ERIC Number: ED210285
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979
Reference Count: 0
On the Distinction Between Quantitative and Qualitative Research.
Smith, P. L.
Quantitative and qualitative research are differing modes of measurement, one using numbers and the other not. The assignment of numerals to represent properties enables a researcher to distinguish minutely between different properties. The major issue dividing these approaches to empirical research represents a philosophical dispute which has traditionally been resolved in one of four ways. In classical metaphysics, qualities have been conceived as objective, non-natural properties. They are seen as objective facts which reside outside of nature and cannot be known through experience, or studied scientifically. In phenomalism, qualities have been conceived as subjective and could not be studied rationally or scientifically. Subjective, rather than objective, reality is important to this method. In positivism, qualities have been conceived as objective natural properties ultimately reducible to quantities. This view considers qualities as such to be a function of perception. Abstract ideas are meaningful to the positivist only if they can be defined in terms of concrete, particular things. The pragmatic view maintains qualities can be studied scientifically, as well as rationally. This view thinks of the empirical world as encompassing features that are inherently abstract. The author believes pragmatism provides the strongest case for qualitative research. (DWH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Metaphysics; Pragmatism; Qualitative Research; Quantitative Research