreflexibility as interviews need not be limited to specific questions as they canbe redirected by the researcher in real time.10 The qualitative researchmethod is beneficial to the researcher since it procures detailed and richerdata which is text-based rather than numerical. The fact that rich, in-depthdetail is possible gives participants the possibility to elaborate on what theymean, giving the participants a bigger voice when compared to the limitedaccess to data in a survey.
11 In fact whilst it canexplore the questions ‘What?’ and ‘To what extent?’ the quantitative methoddoes not explore the ‘Why?’ or ‘How?’ The quantitative research method exploresless detail, since results are based on numerical responses, they will notoffer much insight into thoughts and behaviours. Unlike in thequantitative research method, the human factor is also considered in thequalitative research method, which studies people’s thoughts, and feelings, therationale for their actions, as well as their attitude or perception throughindividual cases or events.12 Qualitative researchenables one to tackle sensitive issues, to appreciate the wider social contextof people’s experiences and to make connections across different areas ofparticipants’ lives.13 Subtleties andcomplexities about the research subjects and/or topic are exposed through thisresearch method which would have not been through positivistic enquiries. Infact qualitative data can help the researcher understand behind the action andnot merely see its result.14 It is important to notethat the data acquired based on human experience is often more powerful andcompelling than that acquired through quantitative research.
On the other hand thequantitative research method does not fully explore the complexity of humanexperience, as this type of research does not study things in a natural setting15 but in an artificialcontrolled environment, making results different to ‘real world’ findings.16 It may be restrictingsince pre-set answers may not truly reflect people’s feelings, as they areurged to pick a different answer to the truth. The qualitative researchmethod may be criticised for being subjective since the research is more easilyinfluenced by the researcher’s personal biases and idiosyncrasies.17 The researcher in a studyusing qualitative research is greatly involved in the data gathering as well asthe interpretation of the study tainting the study with the researcher’ssubjective view.18Objectivity and accuracy are heightened in the quantitative method on the otherhand due to the fact that few variables are involved, and the data does notrelate to open-ended information. To make it reliable however this method wouldrequire a larger sample of the population.19The extensive amount ofdata in qualitative research renders the analysis, interpretation and thecharacterization of data in a visual way more difficult, time-consuming andcomplex.
S. Kvale does not see this as a disadvantage however saying “The complexities of validating qualitativeresearch need not be due to a weakness of qualitative methods, but on thecontrary, may rest upon their extraordinary power to reflect and conceptualizethe nature of the phenomenon investigated, to capture the complexity of thesocial reality.” Consistency may be difficultto maintain in qualitative research, and this research method may be unreliabledue to the fact that different results may be obtained from different people ata different time.20 Because of its use ofstatistical methods, making it appropriate to test hypotheses in experiments,and for systematic, standardised comparisons, the quantitative method is morereliable than the qualitative research method.Privacy issues when usingthe qualitative method can cause problems in presenting findings. Data collectionusing quantitative research can be digital and thus faster and easier, as wellas more cost effective.
21 With regard toquantitative research, due to the large sample sizes, a broader study can bemade, more subjects can be involved and the results are thus more generalised. Finally, qualitativeresearch may not be so commonly accepted as quantitative research in thescientific community.22 (iii)With ongoing ‘paradigm wars’ between the methodological research, the ‘mixedmethods’ approach is now a way for both methods to be “combined in order to compensate for their mutual and overlappingweaknesses.”23This would ensure the balance of limitations of one type of data with thestrengths of another. A’mixed-method evaluation’ which “systematicallyintegrates two or more evaluation methods, potentially at every stage of theevaluation process”, may make use of multiple designs, such different datacollection techniques for example structured observations, key informantinterviews, household surveys and reviews of existing secondary data. Themixed-method design is used because a single evaluation question may requiremore than one method for all components; more than one method may be needed inorder to improve reliability (triangulation); or more than one method is usedfor future phases of the evaluation. Other benefits of the mixed-method designinclude exposing unforeseen results, acquiring a deeper understanding ofreform, as well as uncovering a wide range of perspectives that may not havebeen exposed through a single method.24Howare methods mixed? A.
