Research Design: Quantitative And Qualitative Approach

Research is a systematic and scientific inquiry done by a variety of scientists of different academic desciplines for a variey of purposes. Research is a systematic process because it follows a general system whose elements are (1) identification of problems, (2) review of related literature, (3) data collections, (4) data analysis, and (5) drawing conclusions. Research is a scientific process because it follows a general set of procedures through which a systematic approach is implemented, beginning from the encounter of some problems in the first step to the drawing conclusions in the final step.

Research is an inquiry which has two components: process and product. The process is about an area of inquiry and how it is pursued. The product is the knowledge generated from the process.

Research can be conducted in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, government offices, companies, in the streets, markets etc. It is, therefore, important for any researcher to gain adequate knowledge and skills about the nature of research, the paradigms, and procedures. It is also important for reseachers to attain some technical and methodological competence so that they can go beyond the stage of general concepts and ideas to pursue research in a meaningful and correct ways.

Scholars believe there is a broad spectrum of research activities that utilize various research methods, ranging from a very simple research to a very complex one, both in positivism and interpretivism paradigms. Each brings methodological consequences and purposes. However, in spite of the complexity of methods and paradigms, according to Wiersma (…, : 3), in a general sense all research is oriented to one or both goals: the extension of knowledge and/or the solution of a problem.

This paper is designed primarily for an introductory course for students taking a research methodology both for undergraduate and post-graduate programs.

Research process requires a sequence of steps. The first step is selecting a topic, that is a general area of study or issue (i.e. divorce, crime, education, laws, management, language use, homelessness, etc). The selection of the topic is based on the program of the study, the area of the desciplines, the personal interest, the practical, theoretical contribution, and the institutional contributions).

1. DETERMINE THE PARADIGM (positivism or interpretivism)
Selecting research paradigms is the next step. Paradigm helps us understand phenomena: it advances assumptions about social world, how science should be conducted, and what constitutes legitimate problems, solutions, and criteria of “proof” (Firestone, 1978; Gioia & Pitre, 1990; Kuhn, 1970; in Cresswell, 1994: 1). Paradigm encompasses both theories and methods.

Different paradigm determines different onthological, epistemological, axiological, rhetorical and methodological asumption.

POSITIVISM is designed to be consistent with the assumption of QUANTITATIVE STUDY -> It is termed as:
1. the traditional,
2. the positivist,
3. the experimental,
4. the empiricist paradigm.

The quantitative thinkings come from an empiricist tradition established by such philoshopers as Comte, Mill, Durkheim, Newton, and Locke (Creswell, 1994: 4).
This study is defined to explain variables, to test theory or to determine whether a certain predictive theory holds true or not ( as done in SURVEYS of which objective is to examine the relationships between two or more variables; or in EXPERIMENT of which objective is to compare two or more different objects).
Quantitative study is based on testing theory composed of variables, measured with numbers, and analyzed with statistical procedures.

INTERPRETIVISM is designed to be consistent with the assumption of QUALITATIVE STUDY -> It is termed as:
1. the constructivist or naturalistic approach (Lincoln & Guba, 1985),
2. the interpretive approach (J. Smith, 1983)
3. the postpositivist or postmodern perspective (Quantz, 1992).

This study is defined to UNDERSTAND a particular social or human problem, situation, events, role, group, or interaction, based on building a complex, holistic picture, formed with words, reporting detailed views of informants, and conducted in a natural setting (as done in ETHNOGRAPHY, CASE STUDIES, GROUNDED THEORY, and PHENOMENOLOGY).

Besides, it is an investigative process where the researcher gradually makes sense of a social phenomenon by:
1. contrasting,
2. comparing,
3. replicating,
4. cataloguing, and
5. classifying the objects of the study.

1. DETERMINE THE FOCUS OF THE STUDY. –> Focus of the study is the most important part in a scholarly work. It may emerge from an extensive literature review, be suggested by colleagues, researchers, advisors, or practical experiences. A good research begins with straightforward, uncomplicated thoughts, easily read and understood.

1. DRAFT A RESEARCH TITLE. -> Some suggest that the title be saved at the end after the research is proceeded. However, writing a working draft title at the beginning is important to position the central concept before the project starts. Undoubtedly, this working title will be modified as one proceeds the project. Some guidelines for a good title, as suggested by Wilkinson (1991), are as follows:
1. be brief
2. avoid wasting words
3. eliminate unnecessary words such as:
“ An Approach to ….”,
“ A Study of ….”.
“ An Ethnography: Understanding a Child’s Perception of War”, “An Analysis on …” etc.
1. Eliminate most articles
2. Make sure it includes the focus or topic of the study
3. Use not more than 12 words.

1. Make sure if the topic is researchable by using the following considerations:
1. Is the topic researchable, given time, resources, and availability of data?
2. Is there a personal interest in the topic in order to sustain attention?
3. Will the results from the study be of interest to others ( e.g. , in the state, region, nation, university)?
4. Is the topic likely to be published in a scholarly journal? (attractive to an academic community?)
5. Does the study (a) fill a void, (b) replicate, (c) extend, or (d) develop new ideas in the schloarly literature?
6. Will the project contribute to career goals?

Having considered those factors, a researcher needs to ask others for
their reactions and comments to the topic. Seek reactions from:
a. colleagues,
b. noted authorities in the field,
c. academic advisors, and
d. faculty committee and colleagues.

