I want to start by excusing the title – I am, of course, not implying that you are idiots. I have however been carrying out a lot of interviews recently and I noticed that many people – even some people working in the area of research and international development – get a bit muddled up about different types of research methods. In particular, quite a few people think that ‘quantitative’ research is synonymous with ‘experimental’ research. Not so. In fact, as I have discussed before, qualitative/quantitative and experimental/non-experimental are two different axes. For ease, I have created a wee table to demonstrate this below.
Sorry, I know that this is a deeply nerdy blog post and I promise to try to make the next one more entertaining. On the other hand, at least if you are going to have a job interview with a mean person like me who might ask you to describe different types of research, you now have a handy crib sheet! You are welcome.
*Non-experimental approaches are also described by some (including DFID – see here) as ‘observational’. However (with thanks to
@UCLanPsychology for pointing this out to me), be aware that this can cause confusion since some people use the term ‘observational’ to describe a way of collecting information (in contrast to other ways such as self-reporting or direct measurement) in both experimental and non-experimental approaches.