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How Do I Convert Qualitative Information to a Quantitative indicator?

Before this question can be answered, let's refresh ourselves on what an indicator is.

An indicator is a specific, observable and measurable characteristic that is used to show evidence of change or progress towards acheiving a specific outcome.

Indicators are usually categorised in two types; quantitaive and qualitative.

Quantitative indicators are reported as numbers, such as units, prices, proportions, rates of change

and ratios.

Qualitative indicators are reported as words, in statements, paragraphs, case studies and reports.

It is not the way in which an indicator is worded that makes it quantitative or qualitative, but the way in which it is reported.

If an indicator is reported using a number then it is a quantitative indicator.

If it is reported using words then it is qualitative.

It is a good practice to have a mix of qualitative and quantitative indicators. However, one critique of qualitative data is that it is not always easy to do comparisons. For example, how do you compare the intensity of persons' subjective customer service experience?

One solution is to convert qualitative information to a quantitative indicator. An example is shown below.

Source: USAID (2010)ž. Performance Monitoring & EvaluationTips : Baselines and Targets

Keep in mind though that there are several misconceptions on indicators. These include that a qualitative indicator only measures the quality of a change or that quantitative indicators are better than qualitative indicators. Both sentiments are false.

Publications consulted for this blog post

INTRAC (2017). Indicators.

USAID (2010)ž. Performance Monitoring & EvaluationTips : Baselines and Targets


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​​​Ann-Murray Brown

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