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Interdisciplinary Studies in Health Science (IDS): Quantitative and Qualitative Research

A guide of library and information resources for the Interprofessional Studies (IDS) major.

Comparison of Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

Comparing Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

This guide provides an overview of quantitative and qualitative social science research methods.  The table below provides an outline of some of the attributes of each.

You can find evidence for clinical decision making in quantitative and qualitative research studies. 

Quantitative research, also called "Empirical Research," refers to any research based on something that can be accurately and precisely measured. Quantitative research will include studies that have numerical data.

Qualitative research derives data from observation, interviews, or verbal interactions and focuses on the meanings and interpretations of the participants. and can be used to gain a better understanding of or a new perspective on a topic. The findings in qualitative studies are not based on measurable statistics but rather on data gathered through interviews and observation. The analysis of qualitative research is interpretative, subjective, and impressionistic. 

Quantitative and qualitative methods are the two main categories of empirical research.  




  • experimental
  • statistical
  • positivist
  • naturalistic
  • ethnographic
  • phenomenological
  • anthropological
  • interpretive
  • constructivist
 Focus or Goals
  • describe with statistics
  • test theories
  • show relationships
  • predict
  • obtain a single true reality
  • develop understanding and meaning
  • describe naturally occuring behavior
  • describe multiple realities
  • structured
  • predetermined
  • specific
  • contrived
  • emergent
  • evolving
  • flexible
  • natural
  • holistic
  • experiments
  • questionnaires
  • surveys
  • structured observations or interviews
  • observations
  • open-ended interviews
  • field research
  • case studies
 Data Analysis
  • deductive
  • statistical
  • interpretive
  • inductive
  • ongoing
  • searching for themes
  • text analysis

Adapted from: McMillan, J. H. (2012). Educational research: Fundamentals for the consumer (6th ed.). Pearson.

Based on Eastern Michigan University Library LibGuide Quantitative and Qualitative Research and
Adelphi University LibGuide Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

How to Critique Research Articles

The articles below provide a step by step appraisal on how to critique qualitative and quantitative research articles. 

Based on Adelphi University LibGuide Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

Qualitative vs. Quantitative: Videos about the differences

Qualitative vs Quantitative
video by Scott Crombie (CC:BY)

For more explanation: