Quantitative vs Qualitative Research Questions

Quantitative research questions are used in initial research, defining a research project for the right target audience. Qualitative questions are often open-ended and help answer “why” and gain context about quantifiable data and understand hard-to-quantify behaviors.

Qualitative research focuses on personalized behavior, such as habits or motivations behind their decisions. This can be gathered through contextual inquiries or interviews to learn more about feelings, attitudes, and habis that are harder to quantify but offer important additional context to support statistical data.

Quantitative research is about collecting information that can be expressed numerically. Researchers often use quantitative research to correlate data about specific demographics, such as surveys or web analytics; this often includes large volumes of people to ensure trends are statistically representative.

Quantitative Research QuestionsQualitative Research Questions
How does witnessing domestic violence impact a child’s romantic relationships in adulthood?
What is the relationship between sexual orientation or gender identity and homelessness for late adolescents in foster care?
How does income inequality affect ambivalence in high-density urban areas?
How does race impact rates of mental health diagnosis for children in foster care?
How do people who witness domestic violence understand how it affects their current relationships?
What is the experience of identifying as LGBTQ in the foster care system?
What does racial ambivalence mean to residents of an urban neighborhood with high income inequality?
How do African-Americans experience seeking help for mental health concerns?

Quantitative data collection methods

  • Surveys: List of closed or multiple choice questions that is distributed to a sample (online, in person, or over the phone).
  • Experiments: Situation in which variables are controlled and manipulated to establish cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Observations: Observing subjects in a natural environment where variables can’t be controlled.

Qualitative data collection methods

  • Interviews: Asking open-ended questions verbally to respondents.
  • Focus groups: Discussion among a group of people about a topic to gather opinions that can be used for further research.
  • Ethnography: Participating in a community or organization for an extended period of time to closely observe culture and behavior.
  • Literature review: Survey of published works by other authors.

CASE STUDY: The Laws of Ancient Societies

TASK: To use the past as a method for understanding and analyzing the “construction” of our current CJ system.

Product: A PowerPoint presentation (making use of information, images, videos, stats, etc.) consisting of the following:


  1. Pick three (3) laws/codes from the Ten Commandments, Hammurabi’s Code, The Ten Abominations, The Twelve Tables, or Justinian’s Code as the “subject” of your case study. NOTE: Your three laws/codes must come from the same “group” of laws/codes for the sake of continuity.
  2. The emphasis of your case study is naturalistic (or for the “real-life context” involved in your research).
  3. The goal of your case study is to draw on evidence from a single case (your chosen commandments/laws/codes) in order to uncover features of or draw conclusions about a broader set of cases (our current CJ system).


  1. Once you have chosen your three laws/codes from one of the “groups” of laws/codes, provide the following background info:
    1. Which early society the laws/codes came from (CONTEXT). Describe the society, in terms of geography, status/reputation in their region/the rest of the world, religion, demographic makeup, etc.
      1. This will require research about your chosen subject.
    1. The leader/leaders who brought the laws/codes about as well as their rationale for creating/disseminating the laws/codes.
      1. This will require research about your chosen subject.
    1. Describe how the legal process unfolded in this society—from the filing of a complaint, to the investigation of a crime, all the way to the making of an arrest. Did your chosen society have a formal policing system? A more informal one?
      1. Think back to the example of the Athenian society having more of a “volunteer” CJ system based more on personal responsibility rather than an “institution” of criminal justice.
      1. This will require research about your chosen subject.
  • After you provide background info, conduct the following analysis for EACH LAW/CODE:
    • Describe the necessity and logic behind the law/code. Why did this society feel the need to create a specific law/code for this particular offense?
      • Think back to lecture slides about Mesopotamian society’s view on adultery…
    • Describe the punishment for the law/code. Was there a punishment specific to this particular law/code or was there a general form of punishment for breaking the law in this particular ancient society?
      • This will require specific, targeted research for the society you have chosen as your “subject.”
  • Next, describe the effect of time on the laws/codes you have chosen. The goal here is to identify and analyze relevant connections to our own CJ system, using logic and reasoning. For this part include the following:
    • FOR EACH LAW/CODE: an example of how the law/code is relevant with regard to our CJ system. In what ways has our society adopted the spirit of the law/code? This analysis can highlight any part of the legal process from the labelling of crime to punishment.
      • Think about the example of “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (You should not lie), from Week #7’s lecture.
    • Consider the differences (if any) between the interpretation of the law/code in ancient society and our own.
    • FOR EACH LAW/CODE: describe the significance of adopting this law/code into our CJ system. Why are you highlighting this particular law/code?
      • Think, if it is a criminal law/code, does it consider the common good, or if it is a civil law/code, does it highlight more practical or legal implications for our society?
    • FOR EACH LAW/CODE: highlight a relevant case or legal issue in the U.S that is tied to the adopted law/code from the ancient world.
      • This will require research and citation.
  • Last, add two more laws/codes—which you feel need to be highlighted by our society—to the “group” of laws you have chosen as your subject. You will need to provide rationale for “adding” these two laws/codes to the existing “group.”
    • Think back to clip from “History of the World.”

*ALL SOURCES must be properly formatted in APA style, and this goes for in-text (parenthetical) citations and a full works cited (final slide of presentation).


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