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There are two kinds of research: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research relies on subjective judgment and cannot be quantified, but the research can uncover invaluable data due to its open collection process and allows researchers to develop hypotheses. Quantitative research can be quantified, and can be used to prove hypotheses.
Interviews are a qualitative research tool to provide data about a person’s attitude and behavior. Interviews may be conducted in person or on the phone, and may be scripted or unscripted. This tool is used by researchers looking for a personal approach to their research. In-person interviews allow researchers to analyze non-verbal communication, but they typically take up more time than a phone interview.
Mail, phone and online surveys are popular research tools. They normally use numeric scales with demographic information. Surveys are one of the most popular quantitative tools available to researchers because they are affordable, quantifiable and quick. Advances in technology have enhanced the survey process with survey software, which calculates results within minutes.
A focus group consists of six to 10 people, who are asked about their opinions, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions toward a product, service or idea. Trained moderators ask questions and ensure everyone in the room has an opportunity to contribute to the discussion. Typically, a focus group meets a minimum of two times, always with the same group of people so that the group dynamic is not interrupted.
A SWOT analysis is a strategic tool utilized by companies to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This qualitative research tool examines internal factors (strengths and weaknesses), and external factors (opportunities and threats). A comprehensive SWOT analysis provides a company with insight into where the business has room to grow, allows a company to capitalize on a competitive advantage and delivers a company with the foresight to identify looming threats so that it can prepare.