Difference between Qualitative Analysis and Quantitative Analysis

Qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis are two different approaches used in research and data analysis. While both are used to gain insights and draw conclusions from data, the two methods differ in their objectives, methodology, and data collection techniques. This essay will discuss the difference between qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis.

What is Quantitative Analysis?

Quantitative analysis is often associated with numerical analysis where data is collected, classified, and then computed for certain findings using a set of statistical methods. Data is chosen randomly in large samples and then analyzed. The advantage of quantitative analysis the findings can be applied in a general population using research patterns developed in the sample. This is a shortcoming of qualitative data analysis because of limited generalization of findings.

Quantitative analysis is more objective in nature. It seeks to understand the occurrence of events and then describe them using statistical methods. However, more clarity can be obtained by concurrently using qualitative and quantitative methods. Quantitative analysis normally leaves the random and scarce events in research results whereas qualitative analysis considers them.

Quantitative analysis is generally concerned with measurable quantities such as weight, length, temperature, speed, width, and many more. The data can be expressed in a tabular form or any diagrammatic representation using graphs or charts. Quantitative data can be classified as continuous or discrete, and it is often obtained using surveys, observations, experiments or interviews.

There are, however, limitations in quantitative analysis. For instance, it can be challenging to uncover relatively new concepts using quantitative analysis and that is where qualitative analysis comes into the equation to find out “why” a certain phenomenon occurs. That is why the methods are often used simultaneously.

What is Qualitative Analysis?

Qualitative analysis is concerned with the analysis of data that cannot be quantified. This type of data is about the understanding and insights into the properties and attributes of objects (participants). Qualitative analysis can get a deeper understanding of “why” a certain phenomenon occurs. The analysis can be used in conjunction with quantitative analysis or precede it.

Unlike with quantitative analysis that is restricted by certain classification rules or numbers, qualitative data analysis can be wide ranged and multi-faceted. And it is subjective, descriptive, non-statistical and exploratory in nature.

Because qualitative analysis seeks to get a deeper understanding, the researcher must be well- rounded with whichever physical properties or attributes the study is based on. Oftentimes, the researcher may have a relationship with the participants where their characteristics are disclosed. In a quantitative analysis the characteristics of objects are often undisclosed. The typical data analyzed qualitatively include color, gender, nationality, taste, appearance, and many more as long as the data cannot be computed. Such data is obtained using interviews or observations.

There are limitations in qualitative analysis. For instance, it cannot be used to generalize the population. Small samples are used in an unstructured approach and they are non-representative of the general population hence the method cannot be used to generalize the entire population. That is where quantitative analysis into the factor.

Differences: Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis

The main difference between qualitative and quantitative analysis is the type of data collected and the methods used to analyze the data. Qualitative analysis collects non-numerical data such as opinions, attitudes, and behaviors, while quantitative analysis collects numerical data such as frequency, quantity, and magnitude. Qualitative analysis aims to understand the meaning behind the data, while quantitative analysis aims to provide numerical descriptions and explanations of the data.

The following table highlights the major differences between Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis −


Qualitative Analysis

Quantitative Analysis


It is a subjective analysis that is more concerned with non-statistical data that cannot be computed.

It is an objective analysis that quantifies data.

Causative agents

Typical data include color, gender, nationality, religion and many more.

Typical data include measurable quantities such as length, size, weight, mass and many more.


The analysis is used to understand why a certain phenomenon occurs.

The analysis is concerned with how many or how much a certain phenomenon occur.


Sample is small and is non-representative of the entire population.

The sample is large and can be generalized to cover the entire population.


Qualitative analysis involves collecting data through interviews, focus groups, and observations, while quantitative analysis involves collecting data through surveys, experiments, and structured observations.

Updated on: 25-Apr-2023


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