which is more scientific Qualitative or Quantitative?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

The joys of writing another blog while watching the Simpsons J

The definition of science or scientific is the knowledge that is gained from observations, study and experimentations that are carried out, so that researchers are able to answer questions or find out more about what is being studied.

Firstly qualitative research; put simply it explores the why of our area of interest, instead of the ‘how’ like in quantitative research. This can be done through the means of observations, interviews, phone conversations, videos, as well as many other ways. It enables the researcher to get a view of certain conditions, as sometimes the average of the results doesn’t give us insight to individual differences, which can be important as it allows other suffers and even those treating these individuals more knowledge of the various and possible effects.

Unlike qualitative methods, quantitative methods use numbers and analyse them through the use of mathematical or statistical means, such as SPSS which we all know about, and by doing this we are able to explore our hypothesis, something that we do not have in qualitative methods. Instead of looking at specific individuals, this method looks at the relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable, and what is reported about the relationship between the two needs to be objective.

So just because the qualitative methods doesn’t use numbers or statistics, does it really lose its right to be classed as scientific? quantitative research methods are considered to be clear and powerful, which is a good thing for most things, it allows us to examine and explore all different areas such as affect, individual differences and many more things that quantitative does not do, and could in fact could distort the opinions of the participants. I think it is fair to say that both methods have their uses, a few points for the uses of qualitative methods are things such as gaining insight in individual cases, so that we are able to gain understanding, which allows us to gain a real life information. However, this is not always applicable or necessary for some studies, and this is where the quantitative method comes in handy as it, allows us to see how much of a percentage of Bangor University students like Malibu compared to Vodka, which allows us to generalise to a certain extent to the overall population just for an example.

So I think I have established that they both have their uses in regards to whatever you are wanting to study, and I think if we were just to use quantitative methods we would miss out on a great deal of information in terms of individual cases, therefore I would conclude that they are both scientific in their own right, they both provide us with vital information, just in different forms.

But what do you think?

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9 comments on “which is more scientific Qualitative or Quantitative?

  1. thought3 says:

    Had this question been asked about a week ago, I would have definitely said Qualitative is NOt scientific!!! That is with upper case letters NOT!!!. However, it has occured to me that sometimes, if not all times, before we slate something off we need to investigate it and find out the facts about; then can we make such hasty conclusions.

    Ragardless of the subjectivity question qualitative methods brings, it does follow a rigorous guidlines, in my opnion maybe even more rigorous than that of the quantitative method. The only reason that the for most of us the quantitative method seemed to be more scientific is the fact that we could manipulate variables and create our own versions of a lab experiment and then produce some numerical data and make inferences based on that. But all in all, BOTH methods are scentific and they are simply complementary to one another!!!

  2. samanthawardle says:

    I think that qualitative research and quantitative research are as scientific as each other. Both use the same ethical guidelines when carrying out research, in fact i agree with the above comment that it probably follows more guidelines because it is dealing with peoples thoughts and emotions a lot of the time, and both produce valid and reliable results that both help to develop new methods or new treatments. The fact that quantitative research uses more numbers than qualitative research does not mean it is more scientific, it simply means that it got to the end result in a different, probably less in depth, way.

  3. captkebab says:

    I’m not completely sure. Whilst qualitative methodology does help to bring useful insights into view and helps substantiate certain quantitative works, if seen completely on it’s own, in a subject like sociology for example, then the majority of people do see it as a B.A rather than a B.sc.

  4. psyalo says:

    I think both qualitative and quantitative are both scientific in their own way. Qualitative data often aids quantitative data, and sometimes comes up with consents that are then studied using numbers.
    Some would say quantitative data is more scientific because it analyses numbers and can be used in scientific tests such as ANOVA’s and t-tests. I would agree with this to some extent. However qualitative data can be richer and more grounded. It uses first hand data and a in-depth story can give more information about why someone gives their answers.

  5. psuc48 says:

    I don’t agree with the last comment, I personally see the two ways to research as complementary, as one brings in the other what the other is missing. That is, quantitative research is more accurate and precise as it has to deal with raw numbers and looks at the population, whilst qualitative research is more subjective and interpretative and looks more at the individual. But they’re both equally essential to collect and analyse the data in my opinion. There’s not such a number that represents one’s feelings and values cannot mean opinions, therefore I believe qualitative research is as scientific as quantitative research, it just explores a different area of human behaviour.

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