There are two main methods used in scientific research: quantitative research methods and qualitative research methods (Devers et al., 1999).
These two methods are used in research to accomplish a succinct research and usually involve an investigation that:
- They seek answers to a question or set of questions.
- They use a predefined set of procedures systematically to answer the question.
- Collects evidence.
- Produces findings that are not predetermined in advance
- Produces findings that are applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study (Family Health International, Mack and Woodsong 2005)
However, these two methods of research differ in their applicability, procedures and analysis mode; they may also differ in the subject of research, for example, qualitative research methods are especially effective in acquiring culturally specific information concerning the opinions, values, behaviors and social contexts within particular populations (ibid.). Despite this, both of these methods are critical in the research process and enable scholars and scientists in finding numerical and literal data that is necessary for forming reliable theoretical perspectives and conclusive recommendations to particular topics (Sofaer 2002).
Thus, this study generally aims to provide a discussion on these two methods of research: that is qualitative and quantitative research methods. Here, the study will aim to provide some informative definitions that highlight the source of the differences between these two forms of research methods. In detail however, this study will make use of two case studies, each of which is chosen due to its use of one of the two research methods. The study will use these two case study articles as a basis for furthering discussions on how these articles make use of theoretical perspectives and how these frameworks compare with relation to the ontological and epistemological implications. The study will then make a comparison of the data collection and analysis strategies employed by these two articles, as well as the sampling strategies they adopt to ensure results validity and reliability. At the end of the paper, the reader should not only define the two research methods, but also understand their similarities and differences in terms of application within a scholarly research paper. The aim of this paper will be to offer a discussion on the two research methods; that is qualitative and quantitative research methods using two research articles. The article namely, ethnic differences in influences of on quality of life at older ages: a quantitative analysis by Bajekal et al. 2004 and Normal disruption: South Asian and African/Caribbean relatives caring for an older family member in the UK by Adamson and Donovan, 2005. The paper will compare and contrast two research articles provided below, where it will critically discuss and compare the paradigmatic foundations that they adopt, reflecting upon the ontological and epistemological implications. Next, the paper will discuss and compare the strategy for data collection and analysis, and the sample strategies that they adopt to achieve results validity and reliability. Lastly, the paper will provide the conclusion and recommendation.
Article 1: Quantitative Research ArticleBAJEKAL, M., BLANE, D., GREWAL, I., KARLSEN, S. and NAZROO, J., 2004. Ethnic differences in influences on quality of life at older ages: a quantitative analysis. Ageing and Society, 24, pp. 709-728.
Paradigmatic Foundations That They Adopt
The article by Bajekal et al. examines how ethnic differences influences quality of life for the elderly. The research uses a quantitative research method, basing it on secondary multivariate analysis. The research is based on the Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities of England and Wales research. It involves the division of the group of respondents into four dimensions that incorporate seven factors that influence the quality of life. The authors use this research as the source of their data and disseminate it statistically to fulfill the papers research objectives.
The paradigmatic founditions of the research is that quantitative research allows for generalization of results culminating from samples and measurements of incidences of different views and opinions in the variable (Bernard 2000). Aliaga and Gunderson (1999) define quantitative research as, Explaining phenomena by collecting numerical data that are analyzed using mathematically based methods and in particular statistics (ibid.). This definition is all encompassing in defining quantitative research methods, the first prompt being explaining phenomena, which is the end goal of all research methods.
Indeed on of the impalications of quantitative research lies in its use of multivariate statistics (Morgan 1998), which enables this research method to provide descriptive data, which is important in capturing a mental picture of the user population. However, this data also provides a challenge in terms of its interpretation (Morse 1991). An example of this in the article is the fact that the research may give the figures, but does not provide the why respondents respond in a certain manner. There is also the challenge that exists with the overreliance on the p-value and the sample size. The p-value refers to the statistic that highlights the likelihood of research findings being a result of chance (Morse 1991). The p-value often leaves researchers with the possibility of manipulating the sample size and come up with inaccurate findings due to the lack of sufficient sample size (Romney 1989).
Data Collection and AnalysisThe main determinant of quantitative research method is the data collection and analysis, which has to be numerical during collection and mathematical in the analysis part (Kelliher 2005). Quantitative research method involves the collection of numerical data, which is analyzed mathematically using statistics to draw conclusions.
