Qualitative research involves the use of observational methods that often result in subjective responses, such as surveys and focus groups. Quantitative research forms a structured hypothesis and measures results numerically. While each type of research has its disadvantages, some researchers feel that quantitative research is more reliable, while others feel that both methods need to be used to gain accurate findings.
Bias in Qualitative Research
One of the primary disadvantages of qualitative research is that it often contains researcher and respondent bias. Since the researcher is the one who designs the surveys, questionnaires and focus group questions, he may administer questions that elicit a certain type of response. He may unknowingly design the questions in such a way that the responses end up supporting the researcher's intended conclusion. In addition, the participants chosen for the study might not be credible or an adequate representation of the general population, or they might have direct ties to the researcher.
Qualitative Research Data is Subjective
Another main disadvantage of qualitative research is that the responses are often subjective and open to interpretation. A researcher might find it difficult to make respondents feel comfortable enough to fully disclose their true opinions and feelings. Respondents may answer in a way that they think will please the researcher or adhere to socially acceptable standards. When collecting and interpreting the data from a qualitative research study, the researcher may make interpretations that fit with her intended conclusion. She may also have difficulty analyzing and interpreting the findings accurately.
Quantitative Research Lacks Insight
While quantitative research methods collect data within a certain set of parameters and produce exact numerical results, the data does not reveal causation. It often reflects what is happening, but not why it may be happening. For some types of study, this might produce significant holes that could only be filled by qualitative methods. For example, a study that shows that autism is on the rise in young children reflects the percentage increases and the amount of of new diagnoses, but leaves the door wide open as to why it might be occurring.
Only Known Issues are Measured by Quantitative Research
One of the disadvantages of quantitative research is that it requires the researcher to form a hypothesis prior to conducting any tests. The actual test results might bring up new issues or findings that end up being discarded since they don't fit within the parameters of the hypothesis. In addition, issues that were unknown prior to the test may be overlooked. Researchers make the hypothesis based on assumptions about the conditions that they will test, which might cause them to interpret the test findings incorrectly.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
What Is Quantitative Research?
Quantitative research is rooted in numerical approaches. The emphasis is on objectivity and the use of statistics or data gathered through polls,...
Advantages & Disadvantages of Triangulation Design
Triangulation is a research design that combines both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather data for an overall interpretation that looks at...
Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
Qualitative studies focus on subjective information, such as feelings, experiences or opinions: data that cannot be scientifically quantified. Quantitative research is the...
The Advantages of the Personal Interview Method
Organizations use a variety of interviewing styles to get information. Some help narrow down possible hires, while they use others to learn...
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Secondary Research
There are two ways of finding out information, primary or secondary research. Primary research involves collecting new data that isn't previously published....
Objective Vs. Subjective Evaluation Criteria
Evaluation of student knowledge is central to many classrooms in America. Although assessment is nothing new, with the introduction of the No...
Aims and Objectives of a Questionnaire
A questionnaire is a useful tool for gathering information in face-to-face, postal mail, email and telephone settings. The questionnaire should focus on...
Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Research Methods
Researchers generally choose one of two approaches to gathering evidence for their projects: qualitative or quantitative methods. Qualitative approaches focus on achieving...
Scientific Vs. Unscientific Methods in Business Research
Business schools teach a nonscientific approach to business research, while practitioners in the field favor a scientific approach. Which should you use?...
The Advantages of Quantitative Evaluation
The advantages of quantitative evaluation rest largely on the high value of having easily measured numerical data gathered from large populations. This...
The Advantages of Qualitative Research Design
If you wanted to study violent tendencies among children, you could recruit parents to let their kids spend time at a lab....