Project Planning: Methods

There are three methods used to conduct survey research: quantitative methods, qualitative methods, and mixed methods.

Below is a look at the different methods of data collection and a list of their strengths to help you decide which meet your research needs. 

Method Description Strengths
Quantitative
  • Paper surveys
  • Web surveys
Focuses on deduction, confirmation, theory/hypothesis testing, prediction, standardized data collection, and statistical analysis
  • Provides precise, numerical data that is easy to analyze
  • Is useful for studying large numbers of people
  • Data analysis is relatively less time consuming (using statistical software)
  • Can generalize research findings when the data is based on random samples of sufficient size
  • The results are relatively independent of the researcher
Qualitative
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
Focuses on induction, discovery, exploration, theory/hypothesis generation, and qualitative analysis. The researcher is the primary ‘instrument’ of data collection
  • Provides an understanding and description of people’s personal experiences
  • It is useful for describing a complex phenomena
  • Interviewers can be successful in eliciting further information from the respondents through careful probing
  • It is useful for studying a limited number of cases in-depth
Mixed A mixture or combination of quantitative and qualitative methods in a single study
  • Qualitative and quantitative research used together produce more complete knowledge
  • Can add insights and understanding that might be missed when only a single method is used
  • Can provide stronger evidence for a conclusion through convergence and corroboration of findings
  • Numbers can be used to add precision to words, pictures, and narrative
  • Words, pictures, and narrative can be used to add meaning to numbers