Differences between Quantitative and Qualitative Intros and Lit Reviews

The differences in the content and structure of a qualitative introduction and literature review as compared to a quantitative introduction and literature review.

Simply put, quantitative methods are utilized when the research contains variables that are numerical, and qualitative methods are utilized when the research contains variables that are based on language (Field, 2013).  Thus, each methods goals and procedures are quite different. This difference in goals and procedures drives differences in how a research paper’s introduction and literature review are written.

Introductions in a research paper allow the researcher to announce the problem and why it is important enough to be explored through a study.  Given that qualitative research may not have any known variables or theories, the introductions tend to vary tremendously (Creswell, 2014; Edmondson & MacManus, 2007).  Creswell (2014), suggested that qualitative methods introductions can begin with a quote from one the participants; stating the researchers’ personal story from a first person or third person viewpoint, or can be written in an inductive style.  There is less variation in quantitative methods introductions because the best way to introduce the problem is to introduce the variables, from an impersonal viewpoint (Creswell, 2014).  It is through gaining further understanding of these variables’ influence on a particular outcome is what’s driving the study in the first place.

The purpose of the literature review is for the researcher to share the results of other studies tangential to theirs to show how their study relates to the bigger picture and what gaps in the knowledge they are trying to solve (Creswell, 2014).  Edmondson and MacManus (2007) stated that when the nature of the field of research is nascent, the study becomes exploratory and qualitative in nature.  Given their exploratory nature, in qualitative methods, the researchers write their literature review in the form that is exploratory and in an inductive manner (Creswell, 2014).  Edmondson and MacManus (2007) stated that when the nature of the research is mature, there are plenty of related and existing research studies on the topic, a more quantitative approach is more appropriate.  Given that there is a huge body of knowledge to draw from when it comes to quantitative methods, the researchers tend to have substantially large amounts of literature at the beginning and structure it in a deductive fashion (Creswell, 2014).  Framing the literature review in a deductive manner allows the researcher at the end of the literature review to state clearly and measurably their research question(s) and hypotheses (Creswell, 2014; Miller, n.d.).

To conclude, understanding which methodological approach best fits a research study can help drive how the introduction and literature review sections are crafted and written.

References

  • Creswell, J. W. (2014) Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches (4th ed.). California, SAGE Publications, Inc. VitalBook file.
  • Edmondson, A. C., & McManus, S. E. (2007). Methodological fit in management field research. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1155–1179. http://doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2007.26586086
  • Field, A. (2013) Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics (4th ed.). UK: Sage Publications Ltd. VitalBook file.

Quantitative Vs Qualitative Analysis

Explanation of the goals and procedures for the quantitative and qualitative methods. Discussing the differences and commonalities of these methods and
what advantages exist in the use of a quantitative method.

Field (2013) states that both quantitative and qualitative methods are complimentary at best not competing approaches to solving the world’s problems. Although these methods are quite different from each other. Creswell (2014) explain how these two, quantitative and qualitative methods, can be combined to study a phenomenon through what is called a “Mixed Method” Approach, which is out of scope for this discussion.  Simply put, quantitative methods are utilized when the research contains variables that are numerical, and qualitative methods are utilized when the research contains variables that are based on language (Field, 2013).  Thus, each methods goals and procedures are quite different

Goals and procedures

Quantitative methods derive from positivist, numerically driven, and epistemological (Joyner, 2012).   Quantitative methods use closed-ended questions, i.e. hypothesis, and collect their data numerically through instruments (Creswell, 2014). In quantitative research, there is an emphasis on experiments, measurement, and a search of relationships via fitting data to a statistical model and through observing a collection of data graphically to identify trends via deduction (Field, 2013; Joyner, 2012). According to Creswell (2014), quantitative researchers build protections against biases and control for alternative explanations through experiments which are generalizable and replicable. Quantitative studies could be experimental, quasi-experimental, causal-comparative, correlational, descriptive, and evaluation (Joyner, 2012).  According to Edmondson and McManus (2007), quantitative methodologies fit best when the underlying research theory is mature.  The maturity of the theory should tend to drive researchers towards one method over the other, along the spectrum quantitative, mixed, or qualitative methodologies (Creswell, 2014; Edmondson & McManus, 2007).

Comparatively, Edmondson and McManus (2007) stated, qualitative methodologies fit best when the underlying research theory is nascent. Quantitative methods derive from phenomenological view, the perceptions of people (Joyner, 2012).  Qualitative methods use open-ended questions, i.e. interview questions and collect their data through observations of a situation (Creswell, 2014).  Qualitative research focuses on meaning and understanding of a situation where the researcher searches for meaning through interpretation of the data via induction (Creswell, 2014; Joyner, 2012).  Qualitative research could be case studies, ethnographic, action, philosophical, historical, legal, educational, etc. (Joyner, 2012).

Commonalities and differences

The commonalities that exist between these two methods is that each method has a question to answer, an identified area of interest (Creswell, 2014; Edmonson & McManus, 2007; Field, 2013; Joyner 2012).  Each method requires a survey of the current literature to help develop the research question (Creswell, 2014; Edmondson & McManus, 2007). Finally, there is a need to design a study to collect and analyze data to help answer that research question (Creswell, 2014; Edmonson & McManus, 2007; Field, 2013; Joyner 2012).  Therefore, the similarities between these two methods exist on why research is conducted and at a high level the what and the how research is conducted.  They differ in the particulars of the what and the how research is conduction.

The research question(s) can either become a centralized question with(out) sub-questions, but in quantitative research is driven by a series of statistically testable theoretical-hypothesis (Creswell, 2014; Edmonson & McManus, 2007). For quantitative methods data analysis, statistical tests are done to seek relationships, with hopes of testing a theory-driven hypothesis and providing a precise model, via a collection of numerical measures and established constructs (Edmonson & McManus, 2007). Given the need to statistically accept or reject theoretical-hypothesis, the sample size for a quantitative methods tend to be greater than those of qualitative methods (Creswell, 2014).  Qualitative research is driven by exploration and observations to test their hypothesis (Creswell, 2014; Edmonson & McManus, 2007). For qualitative methods data analysis, there should be an iterative and explorative content analysis, with hopes to build a new construct (Edmonson & McManus, 2007).  These are some of many other differences that exist between these two methods.

When are the advantages of quantitative methods maximized

Based off of Edmondson and McManus (2007), the best time to use quantitative methods is when the underlying theory of the research subject is mature.  Maturity consists of extensive literature that could be reviewed, the existence of theoretical constructs, and extensively tested measures (Edmondson & McManus, 2007).  Thus, the application of quantitative methods will help build effectively on prior work which will help fill in the gap of knowledge on a particular topic, whereas qualitative methods and mixed methods would fail to do so. Applying quantitative methods to a mature theory is reinventing the wheel, and applying mixed methods to it, will uneven the status of the evidence (Edmondson & McManus, 2007).

References:

  • Creswell, J. W. (2014) Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches (4th ed.). California, SAGE Publications, Inc. VitalBook file.
  • Edmondson, A. C., & McManus, S. E. (2007). Methodological fit in management field research. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1155–1179. http://doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2007.26586086
  • Field, A. (2013) Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics (4th ed.). UK: Sage Publications Ltd. VitalBook file.
  • Joyner, R. L. (2012) Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation: A Step-by-Step Guide (3rd ed.). Corwin. VitalBook file.