Qualitative versus Quantitative Research

Two predominant types of methods are available for crime analysts, as well as other criminologists. Those are quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative research is typically considered to be the more scientific approach to doing social science (Tewksbury, 2009). The focus in quantitative research is on using specific definitions and carefully operationalizing what particular concepts and variables mean. Quantitative research usually involves statistics and data that can be scored and presented easily on graphs or in tables. Qualitative research methods, on the other hand, provide more emphasis on interpretation and providing consumers with complete views, looking at contexts, environmental immersions, and a depth of understanding of concepts (Tewskbury, 2009).

Tewskbury (2009) argued that because of the differences in data, how data are collected and analyzed, and what the data and analyses are able to tell us about our subjects of study, the knowledge gained through qualitative investigations is more informative, richer, and offers enhanced understanding compared with that which can be obtained via quantitative research.

At its most basic, qualitative research focuses on the meanings, traits, and defining characteristics of events, people, interactions, settings and cultures, and experience.

Strategic crime analysts must use qualitative methods in order to gain a true understanding of the social aspects of how crime occurs and how the agents, structures, and processes of responding to crime operate in culturally grounded contexts. Thus, qualitative methods provide a depth of understanding of issues that is not possible through the use of quantitative, statistically based investigations. Therefore, if trends are to be understood and lead to problem solutions, then qualitative methods must be utilized.

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