What are qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method methodologies?
Qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods are different types of methodologies, distinguished by whether they focus on words, numbers or both. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but its a good starting point for understandings. Let’s take a closer look.
Qualitative research refers to research which focuses on collecting and analysing words (written or spoken) and textual data, whereas quantitative research focuses on measurement and testing using numerical data. Qualitative analysis can also focus on other “softer” data points, such as body language or visual elements.
It’s quite common for a qualitative methodology to be used when the research aims and objectives are exploratory in nature. For example, a qualitative methodology might be used to understand peoples’ perceptions about an event that took place, or a candidate running for president.
Contrasted to this, a quantitative methodology is typically used when the research aims and objectives are confirmatory in nature. For example, a quantitative methodology might be used to measure the relationship between two variables (e.g. personality type and likelihood to commit a crime) or to test a set of hypotheses.
As you’ve probably guessed, the mixed-method methodology attempts to combine the best of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to integrate perspectives and create a rich picture.