Qualitative vs. Quantitative research methods

Report
PART I – THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE
RESEARCH METHODS
PART II – EVALUATION OF QUALITATIVE METHODS INCLUDING
CONCEPTS LIKE CREDIBILITY, RESEARCHER BIAS, GERNERALIZATION,
TRIANGULATION AND REFLEXIVITY.
PART III – SAMPLING METHODS, PURPOSIVE SAMPLING AND
SNOWBALL SAMPLING
PART IV – ETHICS
Qualitative research takes place in the real
world, as opposed to the laboratory, and
deals with how people give meaning to
their own experience.
 Then it is followed by an attempt to interpret
the behaviour and the meanings that
people have given to their experience.
 The objective of qualitative research is to
describe and possibly explain events and
experiences.

These often involve
face-to-face
interactions beteen
researcher and
participant
Step 1
Observations
Interviews
Cases studies
Step 2
The researchers need
to be flexible and
sensitive to the needs
of the social context
within which the data
is obtained.
The data is then
analysed and
interpreted. To look for
themes is more
common than trying to
confirm a hypothesis.
Qualitative – words
and anlysis
Qualitative – numberseasy to summarize and
use in statistics. Meant
for generalization
beyond the sample
from which the data is
drawn.
Gathered
through direct
interaction
with
participants.
Open-ended
and flexible
”rich data”
When dealing with
qualitative research – it is
imperative to be able to
tolerate a degree of
uncertainty.
”Researchers can only come to
understand the social world through
participants’ interpretations – interpretative
approach.
Reality is diverse and multifaceted. The
goal is to get a picture of this reality. To
measure means to reduce it – and
therefore lose meaning.
Quantitative methods,
such as the experiment,
have been used partly in
order to maintain the
appearance of
psychology as a scientific
discipline with valid
knowledge claims.
 During the 20th century
there was a shift away
from seeing quantitative
methods as the only valid
way of gaining data – but
also a realization that both
methods are needed.

Purpose of research
 Characteristics of participants
 Researchers’ beliefs about the nature of
knowledge and how it can be aquired
(see next slide)

1.
2.
3.
What is the relationship between the researcher
and the researched? Can the researcher be
objective. Can the researched ever behave
naturally. No? Well, then reflexibility is needed.
What can be held as truth? Accurate measures
(natural sciences) or by being supported by
something else (social sciences)
How is knowledge gathered? Deductive (cause
and effect, generalization and prediction) vs.
Inductive (collected evidence used to reach a
conclusion – focus: to understand the process).
Means that the distinction between
qualitative and quantitave research is a
textbook creation and that there is no
unified qualitative paradigm.
In fact, he claims, they are not separated.
Exercise 1: try to fill in what qualitative research has in
common opposed to quantitative methods based on
what we have covered so far:
Quantitative
methods assume:
•
•
•
•
•
That variables can be
identified (and
operationalised)
That The relationship
between variables
can measured by
statistics.
Realibility and
objectiveness is seen
as highly important
(and possible) –
therefore controlled
environments (like
labs) are preferred.
Aim: to infer a causeeffect relationship
and to be able to
generalize from the
study.
Eg. experiments and
correlational studies.
Qualitative methods
assume:





Provide rich data – that is, in-depth
descriptions of individual experiences.
Particularly useful for investigating complex
and sensitive issues.
Explain phenomena – that is, go beyond
mere observation to understand what lies
behind them (eg. why do people become
homeless?)
Generate new ideas and theories to
explain and overcome problems.
People are studied in their own
environment, which increases credibility.
Can be very time-consuming and
generate a huge amount of data.
 Data analysis can be difficult because of
the amount of data and no clear
strategy for analysis.
 Interpretation of data may be subjective
(but reflexivity can help to minimize this)

