Qualitative studies, as their name suggests, focus on the "quality" of research. They are used to provide beginning insights and ideas about a problem and to gain a better and deeper understanding of the subject. Qualitative research is exploratory in nature. It uses opinions and reasoning rather than only statistical facts. In a qualitative study, methods for collecting data may include group discussions on a topic, personal interviews, and observations of a particular setting. The sample size tends to be smaller than that of a quantitative study, and participants may determine in large part how the study moves along, as it is less strictly structured than other types of study.
Quantitative studies, on the other hand, use a more sizeable sample population and attempt to determine the "quantity" or scope of a problem. They use more statistics, data, and numbers rather than words. Often, different types of surveys are utilized to gain sample data from a large sample size.
Qualitative research is specific, where quantitative research is more general.
Quantitative research uses very structured interviews to create data. These are survey-type interviews. Questions are formatted the same way and asked the same way of each participant. The researcher will not change the questions or answers as the interview progresses. This makes the structure similar to an online or telephone survey, where participants answer with no input from the interviewer.
Qualitative interview methods are much less structured and more flexible. The topic may be more personal to the respondents. The interviewer may create follow-up questions as the interview progresses to probe deeper into a particular topic. Questions are open-ended and not usually assigned numerical answer scales.
To make a quantitative research study "sound," it must be reliable in its results. Observations and measurements must be consistent. They may be tested, reviewed, and revised before the study itself. Researchers or interviewers may need to be trained in how to conduct the research and how to analyze the findings. This is especially true in a case where the researcher assigns somewhat subjective "ratings." A quantitative study is also sound if the results are valid, meaning that the measurements produced are representing what they were meant to, whether they are measurements and data obtained by instruments or by the researchers. Whether a study is replicable is an important factor. If the study were to be conducted again, would the results be the same? Is the research report complete enough that any unconnected researcher could replicate the study and achieve similar results? Finally, qualitative research should be generalizable.The results should be relevant to a larger population than the sample group.
Qualitative research has different requirements for ensuring that a study is sound. Dependability, for instance, ensures that the flexible nature of the study does not negatively affect the overall result. This may involve using multiple data-collection methods within the same sample population to create overlapping results. Credibility ensures that the results are accurate. This may be achieved through longer studies, multiple sources, multiple researchers, and multiple locations. Confirmability provides the readers outside of the study with all the facts of the study, so the means of data collection may be understood as well as the results. Finally, the transferability of a qualitative study makes sure that the study is applicable to outside contexts or situations and therefore useful for more than just one result.