Research methods can be classified in two different categories – quantitative and qualitative. We looked at the former method in the past, so it's time to shine some light on the qualitative method and how it fits into your dissertation or scholarly research that you're performing.

While quantitative research requires the collection of numerical data, qualitative research attempts to understand a specific organization or event and does not involve the collection of a numerical sample from a population.

Qualitative research involves no treatments or variable manipulation, the interpretation emerges from participants. Concepts, data collection tools, and methods can be adjusted as the research progresses, and finally, it provides an understanding through direct experience, reporting, and interpretation from direct conversations.

Examples of qualitative research include participant observation (e.g. – ethnography), in-depth interviews, and focus groups.

The differences between quantitative and qualitative research are related to data sample, collection, analysis, and of course, the outcome. Here is an easy way visualize the differences.

The differences between quantitative and qualitative research
Research Method Quantitative Qualitative
Certainty Single Multiple
Analysis Statistics/Numbers Narrative/Words
Attempt to generalize Yes No
Theory Test Develop
Focus Concise Complex
Basis Objective Subjective

Learn more about qualitative research, including when to employ a "mix" method design, in the Culture of Research and Education (CORE) webinar "Qualitative Research Methodology: An Overview," presented by Dr. Carlos Cardillo.

Dr. Carlos Cardillo is a faculty member and Ph.D. mentor at Trident. He is an experienced professional attuned to the ever-changing needs of organizations who utilizes a unique blend of business acumen, scientific research, project management, and state-of-the-art technology development. He has over 25 years of experience working in projects requiring the ability to identify areas needing vision and projection in the health science arena, including scientific, clinical, neurophysiological, and human factor research design, implementation, administration, and finances. He has professional experience in military, academic, and private institutions.