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What is Quantitative Research? - Open Education Online

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research became a dominant form of research in the social sciences since it involves the use of computational, statistical, and mathematical tools to derive results. It can be defined as ‘’a set of strategies, techniques and assumptions used to study psychological, social and economic processes through the exploration of numeric patterns’’. Through this type of research, researchers collect a range of quantifiable numeric data. Some of the data collected, such as for example the age of population and their personal income, is intrinsically quantitative, while in some circumstances, such as for example using a scale from 1 to 10 to measure how someone is feeling, the data becomes imposed.

Through collection of quantitative date, researchers can conduct simple or complex statistical analysis and show correlations amongst different information. For example, if you are conducting a quantitative research to determine why some students are feeling depressed, your research results might show that the reason behind that feeling is the fact that they have low grades and vice versa. Therefore, researchers employ a variety of different quantitative methods which often include surveys or questionnaires, experiments and structured observations.

Quantitative data is statistical and structured, and it is designed to collect hard and cold facts to provide support when there is a need to draw general conclusions from research. Thus, the goal and the purpose of quantitative research is to produce knowledge and understanding about the social world. This type of research is used by social scientists to study phenomena and events that affect both groups of people and individuals. It is particularly used to learn more about a specific group of people, or in another words-sample population. Therefore, quantitative research relies on measured and observed data to provide answers to questions about the selected sample population.

How to Conduct a Quantitative Research?

Through employment of quantitative research methods, researchers usually use large samples to test statistical and numerical data by finding and comparing correlations amongst these samples so that the findings and results can be generalized to the population. For example, if you are studying bullying by applying quantitative research methods and you are interested in measuring the effects of a bully and a victim in school XY by comparing students who are victims and those who are not victims using an attitudinal survey.

When conducting a quantitative research, the first step you should undertake is to analyze the problem. The problem needs to be of importance in your professional field, whether that is social or natural science, and it needs to show some gaps and inconsistencies.

The next step is to establish the purpose of the study while bearing in mind the following questions- ‘why I want to conduct this particular research’ and ‘what I am trying to accomplish’. This means that you should start your research with a research question, which will help you to focus your study. In quantitative research, the research questions are usually descriptive

Once you determine the research question, you will need first to review and read an already existing literature and research on the topic that was done earlier. Once the literature is reviewed, you will set up the research hypothesis and choose an appropriate design and methods to test your hypothesis. The hypothesis creates a relationship between different variables in the study. Finally, you should choose appropriate analytical methods to analyze the data to be able to draw conclusions and answer the research question that was originally asked.

4 Types of Quantitative Research Methods

  • Survey is the most used method in quantitative research. Surveys are used to ask questions to a sample population. There are different types of surveys such as online polls and paper questionnaires. A condition for using this method is having randomly selected members since this is the only way a researcher can easily keep the accuracy of the obtained results since a variety of respondents will be addressed using random selection.
  • Correlational research is used to create a relationship between 2 close entities and to examine how these entities impact one another. For this type of method, a minimum of 2 groups are required to conduct a successful research. This method is used by researchers to connect two or more variables using mathematical analysis. Some examples include examining the relationship between stress and depression or examining correlation between fame and money.
  • Casual comparative research is a method that mostly depends on the comparison factor. It can be referred to as quasi-experimental research where researchers conclude the cause effect equation between 2 or more variables and where one variable is dependent on another variable. These variables or groups must be formed as they exist in the natural set up. This type of quantitative research method is not exclusive to the statistical analysis of 2 variables, but it rather analyzes how different variables or groups change under the influence of the same changes. Some examples of the causal comparative research include studying the impact of drugs on a teenager or the effect of good education on a freshman.
  • Experimental research is considered to be a true experimentation based usually on one or more theories. In this type of research, an analysis is done to prove or disprove the statement. This method is mostly used by natural and social scientists since there are various statements that need to be proved or disproved, such as for example a claim that systematic teaching schedules help children who find it hard to deal with the course or that traditional research methods are more effective than the modern research methods.