The differences between qualitative and quantitative inquiry are essentially that one, quantitative, is oriented towards the quantity of facts, what the statistical evidence tells us about a question under study and results that can be replicated. While qualitative inquiry focuses on the quality of the subject under study. Specifically in quantitative data according to our textbook quantitative methods require the use of standardized measures of inquiry resulting in ".broad, generalizable set of findings presented succinctly and parsimoniously (Patton, 2001, 14)." Qualitative data is not as elegant in its pithy statistical summary of the facts, but what it lacks in brevity I believe it makes up for in richness. The quality of the insights generated is what matters, not the number of such insights (Patton, 2001, 7). There is certainly value to each approach or a combination of the two depending on the subject under study. However, I may be biased towards the qualitative approach that provides the opportunity for rich, narrative detail and/or the personal voice and story of the subjects.
The open-ended question is a valuable tool in qualitative inquiry because it allows the subjects under study to share their feelings, perceptions, and insights in their own terms. The variability of responses is desirable because it helps the researcher to understand how the subjects define their world and the context and meaning of their experience. In quantitative data open-ended questions do not lend themselves easily to systematic, raw data analysis or the creation of a broad, standardized method of analysis. .
Triangulation enhances the scientific value of qualitative inquiry by increasing the credibility of the findings because of the numerous methods of collecting data. Triangulation involves the use of interviews, observations and documents. If the findings of each methodology do not yield consistent information it provides a check and balance for the researcher and it also increases the researchers understanding and knowledge of the subject under inquiry.