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Bringing Data to Life

Posted on February 16, 2006

Barbara H. Fiese (bio) shares how qualitative and quantitative analyses can be used together to give a more comprehensive view.


Using qualitative and quantitative analyses together, I kind of chuckle because when I talk to qualitative researchers, they think I'm way too quantitative, and when I talk to quantitative researchers they think I'm way too qualitative. It's kind of balancing between the two. I don't really see them as diametrically opposed. I see each sometimes being able to answer different questions or to be able to illustrate sort of the quantitative findings that you have. I've made it a practice that in those cases where I have quantitative data and do standard regression models, I then go back to the source material. And a lot of times the source material are interviews or observations that I have. What I try to do is I try to pull examples to illustrate what those numbers might be about, and then it gives me as a researcher, it gives me a more comprehensive view of what's going on. I don't really have a value that one is good and one is bad. I think if they work in concert with each other, you can really bring to life these very complicated path analyses that people do. It has to do with sort of jumping inside the system and being outside the system. So sometimes you need to be inside and listen to the narratives to get the examples. Sometimes you need to be on the outside and look at the quantitative approach and see what these patterns are like over time and if they're related to very important outcomes because that's also part of the business that we're in.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in April 2005.


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