A Box Office Smash (That's Actually Educational)


*** Use this link if the embedded video didn't work ***

The above video is a comic strip created by grad students from Georgia State University. It shows the differences between quantitative and qualitative research in a more engaging way than your average textbook or powerpoint presentation.

Qualitative and quantitative research are portrayed as two separate superheroes named Captain Quan T. Tative and Dr. Qual I. Tative (or Quan and Qual for short). They fight villains (aka research problems) with their special research powers. These powers, as you can guess, are the powers of quantitative and qualitative research.

The villain (or research problem) in this episode is not the consumer. Rather, it is an ethical dilemma posed by the diabolical Dr. D Plagiarism (Dr. DP), who is looking to plagiarize the research of other people to pass off as his own. The evil doctor is seen in the library stealing the research of James Stelheimer, Ph. D, compelling our heroes to act.

The heroes jump into action, detailing exactly how they will use their respective skills to bring down Dr. P, and it echoes exactly what we learned in class. Quan says he will gather data ABOUT Dr. P, while Qual says he will gather data to figure out HOW to destroy him. Quan will be measuring the "what," "why," and "how much" surrounding the problem, and Qual will gain a deeper understanding of the "why" and "how."

Like any good researcher, the heroes employ a team of cohorts to do all their research for them (I'll bet they're interns or recent college grads). Quan's team comes up with a variety of quantitative data including his height/weight, hair type, and location. They devise a plan to ambush him with their "villain profiler" (a survey I assume) to come up with more data about his past offenses so they can determine a fair punishment.

Qual's team plans to "interrogate" Dr. DP, by doing an in-depth personal interview (gimminy-gillickers!). They plan to measure his actions, thoughts, beliefs, motives, and attitudes in order to come up with an appropriate plan of action.

As is the way of superhero stories with more than one protagonist, our heroes butt heads over whose methods are the best. Coincidentally (or not), this mirrors the research world as researchers are constantly balancing and choosing between the two methods based on things like access to research resources, budget, time constraints, and even personal preferences. Luckily, our interns (I mean cohorts) step in, reminding our heroes that their work is "all for the good of research!"

The heroes overcome their differences and unite into an Avengers/Justice League hybrid team (I'm a superhero nerd, it's best to google those if you don't know what they are). They call themselves The Mixed Methods Research Heroes and set out to stop Dr. DP together. They lock him up, while also reminding viewers that while both methods of research are good, they're best if they're utilized together.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I'm going to go write a sequel to this featuring Qual and Quan's arch-nemeis, Sampling Error.

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