What’s the Difference Between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research?

To understand a problem, large or small scale, both high quality and relevant data are needed. If you’re a researcher, you’ll have to collect this data using Qualitative Research or Quantitative Research methods. Without a solid understanding of the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, you risk using a less suitable method of data collection, impacting your results, and ultimately your study. 

In this post, we’ll discuss all the things you need to know about qualitative and quantitative research, their differences, and how to best use them for the success of your project. 


  • Definition of Qualitative and Quantitative Research
  • Table of Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Research
  • Key Differences and Example


Definition of Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Qualitative Research uses non-numerical measures to understand fundamental behavior, reasons, and motivations. Unstructured or semi-structured methods are utilized to gather insight into questions. This stage is often considered as the exploratory stage of research where freedom in response is implemented to gain an initial grasp of a problem.



  • For Example: An open dialogue with participants to find out why customer satisfaction ratings are low. Data from qualitative research can later be used to generate quantitative data to develop ideas or solutions. This is done by tallying the frequency of the qualitative result and determining the factors which are most relevant.


Quantitative Research is used to assess a subject by utilizing data that can be measured and then interpreted using statistical evaluations. Correspondingly, closed-ended questions are applied, and the target audience is given a set of options to use for responding. Quantitative data provides numerical facts!


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  • For Example: The percent of people that find fulfillment in their job, or think their trainer is effective. The analysis of opinions, attitudes, and behaviors are simplified by using numerical data to draw conclusions, test a hypothesis, and discover trends in research. 


Table of Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Research


Key Differences and Example

The key differences between Quantitative and Qualitative Research are the purpose and methodology.

  • For Example: A School Board wants to find out how many of their students feel their teachers care about them. They use an in-house school survey composed of closed-ended questions to provide a numerical measurement. Let’s say the school finds out that 800 out of 1200 of the students don’t feel their teachers care about them. This is quantitative research. The purpose of quantitative research is to provide a concrete numerical measure by using the closed-ended methodology in order for the response of the students to be measured on a common scale. Furthermore, the school board decides to dig deeper into this issue. Consequently, they create a focus group discussion composed of 5 students from each class. The goal is to understand the key causes through open dialogue. The result of this research will be the opinions and statements of the chosen students. This is qualitative research. The purpose of qualitative research is to provide a deeper insight by looking at the human perspective, hence, using an open dialogue for respondents to sufficiently express themselves. 


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