In general, qualitative research generates rich, detailed and valid process data that contribute to the in-depth understanding of a context. Quantitative research, on the other hand, generates reliable population-based and generalizable data that is suited to establishing cause-and-effect relationships. The decision of whether to choose a quantitative or a qualitative design is ultimately a philosophical question. Which methods to choose will depend on the nature of the project, the type of information needed the context of the study and the availability of resources (time, money, and human).
Qualitative research has a long history in sociology and has been used within it for as long as the field itself has existed. This type of research has long appealed to social scientists because it allows the research to investigate the meanings that people attribute to their behavior, actions, and interactions with others. While quantitative research is useful for identifying relationships between variables, like, for example, the connection between poverty and racial hate , it is qualitative research that can illuminate why this connection exists by going directly to the source -- the people themselves.
The Qualitative Report (ISSN 1052-0147) is a peer-reviewed, on-line monthly journal devoted to writing and discussion of and about qualitative, critical, action, and collaborative inquiry and research. The Qualitative Report , the oldest multidisciplinary qualitative research journal in the world, serves as a forum and sounding board for researchers, scholars, practitioners, and other reflective-minded individuals who are passionate about ideas, methods, and analyses permeating qualitative, action, collaborative, and critical study. These pages are open to a variety of forms: original, scholarly activity such as qualitative research studies, critical commentaries, editorials, or debates concerning pertinent issues and topics; news of networking and research possibilities; and other sorts of journalistic and literary shapes which may interest and pique readers.