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Communication: Qualitative / Quantitative Research

Qualitative /Quantitative Research

Qualitative Research

Quantitative Research


Understand and interpret social interactions.

Test hypotheses. Look at cause and effect. Predict.

Group Studied

Tends to be smaller, nonrandom. Researchers may get involved in lives of those studied.

Tends to be larger, randomly selected. Anonymity important.


Study of the whole rather than specific variables.

A few variables studied.

Type of Data Collected

Emphasis is on words. Increasing interest in visual data.

Emphasis is on numbers. Variables.

Form of Data Collected

In-depth interviews, participant observation, field notes, and open-ended questions.

Data based on precise measurement using structured and validated data-collection instruments

Type of Data Analysis

Use descriptive data; search for patterns, themes, and holistic features; appreciate difference/variation.

Identify statistical relationships among variables.

Objectivity / Subjectivity

Subjectivity is expected.

Objectivity is critical.

Role of Researcher

Researcher is central to any study. Interpretations are based on researcher's experience and background.

Researcher tries to remain outside of the system, keeping biases to a minimum.

Nature of Reality/Truth

Multiple realities; subjective.

Single reality; objective.

Nature of Observation

Study groups and individuals in natural settings; attempt to understand perspectives.

Study behavior under controlled conditions; isolate the causal effect of single variables.

Scientific method

"Bottom-up." The researcher generates hypotheses from data collected during fieldwork.

"Top-down." The researcher tests hypotheses and theory with data.

Final Report

Informal narrative.

Formal statistical report.



Preparing Literature Reviews

Preparing Literature Reviews: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches by M. Ling Pan

Call Number: 808.066 P187p

Publication Date: 2013, 4th edition


1. Introduction to qualitative and quantitative reviews
2. Selecting a topic for review
3. Searching for literature in professional journals
4. Retrieving and evaluating information from the Web
5. Evaluating and interpreting research literature
6. Taking notes and avoiding unintentional plagiarism
7. Preparing a topic outline for the first draft
8. Writing the first draft: basic principles
9. Writing the first draft: optional techniques
10. Writing the first draft: statistical issues in qualitative reviews
11. Building tables to summarize literature
12. Revising and refining the first draft
13. Writing titles and abstracts
14. Preparing a reference list
15. Introduction to meta-analysis
16. A closer look at meta-analysis

Checklist of Guidelines --

Model Literature Reviews --

Qualitative literature reviews:
1. Spirituality among African American Women living with HIV/AIDS
2. Subjective evaluations of alcohol consequences and changes in drinking behavior
3. Predicting marital separation from parent-child relationships
4. The effect of socialization and information source on financial management behavior
5. Waterpipe smoking among college students in the United States

Quantitative literature reviews (Meta-analyses):
6. Factors affecting the extent of Monday blues
7. Cognitive bibliotherapy for depression: a meta-analysis
8. Project D.A.R.E. outcome effectiveness revisited

A. Qualitative versus quantitative research
B. Quality control in qualitative research

SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, The

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, by Edited by: Mike Allen (2017)

at SAGE Knowledge


under Entries A-Z, search within the Encyclopedia for:  Literature

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