Whendata is gathered: 1. Parallel data gathering; qualitative and quantitative datais gathered at the same time (ex. a close-ended questionnaire andsemi-structured observations) and after the data is analysed, the findings canbe either triangulated (if intended to answer different questions), or combined/synthesised(if they were meant to answer different questions).252. Sequential Data Gathering; combining qualitative andquantitative data by alternating between them in the following ways: (i) Firstqualitative data collection, then quantitative data collection ex.
qualitativeresearch can outline key issues and approaches to be explored further on ordevelop hypotheses to be examined using quantitative research; (ii)Quantitative data collection, then qualitative analysis – qualitative researchcan be used to examine null hypotheses or explore unexpected outcomes; (iii)Quantitative data collection then qualitative data collection – an initialsurvey searching for cases, followed by an in-depth case study ofrepresentative cases.26 B. WhenData is combined: 1. Component design; merging the data collectedindependently at the end for interpretation and conclusions; sometimes thesecomponents relate to different data sources or different aspects of theevaluation.2. Integrated design; combining different options duringthe conduct of the evaluation to provide more insightful understandings.27 (iv)Linking both research methods (the mixed method) is most beneficial for it willenrich the study since the qualitative method will delineate issues,information or variables not found through quantitative data, and will help inthe understanding of the unexpected results obtained from quantitative data. Itis also beneficial due to the fact that the hypotheses produced fromqualitative work can then be studied through the quantitative approach.
Furthermore, qualitative data can be used to authenticate or discard resultsfrom quantitative data (triangulation).28 Dueto the fact that legal research is diverse; in fact as per Manderson and Mohr’sanalysis, it is doctrinal, theoretical, interdisciplinary as well asinternational or comparative,29 qualitative and quantitativeresearch methods should be combined for the best results. Whilst empiricalresearch in legal research mainly takes the form of collecting data fromprimary sources such as legislations and case law, field research comprisingthe use of questionnaires, interviews, surveys and other methods, issignificant in the relevant field of study, and should be used.Whilstdoctrinal data is the one most widely used in legal research30, it has clearly becomeoutdated to have one dominant methodology in law that overlooks thesociological, philosophical, political and moral implications of law; for legalresearch to focus on the narrative and the black letter approach. In fact, lawis a social phenomena; where there is society there is law (ubi societas, ubijus) and by combining doctrinal and empirical methods, law will becontextualised to the society it analyses and regulates.31 Hence legal research nowrequires a combination approach as observed by Justice Holmes Jr (1897); “for the fictional study of the law; theblack letter man may be the man of the present but the man of the future is theman of statistics and the master of economics.” Finallyas Khadijah Mohamed in ‘Combining Methods in Legal Research’32 study puts it; “In legal research, combination of methodsbetween doctrinal and socio-legal is basically intended to achieve acomplimentary approach rather than being regarded as mutually exclusiveespecially in terms of reducing the change of bias of limitation that may ariseby using a single strategy.
“33 1 Benjamin Humphrey, ‘The DifferenceBetween Qualitative & Quantitative Research’ (Dovetailapp.com, 2018) https://dovetailapp.com/guides/qual-quantaccessed 7 January 20182 Mike McConville and Wing Hong(Eric) Chui, Research Methods For Law (2nd edn, Edinburgh University Press2017)3 Ibid.
