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Are online surveys qualitative or quantitative?

It's realistic that you want to know what kind of research you're contributing to before you sign up. This starts with one preliminary question: Are paid surveys qualitative or quantitative? While most surveys you'll find online will be one of these two, the majority will be quantitative. This is for various reasons that mostly have to do with the ease of distributing quantitative questionnaires and the scope with which the tests are administered. 

For a better understanding, here are the basic differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Qualitative research
According to The British Library Board, qualitative research focuses mainly on how individuals feel. It is the starting point a business may take before tackling any project, or the research that is required to find out how people feel on a very general level that can then be studied further with more specific questions. Qualitative questions are often broad and open-ended. They are primarily used in focus groups or in one-on-one interviews. Participants are encouraged to explain their feelings about a particular subject and discuss motivations that led them to this feeling. The answers are very individualized and in general cannot be used for statistical analysis. Nonetheless, responses steer researchers in a particular direction and motivate them to explore a certain concept in more detail.

Quantitative research
Once the grounds are laid to explore a particular subject, surveys, structured interviews and questionnaires that are much more standardized can be administered to a larger population to get statistical data. This is what quantitative research is from a very general perspective. Many questions are closed-ended. For example, your answer to a question may be a choice between option A, B or C, or you may be asked to rate a product or device on a scale from 1 to 10. You still give your opinion, but it is fixed into a predetermined construction that rarely allows you to elaborate or go into an in-depth analysis of a topic. 

In short, qualitative research is the way in which organizations discover how people feel about something very generally and why. It creates a topic to be explored. Quantitative research then researches that topic further by gathering the opinions and thoughts of a high amount of other individuals in a manner that is easy to quantify and build statistics with. 

In this way, paid online surveys could technically be either qualitative or quantitative, but you are more likely to be involved in a quantitative study. To tell the difference, a qualitative study would ask you more general questions to discover how you feel about a product or service. You would typically respond by writing an answer with very little direction. Your response would then be used to build a specific questionnaire that would be given to dozens of other individuals. If you're taking a survey with closed responses that allow slight variation and cover very specific criteria, it is likely quantitative. 


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