Advantages And Disadvantages Of Quantitative And Qualitative Methods Psychology Essay

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The idea is that you analyse quantitative methods in general, noting the disadvantages and advantages of quantitative research and to illustrate your points you then use examples such as surveys, or structured interviews, or quantitative content analysis. Then you do the same with qualitative methods. And either after or somewhere between this you compare the advantages adn disadvantages.

Despite the apparent distinctions between Quantitative and Qualitative research, they both complement each other. But the important question for any researcher is which research methodology to use and what is relevant to my particular study. According to Dawson, C (2002), who's book is a step to step guide of mastering research, states that it fundamental to decided what research technique to use, "Don't fall into the trap which many beginning (and experienced) researchers do in thinking that quantitative research is 'better' than qualitative research. Neither is better than the other- they are just different and both have strengths and weaknesses."

When I think of qualitative research I think of subjective form of research, based on someone's own point of view. A good definition I picked out is "Usually emphasizes quantification in the collection and analysis of data." Example of the use this type of research would be in the recent elections, have a up-to date polling survey, measuring the success of election candidates,

Secondly Quantitative research projects often include larger numbers of respondents, and covers a larger geographical area. Therefore can give and indication of views of a larger population, rather than minority opinions. This therefore enhances the generalisation of the results. For example surveys, a quantitative research "in which researcher systematically asks a large amount of people the same questions and then records their answers."

A closed questionnaire was conducted to people in Britain, asking whether they are going to vote in the general election and for which party. This data was transferred into stats which were compared between different cities and counties, and opinions for different areas were compared. This is very useful as it gives a overall picture and understanding of what research concludes making it easy to draw comparisons, project trends and recognize differences among communities and groups.

An example used was in Mcqueen, R and Knussen (2002) p28, Box2.1, comparing the two types research view points, on the same scenario. When looking that the results made by the quantitative researcher, it is a complete mystery on what the numbers are trying to represent and the results only make small conclusions. However looking at the Qualitative researchers result, there is a much deeper understanding, by me the reader, to what he is discussing, clearly seeing his conclusion, and I have gained a broader understanding of this research topic.

This is bad because the researcher can be enticed to manipulate the participant's answers to suit the research. The normal questions researcher employs, can lead to biasness and false depiction of the data, which reflects the view of the researcher, than the participant. In essence quantitative research method can encourage the researcher could influence the subject's answers to go with the research.

Taking this point one-step further, I also believe that it can encourage the researcher to even find new topics to research into, that we not initially considered, by the openness, rich and detail presented in qualitative data. For example we can look at Focus groups, which are good for generating ideas because participants share ideas, thoughts and opinions that may have not been recognised by the researcher.

One Qualitative data method is participant observation; which can include unstructured interviews, autobiographies and novels, information centering on descriptive feature of social life, therefore assisting the researcher to experience that portion of social life.

There is an issue with generalizibility with qualitative research. Simply because less people are generally sampled, it is not possible to generalise results to that of the population. In Rubin, A. Babbie, ER (2007) p230 they give a perfect example of why it is not possible to generalise. A researcher set out to understand how the city council work and how it makes decisions, using participant observation method of collecting research. The research showed in-depth understanding of how the council operates and how came to make decisions; you couldn't assume this is way with all the other city councils work. "What will you be able to say about city councils in general?" And the answer is nothing.

According to Becker, s. Bryman, A (2004) Qualitative research lacks transparency. Questions need to be raised on how participants were chosen and based on what. For example in an interview or focus group, what are the criteria's used to choose the participants. Also there is sometimes difficulty in understanding what the researcher did and how he got to the conclusions made.

Both qualitative and quantitative research methods look for bias, reliability, replicability, validity etc. Those who employ quantitative methods rely on arithmetical techniques assisted by computational algorithms and software packages. Whilst qualitative researchers view transcripts, interview recordings, notes of focus groups or participant research.

It is important to distinguish the advantages and disadvantage of both types of research methods and accept that qualitative methods are appropriate for some types of research, e.g. Exploring pattern of discriminatory behavourior among the police force, but quantitative research methods are perhaps more suitable for other types of research, such as comparison between male and female average income over the course of a working life.

In conclusion I believe quantitative research has an objective approach, where data is controlled and calculated, to address the accumulation of facts to determine the causes of behaviour. From viewing data from someone else's perspective and Qualitative methods attempts to find understanding and meaning, and centres concern on the altering and dynamic character of reality.

Researchers could attempt to combine methods which could lead to increasing the value of research. Quantitative have researchers will want consistent data to enable them to replicate their findings, whilst qualitative researchers require validity of data to offer illustration of a true and full picture. Consequently researchers are beginning to merge methods so that the strengths of each methodology compliment each other consequently resulting in more valid and reliable findings. This minimises the disadvantages of both methods thus reducing the threat to internal validity.