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An Insight Into Qualitative v/s Quantitative Methods

Legal research methodology denotes the exposition, the description or the explanation and the justification of methods used in conducting research in the discipline of law. Deferent methodologies include doctrinal or non-doctrinal methods qualitative and quantitative methods are the two types of doctrinal research methods based on the use of type of tool. The major features of the two have been compared and contrasted with a suitable illustration on recent hypertension data from India.

The very essence of the process of gaining of new knowledge is to search and examine again and this is called research. In other words, research means scientific and systematic re-examination of existing knowledge. The legal research is research in that branch of knowledge that deals with the principles of law and legal institutions.

It is performed using methods which are used in other research fields also Mostly in non-legal fields, the researcher demonstrates the relationship of his research with the previous research. In the legal field the researcher tries to say some thing new. Usually, legal research is done to find out the defect or lacunae in existing laws or to suggest the reform in it or to make new laws.

Legal Research Methodology
Legal research methodology is simply a way of addressing and exploring unsettled legal questions or issues. Legal research methodologies are techniques by which one acquires legally relevant information, analyses, interprets and applies them to resolving issues at hand and presenting the findings.

Legal research is an inquiry and investigation made by judges, lawyers, and legal researchers to find the deep and full understanding of the true nature of legal problems. It tends to cover the various aspects of the legal system, the legislative and judicial process. It also tries to find out the nature and function of law in society. It also discusses "the understanding and internal coherence of legal concepts and legal reasoning. The processes of legal Research vary according to the country and the legal system involved.

However, legal Research generally suggests such tasks as:
  • Find primary sources of law or central authority in a given jurisdiction (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.)
  • Searching secondary authority (for example, law reviews, legal dictionaries, legal treatises, and legal encyclopaedias such as American Jurisprudence and Corpus Juris Secundum) for background information about a legal topic; and
  • Searching non-legal sources for investigative or supporting information.

Scientific methodology includes the study of the methods or the instruments necessary for the elaboration of a scientific work. Flanagan (2013) claims that the scientific method is the most powerful tool for discovering truths about the world, explore new theories and perform their empirical validation. Therefore, scientific research is the process of performing systematic and intensive inquisitions, which aims to discover and interpret the facts that are inserted in a certain reality. In relation to its approach, scientific research can be qualitative or quantitative.

Qualitative research is not concerned with numerical representativity, but with the deepening of understanding a given problem. In qualitative research, the researcher is both the subject and the object of his research. The objective of the qualitative methodology is to produce in-depth and illustrative information in order to understand the various dimensions of the problem under analysis.

On the other side, in quantitative research, the data can be quantified. Because the samples are generally large and considered representative of the population, the results are taken as if they constituted a general and sufficiently comprehensive view of the entire population (Martin & Bridgmon, 2012).

Quantitative research focuses on objectivity and is especially appropriate when there is the possibility of collecting quantifiable measures of variables and inferences from samples of a population. Quantitative research adopts structured procedures and formal instruments for data collection. The data are collected objectively and systematically. Finally, the analysis of numerical data is performed through statistical procedures, often using software such as SPSS, R or Stata.

Instead of providing a broad view of a phenomenon that can be generalised to the population, qualitative research seeks to explain a current situation and only describes that situation for that group. Since only a current situation is observed, all qualitative research is done in the field. A possible exception is the focus group, which is conducted with 3-10 persons and uses a script of questions. The moderator asks the questions and the recorder records the responses. Although a focus group is conducted in a controlled environment, the open ended questions and lack of rigid sample selection make it seem more like a field exercise.

Whereas quantitative research seeks to validate a theory by conducting an experiment and analysing the results numerically, qualitative research seeks to arrive at a theory that explains the behaviour observed. In this way, it can be said that quantitative research is more deductive and qualitative research is more inductive.

The recent data on hypertension published by India Hypertension control initiative IHCI (A multi partner initiative involving Indian council of medical research, WHO India, ministry of health and family welfare and sate governments to control blood pressure). This project was stared in 2018 In 26 districts of India which has crossed hundred mark (Districts)In 2022. This data is chosen for the evaluation for the various methods.

