More thoughts on qualitative/quantitative research

All attempts to capture another’s phenomenological experience, either in a relatively bottom-up manner, through unstructured discourse (“qual”?) or more top-down through a questionnaire (“quant”?) get stuck eventually. You still can’t really know what it feels like to be the other.

Giving people a chance to go outside standardized questions makes it more likely an important experience will be reported. But we all have similar experiences; a lot can I think be gained by trying to capture the commonality. Basic questions can be answered like how many people (report) feel(ing) a particular way, how frequently, and how many of those enjoy, can cope with, or are bothered by the feeling. Simply knowing this population-level information can be helpful at an individual level.

The “quant” end is as subjective as the “qual” end of research. Data needs interpretation and the stats doesn’t know how to do that. Two people presented with the same ANOVA can and often do come to different conclusions as they think about the context around a study.


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