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COMM 300: Research Methods in Communication

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research relies primarily on the collection of quantitative data and has its own, unique set of assumptions and normative practices. Quantitative research usually assumes that human behavior exhibits some lawfulness and predictability that can be documented through empirical research. Goals include to describe, to predict, and to explain human phenomena. Quantitative researchers often try to study behavior under controlled conditions via experiments, in order to isolate the causal effects of independent variables. Popular methods of quantitative research are experimental research, survey research, and structured observational research.

Source: Quantitative research. (2009). In L. E. Sullivan (Ed.), The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from​

Subject headings 

Quantitative Research

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is an approach to research that is primarily concerned with studying the nature, quality, and meaning of human experience. It asks questions about how people make sense of their experiences, how people talk about what has happened to them and others, and how people experience, manage, and negotiate situations they find themselves in. Qualitative research is interested both in individual experiences and in the ways in which people experience themselves as part of a group. Qualitative data take the form of accounts or observations, and the findings are presented in the form of a discussion of the themes that emerged from the analysis. Numbers are very rarely used in qualitative research.

Source: Willig, C. (2016). Qualitative research. In L. H. Miller (Ed.), The Sage encyclopedia of theory in psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from

Subject headings

Qualitative Research