Before giving an opinion on this statement it is worth looking at both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Qualitative research methods can be described as an attempt to explain behavior in a holistic approach. It is concentrated on the ‘why’, not the ‘how’ of a topic, by analyzing the unstructured information. Qualitative studies are usually conducted on a small scale and used to explore a hypothesis. In qualitative research what matters most is that was said than how many times something happened. Qualitative research seeks to understand the deeply hidden motivations of the target group. They allow obtaining the knowledge about the (emotional) sensitivity thresholds, barriers, attitudes, evaluations, desires and needs of the target group. These methods are therefore mainly used when there is a need for in-depth information. The so called projection techniques are often used in qualitative research that allows you to ask questions in an indirect way. This form of questions (“not direct”) encourages the participants to transfer (project) their hidden or unconscious motives, beliefs, attitudes and feelings associated with the test subject. The basic projection techniques are: associations with the brand association with pictures, a portrait of Chinese, completion is pictures, personification, collage.
The advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative research:
Advantages: Uses subjective information, it is not limited to the rigidly definable variables, exploring new areas of research, and building new theories.
Disadvantages: ‘Classical’ researchers can have difficulties in understanding this kind of research, there is an unavoidable risk of building up a researcher bias, very difficult to replicate.
In psychology Qualitative methods concentrate on categorising and describing the data, are used to analyse text, conversation or speech (interviews very often recorded or taped). Data is most often collected in natural settings and in field experiments. Qualitative methods produce flexible and subjective data. Transferring the speech into writing is very time consuming and has to be done very accurately.
Quantitative studies allow measuring the extent of the phenomenon, in terms of quantitative variables. Hence, the question most often correspond to how many, who and where.
The main aim of the quantitative research methods is to determine the relationship between two things: a dependent or outcome variable, and an independent variable, in a population. Quantitative research designs can be either experimental (subjects measured before and after a treatment) or descriptive (subjects usually measured once). Experiment are used to establishes causality, whereas descriptive studies are used to establish only the associations the between variables. It often requires recruiting hundreds or even thousands of participants (which reduces the likelihood of biases).
Advantages: comprehensive answer can be reached after statistical analysis, results may be legally published and discussed, if the study was properly designed, then the results produced, can be viewed as unbiased and real.
Disadvantages: can be very expensive, and extremely time consuming, need to be carefully planned, very often extensive statistic analysis is necessary. Can be a give a very hard time to non mathematicians. Most of the time produces only yes or no response.
Researchers can also use mixed method designs, which are the combinations of both qualitative and quantitative research methods, at all stages of data collection and analysis. The main advantage of using this method is that it overcomes the downsides of both qualitative and quantitative on their own.
After looking at both research methods none of them is more or less scientific, because both have advantages and disadvantages. Just because qualitative methods don’t use numbers straight away, and that they do not involve testing 1000 participants it does not simply mean it is less scientific. Qualitative methods provide with more details about the problem, and details that any researcher would have never been able to gain using quantitative research.
– Brink, H. (1991). Quantitative vs. qualitative research. Nursing RSA, 6, 14-18.