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Qualitative and quantitative research approaches are used to collect, analyze and interpret data so that more meaningful information is obtained. Qualitative research attempts to establish a largely narrative, and holistic description to enable the researcher understand about a given cultural or social phenomenon. Quantitative research can be defined as the orderly experimental investigation of phenomena and quantitative properties and how they are related. The measurement process is central to quantitative research since it offers the key connection between the mathematical expressions of quantitative relations and the empirical observations (Creswell, 2003).
A research carried out by Jones (1995), shows that, a qualitative research takes a naturalistic and an interpretive approach to its subject matter, and therefore is conducted within natural settings with the use of interviews, documents reviews, and observations which can be used at the same time. Qualitative research covers many forms of inquiry that are important in understanding and explaining the significance of social phenomena with very little disturbance to the natural settings if any. It has been seen that, qualitative research starts by accepting the existence of various ways used to understand the world and is involved in finding out the meanings seen by respondents. In this case the respondents are not aware of the researcher such that, qualitative research is aimed at understanding the respondents' view of the world and not that of the researchers. The forms of inquiry include naturalistic inquiry, field study, interpretative research, case study, ethnography, participant observation, and inductive research (Maxwell, 2005). Qualitative research has fought to find its current position within health services research. This is because clinical scientists have experienced hard time in accepting social sciences research methodologies, in which explanation replaces measurement, understanding replaces generalization, and generation of hypotheses replaces testing of hypotheses.
The article by Atieno (2009) suggests that, quantitative research approach is empirical in nature such that it is referred to as the scientific research approach. A quantitative research approach provides results in accurate measurements and therefore the most preferred choice for many. Most researchers perceive quantitative research approach as the best approach as far as scientific research is concerned because it provides accurate measurement and analysis. Quantitative research approach allows the researcher to count and classify, and construct statistical models in order to explain what is ascertained. The process of research involves deductive reasoning method in which measurable tools are used to collect relevant data. According to Creswell (2009), quantitative research approach is the best in case the problem demands the identification of factors that determine an outcome, the usefulness of an intercession, or understanding the best of results.
Both qualitative and quantitative designs are systematic since to qualify for a defining principle of research the designs must have a system. The quantitative research is believed to be objective while qualitative research is thought to be subjective. It is believed that, in obtaining, analyzing and interpreting a quantitative data or information, the researcher can stay on isolated and objective. This is not the case with qualitative research since with this type of research the researcher actively involved within the situation of research (Maxwell, 2005). Quantitative research is deductive while most qualitative research is inductive. Being deductive, quantitative research tests theory while the qualitative research generates theory and therefore inductive (Creswell, 2009). By the use of quantitative designs of research, researchers usually obtain results that can be easily generalized while the qualitative designs of research usually produce the results that are not easy to generalize. Quantitative research uses the data that can be structured in form of numerical values or that can be converted into numbers immediately while qualitative research uses data that cannot be transported immediately into numerical values (Creswell, 2009).