The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects

By Martyn Denscombe | Go to book overview

Part III

Analysis
The terms 'qualitative research' and 'quantitative research' are widely used and understood within the realms of social research as signposts to the kind of assumptions being used by the researchers and the nature of the research being undertaken. As we probe deeper into the distinction between 'qualitative research' and 'quantitative research', however, it becomes apparent that, in the real world of social research, things do not fall neatly into the two categories. There are three reasons for this.
1. In practice, the approaches are not mutually exclusive. Social researchers rarely, if ever, rely on one approach to the exclusion of the other. Good research tends to use parts of both approaches, and the difference lies in the degree to which the research is based in one camp or the other.
2. In theory, the distinction is too simplistic. The assumptions associated with the two approaches are frequently shared, frequently overlap and basically do not fall either side of a clear dividing line.
3. Strictly speaking, the distinction between 'qualitative' and 'quantitative' relates to the treatment of data, rather than the research methods as such. As Strauss (1987: 2) argues, 'the genuinely useful distinction is in how data are treated analytically.' This is dealt with in Chapters 10 and 11.

We must recognize, then, that a distinction between qualitative and quantitative research is far from 'watertight'.

Bearing this in mind, what is conveyed through the use of labels such as 'qualitative research' and 'quantitative research'? The terms 'qualitative' and 'quantitative' have come to denote contrasting positions in relation to a number of dimensions of social research. Each term implies a commitment to a particular set of assumptions about the nature of the social world being investigated and the appropriate way to investigate it, a position which is in

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The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Strategies for Social Research 3
  • 1: Surveys 6
  • 2: Case Studies 30
  • 3: Internet Research 41
  • 4: Experiments 61
  • 5: Action Research 73
  • 6: Ethnography 84
  • 7: Phenomenology 96
  • 8: Grounded Theory 109
  • Part II - Methods of Social Research 131
  • 9: Questionnaires 144
  • 10: Interviews 163
  • 11: Observation 192
  • 12: Documents 212
  • Part III - Analysis 231
  • 13: Quantitative Data 236
  • 14: Qualitative Data 267
  • 15: Writing Up the Research 284
  • Frequently Asked Questions 299
  • References 302
  • Index 307
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