This is often the aim of research, but not always so for qualitative
research.
Representative generalization – can the findings be applied to
populations outside the population of the study? Samples are often
small and not selected for being statistically representative so this
makes generalization difficult. However, if evidence from other
studies confirms the findings (confirmability through eg.
triangulation) it is argued that generalization is possible
(Hammersley, 1992)
Inferential generalizability – same thing but with the difference that
it is the setting of the research that is to be generalized to other
settings. Transferability. Depends on the depth of the description of
the context – and this may allow for inferences to be made – but
needs to be supported or disproved by further evidence (e.g.
transferability check through triangulation)
Theoretical generalizability – if the theoretical concepts can be
used to open up new fields and develop further theory.
Credibility
Internal validity
”Trustworthyness” How believable are the research conclusions?
Breadth and deapth is gathered.
Conclusions and interpretations are
correct as variables are well defined and
measures well controlled.
Transferability
Generalizability
The context is well described as it is unlikely that
it won’t have an impact on the findings.
The research conclusions can be applied to
Different samples as the research context is
controlled enough.
Dependability
Reliability
Data obtained cannot be expected to be the same
Dependability means therefore that the researcher has
Described all factors that might have influenced the data.
Repeated use of the instrument provide stable
measurements and researchers using them
Find similar results
Confirmability
Objectivity
Sujectivity is not only unavoidable; it is valued. Therefore
researchers should give details of procedures and attempt
As many sources of bias from opinion are
To find examples that contradict the findings.
Eliminated from the research process.
A study is trustworthy if,
and only if, the reader
of the reseach report
judge it to be so”
(Rolfe, 2006)
As a way to increase credibility, but also check
transferability, dependability and confirmability
triangulation is often used.
Triangulation = a cross-checking of information and
conclusions in research, brought about by the use of
multiple procedures or sources. If there is agreement
between these, there is support of the interpretation
of data.
Using triangulation does not mean you get a certain
truth, but you get closer to it – reflexivity is still
necessary.
Method triangulation. Comparing data that
come from the use of different methods. These
could be both quantitative and qualitative. Eg.
first using a questionaire to ask about eating
habits in a school, and then conduct focus
group interviews afterwards.
 Researcher triangulation – involves using
different people as researchers. This increased
the confirmability and credibility of conclusions.
Without this data collection and conclusions
might be affected by researcher bias.
Other triangulation thechniques include data
triangulation and theory triangulation.

Examiner’s hint: to answer a
question about the value of
reflexivity in qualitative
research, you should make
reference to the different
opportunities for reflexibility
provided by interviews, case
studies and observations.
Refers to the researcher’s need to constantly be
aware of how and why they are conducting the
research, and to recognize at what points their own
beliefs and opinions might have influenced data
collection or analysis.
To undergo an interview with collegues is a way to
expose possible bias.
Participant expectations – the participants’ ideas
of the researcher and the research which can
affect the trustworthiness of the data. Pleasing
the experiment (or the screw you effect).
Researcher bias – the researcher does not pay
enough attention to the participants. This leads to
the result that it is the researcher’s own beliefs
that determine the research effect.
Can be checked through interviews, credibility
checks and reflexivity.
Sampling methods
in qualitative
research differs
from those used in
quantitative
research.
The sampling numbers are generally smaller thani n
quantitative research.
 To get random, representative samples from target
population is seldom possible (or the aim) of qualitative
research. It is not intended to be statistically
representative.
 Instead, a sample is chosen because it represents
important characteristics of a population – characteristics
that are the main concern in evaluation of research.


Purposive sampling – the participatns are
chosen on the basis of particular
characteristics that will help the researcher
to explore the research topic. Eg. specific
experiences, social roles etc. It may be
important that there is a diversity – but this is
not necessary nor at times possible.
Problem – the sample might be biased but
this is thought to be lessened if the criterias
on which participants were chosen are
clearly documented.
The researcher simply
asks participants in
the study if they know
any other potential
participants.
+ time and cost
efficient.
+ can be used to get
hold hidden
populations
- Will most probably
lead to biased
samples.
- Ethics:
confidentiality
concerns.
Convenience samples can
also be used.
What sampling method would be
appropriate? Why?
 Could another sampling method be
considered? Why?
 What should you consider overall when
selecting your sample?

In large these are the same as in quantitative
research (informed consent, protection from
harm, respect for the participants’ integrity
and privacy and right to withdraw).
Special here is to be open to problems linked
to the private nature often researched, that
the researcher might get personally involved
and lose objectivity.
Specifically in case studies – anonymity issues
(case study with covert observation – no
consentform or right to withdraw –
problematic).






Distinguish between qualitative and
quantitative data.
Explain strenths and limitations of a qualitative
approach to research
Explore the extent to which findings can be
generalized from qualitative studies.
Explain the importance of credibility in
qualitative research.
Explain the effect of triangulation on the
credibility/trustworthiness of qualitative
research
Explain reflexivity in qualitative research.

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