A research project can be qualitative or quantitative. Data analysis in a research is crucial. Whether you use qualitative or quantitative data analysis method for your accounting research project is dependent on the type of research you are carrying on.
Accounting research projects and other research project in the social science field and management field usually requires a balance in the choice of quantitative and qualitative data analysis. Most research projects would give a better finding if the qualitative data analysis is used e.g. writing an undergraduate research project on “The Role of Corporate Governance in Improving Business Performance” while others would be better off with a quantitative data analysis e.g. “The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on a Firm’s Profitability”.
In this article, we are going to consider writing a research project (whether an undergraduate research project or post graduate research project) using either or both of the qualitative or quantitative data analysis.
QUANTITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
Quantitative data analysis is used when quantitative research methodology is engaged. This method is characterized by collecting numerical information or information which can only be analysed numerically. Results from this kind of research is usually presented using tables, statistics instruments (e.g. mean, median, mode etc.) and graphs (barcharts, pie charts etc.). The purpose of quantitative research method is to test already stated hypotheses and produce generally applicable results.
The quantitative research method uses mostly scientific measurement and since data is numeric, a representative sample is commonly used to collect and analyse data pertaining to the whole population.
Quantitative data analysis should be used in the following cases:
- When hypotheses about any phenomena has to be confirmed.
- When instruments employed use a more rigid style of classifying responses to questions.
- When data collection methods like questionnaires, surveys, and structured observation is used.
- When the analytical objective is to quantify variation, predict causal relationships and describe characteristics of a population.
- When a questions administered in the questionnaires are close-ended.
- When data format is numeric or obtained by allocating numerical values to responses.
- When the research design is not flexible such that respondents’ response do not influence how researchers ask each research questions and the research design is subject to statistical assumptions and conditions.Recommended: Hire an expert to write your undergraduate/post-graduate research project here
Generally, using quantitative data analysis for your research project requires an in depth comprehension of the relevant questions to ask, the most appealing approach to ask them and a projection of the range of possible answers.
This approach is advantageous in that is uses numeric estimates, makes room for relatively uncomplicated data analysis, data are verifiable. However, it has some drawbacks like using labour intensive approach to data collection, limit in participation of desired respondents and gap in information (i.e. excluding issues not included in the questionnaire etc.).
QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
Qualitative data analysis is used for a qualitative research. This type of research is exploratory and is used when what to expect is not known, or definition of issues is dicey, or there isn’t a full grasp of why and how affected populations are impacted by a phenomenon.
Qualitative data are in most cases literal observations that describe approaches, views and intents and they are analysed using such tools that will aid meaningful conclusion. This type of data analysis in a research project is based on empirical investigation and evidence.
Qualitative data analysis explores relationships between two entities studied and provides added value in identifying and exploring intangible factors such as cultural expectations, gender roles, ethnic and religious implications and individual feelings. Therefore, using the qualitative approach for any accounting research project, the qualitative sample must be big enough to ensure that most or all of the important perceptions are included.
Qualitative data analysis should be used in the following cases:
- When the general framework of the research seeks to explore a particular phenomenon.
- When instruments used are more flexible for eliciting and categorizing responses to questions.
- When semi-structured methods such as in-depth interviews, focus groups and participant observation approach is engaged.
- When the analytical objectives of the research project are to describe variation or explain relationships.
- When question format on questionnaire is open-ended.
When data format is textual and not numeric (e.g. data obtained from field notes or video and audio tapes etc.)
- When the research design is flexible such that respondents’ responses affect how and which questions to be asked and research questions can be adjusted according to knowledge acquired on the research.
Sometimes data originally gotten as qualitative information about items may become quantitative data if they are categorized numerically and on the other way round, quantitative data can be also grouped into categories to become qualitative data.
Data obtained through qualitative methods are mostly presented inform of case studies and results presented in graphs, charts, tables etc.
Qualitative data analysis approach to a research project is advantageous in that it provides rich and detailed information about affected populations; the data collection process does not require vast numbers of respondents and data collection process can be carried out with limited resources. However, it has the following drawbacks: results cannot be objectively verified; it involves a labour intensive analysis process and enquires skilled interviewers to successfully carry out the data collection.
It is important to consider the nature of your research project and the resources at your disposal before choosing whether or not to use the quantitative research method or the qualitative research method.