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Twelve Angry Men

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An examination of the quantitative and qualitative paradigms will help to identify their strengths and weaknesses and how their divergent approaches can complement each other. In most cases, researchers fall into one of the two camps--either relying exclusively upon "objective" survey questionnaires and statistical analyses and eschewing warm and fuzzy qualitative methods, or using only qualitative methodologies, rejecting the quantitative approach as decontextualizing human behaviour. However, social researchers recognise that each approach has positive attributes, and that combining different methods can result in gaining the best of both research worlds.

Quantitative research uses methods adopted from the physical sciences that are designed to ensure objectivity, generalizability and reliability. These techniques cover the ways research participants are selected randomly from the study population in an unbiased manner, the standardised questionnaire or intervention they receive and the statistical methods used to test predetermined hypotheses regarding the relationships between specific variables. The researcher is considered external to the actual research, and results are expected to be replicable no matter who conducts the research.

The strengths of the quantitative paradigm are that its methods produce quantifiable, reliable data that are usually generalizable to some larger population. Quantitative measures are often most appropriate for conducting needs assessments or for evaluations comparing outcomes with baseline data. This paradigm breaks down when the phenomenon under study is difficult to measure or quantify. The greatest weakness of the quantitative approach is that it decontextualizes human behaviour in a way that removes the event from its real world setting and ignores the effects of variables that have not been included in the model.

Qualitative research methodologies are designed to provide the researcher with



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