There are many differences between qualitative
research and quantitative measurement.
Though both are valuable research methods, each has
specific application in assessing and improving organizational
communications effectiveness. GuideStar Research is,
of course, adept at determining which method works
best based on your organization's unique communications
By definition, measurement must be objective, quantitative
and statistically valid. Simply put, it's about numbers
- objective hard data. A scientifically calculated
sample of people from a population is asked a set
of questions on a survey to determine the frequency
and percentage of responses. For example: 240 people,
79%, of a sample population, said they are more confident
of their personal future today than they were a year
ago. Because the sample size is statistically valid,
the 79% finding can be projected to the entire population
from which the sample was selected. This is quantitative
The sample size for a survey is calculated by statisticians
using formulas to determine how large a sample size
will be needed from a given population in order to
achieve findings with an acceptable degree of accuracy.
Generally, researchers seek sample sizes that yield
findings with at least a 95% confidence level (which
means that if you repeated the survey 100 times, 95
times out of a hundred, you would get the same response)
and a plus/minus 5 percentage points margin of error.
Many survey samples are designed to produce smaller
margins of error.
Survey sample and structure designs, survey question
writing and testing, criteria for selecting appropriate
methods and technologies for collecting information
from various kinds of survey respondents, survey administration
and statistical analysis and reporting are all services
provided by GuideStar Research. To learn more about
these subjects, visit our Research
Qualitative research is much more subjective and uses
different methods of collecting information, mainly
individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups.
The nature of this type of research is exploratory
and open-ended. Small numbers of people are interviewed
in-depth and/or a relatively small number of focus
groups are conducted.
Participants are asked to respond to general questions
and the interviewer or group moderator probes and
explores their responses to identify and define peoples'
perceptions, opinions and feelings about the topic
or idea being discussed and to determine the degree
of agreement that exists in the group. The quality
of the findings from qualitative research is directly
dependent upon the skill, experience and sensitivity
of the interviewer or group moderator.
This type of research is often less costly than surveys
and is extremely effective in acquiring information
about peoples' communications needs and their responses
to and views about specific communications. It is
often the method of choice in instances where quantitative
measurement is not required.
An essential key to success in organizational communications
research is confidentiality. Survey respondents and
participants in in-depth interviews and focus groups
are often asked to give open, honest personal responses
about sensitive issues, concerns, perceptions and
opinions on a variety of topics.To acquire the truth
from people, GuideStar researchers must be able to
not only assure, but to absolutely guarantee, that
a participant's identity will be kept confidential
and fully protected. Confidentiality is one of the
primary reasons, in addition to their specialized
qualifications, that corporations turn to independent
consultants to conduct organizational communications
research and measurement.
In addition to research involving people and the produced
communications media, activities and management communications
they interact with, there are other important aspects
of organizational communications to study for a fully
dimensional understanding of how an organization communicates
and what is working and what isn't. These include
examination of the usage patterns of electronic communications
systems such as e-mail, voicemail, intranets, etc.,
analysis of communication flow patterns in networks,
feedback systems and informal communications such
Research in these areas is often conducted by technology
systems personnel and communication audit professionals.
GuideStar Research today to see how we can get
started helping you with these and other research