Research Methods





Research Methods

When doing research, a person can either employ quantitative or qualitative methods. Each of these methods is useful in different situations. Quantitative research methods present data collected in the form of numbers or figures. Qualitative research methods, on the other hand, are descriptive, meaning that it is used in cases where the phenomenon can be observed but not measured (Lampard & Pole 22). For example, if a person counts the number of people aged between twenty and thirty years old in a room, this is an example of quantitative research method. If the researcher were to ask the same group of people which political party they belong to, this would be qualitative research. Examples of qualitative methods are interviews, focus groups, and observation, while quantitative methods involve the measurement of different things.

There are many differences between the two methods of research that make them useful in particular situations. The first difference is that in qualitative methods, the researcher collects data from observations of the information and interviews while in quantitative methods, the researcher measures things such as distance, temperature, numbers, quantities and others. The second difference is that for qualitative research, the phenomena under investigation will be reported in the language used by the informant while in quantitative methods, the data is reported in statistical figures. Another difference between the two methods comes in analyzing the information that has been collected. For qualitative research, the data is classified based on themes while in quantitative research, the data is classified based on statistical analysis. For example, in the use of a qualitative method, people could be grouped based on religious beliefs while quantitative research will find the number of people who belong to each religious group and then analyze the data.

Both qualitative and quantitative research methods have their advantages and disadvantages. The first advantage of qualitative methods is that it is very flexible. One example of flexibility is that when collecting information, the researcher can ask more questions or change the setting so that they can get the responses they need. The second advantage is that qualitative methods are quite targeted. The researcher identifies the particular group they would like to investigate, which makes the process speedy and cheap. Disadvantages are the sample size may not be representative of the entire population, and there is a lot of bias. Advantages of quantitative methods are that data is more reliable and allows for straightforward analysis using appropriate statistical tests (Wincup 13). Some disadvantages of quantitative methods are that creating a research model can be challenging and it gives a false focus on numbers while disregarding other relationships.

Quantitative and qualitative research methods are applied to different situations in criminal justice. For example, qualitative methods will be used in a study to find out how many juvenile offenders have been confined in adult prisons with the past five years. Qualitative methods will be useful in learning about the life experiences of drug offenders serving sentences (Wright & Bouffard 128). For example, a researcher would conduct face to face interviews with the offenders to ask them why they went into a life of dealing drugs. The researcher can ask many types of questions to find answers to this question. From these examples, researchers choose either qualitative or quantitative methods depending on the goals of their study and also the phenomena to be measured. In finding the number of cars that pass through a certain point, a qualitative method would hardly be efficient. Both research methods have their advantages and disadvantages; thus a researcher has to look into this before making their choice. None of the methods is superior over the other, as many would assume quantitative to be better than qualitative methods.

Works Cited

Lampard, Richard, and Christopher Pole. Practical social investigation: Qualitative and quantitative methods in social research. Routledge, 2015.

Wincup, Emma. Criminological research: Understanding qualitative methods. Sage, 2017.

Wright, Kevin A., and Leana A. Bouffard. “Capturing crime: The qualitative analysis of individual cases for advancing criminological knowledge.” International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology 60.2 (2016): 123-145.