Quantitative vs. Qualitative: Why Should You Care about Research Methods?

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I have never been a fan of conducting and analyzing research. I have seen both sides of the coin — having participated in marketing research studies and surveys for extra credit during my undergraduate college years. And working on my capstone course for my Advertising degree, we had to conduct interviews with 48 individuals within our target demographic, and also distribute a survey to members of the Gainesville, Florida community. It was harder to schedule and organize research than one might think.

Now I am working on my Master’s in Mass Communication, specializing in Social Media. In the coming semester, I’ll be enrolled in a Research Methods in Digital Communication course. It is a good time to brush up on the different methods of research, qualitative vs. quantitative.

Why do we need to conduct research in the mass communication field?

Investigative research helps us “understand communication phenomena.” Humans tend to gravitate and look for patterns in everyday. Researchers often look for patterns that can be replicated.

Qualitative Research: Focus on the “Why”

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In my opinion, qualitative research methods are more time consuming to collect. They need to be handled with care. It is important to record the exact information to gather accurate findings to be analyzed.

While doing some of my own research on qualitative methods, I found a journal article, Rethining the Focus Group in Media and Communications Research by Peter Lunt and Sonia Livingstone. They observed that focus groups were declining in use and wanted to explore and reappraise the method. As this qualitative method is appropriate for media and communication research. A focus group is a group of selected participants who have an open discussion on a specific topic for research. I am familiar with this method because it is used a lot in marketing and advertising research.

Quantitative Research: Surveys, Polls, Questionaaires, Oh My!

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Quantitative research can be easier to execute. For a course on Digital Insights, I had to create and distribute a survey. The goal was to gain over 100 responses. I collected over 200 responses to my survey in a matter of a few days. I distributed the survey in different Facebook groups and relevant subreddits.

A journal article on citisens’ perspectives of social media in emerencies in Europe, struck my interest because over 1,000 citizens across 30 European countries were surveyed. Since I study social media I was intrigued by the results. 43% of survey respondents use social media to search rather than share information. I would have thought this number to be lower. However, YouTube, a social media platform, is considered to be also one of the largest search engines.

I know that understanding how to conduct research, and which method is best to get acquired results, is beneficial. This refresher before I begin Research Methods in Digital Communication was much needed. I definitely prefer conducting surveys. The method is a lot more straight forward and analyzing the results is often more clear.

References

Bhat, A. (2021, October 22). Quantitative Market Research: The Complete Guide. QuestionPro. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://www.questionpro.com/blog/quantitative-market-research/

Chiang, I. A. (2015, October 13). Phenomena and Theories — Research Methods in Psychology — 2nd Canadian Edition. Pressbooks. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://opentextbc.ca/researchmethods/chapter/phenomena-and-theories/

Fleetwood, D. (2021, October 21). Focus group: What it is and How to conduct it. QuestionPro. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://www.questionpro.com/blog/focus-group/

Intellspot. (n.d.). Qualitative vs quantitative data — infographic. Slide Share. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://www.slideshare.net/Intellspot/qualitative-vs-quantitative-data-infographic

Peter Lunt, Sonia Livingstone, Rethinking the Focus Group in Media and Communications Research, Journal of Communication, Volume 46, Issue 2, June 1996, Pages 79–98, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1996.tb01475.x

Steven H. Chaffee & Miriam J. Metzger (2001) The End of Mass Communication?, Mass Communication & Society, 4:4, 365–379, DOI: 10.1207/ S15327825MCS0404_3

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Ali Cozzolino-Smith

Ali Cozzolino-Smith

University of Florida Advertising Student