Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research (With Table)

When you want to perform any kind of research, you will find that research can be done in two ways as explained and differentiated in this article.

Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

The main difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Research is that Qualitative research is used to collect ideas from people, how they feel, and think, while quantitative research is used to find the variables through logic, statistics, and mathematical method.

Qualitative data is in the verbal form, whereas quantitative data is in the numeric form, which is measurable.

Comparison Table Between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research

Parameters of Comparison

Qualitative Research

Quantitative Research


Aims at exploring underlying ideas and formulating theories or hypotheses later

Aims at testing theories and hypotheses rather than exploring them


The analysis is done through summaries, categories, and interpretations

The analysis is done through mathematical and statistical analysis


The outcomes are expressed in plain words

The outcomes are expressed by ways of tables, graphs, and numbers

Number of respondents

Relies on only a few respondents

Relies on many respondents to craft

Nature of Questions

Employs open-ended questions

Employs closed or multiple choice questions

Key Terminologies

Subjectivity, complexity, context, and understanding

Replicability, objectivity, measurements, and testing

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is the process of inquiring into social phenomena within their natural settings. It mainly seeks to understand the reason behind these social phenomena rather than the mere fact that they already exist. It borrows and relies heavily on the direct experiences of those affected.

Throughout this kind of research, only non-numeric data is collected. These only touches on the description of things rather than their actual sizes and numbers.

It mostly concerns itself with the symbols, metaphors, characteristics, and definitions as opposed to the actual data. All these form the base for further research.

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research is a concept in both the social and the natural sciences. It is the use of a systematic and empirical approach towards the investigation of the various phenomena. The investigation proper happens by use of the mathematical, computational, and statistical techniques. In all, it seeks to deliver more in-depth and comprehensible outcomes.

Unlike the qualitative approach, the quantitative methods lay special emphasis on the objective measurements of data and phenomena.

After acquiring the data, it analyzes the same via surveys, questionnaires, polls, or through manipulating the present statistical data further by the use of computational techniques. The end result in most cases is more precise and unambiguous.

Main Differences Between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research

Key Terminology

These two forms of research differ with regard to the kinds of terms used throughout the entire exercise. The qualitative research uses terms like subjectivity, complexity, context, and understanding while the quantitative counterpart uses replicability, objectivity, measurements, and testing.

Nature of Questions

The kinds of questions used to extract the data also differ significantly. In the case of qualitative research, the questions are for a large part open-ended i.e. they give almost no hint to the interviewee as regards what the answer might be.

The case of quantitative research is, however, the opposite.

Number of Respondents

Given its shallow scope, qualitative research relies on only a few respondents to generate sufficient amounts of data. The extra-wide scope of the quantitative research, however, demands that it takes testimonies from many respondents before a viable conclusion may be reached.


Yet again, these two forms of researches differ with regard to the kinds of languages used to express the final outcomes. The qualitative research outcomes are expressible in plain words whereas those of the quantitative research is expressed in numbers and figures.

The former is hence easier to interpret than the latter.


To make meaning from these two kinds of research, different techniques are employed. The qualitative research employs the summaries, categories, and interpretations to do so.

As for quantitative research, the analysis is principally carried out through mathematical and statistical analysis. These two approaches are way quite different in scope and understand-ability.


On the whole, the overall purposes of these two forms of research also differ to a large part. The qualitative research basically aims at exploring underlying ideas and formulating theories or hypotheses later.

This is however different from the quantitative research which only aims at testing theories and hypotheses rather than exploring them.


Considering that qualitative research mainly wants or seeks to understand the underlying principles of a given subject matter, it requires not too much expertise. Anyone who bears a basic level of education can carry it.

The complicated nature of quantitative research, on the other hand, necessitates in-depth expertise to undertake.


Qualitative research is mainly applied in social sciences as it seeks only to understand the nature and the behaviors of the given population. Quantitative research, however, goes deeper. On account of this, it is applied in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Research Methodology

During the qualitative research process, there is two-way communication between the researcher himself and the objects or populations targeted. As such, there is hardly any room for ambiguity. The quantitative research, however, studies the object from a distance and without any input on its part.

Time Implications

As explained beforehand, qualitative research is a bit shallow. As such, it is faster to implement and will hardly take that much time. The case is however completely different from the quantitative research.

Being complicated, it requires plenty of time to conduct and release the findings.

Overall Character

All factors considered qualitative research is objective in nature. This means that no theory is formulated in advance. The whole purpose is to know an objective outcome. Its quantitative research counterpart is subjective though as the purpose is predetermined in advance.

It is hence more likely to yield biased outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Qualitative and Quantitative Research

What are the 4 types of qualitative research?

The 4 important types of qualitative research are,
Phenomenology – It is the philosophical study of events that happen naturally. It could be natural phenomena or experiences related to people.
Ethnography – It is the scientific study of human beings along with their social environment, culture, and customs.
Grounded Theory – It is the methodological process of developing theories based on systematic collection and analysis of relevant data.
Case Study – It is a research-based study and analysis of a person, event, group, project, or situation.

What is Qualitative and Quantitative research in sociology?

Qualitative research in sociology is the study and analysis of theoretical facts about humans and their social surroundings and environment.

It is carried out on the basis of qualities or factors that cannot be expressed in numerical terms but can only be explained. For example, the study of beliefs, behaviors, and relationships can be termed as qualitative research.

It is also known as field research as the process requires direct inspection, observation, and interaction.

Quantitative Research is based on the collection and study of numerical or quantifiable data about people or groups. It deals with things that can be measured and expressed in numerical terms. Aspects like gender, practices, professions, and opinions are a few examples of factors that are considered for quantitative studies.

Surveys of different types like population surveys or marketing surveys are the best examples of quantitative research.

What is the purpose of qualitative research in education?

Qualitative research is extensively used in the field of education to improve and enhance the knowledge of various doctrines and branches of social sciences and philosophy. The research-based analysis helps institutes in training their students about the dynamic aspects of social sciences.

Qualitative research is also extensively used in the field of psychiatry and allied branches of medicine. It helps researchers in experimenting with new and advanced treatment modalities and therapeutic approaches.

Qualitative analysis also helps in the study of various phenomena related to nature, human behavior, and social customs. It also helps scientists and researchers in learning various facts about animals and wildlife. In short, the method of qualitative study plays a key role in various spheres of education.


Well, we now believe you have the insight you need to take on your research activities confidently and efficiently.

It is now up to you to make use of the information we have provided to do a good job. We can only wish you all the best now!


  1. https://ecommons.udayton.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=eda_fac_pub
  2. https://nepc.colorado.edu/sites/default/files/Howe_Eisenhart_Stds_for_Qualitative_Research.pdf
  3. https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/quantitative