Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research: Closing the Gap through Diagrams and Frequencies

I did my Ph.D. for 4 years previously, and I found there is a significant gap between two research methods of quantitative and qualitative: interpretation. When I was in my master’s degree year, I quantitatively did my thesis. However, I change my approach to qualitative due to my personal research scope involving spirituality concept.

There were many differences between these two. However, what intrigued me the most is how these methods can close its gap. Majority of my friends were doing quantitative, as I’m the minority of doing qualitative, I found many assumptions and opinions on both methods being portrayed by both group of students.

Quantitative was deemed not in-depth enough when it comes to findings’ interpretation, and many adaptations from previous researches as well. The bright side on this method was that it may shorten the period of doing research, lack of bias and the findings are quantifiable.

Qualitative, on the other hand, was believed to be taken a more extended period, more bias, the findings are unquantifiable thus makes it hard to publish in journal publication. The pros of this method were its originality, in-depth interpretation, able to grasp more hidden issues and more emotions shown in this type of research.

In my Ph.D. journey, I’ve been surrounded by quantitative people. Starting with my main supervisor, two of my co-supervisors, 3 internal examiners and 1 external examiner, all were experts in the quantitative method. As a previous quantitative researcher myself (in master degree), I always asked myself, “How would I interpret my thesis so that quantitative researchers can understand, without being so-called “boring” and “hard to understand” with so many wordings in the qualitative method.”

I found that I need to come out with several solutions on how to interpret my thesis: through diagrams and frequencies. I discovered a software called “Atlas.ti” which helps me to build my own layouts, and some coding frequencies. And it all makes sense. It works like wonders. My committee supervisory and examiners finally understand the way I did my thesis as quantifying it makes it easier to understand.

Years go by, I found another conflicting opinion among qualitative researchers by rejecting the quantifying way of interpreting the findings of this type of research method. “Qualitative shouldn’t be quantified as its already unique in its own way. It should be all words all along”. As for me, to simplify a complex concept is creativity itself. If we, qualitative researchers may find a way to close the gap between quantitative researchers and us, why not? 


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