What is the difference between the words "quantitative" and "qualitative"?


A quantitative measure uses numbers and data, and a qualitative measure is one that focuses on something that cannot be measured with numbers, such as demographic information like gender and nationality. Both types of measurement are used in academic research and for other official purposes. A shorthand for understanding the two concepts is an association of "quantitative" with numbers and "qualitative" with words.

According to the University of Connecticut, qualitative and quantitative research methods have different objectives and methodology. For example, the university says that quantitative research is focused on prediction and causal explanations, whereas qualitative research is concerned with contextualization and interpretation. Quantitative researchers want to collect data and be detached from their work. Qualitative researchers want to collect observations and include more personal involvement on the researcher's part. Researchers from different fields might be concerned with different types of research and would rely mostly on one type of research.

Examples of quantitative studies include clinical trials and explanatory studies, and ethnographies and case studies are examples of qualitative studies. Though they have different approaches, goals and outcomes, both types of research take a systematic approach and are concerned with collecting information. However, the two approaches are clearly very different; deductive reasoning is associated with quantitative research, and inductive reasoning is associated with quantitative research.

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