TSI Blog

Quantitative And Qualitative Research Techniques

June 25th, 2014 by Alison McKinney

In the world of employee research, there are two general approaches to gathering and reporting information: qualitative and quantitative techniques.

Quantitative methods are generally concerned with the collection and analysis of numerical data, while qualitative methods are more concerned with producing and examining perceptions and interpretations.

When it comes to collecting employee research information, normally via an employee survey, both techniques are often used together. For quantitative data, specific closed questions are asked with the participant giving their preferred answer using a response scale. For the collection of qualitative data, open questions are used for the participant to answer using their own words.

Advantages and disadvantages of quantitative research

The advantage is that when the research information is collected, because it’s simply based on numbers, it’s a lot easier to collate and put together into a report with charts and diagrams. Also when it comes to understanding the feedback it is a lot easier to identify areas for celebration and action.

However with advantages always come disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that because the data are all based on figures, you lose some of the richness and may be mis-interpreting the results as you don’t fully understand why people are rating items as they are.

Advantages and disadvantages of qualitative research

Its strength is that it provides depth and detail uncovering more about people’s experiences, attitudes, feelings, behaviours and perceptions (why things may be the way they are), and in their own words. It also helps to avoid pre-judgement, especially if used alongside any quantitative data collected and explain why a particular response was given.

Qualitative research methods collect information about what your select group of participants feel or think. You can’t necessarily use this data to make assumptions over and beyond these participants.

It is not a research method that easily lends itself to numerical analysis. However this is only a disadvantage if your research question also needs numerical data to uphold any feedback.

Therefore, if you’re looking to produce the best and most useful information for analysis and interpretation from an employee survey, adopting a mixed methods approach is one way of overcoming this problem.

If you would like to know more about what technique is best for your employee survey, then give us a call on +44 (0) 1255 850051 or complete our online web form.

Written by Alison McKinney
Alison McKinney is the Project and Quality Assurance Manager at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Alison has extensive experience in project management and quality assurance and has recently worked on projects for clients as diverse as: WSP Middle East. Natural History Museum, Peverel, Marine Stewardship Council, Accor UK &Ireland and Thompsons Solicitors. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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