Research: Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Data Collection
June 10, 2010 Leave a comment
By Renae Boge Launderville
ualitative and quantitative data rarely exist in exclusivity in research. It is more common to see that a blend of these types of data collection co-exist in many research studies (Leedy & Ellis Ormrod, 2010). It is likely that one form over the other will direct the researcher to the more substantial, quality data they are looking for. In particular, qualitative data may be more useful than quantitative data when the results measured are opinion based, occur in a natural setting, or specifically need to use the researcher as an instrument for measuring data (Leedy & Ellis Ormrod).
The various methods of collecting qualitative research are: observations, interviews, documents and audio-visual materials (Creswell, 2009). According to Leedy and Ellis Omrod (2010), “…qualitative researchers often use multiple forms of data in any single study” (p. 145). There are unique advantages and disadvantages to each form of data collection:
- Advantages: real time recording of information, irregularities can be noticed, well suited for verbally uncomfortable topics, researcher directly observes the event.
- Disadvantages: researcher’s presence may disturb the natural experience, all data may not be usable due to confidentiality, and researcher error and bias.
- Advantages: good alternative to direct observation, past data can be collected, questions can lead to more specific answers.
- Disadvantages: opinions of interviewees may vary from actual events, out of natural environment, some interviewees may not be able to effectively communicate their experience.
- Advantages: permanent record of language and words, can be obtained and reviewed at researcher’s convenience, data is thoughtfully compiled.
- Disadvantages: some interviewees may not be able to effectively communicate their experience, not always assessable, can be hard to find, researcher must verify the completeness, accuracy and authenticity of documents.
- Advantages: unobtrusive, shares participant’s reality in a direct form, visual impact.
- Disadvantages: subjective, accessibility, and researcher’s presence may alter respondent’s responses (Creswell, 2009).
Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design (3 ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Leedy, P. D., & Ellis Ormrod, J. (2010). Practical Research (9 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.