Monday, 20 March 2017

Qualitative & Quantitative Research Method in Mass Media

Qualitative & Quantitative Research in Mass Media

Qualitative & Quantitative Research Method
Qualitative & Quantitative Research Method

Mass media research, like all research, can be qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative research involves several methods of data collection, such as focus groups, field observation, in-depth interviews, and case studies. In all of these methods, the questioning approach is varied. In other words, although the researcher enters the project with a specific set of questions, follow-up questions are developed as needed. The variables in qualitative research may or may not be measured or quantified.

When to use it

In some cases, qualitative research has certain advantages. The methods allow a researcher to view behavior in a natural setting without the artificiality that sometimes surrounds experimental or survey research. In addition, qualitative techniques can increase a researcher’s depth of understanding of the phenomenon under investigation.

This is especially true when the phenomenon has not been investigated previously. Finally, qualitative methods are flexible and allow the researcher to pursue new areas of interest. A questionnaire is unlikely to provide data about questions that were not asked, but a person conducting a field observation or focus group might discover facets of a subject that were not considered before the study began.

However, some disadvantages are associated with qualitative methods. First, sample sizes are sometimes too small (sometimes as small as one) to allow the researcherto generalize the data beyond the sample selected for the particular study. For this reason, qualitative research is often the preliminary step to further investigation rather than the final phase of a project. The information collected from qualitative methods is often used to prepare a more elaborate quantitative analysis, although the qualitative data may in fact be all the information needed for a particular study.

Data reliability can also be a problem, since single observers are describing unique events. Because a person conducting qualitative research must become closely involved the respondents, it is possible to lose objectivity when collecting data. A researcher who becomes too close to the study may lose the necessary professional detachment.

Finally, if qualitative research is not properly planned, the project may produce nothing of value. Qualitative research appears to be easy to conduct, but projects must be carefully designed to ensure that they focus on key issues. 

Quantitative research also involves several methods of data collection, such as telephone surveys, mail surveys, and Internet surveys. In these methods, the questioning is static or standardized—all respondents are asked the same questions and there is no opportunity for follow-up questions.

In the past, some researchers claimed that the difference between qualitative and quantitative research related to only two things:
1. Qualitative research uses smaller samples of subjects or respondents.
2. Because of the small sample size, results from qualitative research could not be generalized to the population from which the samples were drawn. 

Qualitative research, the fact is that sample sizes in both qualitative and quantitative can be the same.
Quantitative research requires that the variables under consideration be measured.

This form of research is concerned with how often a variable is present and generally uses numbers to communicate this amount. Quantitative research has certain advantages. One is that the use of numbers allows greater precision in reporting results. For example, the Violence Index (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorielli, 1980), a quantitative measuring device, makes it possible to report the exact increase or decrease in violence from one television season to another, whereas qualitative research could report only whether there was more or less violence.

For the past several years, some friction has existed in the mass media field and in other disciplines between those who favor quantitative methods and those who prefer qualitative methods. Most researchers have now come to realize that both methods are important in understanding any phenomenon. In fact, the term triangulation, commonly used by marine navigators, frequently emerges in conversations about communication research. If a ship picks up signals from only one navigational aid, it is impossible to know the vessel’s precise location. However, if signals from more than one source are detected, elementary geometry can be used to pinpoint the ship’s location. In this book, the term triangulation refers to the use of both qualitative methods and quantitative methods to fully understand the nature of a research problem. Although most of this book is concerned with skills relevant to quantitative research, we do not imply that quantitative research is in any sense better than qualitative research.

It is not. Each approach has value, and the decision to use one or the other depends on the goals of the research.

Mass Media Research Introductory: By Roger D. Wimmer, Joseph R. Dominick