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Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Mixed Methods Research

As its name suggests, mixed methods research involves using elements of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Using mixed methods, a researcher can more fully explore a research question and provide greater insight. 

What is Empirical Research?

Empirical research is based on observed and measured phenomena. Knowledge is extracted from real lived experience rather than from theory or belief. 

IMRaD: Scholarly journals sometimes use the "IMRaD" format to communicate empirical research findings.

Introduction: explains why this research is important or necessary. Provides context ("literature review").

Methodology: explains how the research was conducted ("research design").

Results: presents what was learned through the study ("findings").

Discussion: explains or comments upon the findings including why the study is important and connecting to other research ("conclusion").

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research gathers data that can be measured numerically and analyzed mathematically. Quantitative research attempts to answer research questions through the quantification of data. 

Indicators of quantitative research include:

  • contains statistical analysis 

  • large sample size 

  • objective - little room to argue with the numbers 

  • types of research: descriptive studies, exploratory studies, experimental studies, explanatory studies, predictive studies, clinical trials 

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is based upon data that is gathered by observation. Qualitative research articles will attempt to answer questions that cannot be measured by numbers but rather by perceived meaning. Qualitative research will likely include interviews, case studies, ethnography, or focus groups. 

Indicators of qualitative research include:

  • interviews or focus groups 

  • small sample size 

  • subjective - researchers are often interpreting meaning 

  • methods used: phenomenology, ethnography, grounded theory, historical method, case study 

Video: Empirical Studies: Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Video: Empirical Studies: Qualitative vs. Quantitative

This video from USU Libraries walks you through the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods. (5:51 minutes) Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)

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