What is the Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Methodology?
The difference between qualitative and quantitative dissertations can be seen in the meaning of each word: qualitative comes from the Latin qualis, “of what kind?” while quantitative comes from the Latin quantus, “of what size?” Qualitative studies seek to understand subjective interrelationships while quantitative studies seek to establish and examine definitive numerical relationships. Most research in the humanities is qualitative, though quantitative studies are possible; scientific research is generally quantitative, though, conversely, qualitative studies may be possible; researchers in the social sciences may choose between the two approaches or combine them, depending upon the goals of their studies.
The following table lays out some distinctions between the two types of inquiry:
Qualitative methods can be used to develop quantitative research questions or to interpret the results of quantitative studies. Moving back and forth between quantitative and qualitative ways of understanding your dissertation topic may allow you to explain it in richer ways, using both words and numbers; it may allow you to see an old problem from a fresh perspective; or it may allow contradictions or disconnections to emerge, leading to new lines of inquiry.
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Imperial County Office of Education. “Qualitative and Quantitative Research.” Accessed April 12, 2014. http://www.icoe.org/webfm_send/1936.