1. Formulate the Background of the Study

1. Formulate the Research Question(s)
The topic or focus of research is still large, so it must be narrowed down into a spesific research problem/question.

1. Formulating Theoretical Perspective
Kerlinger (1979: 64) defines theory as “a set of interrelated constructs (variables), definitions, and propositions that presents a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables, with the purpose of explaining phenomena”.
The functions of theory in Quantitative and Qualitative Research are different due to the nature of the paradigms. In Quantitative Research, where researchers use accepted and precise meanings, a theory is used deductively and placed at the beginning of the plan of the research. One thus begins the study advancing a theory, collects data to test it, and reflects on whether the theory is confirmed or disconfirmed by the results of the study.

According to Creswell (1994: 88), a theory becomes a framework for the entire study. It can be placed in the introduction section, in the review of related literature, immediately after hypotheses, or research questions, or in a separate section of the study.

Therefore, it is often called a theory base, a theoretical rationale, or a
theoretical perspective.

Theories vary in terms of their scope. Merriam (in Creswell, 1994: 83) groups theories into three types: (1) Grand Theories (attempt to explain large categories of phenomena and are most common in natural sciences, example, Darwin’s theory of evolution), (2) Midle-Range Theories (fall between minor working hypotheses of everyday life and the all-inclusive grand theories, example, life span development theories), (3) Substantive Theories (restricted to a particular setting, group, time, population, or problem).
The form of theories might be a series of hypotheses, “if ….then” logic statements, such as “The higher her rank, the greater her influence”.

A theory can be stated as a series of “If ….then statements”, such as “If the frequency of interaction between two or more persons increases, the more they will know each other – both their respect and sentiments”.

In Qualitative Research a theory is treated differently as that in Quantitative approach. In Qualitative Approach, one does not begin with a theory to test or verify. Instead, a theory may emerge during the data collection and analysis phase of the research, or even be used relatively late in the research process as a basis for comparison with other theories.

Using an inductive model of thinking, one will build a new theory by gathering detailed information, forming categories or themes until a theory or pattern emerges.

1. Formulate the Intent, Purpose or the Objetive of the Study
2. Significance of the Study
3. Delimitation and the Limitation of the Study
4. Definitions of the Terms
5. Data Analysis. ( There are several types and procedures of data analysis in Qualitative Approach. ………….Creswell. 156)








The nature of reality

Reality is objective and singular, apart from the researcher

Reality is subjective and multiple as seen by participants in a study

The Relationship of the Reasearcher to the Researched object

Researcher is independent from the object being researched

Researcher interacts with the object being researched

The Role of Values Reality

Value-free and unbiased

Value-boud and biased

The Process of Research

– Deductive process

– Cause and effect

– Static Design —

categories isolated

before study

– Context-free

– Generalizations

leading to prediction

and explanation

– Accurate, and reliable

through validity and


– Inductive process

– Mutual simultaneous

shaping of factors

– Context –bound

– Emerging design—

categories identified

during research


– Patterns- theories

developed for


– Accurate and reliable

through verification

The Language of Research


– Based on set


– Impersonal voice

– Use of accepted

quantitative words or

terms (such as affect,

influence, determine,

cause, relate,

compare, correlate,

and impact)


– Evolving decisions

– Personal voice

– Accepteed qualitative

words or terms (such

as understanding,

discover, meaning,


The Process of Formulating the Problem

From literature, information to the related object is provided, variables are known, theories are tested

The problem needs to be explored, as little information exists on the topic, the variables are unknown, the theories are generated

Research Design

1. Surveys (include cross sectional and longitudinal studies using questionnaires or structured interviews for data collection with the intent of generalizing from a sample to a population. The objective is to examine the relationships between two or more groups of variables).

2. Experiment (include true experiments with the random assigment of subjects to treatment conditions and quasi experiments that use nonrandomized design. The objective is to compare two or more groups of different objects) to get generalization.

3. Ex Post facto research (now called a causal comparative research where a researcher attempts to determine the possible cause-effect relationship by observing some existing consequences 9ocuring events) and searching back through data. The researcher does not have direct control of independent variables because they have already occurred.

4. Historical research (a critical inqury of which product is the narration or description of past events and facts. The purpose is to reconstruct the past events objectively and accurately often in relation to the tenability of a hypothesis.

1. Ethnography (a researcher studies an intact cultural group in a natural setting in a long period of time by collecting, primarily, observational data). The research process is flexible and typically evolves contextually in response to the lived realities). The objective is to understand reality.

2. Grounded Theory (a researcher conducts multiple stages of data collection and the refinement and interrelationship of categories of information. The primary characteristics of this design are the constant of comparison of data with emerging categories, and theoretical sampling of different groups to maximize the similarities and differences). The final objective is to derive a theory.

3. Case Study ( a researcher explores a single entity (or a case or phenomenon) bounded by time and activity ( a program, events, process, institution, or social group) and collect detailed information by using a variety of data collection procedures during a sustained period of time. The Objective is to explore social phenomena.

4. Phenomenology (a researcher examines human lived experiences through detailed description of the people being studied (informants). The procedure involves studying a small number of subjects through extensive and prolonged engagement to develop patterns and relationship of meanings. The objective is to describe human experiences.

Research Criteria to fulfill









Research sequence

The Objective in relation to theory

To test or verify theory

To develop, to generate or to construct theory

Published by:
M. Asrori Ardiansyah, M.Pd
Lecture in Malang Indonesia



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