Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Data Collection

Data collection is a process that involves gathering and measuring of information based on variables of interest in a systematic manner. This information then enables one to answer questions, test hypotheses and analyze the results.

There are two approaches to gathering this information – qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research is exploratory research that is employed to gauge a deeper understanding of the underlying opinions and reasons. This research technique helps provide important insights that prove useful in solving a problem or developing ideas for hypotheses.

The methods of data collection (used in qualitative research) include unstructured or semi-structured techniques such as personal interviews, group discussions, and observations. The sample size used is generally quite small and the respondents selected have to fulfill a given quota. These methods enable researchers to understand respondents’ expectations, experiences and interests. The following are the many benefits of undertaking a qualitative research.

a. It helps identify the undiscovered and new phenomena that may prove useful for the researchers.

b. It helps achieve a deeper understanding of the various mechanisms at play.

c. Researchers are able to gather and collate anecdotal information received from one-on-one interactions.

d. This research can sometimes transform received verbal information into numerical form to derive valuable outcomes.

e. Sometimes pre-determined questions are unable to reveal the necessary information. Qualitative research – that uses open ended questions and individual interviews – then proves really helpful.

Quantitative research, on the other hand, quantifies a problem either by gathering numerical data or transforming data into usable statistics. Hence, the techniques used here aim at quantifying the varying behaviors, opinions and reasons of a sample population (which in this case is larger than that found in qualitative research). In other words, measurable data is leveraged to create facts and discover hidden patterns in the research.

The data methods used in quantitative research way more structured than the methods of the qualitative research and normally comprise of different kinds of surveys. These surveys include paper surveys, online surveys, mobile surveys, kiosk surveys, telephone interviews, face-to-face interviews, website interceptors, online polls, longitudinal studies, and systematic observations. The benefits of using these methods in collecting information are as following.

a. Quantitative research enables gathering of information from a larger sample population.

b. The data collection can be conducted in different number of groups thus enabling useful comparison.

c. Generalizations can be made and applied to broader population.

d. Quantitative research provides crucial rating and numerical information.

e. By employing statistical techniques, relations can be established between different variables.

In conclusion, both these research methods provide different but useful perspectives on populations and their phenomena. Both these techniques are employed heavily by research organizations to gain highly informative information thereby enabling researchers to determine research findings that can be applied to important areas.

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