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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Quantitative and Qualitative research

-In Miles and Huberman's 1994 book Qualitative Data Analysis, quantitative researcher Fred Kerlinger is quoted as saying, "There's no such thing as qualitative data. Everything is either 1 or 0" (p. 40).

-To this another researcher, D. T. Campbell, asserts "all research ultimately has a qualitative grounding" (p. 40).

- This back and forth banter among qualitative and quantitative researchers is "essentially unproductive" according to Miles and Huberman.

-They and many other researchers agree that these two research methods need each other more often than not.

It is important for researchers to realize that qualitative and quantitative methods can be used in conjunction with each other

-Quantitative and qualitative methods are studied within the context of positivistic and phenomenological paradigms .

-Some of the basic tools for qualitative or quantitative research are related to data collection methods which can be case studies, questionnaires or interviews (Simon et al, 1985).

The researche can be quantitative or qualitative or even both. Quantitative research is based on the measurement of quantity or amount. Here a process is expressed or described in terms of one or more quantities. Qualitative research is concerned with quailtative phenomenon involving quality. It is non-numerical,descriptive, applies reasoning and uses words. Its aim is to get the meaning, feeling and describe the situation. We measure and weigh things in the study of substance or structure. Can we measure or weigh patterns? We cannot measure or weigh patterns. But to study patterns we must map a configuration of relationships. That is, structures involve quantities whereas patterns involve qualities. If one wishes to investigate why certain data are random then it is a qualitative research. If the aim is to study how random the data is, what is the mean,variance and distribution function then it becomes quantitative. Explaining how digestion of food takes place in our body is a qualitative description. It does not involve any numbers or data and quantities. The detection of a particular compound is a qualitative analysis. This can be done by carrying out physical or chemical tests. Determination of exact amount of a particular compound present in a volume is essentially quantitative analysis. This can be done by volumetric, gravimetric and calorimetric methods or instrumental methods. Experimental and simulation studies are generally quantitative research.


Quantitative research methods focus on statistical approaches .

Quantitative methods emphasise on objective measurements and numerical analysis of data collected through polls, questionnaires or surveys

while quantitative involves many phenomena with few variables

quantitative data involves numbers
quantitative research is deductive

all quantitative research requires a hypothesis before research can begin

In quantitative research, the researcher is ideally an objective observer that neither participates in nor influences what is being studied.
quantitative research is generally better for confirming and clarifying.

To quantify data and generalize results from a sample to the population of interest

To measure the incidence of various views and opinions in a chosen sample

Sometimes followed by qualitative research which is used to explore some findings further


Qualitative methods are based on content analysis, comparative analysis, grounded theory, and interpretation (Strauss, 1990).

qualitative research focuses on understanding social phenomena through interviews, personal comments etc.

Qualitative research usually involves few cases with many variables

typically qualitative data involves words
qualitative research is inductive

In qualitative research, a hypothesis is not needed to begin research

In qualitative research, however, it is thought that the researcher can learn the most about a situation by participating and/or being immersed in it.
qualitative research is usually better for exploring, understanding, and uncovering,

To gain an understanding of underlying reasons and motivations

To provide insights into the setting of a problem, generating ideas and/or hypotheses for later quantitative research

To uncover prevalent trends in thought and opinion

Quantitative / qualitative debate

There is some debate over whether "quantitative research" and "qualitative research" methods can be complementary: some researchers argue that combining the two approaches is beneficial and helps build a more complete picture of the social world, while other researchers believe that the epistemologies that underpin each of the approaches are so divergent that they cannot be reconciled within a research project.

While quantitative methods are based on a natural science, positivist model of testing theory, qualitative methods are based on interpretivism and are more focused around generating theories and accounts. Positivists treat the social world as something that is 'out there', external to the social scientist and waiting to be researched. Interpretivists, on the other hand believe that the social world is constructed by social agency and therefore any intervention by a researcher will affect social reality. Herein lies the supposed conflict between quantitative and qualitative approaches - quantitative approaches traditionally seek to minimise intervention in order to produce valid and reliable statistics, whereas qualitative approaches traditionally treat intervention as something that is necessary (often arguing that participation can lead to a better understanding of a social situation).

