Statistics is all about study and collection of data. In our earlier topic, we have discussed primary and secondary data. Primary data is the data acquired by the researcher to address the problem at hand, which is classified as qualitative data and quantitative data. While **qualitative data** is a data concerned with descriptions, which can be observed but cannot be computed, **quantitative data** is the one that focuses on numbers and mathematical calculations, and can be calculated and computed. These data types are used in a number of fields like marketing, sociology, business, public health and so on. Take a read of this article to know the difference between qualitative and quantitative data.

## Content: Qualitative Vs Quantitative Data

### Comparison Chart

Basis for Comparison | Qualitative Data | Quantitative Data |
---|---|---|

Meaning | Qualitative data is the data in which the classification of objects is based on attributes and properties. | Quantitative Data is the type of data which can be measured and expressed numerically. |

Research Methodology | Exploratory | Conclusive |

Approach | Subjective | Objective |

Analysis | Non-Statistical | Statistical |

Collection of data | Unstructured | Structured |

Determines | Depth of understanding | Level of occurrence |

Asks | Why? | How many or How much? |

Sample | Small number of non-representative samples | Large number of representative samples |

Outcome | Develops initial understanding. | Recommends final course of action. |

### Definition of Qualitative Data

Qualitative Data refers to the data that provides insights and understanding about a particular problem. It can be approximated but cannot be computed. Hence, the researcher should possess complete knowledge about the type of characteristic, prior to the collection of data.

The nature of data is descriptive and so it is a bit difficult to analyze it. This type of data can be classified into categories, on the basis of physical attributes and properties of the object. The data is interpreted as spoken or written narratives rather than numbers. It is concerned with the data that is observable in terms of smell, appearance, taste, feel, texture, gender, nationality and so on. The methods of collecting qualitative data are:

- Focus Group
- Observation
- Interviews
- Archival Materials like newspapers.

### Definition of Quantitative Data

Quantitative Data, as the name suggests is one which deals with quantity or numbers. It refers to the data which computes the values and counts and can be expressed in numerical terms is called quantitative data. In statistics, most of the analysis are conducted using this data.

Quantitative data may be used in computation and statistical test. It is concerned with measurements like height, weight, volume, length, size, humidity, speed, age etc. The tabular and diagrammatic presentation of data is also possible, in the form of charts, graphs, tables, etc. Further, the quantitative data can be classified as discrete or continuous data. the methods used for the collection of data are:

- Surveys
- Experiments
- Observations and Interviews

## Key Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data

The fundamental points of difference between qualitative and quantitative data are discussed below:

- The data type, in which the classification of objects is based on attributes (quality) is called qualitative data. The type of data which can be counted and expressed in numbers and values is called quantitative data.
- The research methodology is exploratory in qualitative data, i.e. to provide insights and understanding. On the other hand, quantitative data is conclusive in nature which aims at testing a specific hypothesis and examine the relationships.
- The approach to inquiry in the case of qualitative data is subjective and holistic whereas quantitative data has an objective and focused approach.
- When the data type is qualitative the analysis is non-statistical. As opposed to quantitative data which uses statistical analysis.
- In qualitative data, there is an unstructured gathering of data. As against this, data collection is structured in quantitative data.
- While qualitative data determines the depth of understanding, quantitative data ascertains the level of occurrence.
- Quantitative data is all about ‘How much or how many’. On the contrary, qualitative data asks ‘Why?’
- In qualitative data the sample size is small and that too is drawn from non-representative samples. Conversely, the sample size is large in quantitative data drawn from the representative sample.
- Qualitative data develops initial understanding, i.e. it defines the problem. Unlike quantitative data, which recommends the final course of action.

### Conclusion

So, for the collection and measurement of data, any of the two methods discussed above can be used. Although both have its merits and demerits, i.e. while qualitative data lacks reliability, quantitative data lacks description. Both are used in conjunction so that the data gathered is free from any errors. Further, both can be acquired from the same data unit only their variables of interest are different, i.e. numerical in case of quantitative data and categorical in qualitative data.

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