From the mock study, we learn that qualitative analysis is a research method that is different from the quantitative research method. It follows the interpretive philosophy, while quantitative research adopts a positivist philosophy (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007). However, this paper’s main obligation is not to give the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Its main purpose is to describe qualitative research. The arguments in this paper use the mock data analysis as their pint of reference. Many qualities of qualitative research emerge from the discussion.
Some of the qualities of qualitative research that arise from the mock data analysis include the use of questions in research and the interpretation of texts. Focusing on qualitative information and considering many points of view before making conclusions about texts is also a characteristic of qualitative analysis. Other issues include the interpretation of texts basing on contexts, objective recording of information from the field, and modifying research questions to suit the context of each study (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007). This paper uses the mock data analysis in describing the qualities of qualitative analysis and compares them to the qualities of quantitative analysis.
The first clear point that emerges from the mock data analysis is the use of questions in qualitative research. Researchers in qualitative research always develop their objectives in the form of questions. They then give the questions to the respondents. Giving the questions to the respondents helps in the collection of different ideas about specific topics (Ritchie, 2014).
The questions are always open-ended. They allow the respondents to give their genuine opinions about the item the researcher intends to study. During the interpretation of the data that researchers collect from the field, every opinion is important. The conclusion that researchers make at the end of their study combines all the contributions from the field. The researchers do not ask the respondents to give their responses in a numerical form or any other quantifiable format.
They do not use variables at any stage of their study. The questions they formulate guide them throughout the study. Variables are a very important ingredient in quantitative research. They are the tools that researchers measure in the process of determining the outcomes of their research. Usually, they manipulate the independent variable to cause a response in the dependent variable. Their conclusions depend on the nature of the reaction in the dependent variable when they manipulate it (Ritchie, 2014).
The mock analysis also highlights the philosophy that qualitative researchers adopt in their studies. Usually, they use the philosophy of interpretation, where they define reality based on the opinions of the majority of the respondents. Qualitative research recognizes the ability of everybody to think differently about something. However, this research method requires the support of quantitative research in formulating conclusions. Qualitative analysts collect abstract information. Quantifying this information is not easy (Ritchie, 2014). Therefore, researchers must convert the data they collect into quantitative data for proper interpretation.
The biggest challenge in handling qualitative data is determining the most important and the least important elements of the data. Due to the nature of qualitative methods of data collection, no researcher considers the frequencies of the main research items in determining the most important information. Instead, they collect information depending on whether it appeals to the individual researcher or not (Learning, 2014). Such data becomes a problem during its analysis and interpretation because the researchers may not be in a position to point out the main points from a collection of information. Worse still, researchers might end up with multiple meanings of information (Ritchie, Spencer & O’Connor, 2003). Such a situation may lead to confusion, and researchers may end up making the wrong conclusions.
Facts from the mock paper also reveal that qualitative analysis entails the interpretation of every line in a text. Scrutinizing each line is very crucial since it ensures that the researchers do not neglect anybody’s contributions. Consequently, the chances of not going through what some respondents said are minimal. In case the researchers require a more detailed study, they have the option of carrying out the study by analyzing every word in the text (Learning, 2014).
This research method ensures that the researcher does not skip any important element of the study. It helps researchers divide texts into their components for the sake of carrying out analyses that are more detailed. Researchers also have the option of combining both the line-by-line and the word-by-word analyses. Scholars refer to such analyses as multi-dimensional analyses (Ritchie, Spencer & O’Connor, 2003). However, this method can lead to unexpected exaggerations. It can also lead to the inclusion of information that is less important to the study.
It is also evident from the mock data analysis that qualitative research entails taking interpreters to the field to help in the process of collecting data. The interpreters examine the working of case studies. In addition, they refine the meanings of their observations to suit particular studies. They also have the power to refine their research questions to tackle the real objectives of the research. The process of refining the questions occurs when the researchers realize that the original set of questions is not as effective as they would wish them to be. The original questions might be leading to wrong conclusions or might not be covering the scope of the content the researchers would wish to cover (Learning, 2014).
Comparison between Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Qualitative research entails seeking a detailed and comprehensive understanding of realities. Besides the scope of information that the researcher purposes of discovering, it also requires the researcher to participate in the research by going to the field to collect information and interpret it thoroughly. Quantitative research, on the other hand, only considers the collection of information and transforming it into numerical figures for interpretation. Most of the time, the researcher is a passive participant in the process (human-kinetics, 2014).
Specific Differences that Come Up from the Mock Analysis
Qualitative research is about understanding the meaning of texts that researchers meet in the field, while quantitative research is about the collection of numerical figures and comparing them before giving conclusions (human-kinetics, 2014).
- Qualitative research aims at collecting enough data in a single trip to the field, while quantitative research aims at collecting samples of data on many occasions.
- The qualitative analysis does not have pre-determined goals. Its main goal is to carry out a detailed study of a situation. On the other hand, quantitative analysis always has a pre-determined goal in the form of a hypothesis that guides the research by predicting its results (human-kinetics, 2014).
- The conclusion of a qualitative analysis depends on the context of the research. On the other hand, the conclusion of a quantitative analysis uses generalizations regardless of the context in which the research occurs.
- In a qualitative analysis, the researcher is an instrument that seeks answers to questions. On the contrary, quantitative analysts are the designers of instruments that measure the effects of one variable on the other.
- The qualitative analysis aims at receiving many varied descriptions of the world since it involves contributions from many people. Quantitative analysis, on the other hand, aims at finding out the extent of certain pre-determined variables.
- Lastly, qualitative analysts use texts as specimens in their studies, while quantitative analysis uses numbers and other quantifiable information in its study.
Methods of Qualitative Data Analysis
- Data collection and documentation
- Formulation of different categories of concepts from the data
- Demonstrating associations between concepts
- Evaluating and disapproving other concepts
- Stating the findings
Qualitative analysis is a method of study that shows the significance of detailed research. This method of study uses qualitative data throughout the research. Researchers do not use quantifiable data at any point. In addition, the study does not use variables, and the researchers do not formulate hypotheses before the research. The analysis aims at discovering realities as opposed to using data in research. It mostly aims at describing the behavior and trends of human beings. Researchers formulate questions that serve as their main objectives for their entire studies. Their main task is finding answers to the research questions. The main advantage of qualitative analysis has over quantitative analysis is the scope of its findings. Usually, it reveals more detailed information compared to quantitative analysis.
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Ritchie, J., Spencer, L., & O’Connor, W. (2003). Carrying out qualitative analysis. Qualitative Research Practice: A guide for Social Science Students And Researchers, 219-262.
Ritchie, J. (2014). Qualitative research practice (1st ed.). Los Angeles, Calif: SAGE.