SSGS300 : Solution Essays

300 words agree or disagree to each question


There are several different approaches when conducting collection and data analysis: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. While questionnaires are very helpful in many different forms of research studies, researchers can also observe phenomena by using one of their senses such as sight or sound. Collecting data of this type is called direct observation and there are two categories of direct observation: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative observations differ from quantitative observations in that they cannot be recorded using numbers and facts.  Qualitative observations are unstructured and broad, focusing on anything the researchers deems credible to a study (Ellis, et all., 2009). There are six types of qualitative observations: participant observations, ethnographic observations, case studies, archaeological data, focus groups, and naturalistic animal studies. 

Participant observations consist of a researcher integrate themselves in their own study’s environment, an example of this would be a researcher living with the homeless to determine how certain facets of their lives differ from home-owners or renters. There are few guidelines on how to conduct participant observation studies, however it is important for participant observers “not to influence the course of events being observed” (Ellis, et all., 2009). Ethnographic observations are typically carried out to learn more about certain cultures and societies. Observing a certain ritual amongst an Amazonian tribe would be considered an ethnographic observation.  Ethnographic observations have also had issues with reliability for a variety of reasons, such as bias by researchers or too small of a sample size. Case studies are simply written studies on a specific individual or group. An example of this would be researching the effects of CTE in in former professional football player Aaron Hernandez in an effort to determine if his brain damage affected his impulse to commit murder. Focus groups consist of a group of about a dozen participants being led by a facilitator to discuss a particular subject (Ellis, et all., 2009).  Archaeological data collection consists of fossils and artifacts of the deceased. Naturalistic animal studies can be both qualitative and quantitative. 

Quantitative direct observations focus on numbers and facts for summary purposes and “emphasize data that cannot be disputed because it can objectively measured” (APUS, 2016). One of the major advantages of quantitative direct observations is that differences between studies on the same phenomena can be clarified more easily with repetitive studies.  Furthermore, quantitative observations can be broken down into two categories: laboratory/clinical and field observations. In a laboratory observation, the researcher has control over the physical space (Ellis, et all., 2009).  Field observations take place outside a laboratory and can be non-manipulative which involves observing without interference, or manipulative which consists of altering aspects. Mixed-methods studies simply means using a mix of both qualitative and quantitative methods. There are many advantages to using mixed-methods studies. For instance, qualitative methods “can be used as the exploratory portion of a larger quantitative study” (Ellis, et all., 2009, as cited in Pope & Mays, 1995). Combining the results of both methods can help balance results and lead to further inquiry.

It is difficult for me to choose a method that I would find useful for a study because it would depend on what topic I decided to research. “Quantitative researchers’ questions are carefully scrutinized for “biasing” possibilities, while qualitative researchers’ have to be stripped of the emotionally upsetting” (Johnson & Rowlands, 2012).  If I had to choose which one interests me most, I would say qualitative, for a couple of reasons. For one, precise numbers on a certain topic don’t particularly excite me. While quantitative methods provide extremely useful data, I’m more intrigued with thoroughly understanding the background of phenomena utilizing my senses, making observations, and recording.  I think participant observations would be fascinating, educational, and rewarding. Enmeshing yourself in another social process and seeing how others react and respond to different things is interesting to myself. I also would enjoy taking part in ethnographic observations, because the way other cultures and societies live peaks my interest. One example of this is a personal interest of mine. I enjoy reading books on the La Cosa Nostra (American Mafia). I’m interested to know how they recruit new members, induction ceremonies and how they are structured to limit the effects of prosecution from law enforcement. 




APUS. (2016). Theoretical perspective: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods.

Ellis, L., Hartley, R. D., & Walsh, A. (2009). Research methods in criminal justice and criminology: An interdisciplinary approach. Retrieved from

Johnson, J. & Rowlands, T. (2012). The interpersonal dynamics of in-depth interviewing. The SAGE handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781452218403


For this week’s forum, we have been asked to discuss the differences between the three major approaches surrounding the collection and analysis of the day. The three primary approaches used by researchers are quantitative research, qualitative research, and the more modern approach of mixing quantitative and qualitative research. All three approaches are methods of data collection used by researchers. Ideally, if time and money allowed, researchers would use both qualitative and quantitative research since they provide different viewpoints and usually complement each other. Quantitative research is measured with numbers and statistics usually to look for the cause and effects of a problem or researcher hypothesis. Qualitative research is exploratory in definition and used to explore and discover. The focus of quantitative research has a more global view and qualitative research has a more narrow view. Qualitative data is presented in a narrative format as opposed to quantitative data presented with statistics and graphs. Moving on to mixed methods of gathering data, qualitative methods could be used as the exploratory portion of a more extensive quantitative study. For example, Ellis, Hartley, & Walsh (2009) described how the mixed-method approach was utilized for a study of both men and women in the U.S. military. The study by Laura Miller (1997) used unstructured interviews (qualitative method) and questionnaire data (quantitative method) to gather data which allowed her to form comparisons into qualitative terms to clarify and elaborate on the statistical information she gathered.

Conventional methods for acquiring qualitative and quantitative data for research include using surveys, historical research, phenomenological methods, ethnographic methods, grounded theory, or case studies (Ellis et al., 2009). The narrative research method involves a researcher accumulating information captured from individuals or groups of people about their lives through storytelling or autobiographical writings, etc. A phenomenological method of gathering data involves a researcher gathering information through interviews or observations of an actual cultural group in their natural setting over a lengthy period (Gubrium, 2012). An ethnographic research method of data gathering involves a researcher observing behavior in person. The grounded theory involves the methodical collection and analysis of data. A researcher develops their theory only after all the data has been collected and analyzed thoroughly. Finally, researchers use case studies based on an in-depth investigation of a single individual or group or event to explore the cause of an underlying ideology. Most likely, the use of mixed methods will be used to gather information for my research proposal due in part to the limited research already out there on the topic. Some case studies and quantitative data will best meet the scope of the data needed.


Michael K.

Ellis, L., Hartley, R. D., & Walsh, A. (2009). Research methods in criminal justice and criminology : An interdisciplinary approach. Retrieved from

Gubrium, J. F., Holstein, J. A., Marvasti, A. B. & McKinney, K. D  (Eds.) (2012). Interviewing as social interaction. In. The SAGE handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781452218403.

Miller, L.L. (1997). Not just weapons of the weak: Gender Harassment as a form of protest for army men. Social Psychology Quarterly, 60, 32-51.

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