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In the field of social science there are two ways of doing things; qualitative vs. quantitative.

Qualitative:   The traditional analysis of  data collected by the analysts, there is no formal quantitative framework used to generate projections. Research that focuses on the experiences, interpretations, impressions or motivations of an individual or individuals, and that seeks to describe how people view things and why. It relates to beliefs, attitudes and changing behaviour. A method of advertising research that emphasizes the quality of meaning in consumer perceptions and attitudes; for example, in-depth interviews and focus groups. Research that seeks out people’s attitudes and preferences, usually conducted through unstructured interviews or focus groups. Is concerned with understanding the processes, which underlie various behavioural patterns.
                                    ~Generally, the information derived from these approaches is richer and more detailed.
                                    ~These approaches allow the subjects to determine the course of research, rather than the researcher.

                                    ~From a statistical standpoint, you cannot know if the differences you find among the people are generalizable or simply                                                                         anomalies.
                                    ~Small sample size makes it difficult to make any claims about the findings.

Quantitative:   Research that focuses on measuring and counting facts and the relationships among variables, and that seeks to describe observations through statistical analysis of data. It includes experimental and non-experimental research and descriptive research (research that attempts to describe the characteristics of a sample or population). Is concerned with the tabulation or numeric relevance of various kinds of behaviour.   Involves the collection of (statistically) large samples of quantitative data and usually some form of statistical analysis. Quantitative research is often used to substantiate the findings from qualitative research. Survey research using a sample of people drawn at random from a given population. If the sample is drawn properly, the results of quantitative research can be generalized to the population.
                                     ~In Social Science this method is commonly seen in survey data and census data.
                                    ~Can be generalized and applied to the entire population.

                                    ~Generaly surveys exclude the poor and people of color
                                    ~Also assumes that people mean the same thing when they give a particular answer.


Doyle Research Associates, Inc. (1997). Traditional Qualitative Research.   Retrieved May 19, 2004 on the World Wide Web: traditional.html
Financial Engineering News. (2004).  The Furture of Quantitative Computing.  Retrieved May 20, 2004 on the World Wide Web: where_num_matters.html