Quantitative research “is the systematic examination of social phenomena, using statistical models and mathematical theories to develop, accumulate, and refine the scientific knowledge base”. Many clients have research projects where data needs to be gathered in numerical form, so that this data can ultimately be placed into categories, ranked in order, or measured in order to tell a story. This data is also used to construct graphs, tables and other illustrations of the data. These projects normally involve hypothesis testing, utilization of adequate sample sizes, and rigorous data collection instruments.
Qualitative research is used to probe deeper in an effort to understand people’s beliefs, experiences, attitudes, behavior, and interactions. It is often recognized for its ability to add a new dimension to interventional studies that cannot be obtained through measurement of variables alone (quantitative research methods). Qualitative research is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations and provides insights into the problem. or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Qualitative Research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into the problem. Qualitative data collection methods include focus groups discussions, individual interviews, and participation/observations. The sample size is typically smaller and the data collection methods are more engaging.
Mixed methods research involves collecting and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data. Often qualitative data collection methods lead to the creation of a more reliable and valid quantitative statistical survey tool. Alternatively, often after assessing data, we may realize all of the information that was not accurately assessed and so we may also present our clients with the option of a quan-to-qual design; in this instance the survey tool helps us uncover what we need to delve deeper into in qualitative data collection. The quantitative data includes closed-end information that undergoes statistical analysis and results in a numerical representation, where qualitative data is more subjective and open-ended. It allows an opportunity for the “voice” of the participants to be heard and for us to interpret observations.