Quantitative & Qualitative Data-Collection Methods
Scientific research, the cornerstone of humankind's forward progression as a global population, is achieved through a rigorous process of data collection and analysis. Traditional methodologies include studying what people say and do via the subjective qualitative design, and the more stringent quantitative approach that relies upon objective, hard data. Knowing which approach is best for your small business can mean the difference between a stalled customer base and steady consumer growth.
Qualitative research seeks to uncover more depth to the topic, and therefore more holistic understanding, than its quantitative counterpart that seeks a specific outcome. Utilizing a constant comparative analysis provides small-business owners the opportunity to highlight differences or similarities of a single piece of information when compared with the bulk of existing data, such as when analyzing behavior of a particular target market. The fundamental benefit of qualitative design is to decipher the components responsible for differentiating that individual datum, otherwise known as inductive analysis.
Quantitative methodology provides a more broadly examined analysis, since deductive analysis doesn't require a specific focus. This type of detailed research can cause pertinent data to limit and formulate analysis, according to the Research Methods Knowledge Base. Beginning with an idea articulated through hypothesis, small-business owners can measure and generate data that yields the same results every time, which is most beneficial when the objective is to crunch numbers.
The subjective nature of studying people, according to the Imperial County Office of Education, is best achieved through qualitative measures, while the number-based function of quantitative measures are a better fit for scientific, clinical and mathematical analysis. Respondent interactivity is vital for measuring quality, inasmuch as there are no finite limits where human nature is concerned. Surveys are particularly popular with small-business owners because of the vast scope this measurement tool provides; whether online, in person, on the phone or via postal mail, questionnaires allow for respondents to provide personal insight. Other measures include passive and participant observation, in-depth interviews, face-to-face conversations and focus groups. Quantitative studies, by contrast, rely upon the objective nature of numerical identifiers.
Conventionality has long dictated that subjective studies utilize qualitative methods, while objective research employs its quantitative counterpart; to stray from the norm by incorporating more than one approach has historically cast doubt upon outcome validity. Today, however, not only is a mixed-method approach acceptable for small businesses, but it's fast becoming the design of choice by many researchers who seek a better, more accurate outcome. There are a number of common denominators shared by inductive and deductive methods that, according to the "Educational Researcher," enable two otherwise opposing designs to coexist.