Research Design using Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Research Designs

Research design is an important part of scientific study and academic paper writing. To underline the importance of research design, standard scientific research and scholarly paper writing procedures require scientific papers submitted for peer review and publishing to clearly describe the research design and methodology used to arrive at their results and findings. This is normally outlined in the research methodology chapter of scholarly academic papers.

Scientific Research Methodology using Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Research

Scientific research studies normally adopt either qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods research designs; which are the 3 types of research design methods generally used by researchers to conduct and present the findings of scientific studies.

To define the three methods of research design, their characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages, two published academic research papers were analyzed and used for reference.

The first scholarly article used for the analysis was Phenomenological approaches: Challenges and choices (Pringle,  Hendry and McLafferty, 2011). This scholarly paper adopted a qualitative research method. The second research paper was Evidence-Based Practice: Critical Appraisal of Qualitative Evidence (Williamson, 2006). This academic paper was based on the quantitative research method.

Qualitative Research Design

Qualitative research design is normally used for testing hypothesis-using numbers or study variables that are measurable.Qualitative data is, thus, analyzed and expressed using numerical statistical data. Common statistical measures of qualitative data analysis include mean, median, mode, percentage, etc.

Quantitative Research Design

Quantitative research design, on the other hand, is used for testing hypothesis without the use of statistical figures and mainly allows researchers to present an impression of study variables that cannot be measured or expressed using statistical data. In quantitative research, data is presented using words that appropriately quantify the study variables. Such quantifying words include most, all, many, few, etc.

Mixed Methods Research

Finally, mixed methods research design integrates elements of both qualitative and quantitative research designs where data or research variables cannot be exclusively analyzed quantitatively or qualitatively. In other words, a mixed methods research design combines qualitative and quantitative data analysis to present an impression of the variables under scientific investigation.

Research Design - qualitative research, quantitative research, mixed methods research design of scientific research methodology

Difference between Qualitative data and Quantitative Data

Qualitative and quantitative research methods are used to present different types of data and information as they use different approaches in data collection and data analysis methods.

Quantitative data cannot be measured and is, therefore, analyzed quantitatively. An example of such data is the dilemmas and confusions that a researcher may face while doing a research study. The methods data of collection used in quantitative research include systematic literature review of past studies, conducting interviews, and making observations.

The qualitative data collected for analysis in qualitative research methods is quantifiable. For instance, the number of samples involved in the study is countable. Therefore, the results obtained from such a research design are presented as statistical facts. The statistical data collected in this manner is also generalizable.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

Using qualitative and quantitative research methods presents researchers with various advantages and disadvantages that of significant importance to the credibility of scientific research findings. Therefore, careful consideration is required when choosing the type of research design to adopt for a particular study.

Normally, the choice of an appropriate research method is determined by the nature of the study variable of data to be investigated and the objective of the researcher in line with the stated aim of the study, study objectives, and the study hypothesis.

Advantages of Qualitative Research

The first advantage of qualitative research methods is the ease of establishing the trustworthiness of a research study. This is because, in such studies, the researcher must find data that is transferable, dependable and confirmable. Secondly, the method also provides the detailed description of the study variable as it focuses on the deeper recording of the attitudes and behaviors of respondents.

A qualitative research design also stimulates the individual experience of the researcher as the qualitative data collection methods, like surveying and observation, are easy to foster association with real life happenings. Lastly, it is the best method for avoiding pre-judgmental bias before the actual data analysis is completed because it uses factual data that can be examined for particular responses and the reason they were given.

Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

The first disadvantage of qualitative research methods is that the number variables investigated in studies is limited. This is because collection of qualitative data is time consuming and, hence, requires the use of a small sample size.

Additionally, it is less easy to generalize observations because the sample size used in studies is small. Finally, the accuracy of the studies is heavily dependent on the skills of the researcher, for instance in data collection using interviews and observations. 

Advantages of Quantitative Research

One of the advantages of quantitative research methods is that it provides statistically reliable data that is more objective and quantifiable. Additionally the data used in the studies can be used to make generalizations since it involves the use of large sample sizes and big populations.

Disadvantages of Quantitative Research

The main disadvantage of this method of scientific research is that it is time consuming. To obtain meaningful results from quantitative data, extensive calculations have to be made especially when large data samples are involved. Secondly, it normally ignores the element of human input errors and biases during data collection.

The Claim that Quantitative Research is not Real Science

Scientific research methods must be reliable and generalizable. Quantitative research is thought not to be a true scientific research method because it tends to be more personal and less standardized than qualitative research. For that reason, Hewitt and Chramer (2010), argues that the research method fails to meet the thresholds of scientific reliability and generalizability, which are key pillars in scholarly studies and academic paper writing.


Pringle, J., Hendry, C., & McLafferty, E. (2011). Phenomenological approaches: Challenges and choices. Nurse Researcher, 18(2), 7–18.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Williamson, K. M. (2009). Evidence-based practice: Critical appraisal of qualitative evidence. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 15(3), 202–207.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Hewitt, D. & Cramer, D. (2010). Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology, 3rd Ed. Harlow: Pearson