Their method employs a method of data collection that involves the secondary analysis of an already established research carried out by the Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities (FNS). According to Kim and Mueller (1979), the source of data for quantitative research is critical in terms of ensuring credibility to the results that the research will come up with (ibid.). Accordingly, using secondary analysis allows for the research paper results validity and reliability since the data is based on established information (ibid.). The survey used by Bajekal et al. is based on a research carried out by the FNS that was carried out in England and Wales in 1993-34.
The respondents in the study were allocated according to ethnic groups, relying on the answers by respondents regarding their answers to questions on the origins of their families. The survey included the following numbers divided into ethnic groups; 1,205 Caribbean, 1,232 Pakistani, 1,947 Indian and East African Asians, 598 Bangladeshi, 214 Chinese and 2,867 white people (Bajekal et al. 2004).
The research made use of a questionnaire that covered a comprehensive range of information touching on ethnicity, demographic and socioeconomic factors among other things. The quantitative process involves several categories, which include the first phase that is the use of qualitative interviews. These interviews were a representation of ethnic diversity in the meaning and experience of quality of life between the different groups. The article makes use of the group composing the white people as the basis for comparison with other groups and provides the focus of the investigation.
To ensure the problem of small numbers in the first phase of their research does not hinder a conclusion that was robust for the second phase (quantitative phase); the article includes all respondents aged between 45-74 years during the time of the FNS research. The research process also stratified areas based on the concentration of ethnic minority to ensure the samples collected were fully representative. The sampling procedures were designed with the aim of selecting probability samples for both households and individuals. To overcome the challenge of varying primary sampling units, the sample weights were calculated to enable the correction of unequal probabilities of selection (Smith and Prior 1997). The questionnaire also enabled the coverage of the FNS survey and allowed for the exploration of four dimensions of the influences of the quality of life as highlighted by the qualitative phase and the literature review in terms of importance. The four dimensions were material factors, social participation and networks, health and neighborhood environment.
For the process of underlying the four dimensions, the article makes use of SPSS (Bowling, 1997) with the assumption underpinning factor analysis being that the variables (set of questions) attempt to measure underlying concepts that cannot be measured directly. Factor analysis is used to identify correlation among variables.
For example, in the use of quantitative research methods such as Bajekal et al. have used, there is increased validity of data due to the use of already validated data from previous research and its use in the article as secondary resources.
Article 2: Qualitative Research ArticleADAMSON, J. and DONOVAN, J., 2005. Normal disruption: South Asian and African/Caribbean relatives caring for an older family member in the UK. Social Science & Medicine, 60, pp. 37-48.
Paradigmatic Foundations That They Adopt
The article makes use of a qualitative research method to analyze informal care among the elderly minority in the UK. The research is based on qualitative interviews with 21 African/Caribbean and 15 South Asian carers and examines three dimensions that are primarily concerned with biographical continuity, biographical reinforcement and biographical disruption to determine the research question. The paper strives to compare individual experiences, macro-social structures and cultural factors to come up with conclusive evidence of the research problem. This study will make use of these two articles as the basis for determining the differences that occur within the use of each research method by enabling this study to look at the methodological paradigms of each research method as used within the chosen article.
The use of qualitative research methods is considered the most suitable method for any exercise that requires an in-depth understanding or in articulation of underlying reasons or motivations (Denzin 2009). Nevertheless, qualitative research also generates data that may assist in the formation of ideas and hypotheses that are used in quantitative research (Cresswell and Plano, 2007). Therefore, these factors have implications on the research process and paper. In the article qualitative data, there is the implication of needing lesser numbers of cases for the sampling process (Bickman 2009), unlike in quantitative research where sample selection requires a huge number of cases that would enable the best representation of the population of interest (Grbich 2007).
According to Merriam (2009), qualitative researchers are interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed, that is, how people make sense of their world and the experiences they have in the world, (ibid. 13). There are those who emphasize on an epistemological stance for the definition, such as Parkinson and Drislane (2011), who state that, Qualitative research is the research using methods such as participant observation or case studies which result in a narrative, descriptive account of a setting or practice. Sociologists using these methods typically reject positivism and adopt a form of in...
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