However, it is increasingly recognised that the significance of these differences should not be exaggerated and that quantitative and qualitative approaches can be complementary. They can be combined in a number of ways, for example:

Qualitative methods can be used in order to develop quantitative research tools. For example, focus groups could be used to explore an issue with a small number of people and the data gathered using this method could then be used to develop a quantitative survey questionnaire that could be administered to a far greater number of people allowing results to be generalised.

Qualitative methods can be used to explore and facilitate the interpretation of relationships between variables. For example researchers may inductively hypothesize that there would be a positive relationship between positive attitudes of sales staff and the amount of sales of a store. However, quantitative, deductive, structured observation of 576 convenience stores could reveal that this was not the case, and in order to understand why the relationship between the variables was negative the researchers may undertake qualitative case studies of four stores including participant observation. This might abductively confirm that the relationship was negative, but that it was not the positive attitude of sales staff that led to low sales, but rather that high sales led to busy staff who were less likely to be express positive emotions at work!

Quantitative methods are useful for describing social phenomena, especially on a larger scale. Qualitative methods allow social scientists to provide richer explanations (and descriptions) of social phenomena, frequently on a smaller scale. By using two or more approaches researchers may be able to 'triangulate' their findings and provide a more valid representation of the social world.

Lecture notes prepared by Biju P R,Assistant Professor in Political Science,Govt Brennen College Thalassery


Is there any difference between research methods and research methodology?

Research methods

are the various procedures, schemes, algorithms, etc. used in research. All the methods used by a researcher during a research study are termed as research methods.

Methods refer to range of technique that are available to collect evidence about social world.

They are essentially planned, scientific and value-neutral.

They include theoretical procedures, experimental studies, numerical schemes, statistical approaches, etc.

Research methods help us collect samples, data and find a solution to a problem. Particularly, scientific research methods call for explanations based on collected facts, measurements and observations and not on reasoning alone.

They accept only those explanations which can be verified by experiments.

Research methodology

is a systematic way to solve problem.

It is a science of studying how research is to be carried out.

Essentially, the procedures by which researchers go about their work of describing, explaining and predicting phenomena are called research methodology.

It is also defined as the study of methods by which knowledge is gained.

Its aim is to give the work plan of research.

Methodology concerns research strategy as whole

There are a number of ways in which research methodology is defined by traditional scholars.A methodology involves presenting rules of procedure about matters such as collection of data and their analysis. These rules are impersonal in that they are meant to apply equally to all researchers.it is assumed that any two researchers who approach same problem should arrive at identical as long as neither infringes methodological rules.So individual bias is avoided from research process.

Importance of Research Methodology in Research Study

It is necessary for a researcher to design a methodology for the problem chosen.

One should note that even if the method considered in two problems are same the methodology may be different.

It is important for the researcher to know not only the research methods necessary for the research under taken but also the methodology.

For example, a researcher not only needs to know why Maoist resist against the political system,

how to find a solution to digital divide and its impact on achieving digital democracy,

how to determine the roots of mob violence in Country side and

how to apply a particular method for a social problem but also need to know

(i) Which is a suitable method for the chosen problem?,

(ii) What is the order of accuracy of the result of a method?,

(iii) What is the efficiency of the method? and so on.

Consideration of these aspects constitutes a research methodology.

More precisely, research methods help us get a solution to a problem.

On the other hand, research methodology is concerned with the explanation of the following:

(1) Why is a particular research study undertaken?

(2) How did one formulate a research problem?

(3) What types of data were collected?

(4) What particular method has been used?

(5) Why was a particular technique of analysis of data used?

The study of research methods gives training to apply them to a problem.

The study of research methodology provides us the necessary training in choosing methods, materials, scientific tools and training in techniques relevant for the problem chosen.

Teaching oints prepared by Biju P R,Assitant Professor,Dept.of Political Science,GBC,Tly.

What is Research

We must first understand what research is ?

Social research are carried out for various reasons

-The flora and fauna we have needs to be improved and maintained.

-The social world we are born need to be qualified and enhanced, so we need information.

-The more information we have, the closer we get of making our social life.

