Quantitative and qualitative research are two different approaches to analyzing different phenomena: qualitative studies are aimed at exploring a certain object or phenomena, and quantitative methods are aimed at confirming hypotheses about these phenomena (Creswell, 2003). Researchers performing qualitative studies tend to describe and explain relationships, group norms, individual experiences etc (Creswell, 2003). At the same time, researchers engaged in quantitative studies work to predict causality between different phenomena, to describe characteristics of a certain population and to make forecasts and estimates for future. Qualitative research implies greater flexibility and subjectivity in the studies, while quantitative research has a predetermined structure.
If I could choose, I would engage in quantitative research due to several reasons. First of all, quantitative research is more objective, and bases on facts, measurements and observations rather than on the considerations of the researcher. Secondly, quantitative studies allow to predict the behaviour of groups or the changes of research objects, and can be used to establish causal relationships. Thirdly, quantitative research methods allow to assess phenomena which can only be measured, and cannot be observed or interviewed (e.g. in certain areas of physics, microbiology, etc.). These studies allow to get more precise knowledge about the research objects, which is the main reason why I would prefer quantitative research. However, I realize that in order to reach best results, the researcher should be able to combine quantitative and qualitative methods and to combine them in an iterative research process.
2. Describe a phenomenon specific to your field of study that could be examined using qualitative methods.
It would be interesting to analyze new trends in information technology and the changing needs of users with regard to different products, as well as their expectations. I think it would be very useful to study the evolution of a certain IT product (one of good cases might be iPad and iPad2) and to determine what users especially like about it and what they will need from the iPad3 generation of devices. Thus, the phenomenon of research is functionality of iPads and future functionality desired by the users of tablet PCs.
3. Which of the qualitative methods examined in this first week do you find the most relevant to study the phenomenon you described in question 2 (above)?
Key qualitative research methods are observation of participants, in-depth interviews and focus groups (Flick, 2009). The purpose of participant observation is to collect data on natural behaviors, interviews allow to study personal experience or history. Focus groups are appropriate for analyzing the behaviour of cultural groups or norms. With regard to researching current and desired functionality of iPads, the best method is in-depth interview, since it will allow to focus on issues specific for every user.
Creswell, J.W. (2003). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. SAGE.
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. SAGE Publications Ltd.