Qualitative vs Quantitative Research – Difference and Comparison

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative Research is a kind of research that attempts to answer questions beginning with “why”. In this research, the researcher aims to seek an extensive understanding of a phenomenon or a subject matter and tries to answer different inquisitive inquiries about it. For example, a researcher may attempt to answer why people are inclined toward something.

This kind of research is commonly used in the fields of different social sciences, i.e., linguistics, law, anthropology, sociology, literature, et cetera. This research mainly does not require the use of statistical data and scientific evidence to devise answers for its research questions.

Mainly, this research is carried out by using a number of ways, i.e., the historical analysis of the problem, implementation of the case-study method, analysis of discourse, biographical assessment, et cetera. These are the tools that are primarily used in Qualitative Research.

The nature of reality is supposed to be dynamic and flexible. To put it simply, there are no fixed and absolute answers but are estimations. The methodologies of this research are observational, interpretive, assertive, and relative.

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative Research is generally aimed at discovering facts about a phenomenon in the real world. This seeks to explain the questions related to “what”. In Quantitative Research, the nature of reality is presumed as fixed and absolute.

There is a significant role of statistical and mathematical data, alongside scientific factors, to play in this kind of research. The primary purpose of this research is to collect data by measuring different variables and constants in the real world and using them to unearth facts and figures about tangible things. The overall methodology is statistical, numerical, and empirical – in short, scientific. 

This research is used in the fields of natural sciences, i.e., biology, physics, cosmology, environmental science, geology, et cetera. The research questions are made to answer questions pertaining to physically existing things in the real world. There are fewer estimations and more calculations in this kind of research.

Generally, the answers provided in such research are fixed and absolute. This is an exclusive feature of Quantitative Research. Needful to mention that mathematical answers and scientific facts and figures are mostly unchangeable. This is because these fields of knowledge suppose that the natural world is a composition of fixed and absolute reality.

Difference Between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research

  1. Qualitative Research & Quantitative Research is different in their conception of things and methodologies.
  2. The first kind of research is based on suppositions, interpretations, and estimations.
  3. The second kind of research is based on facts, figures, and available empirical data.
  4. The first kind of research tells “why” something works/happens. For example, why is there a recent price hike in the shoe industry?
  5. The second kind of research tells “what” something is and “how” it works/happens. For example, what is inside an atom, and how do they move?

Comparison Table Between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research

Parameters of ComparisonQualitative ResearchQuantitative Research
Nature of RealityThe nature of reality is dynamicThe nature of reality is static
ConceptualizationThe content of the research is primarily suppositional and interpretiveThe research centers around empirical data and a scientific approach
MethodologyThe methodology is systematicThe methodology is scientific
UsageThis kind of research is used in social sciencesThis research is a feature of the natural sciences
Nature of AnswersThe conclusions are relative and subject to changeThe answers are (mostly) absolute, fixed, and unchangeable


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7RwJEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=qualitative+research&ots=LXm2KYZ-Us&sig=F2w-HDH1P75B1jJnoaojEVVreQc
  2. https://search.proquest.com/openview/058c84ecfd436cf965eacb1556000ab0/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2042228