What is Quantitative Research? | Definition, Methods, Types vs Uses

Quantitative research is one of the two modes of research analysis used in Empirical research. It differs from Qualitative research, the other Empirical method of research analysis, insofar as the latter mainly deals with the non-numerical or verbal form of data such as texts, videos, images, audio recordings and the like.

In contrast, quantitative research deals with collecting and analysing numerical data. This research method aims to understand and analyse natural and social phenomena objectively.

Accordingly, it is employed by researchers to verify causal relationships, find averages and patterns, generate generalisations and make predictions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Quantitative research emphasizes measuring and analyzing numerical data to test hypotheses, identify patterns, and draw statistical inferences.
  2. Quantitative research relies on objective and standardized data collection methods such as surveys, experiments, or observations with structured instruments.
  3. Quantitative research is used in economics, medicine, engineering, and natural sciences to generate precise and generalizable knowledge.

Disciplines Employing Quantitative Research Method

Unlike the qualitative research method, used mainly in social sciences, quantitative research is employed in both natural and social sciences. Some of the major disciplines that employ a quantitative mode of data collection and analysis include:

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  1. Biology
  2. Psychology
  3. Chemistry
  4. Economics
  5. Political Science
  6. Sociology
  7. Marketing
  8. Statistics, and many more.

Types of Quantitative Research

The quantitative data collection and interpretation method can be applied in the following types of research.

  1. Descriptive Research: It entails giving an overall description and explanation of the identified study variables. This kind of research is not started with a hypothesis. However, the researcher can choose to develop one after collecting sufficient data.
  2. Survey Research: A survey is the primary tool of all kinds of quantitative research. However, this particular approach is used to study and describe the characteristics of a particular population group or segment.
  3. Correlational Research involves establishing and analysing the correlation between two identified variables. Here, the collected data is used to test predictions and hypotheses to generate and apply generalisations to a more extensive population.
  4. Experimental Research: It involves generating and experimenting with one or more theories to analyse whether there is a cause-effect relationship between the identified variables.
  5. Causal-Comparative Research: It entails finding out the cause-effect relationship between two or more variables and measuring the impact of the independent variable over the dependent variables.

Methods of Quantitative Research

Research MethodUsageExample
SurveyPreparing a questionnaire to collect information from a group of participants through one-on-one interviews, phone or online platforms.Preparing a questionnaire with close-ended questions and rating scales to understand the impact of campus politics on college students.
ExperimentManipulating or controlling an independent variable to evaluate its impact on the dependent variables.Selecting a group of students and dividing them into equal groups with some assigned tasks to verify whether an intervention reduces procrastination in students.
Systematic ObservationIdentifying and closely watching an event or behaviour of interest in its material settings.Observing, recording and analysing students’ passive and active behaviour in a class based on their cultural, economic and political backgrounds.
Secondary ResearchIt entails collecting and citing data from existing records and surveys for other purposes.Collecting appropriate questionnaire data from existing longitudinal studies to study and understand the changing attitude of people towards the concept of ‘climate change’ since the 1980s.
Quantitative Research Methods

Advantages of Quantitative Research

The following are the principal strengths of the quantitative research method:

  1. Objectivity: Quantitative Research deals with numerical data. Consequently, the numbers determine the outcomes of a study and not the researcher’s personal bias.
  2. Can be used for comparison: The rules used in quantitative research remain the same in all cultural, economic and political settings. Consequently, the same model can be applied in different settings, and the outcomes can be compared.
  3. Use of large samples: With its consistent and reliable procedures, quantitative research allows for large samples.
  4. Definite outcomes: Due to its strict and consistent procedures, quantitative research allows for definite and precise results. 

Disadvantages of Quantitative Research

Despite its various advantages, the quantitative research analysis method has its share of limitations.

  1. Superficial: Quantitative research primarily deals with numbers, and numbers cannot adequately explain the experiences and perceptions related to a social phenomenon.
  2. Limited focus: With strict measurements and predetermined variables, quantitative research often ignores the other relevant questions and information.
  3. Structural bias: Despite its consistent procedures, quantitative research can often generate inaccurate results due to structural problems like inapt sampling methods, missing pieces of information or inaccurate measurements.
  4. Can ignore context: Data collected through quantitative methods can be analysed in unnatural settings like laboratories. Consequently, it tends to ignore the cultural and historical context of the collected data.
References
  1. https://dl.uswr.ac.ir/bitstream/Hannan/132194/1/076194382X.Sage.Publications.Ltd.Doing.Quantitative.Research.in.Education.with.SPSS.May.2004.pdf
  2. http://www.papersearch.net/thesis/article.asp?key=3560136
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