-There are people from all walks of life that contribute to gathered or research information.

-These are ordinary people and extraordinary people.

-They include, teachers, students, scientists, professors, scholars, business owners, librarians, book keepers, writers, politicians and many more unknown out there.

-These are everyday citizens we interact with.

They all contributors to research.

-They all help with the flow information that people use for self help.

-Most people make action without gathered or research informations to back them up.

-The problem is most people aren't patient enough to put in the effort.

-The question is how much information is enough?

-How much information can you afford?

-Information obesity can be research problem.

-Research plus action will most likely guarantee a successful research.

-But be careful though, becasue too much research without action on what you are learning is not good either.

-Research requires time, effort, and sometimes money to have the evidence you need to make a sound theory that's why many avoid research.

-Research is important to your success as you take on life's challenges and new avenues of social life.


-It is another word for gathering of information.

-Research is a logical and systematic search for new and useful information

-Research is the result of advancing knowledge created in the past.

-It is an investigation of finding solutions to and social problems through objective, subjective and systematic analysis.

-It is a search for knowledge, that is, a discovery of hidden truths.

-Here knowledge means information about social world.

-The information might be collected from different sources like experience, human beings, books, journals, nature, etc.

-A research can lead to new contributions to the existing knowledge.

-Only through research it is possible to make progress in a field.

-Research is done with the help of study, experiment, observation, analysis, comparison and reasoning.

Research is in fact ubiquitous.

-For example, we know that cigarette smoking is injurious to health but we need to learn why political class is not legislating against tobacco use-heroine is addictive but why the political system is not able to prevent its production,transport and use

-cow dung is a useful source of biogas but it is also a source of violence in India

-Why the parliamentarians not legislating the 33 per cent reservation to women in parliament

How did we know all these? We became aware of all these information only through research. More precisely, it seeks predictions of events and explanations, relationships and theories for them.

How research is Defined

Word research is derived from French Researcher meaning to search or seek again.

It means intensive search to becoming certain.

An endeavour to discover facts by scientific study of a subject,case or course

The systematic process of collecting and analyzing information

Research is a process of investigation

An examination of a subject from different points of view

Research is a hunt for the truth

It is composed of two words-re and search

A critical and exhaustive investigation of experimentation having as its aim the revision of accepted conclusions in the light of new discovered facts-the Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences.

A systematic enquiry seeking facts through objective verification methods inorder to discover the relationship among them and to reduce from them broad principles or laws-M H Gopal.

Research is a careful inquiry or examination seeking facts or principles, a diligent investigation to ascertain something-Clifford Woody.

Research is sufficiently objective and systematic to make possible classification,generalization and verification of data observed-Lundberg.



· Increasing our understanding of how and why we behave the way we do!!

Research is A THEORY-

Organizes information

Helps explain past events

Predicts new events


Past research guides new research

Research is NOT copying the work of others


Repeatability is a sign of credible science

Replication guides future research


Research should apply to situations outside of the study setting


It is based on some logical rationale

It is tied to theory


· Research generates new questions

  • Research is incremental


Research should have the betterment of society as its ultimate goal

C C Crawford of University of Southern California identifies characteristics of research

It centres round a problem

Involves original work

It rests up on an attitude of curiosity

It requires an open mind

Rests upon assumption that everything is subject to law and order

Its object is to find laws and generalization

It’s a study of cause and effect

Its based on measurement

Involves conscious techniques

Importance of research

-understanding the social phenomenon and to communicate others.

-induces to action-poverty eradication,displacement and rehabilitation,human rights protection,legal and institutional reforms,strengthening democratic process etc.,

-to solve a particular existing problem-caste,racial discrimination,apartheid,

-to understand how social factors impact the way we live-gender influencing political justice,caste affecting dalit justice,

-The research you do and evidence you gathered will have impact on future-history of world is history of class struggle,authoritarian order like Fascism,Nazism,Tyranny,Despotism etc will not survive the test of time,Pakistan didn’t learn from history despite seen many military dictators

-Research is very vital to our everyday decision making-

-it arms you from wrong informations and save time and money.