4 Humphrey, ‘The Difference BetweenQualitative & Quantitative Research’5 Barney G. Glaser, ‘Qualitative AndQuantitative Research’ (2008) 7 Grounded Theory Review http://groundedtheoryreview.com/2008/06/30/1052/accessed 7 January 20186 Humphrey, ‘The Difference BetweenQualitative & Quantitative Research’7 ‘Differences Between QualitativeAnd Quantitative Research Methods’ (Orau.gov, 2018) https://www.orau.
gov/cdcynergy/soc2web/content/phase05/phase05_step03_deeper_qualitative_and_quantitative.htmaccessed 7 January 20188 McConville and Chui, ResearchMethods For Law9 Catherine Jones, ‘Advantages &Disadvantages Of Qualitative & Quantitative Research | Synonym'(Classroom.synonym.com, 2018) https://classroom.synonym.
com/advantages-disadvantages-of-qualitative-quantitative-research-12082716.htmlaccessed 7 January 201810 Christine Griffin, ‘The AdvantagesAnd Limitations Of Qualitative Research In Psychology And Education’11 Glaser, ‘Qualitative AndQuantitative Research’12 Humphrey, ‘The Difference Between Qualitative& Quantitative Research’13 Griffin, ‘The Advantages AndLimitations Of Qualitative Research In Psychology And Education’14 Claire Anderson, ‘Presenting AndEvaluating Qualitative Research’ (2010) 74 American Journal of PharmaceuticalEducation15 Jones, ‘Advantages &Disadvantages Of Qualitative & Quantitative Research | Synonym’16 Jason Mander, ‘Qualitative &Quantitative Research Methods | Globalwebindex’ (GlobalWebIndex Blog, 2017) https://blog.globalwebindex.net/marketing/qualitative-vs-quantitative/accessed 7 January 201817 Anderson, ‘Presenting AndEvaluating Qualitative Research’18 Jones, ‘Advantages &Disadvantages Of Qualitative & Quantitative Research | Synonym’19 Ibid. 20 Qualitative and quantitativeresearch, Lancaster University, LUMS Effective Learning (2016) 21 Mander, ‘Qualitative &Quantitative Research Methods | Globalwebindex’22 Anderson, ‘Presenting AndEvaluating Qualitative Research’23 Udo Kelle, ‘Combining QualitativeAnd Quantitative Methods In Research Practice: Purposes And Advantages Pages293-311’ https://www.
researchgate.net/publication/239798572_Combining_qualitative_and_quantitative_methods_in_research_practice_Purposes_and_advantagesaccessed 7 January 2018.24Technical Note, ConductingMixed-Method Evaluations, US Aid, Version 1, June 201325 See Figure 126 See Figure 227 V J Caracelli and J C Greene,’Crafting Mixed-Option Evaluation Designs? New Directions For Evaluation'(2004) 199728 Caracelli Valerie J. and GreeneJennifer C., ‘Crafting Mixed-Option Evaluation Design’; V. J.
Caracelli and J.C. Greene, ‘Advances In Mixed-Option Evaluation: The Challenges And Benefits OfIntegrating Diverse Paradigms’ (2018) 460 New Directions for ProgramEvaluation; S. Carvalho and H. White.
, ‘Combining The Quantitative And QualitativeApproaches To Poverty Measurement And Analysis’ 1997 Technical Paper 366. TheWorld Bank: Washington D.C. 466; Jennifer C., Greene, Valerie J. Caracelli andWendy F. Graham, ‘Toward A Conceptual Framework For Mixed-Option EvaluationDesign’ (1989) 11 Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis; Greene J., ‘MixedOptions In Social Inquiry’ 2007 Jossey-Bass29 McConville and Chui, ResearchMethods For Law30 Huchinson and Duncan (2012),Bogdandy (2009), Fiona (2004), Zahraa (1998)31 Frances Camilleri-Cassar and KevinAquilina, ‘Legal Research Methods’ (Times of Malta, 2017) https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20170313/opinion/Legal-research-methods.642262accessed 7 January 201832 Khadijah Mohamed, ‘CombiningMethods In Legal Research’ (2016) 21 The Social Sciences Medwell Journals33 Mohamed, ‘Combining Methods InLegal Research’