Qualitative research stresses the socially constructed nature of reality, the intimate relationship between the researcher and what is studied, and the situational constraints that shape inquiry. Such research emphasizes the value-laden nature of inquiry. It seeks answers to questions that stress how social experience is created and given meaning. In contrast, quantitative studies emphasize the measurement and analysis of causal relationships between variables, not processes. Proponents of such studies claim that their work is done from within a value-free framework (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000).
In contrast, quantitative research deals with variables or research that can be handled numerically usually contrasted (too sharply) with qualitative variables and research. Many research designs lend themselves well to collecting both quantitative and qualitative data, and many variables can be handled either qualitatively or quantitatively. For example, naturalistic observations can give rise to either or both kinds of data. Interactions can be counted and timed with a stopwatch or they can be interpreted more holistically (Vogt, 2005).
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Vogt, W. P. (2005). Dictionary of statistics & methodology: A nontechnical guide for the social sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Spradley, J. P. (1979). The ethnographic interview. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.
Tarleton State University