Top of FormRate This Paper: 12345Bottom of Form
Length: 1019 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Red (FREE)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods
Works Cited Not Included
Social research methods can be divided into two main branches or schools quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research involves measuring quantities of things, usually numerical quantities.
Qualitative research involves assessing the quality of things. These research methods used by sociologists in data gathering. Both methods have their limitations and differences. Quantitative research methods are concerned with empirical research, this is designed for statistical analysis. Qualitative research methods on the other hand are not. Instead they enable researchers to study social and cultural phenomena. All research whether quantitative or qualitative are based on assumptions about what can be considered as “valid” research, and what research methods are deemed appropriate. When wanting to find out about, how people may vote then quantitative methods such as a social survey may be deemed an appropriate choice. On the other hand when studying peoples life histories or everyday behaviour qualitative methods are favoured. Less practical questions arise when you choose between quantitative and qualitative methods. The person doing the research has to remember that they are evaluated differently.
Qualitative methods can be described as being, “soft”, speculative, flexible and subjective. We may say that Quantitative methods are
“hard”, hypothesis testing, fixed, value-free and objective.
Some argue that quantitative methods are superior because they are value-free. What is implied here is that quantitative research reports reality. Qualitative research is influenced by the researchers political values. The argument being that such freedom in social science is either undesirable or impossible. A similar argument can arise about “flexibility”. Flexibility encourages qualitative researchers to be innovative. This is not a balanced argument because outside the social sciences quantitative research is favoured. For example Governments prefer quantitative research because it mimics the research of their own agencies. Qualitative research can complement any quantitative research a sociologist may have prepared or vice versa. “Qualitative researchers still largely feel themselves to be second-class citizens whose work typically evokes suspicion, where the
‘gold standard’ is quantitative research.” (Silverman, 2000.)
To help explain why quantitative research is seen as the ‘gold standard’, I will describe the methods in more detail. There are five main methods of quantitative research. These are social survey, experiment, official statistics, “structured observation” and content analysis. A good example would be a survey of father and son’s occupations. The independent variable being the father’s occupation and the son’s being the dependant. This is because the father is the possible cause of the sons. The results of such a study would be shown in a table of findings. The survey could look at manual and non-manual workers, and random sample of 100 people would probably be used, depending on the researcher. This would be so the researcher could be confident within specifiable limits that any correlation is probably not a chance finding. Quantitative researchers do not like to change statements of correlation into casual statements. An example of another factor stopping them making these casual statements from the findings. A father and sons occupation may be associated with another variable, like inherited wealth. Quantitative researchers would not confidently state that a father’s occupation is significant cause of son’s occupation.
Qualitative researchers seek to