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Research in Social Sciences: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

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Research in social sciences largely depends on measurements and analysis and interpretation of numerical as well as non numerical data. Quantitative research methods focus on statistical approaches and qualitative methods are based on content analysis, comparative analysis, grounded theory, and interpretation (Strauss, 1990). Quantitative methods emphasise on objective measurements and numerical analysis of data collected through polls, questionnaires or surveys and qualitative research focuses on understanding social phenomena through interviews, personal comments etc. Quantitative and qualitative methods are studied within the context of positivistic and phenomenological paradigms (, 2006).


The applications of research methods could be studied in the context of business and management or in social psychology to understand a social process. Some of the basic tools for qualitative or quantitative research are related to data collection methods which can be case studies, questionnaires or interviews (Simon et al, 1985). Research methods in management focus on leadership studies and leadership issues are examined in accordance with contingency theory and organisational theory. The effects of leadership are best studied with the help of qualitative or quantitative research methods and analyses of questionnaires sent to participants in management positions.


Research methods are however focused not just on management issues but also on social process for example a study on the interaction between age, physical exercise and gender. Some disadvantages and possible flaws of such methods may be related to abuse or misuse of interview techniques, inadequacy of data collection methods and reliability of data. The methodological approach and data collection techniques are important in research and form an important aspect of study (Simon, 1985). The case study approach is especially useful in analysis of business environments and perceptual mapping techniques are used for marketing research. Focus groups and surveys are used as other preferred methods of data collection, especially within business environments (, 2006).


Interpretive research can be considered as an important aspect of qualitative analysis, although as with all qualitative data, subjective bias can be a deterrent in the validity of such approaches. In studying research methods, it would be necessary to highlight the differences between qualitative and quantitative methods although it has also been argued that an integrated approach to social analysis could close in the gap between quantitative and qualitative methods and both these methods could be used for social research studies. In fact there may not be a specified correct method of research as each method seems to have its strengths and weaknesses and these factors should be examined carefully before a particular method is selected or used for studying a social process. 




Champion, Dean J. (1981) Basic statistics for social research / Dean J. Champion. 2nd ed. New York : Macmillan ; London : Collier Macmillan


Papers For You (2006) "P/B/685. Qualitative research methods", Available from [22/06/2006]


Papers For You (2006) "C/B/397. Critically assess and compare the strengths and limitations of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Use concrete examples to support your arguments", Available from [21/06/2006]


Strauss, Anselm L. (1990) Basics of qualitative research: grounded theory procedures and techniques / Anselm Strauss and Juliet Corbin. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications,


Simon, Julian Lincoln.  (1985) Basic research methods in social science / Julian Simon, Paul Burstein 3rd ed. McGraw-Hill,

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C/PS/34. Qualitative Research Methods in Organisational Psychology

C/B/613. Article Review: Donald Sull's and Martin Escobari's article "Creating Value in an Unpredictable World"

C/M/496. Philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research

C/M/494. Primary and Secondary Data

C/M/493. Qualitative and Quantitative Research

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C/B/573. Article Review: 'The Crisis of Performance and Turnaround Management in Public Organization' by Jas and Skelcher (2005)

S/N/115. Explore the value of participant observation as a qualitative research method in the study of sport

C/M/420. A Critical Review of the Article: "The Rise of the PR Industry in Britain, 1979-98".

E/B/287. Analysis of 'Case study' Research method

E/M/197. What are the main strengths and weaknesses of Van Maanen's account of work at Disneyland?

S/HR/90. Method of participant observation in revealing the causes of high staff turnover

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P/B/685. Qualitative research methods

C/B/397. Critically assess and compare the strengths and limitations of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Use concrete examples to support your arguments.

P/S/117. Is there a correlation between age, gender and exercise?

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P/EC/24. Data collection techniques: issues of reliability

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P/M/186. Explain what is meant by positivism. Explain its relationship to quantitative methodology

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Y/B/12. Research Methods

Y/B/13. Qualitative Research. Discuss some of the implications of qualitative methodology for sampling, questionnaire design, interviewing, data analysis and interpretation.

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Y/B/15. Sampling. Discuss how you would construct: A quota sample and A stratified random sample. What are the benefits and problems associated with using each of these sampling procedures in marketing research?

Y/B/16. An analysis of quantitative data will have a focus which is one of 3 possible types: Descriptive; Estimation; Hypothesis testing. Use a survey of supermarket customers to illustrate the difference between each of these phases. Provide examples of the nature of analysis that could be carried out in each phase and describe the techniques that would be appropriate. There are many formal statistical testing procedures available for making comparisons. Discuss the factors that would lead you to choose one test in favour of another.

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