A heated debate within the scientific community involves the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative and quantitative research. Some scientists like to argue that one method of measurement is superior to the other. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages and integrating both qualitative and quantitative data into your research will only strengthen its results.
A qualitative measurement is an assessment of the qualities of what you are measuring. Instead of using a ruler, scale or stopwatch, the measurement tool in qualitative research is the researcher. Qualitative data tends to be more subjective, meaning whatever ends up being recorded has been interpreted by those experiencing it. Examples of qualitative measurements include recording the colour of something, what it tastes like, how it feels, how it makes you feel and the quality of what you are measuring. Qualitative research tends to be richer than quantitative measurements.
Quantitative research is data that can be recorded by measurements with standardised tools. Quantitative measurements involve numbers, or quantities. A quantitative measurement is objective, meaning that it does not fall under the interpretation of the researcher. Examples of quantitative data include frequency, cost, length and mass. This type of data can be easier for other researchers to understand, but it might not completely describe what is going on in the situation.
Knowing When To Use Each
Deciding what kind of conclusions you want to draw form your experiment will help you determine which method is more advantageous. If you are not sure what to expect in an experiment, a qualitative approach might the best place to start. Start your processes and report whatever you see happening. Knowing what to expect from your experiment might help you develop a hypothesis that can be tested. To prove your hypothesis you need quantitative data. This method is also useful for establishing a cause-and-effect relationship. Once you have proven something measurable is happening the qualitative approach is useful to explain the reasoning behind your conclusion.
Scholars should embrace both methods of research instead of arguing about which one is better. For example, when measuring something that may seem subjective, like opinions, create a measure that standardises the possible responses to your question. Likert scales measure how someone is feeling using a number scale from one to five. In addition to this quantifiable measure, provide an area for comments. This gives you both quantitative and qualitative data and make it easier to find patterns.