-Research is important both in scientific and nonscientific social world-be it economical,political,sociological,anthropological etc

-In our life, new problems, events, phenomena and processes occur every day.

-Practically implementable solutions and suggestions are required for tackling new problems that arise.

-Social Scientists have to undertake research on them and find their causes, solutions, explanations and applications.

-Precisely, research assists us to understand social world phenomena.

Some important avenues for research are:

(1) A research problem refers to a difficulty which a researcher or a social science community or an industry or a government organization or a society experiences.

It may be a theoretical or a practical situation.It calls for a thorough understanding and possible solution.

(2) Research on existing theories and concepts help us identify the range and applications of them.

(3) It is the fountain of knowledge and provides guidelines for solving problems.

(4) Research provides basis for many government policies.

For example, research on the needs and desires of the people and on the availability of revenues to meet the needs helps a government to prepare a budget.

(5) It is important in social life for higher learning and to improve the quality of life.

(6) It leads to the identification and characterization of social trends, new life styles, etc.

(7)Only through research can social world be made and understood

(8) Social research helps find answers to social problems. They explain social phenomena and seek solution to social problems.

(9) Research leads to a new style of life and makes it delightful and glorious .

-Guide to social planning and social engineering

-greater and first hand information through research offers prominenet control over social phenomenon

-research is enlightenment and oofers a solution to our superstitiuons and irrational world views

-social welfare

-charged with considerable basis for prediction

What are the Objectives of Research?

The prime objectives of research are

(1) to discover new facts-

(2) to verify and test important facts

(3) to analyse an event or process or phenomenon to identify the cause and effect relationship

(4) to develop new scientific tools, concepts and theories to solve and understand scientific and nonscientific social problems

(5) to find solutions to scientific, nonscientific and social problems and

(6) to overcome or solve the problems occurring in our every day life.

Why People Research

Curiousity is a crucial part of the human condition and social life.

There is infinite conflict and tensions in the socio-political interaction of people

Many people want to know more about something that interests them.

Do anthropologists use government information?

How many advanced societies have solved unemployment and poverty ?

Where did violence and conflict come from?

Are men more in the public spaces than women?

What does youth think about society and politics and of future?.

There is an excitement in the discovery of new information and knowing more about some topic than anyone else.

There is joy in sharing newly gathered and previously unavailable information.

Why people rise against governments in Middle East area,

Why people like Anna Hazare protest and plead for Lokpal

Why Narmada Movement takes place in India?

The social life is too much under trouble

We need solution to most of these problems we face

Research is so unavoidable.

Social science research or soft science studies the human aspects of the world.

It includes an in-depth study and evaluation of human behavior by using scientific methods in either quantitative or qualitative manner.

The subject matter of the soft science can be subjective or objective.

In contrast to hard science or natural science, social science reveals subjective, objective, inter-subjective and structural aspects of the society.

In simple words, it measures the social developments of the society and finds the emerging drawbacks too.

The work of social science is to watch where the society has been heading and what more can be done to benefit the entire race.

If we dig out the historical evidences, we will find that social science has been a constant part of the development of the human race.

It is interesting to know that great philosophers like Plato and Aristotle were advocates of social science and their philosophies are based on the objectives of social sciences only.
So, social science is very much present into our day-to-day life and has a pivotal role in the societal growth and development.

This is a fundamentally important question. No person would like to do research unless there are some motivating factors.

Some of the motivations are the following:

(1) to get a research degree (Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)) along with its benefits like better employment, promotion, increment in salary, etc.

(2) to get a research degree and then to get a teaching position in a college or university or become a scientist in a research institution

(3) to get a research position in countries like U.S.A.,Canada, Germany, England, Japan, Australia, etc. and settle there

(4) to solve the unsolved and challenging problems

(5) to get joy of doing some creative work

(6) to acquire respectability

(7) to get recognition

(8) curiosity to find out the unknown facts of an event

(9) curiosity to find new things

(10) to serve the society by solving social problems.

Some students undertake research without any aim possibly because of not being able to think of anything else to do. Such students can also become good researchers by motivating themselves toward a respectable goal.

Teaching oints prepared by Biju P R,Assitant Professor,Dept.of Political Science,GBC,Tly.