The following questions and depict either Quantitative or Qualitative Analysis:
  1. What percentage of India's population has patients suffering from Hypertension, this is a quantitative question since it seeks to identify the percentage of individuals who are on treatment for hypertension?
  2. Hypertension is easy to diagnose and can be treated with low-cost generic drugs: This statement would be an outcome of qualitative research as this would entail a qualitative comparison with other ailments with respect to ease of diagnosis and treatment in the available spectrum of medical facilities
  3. What were the achievements of the IHCI This is a question that employs both quantitative and qualitative methods to answer One of the outcomes is in terms of number of patients who received treatment and no. of districts and states that benefitted from the initiative- which is inferred quantitatively? The other findings related to the conclusion that it was possible for blood pressure treatment and control in primary health care setting is an example of qualitative research method since it would have involved observing patient behaviour (focus group) and understanding the difficulties faced earlier in terms of availing treatment.
  4. The data available on the success of the initiative that led to blood pressure control is quantitative in nature, such as what percentage of identified patient population benefitted from the initiative? What percentage of population benefitted in the primary health care setting? What was the success rate as compared to the no. of patients that went to hospitals for the same treatment?
  5. The study of the IHCI strategies appears to be qualitative in nature. If the question is framed as "what were the strategies that resulted in the success of the ICHI?" - then the five strategies outlined in the article come across as qualitative since instead of just dealing with the no. of patients benefitted- the study tries to put down objective steps and strategies that ensured success. As outlined above this research is taking into account a situation and trying to generalise or describe the study rather than given quantifiable outcome analysis.
  6. However, one of the strategies in itself (Data Driven approach employed for providing care and follow-up) this strategy can be further studied in terms of a quantitative approach. For instance- How many patients were identified to prepare the data-base? How many patients that received the initial treatment did not return for follow-up? How man patients were called and requested for a come-back?" While these questions are not expressly answered in this article, this could be an avenue to understand how qualitative and quantitative research are often interlinked and inference from quantitative research can help foster understanding for the conclusion of qualitative research
  7. The article also provides an answer to the question, "What is the cost of treatment of generic anti-hypertensive drug treatment when procured at scale?" This would be a completely quantitative approach where data from various sources need to be evaluated to ascertain the cost of various drugs available for anti-hypertensive treatment and what is the cost of acquisition at personal level and at-scale. The findings can help conclude if in fact the cost is lower for the community health centres.
  8. Another question that has been answered with the qualitative approach is "What are the challenges that the initiative has encountered and how they can be addressed?" While similar to the strategies- the answer is largely qualitative here a further understanding of each of the challenges can be done by employing quantitative methods.


It can be said that depending upon the desired outcome of the research, researchers may choose between quantitative or qualitative designs. Since they seek to explain events from different perspectives, both are valid ways to evaluate a phenomenon in the proper context. By examining the current situation, the research question, and the critical factors of each design, the researcher can make a more informed choice and enhance both reliability and validity of the study.

  1. Legal research methodology: Textbook by Dr T. Padma and K. P.C Rao published by Asia law house 1st Edition 2011
  3. Strengths and Limitations of Quantitative Research methods, Andre Querios et al, European Journal of Education Studies, Volume 3, Issue 9, 2017
  4. Qualitative and Quantitative Research, How To Choose the Best Design, Greg L. Lowhorn, Regent University, May 2007
  5. Creswell, J.W. (2003); de Vaus, D. (2001).
  6. Zikmund, W.G. (2001)
  7. European Journal of Education Studies ISSN: 2501 - 1111 ISSN-L: 2501 - 1111 Available on-line at: (8)
  8. � legal-re...
  10. � lawPDF
  11. Qualitative and Quantitative Research: How to Choose the Best Design Greg L. Lowhorn Regent
Written By:
  • Nalin Choudhary PhD scholar - Gitam School Of Law, Gitam University, Andhra Pradesh, India.
  • Ritu Gupta Associate Professor - Gitam School Of Law, Gitam University, Andhra Pradesh, India.
    Email: [email protected]

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