When carrying out an analysis, it is vital that a person opts for a methodology depending on the subject of study. In essence, there are two ways of carrying out an analysis: qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis (Babbie, 2010). These two analytic methods vary by their application of measurements and statistics in deductive reasoning (Dey, 2003).
A quantitative methodology employs measurements, numbers, statistics or quantities during the analytic process. On the other hand, a qualitative methodology is a non-numeric method of analysis and often uses quality, opinion, or feelings during the analytic procedure (Strauss, 2009, Denzin & Lincoln, 2005).
For example, when a traffic officer stops a driver suspecting him of driving under influence, he has to go through the breathalyzer test. The test establishes that there is some alcohol in his blood, hence he is driving under influence. This is a qualitative analysis. However, if the machine confirms that the driver has 0.09 percent alcohol in his blood, then this becomes a quantitative analysis since numericals are involved.
A practical example of a quantitative analysis is observed in an article in the BBC titled, How the internet transformed business (Schifferes, 2006). The article details how the internet, launched 15 years ago by the time was written, has boosted various businesses around the US. Schifferes uses quantities and measurements quite often to support the fact that the internet has actually led to an increase in business activity in the area under focus.
He mentions that “the waiting list for BMWs rose to five years” (Schifferes, 2006). He also mentions that more and more modern restaurants were being opened, a reference to the high rate at which restaurants were coming up, and obviously using numbers to come to this deduction.
To further demonstrate the phenomenal increase in business activity, Schifferes writes that when Netscape went public, its shares tripled in value. He mentions more companies that registered immense growth, such as Cisco Systems (which eventually became the world’s largest company), worth more than $400 billion.
Its value has since risen to approximately $100 billion. Silicon Valley also experienced a boom, with close to a billion dollars worth of investments per week. The climax of this boom was the takeover of AOL for more than $200bn. The NASDAQ also rose five-fold. Generally, Schifferes uses measurements a number of times to emphasize the growth in various businesses as a result of the emergence of the internet.
An article that exemplifies qualitative analysis is the one on the How Stuff Works website. The article, titled, How does the Internet work? (Strickland, 2011). Strickland demonstrates how the internet works using plain language. As opposed to the previous, this article does not use any measurements since the author is not trying to prove a point, just explaining the functioning of the internet using a basic language.
The author generally employs opinions, feelings and/or quality in his explanation. For instance, he begins by recognizing that the internet is still a young technology. This is his opinion as someone may view the period between the invention of the internet and now as a long period.
Strickland takes us through the explanation by explaining the different hardware requirements before a user can access the internet, such as routers, servers, satellites, radios, and so on. It is evident that the author has no interest in using numbers to explain any section of the article. The paper answers the how and why of the internet, rather than what, where and when, often used in qualitative analysis.
While the two analytic methods vary, both are equally important and a researcher must be keen while choosing either of these methods and should base the choice on depending on the subject of study.
Babbie, E. R. (2010). The Practice of Social Research. Wasworth: Cengage.
Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Dey, I. (2003). Qualitative Data Analysis: A User Friendly Guide for Social Scientists. London: Routledge
Schifferes, (2006). How the internet transformed business. BBC News, 3rd August. Retrieved August 15, 2011, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/5235332.stm
Strauss, A. L. (2009).Qualitative analysis for social scientists. NY: University of Cambridge
Strickland, J. (2011). How does the Internet work? Retrieved August 15, 2011, from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/internet.htm