Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research

This page contains links to two articles, originally published by me in 2015, about the relationship between the qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Qualitative research (the use of in-depth interviewing, case studies, and naturalistic observation) and quantitative research (the use of experiments, surveys, and statistical analyses) are fundamentally different from each other because each of these two approaches is based on a core methodology that is incommensurate with that of the other. Nevertheless, the two approaches can overlap and be integrated into “mixed methods” research strategies in ways described in the articles.

The first article, Resistance to Qual-Quant Parity: Why the “Paradigm” Discussion Can’t be Avoided, focuses on how qualitative research is anchored in a paradigm that is radically separate from, but equal to, that of quantitative research. In light of this, the article goes on to consider how these two types of research may and may not be integrated into mixed methods approaches.

The second article, The Purity and Impurity of Paradigms, responds to challenges to the first article by authors Kenneth Gergen and Anna Madill, each of whom questions the need for and legitimacy of the “paradigm” concept. My response to these authors argues that the “paradigm” concept is crucial to understanding not only the unique features of qualitative and quantitative research, but also the ways in which each type of research includes variations and blends that permit it to overlap and combine with the other type of research in mixed methods research designs.

Since each of these articles complements and extends the other, the reader may find it helpful to read both in order to gain a complete picture of the argument presented here about the complex relationship between qualitative and quantitative research.