Quantitative Research: Data Collection and Analysis
Research methods are divided into two different categories: quantitative research and qualitative research. Although both of these approaches are used for collecting and analyzing data, but the methods and knowledge obtained differs.
The type of research method you opt for depends on the research questions. In this particular article, we will discuss the quantitative research method.
- 1. What is Quantitative Research?
- 2. Purpose of Quantitative Research?
- 3. How to Carry Out Quantitative Research?
- 4. Quantitative Data Collection Methods
- 5. Quantitative Research Designs: Sampling Methods
- 6. Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Research
1. What is Quantitative Research?
We are surrounded by numbers in our daily lives – all of our decisions are based on numbers and figures, be it in a personal or professional environment. Whether it's a couple deciding their wedding venue that best fits their budget or a company surviving due to the profits.
Numbers are integral in almost every walk of life, especially in the practical environment. It helps different organizations and people decide where to invest, which projects are effective, etc. But what are the ways through which data is collected?
To obtain numerical data, quantitative research comes into play. Quantitative research is a systematic investigation process of collecting quantifiable data through statistical, mathematical techniques.
1.1 Quantitative Research Definition
It is a way of gathering quantitative data and quantifying problems. Quantitative research gathers information from a large sample size with the help of different sampling methods, where a statistical analysis is performed on the results. The type of data that can be quantified varies from behavior, opinions, attitudes to other variables. This data is used to form different facts, come up with research patterns and to identify future trends.
The different methods to collect quantitative data are surveys (online, paper, kiosk, mobile) interviews (telephone, face to face) observations, online polls, studies, questionnaires, website interceptors. The qualitative methods aren't as structured as quantitative research methods. The data is gathered through focus groups, interviews, group discussions, case studies and literature reviews.
If you want to learn more about collecting qualitative data or the qualitative research method, check out this detailed research article on qualitative research.
Quantitative research is widely used in the field of social science. Especially, in disciplines such as psychology, marketing, sociology, political science, health and human development, etc. Also, in the field of mathematics and physics. Experimental research is done in order to create a cause and effect relationship between different variables. The data gathered from the research, along with being statistical, is unbiased and logical.
2. Purpose of Quantitative Research?
Quantitative research uses a larger group of people to collect data and then generalize them to the overall population in order to uncover a phenomenon. For instance, a company launching a gadget for high school students can perform or create survey on a group of high schoolers to see whether or not they can use it properly.
The results will display if all the high school students in the United States can use the gadget properly or not. This kind of research can prove useful when organizations have much bigger projects, where the target audience is an entire population of a particular area or age group.
It also helps understand the consumer's purchasing behavior and lets the company know whether the service or product is in demand or not.
3. How to Carry Out Quantitative Research?
There are some important steps that the researcher must follow for quantitative research such as
The first step is to understand and decide on the research problem to be explored.
Next, develop a research question that will help address and solve the problem at hand.
Once that is done, go through existing studies and literature relevant to your research question. Make sure that you're not duplicating the existing study. You can use the existing results; however, introduce something new with your research.
Lastly, come up with a research plan that you will follow throughout. This will include everything. From figuring out your target audience, the sample group, gathering information and data analysis to come up with a solution.
4. Quantitative Data Collection Methods
Here are some of the quantitative research methods that can be used according to the type of study.
A questionnaire is the most frequently used data collection method. It comprises several questions, either paper-based or on a digital platform. Multiple choice questions can also be a part of the questionnaire.
Questionnaires usually have close-ended questions. This means that the participant is provided with different options and they select the one that applies to them. For open-ended questions, the participants are provided with a field where they can write their answer. No options are given here.
Examples of quantitative research questions can be:
How many times do you work out in a week?
How often do you go shopping in a month?
How frequently do you eat take out in a week?
- Less time consuming as compared to interviews
- User-friendly, data collection is easy
- Less expensive even when the sample size is larger
- Participants don't have the opportunity to share their thoughts
- In case of failure to understand the questions, results will be inaccurate
- If the questionnaire has a lot of questions, participants might get tired and answer the questions randomly
There are two different types of interviews structured and unstructured. They are carried out between the researcher and the participant over the phone or in person.
In a structured interview, the questions are predefined and asked in a proper sequence for in-depth interviews. Whereas, in an unstructured interview, the questions are decided as the interview is taking place. It is more of a conversation. The aim with each interview is the same – gather quantifiable data.
- It leaves no room for difficulties
- Provide in-depth data
- Flexible questions can be changed on the participants responses
- Time consuming
In this technique the participants are observed in their natural setting. They are mostly used for qualitative research but sometimes work for quantitative data. For instance, if someone wants to study the time when a particular area has the most traffic, how many cars are there, etc. This can be done after observing that area every day.
- Cost effective
- Accurate since the researchers themselves are gathering the data
- Researchers can gather the data according to their feasibility
- Participants might know that they are being observed, so they may act differently than they normally would
- Requires highly trained observers
- Requires a lot of time
Using external data such as old records and statistics can help gather quantitative information. For instance, someone building water pumps in a village can use the census done by the government to find out the number of people living there.
- Accurate and complete data
- Easy and less time-consuming, as the data is already available
- The data can sometimes be poorly structured, making it difficult to understand
5. Quantitative Research Designs: Sampling Methods
Here's how to determine the sample size for quantitative research:
There are different sampling methods used to select a group of people from the overall population. They will represent the rest of the population.
5.1 Probability Sampling
In the probability sampling technique, the researchers choose the sample at random. It has four different subtypes, including cluster sampling, stratified random sampling, simple random sampling, systematic sampling.
5.2 Non-Probability Sampling
In the non-probability sampling, the researcher uses his/her expertise and knowledge to pick a sample. It has further five types: quota sampling, judgment sampling, snowball sampling, consecutive sampling and convenience sampling.
5.3 How is the Collected Data Analysed?
Once you have identified the sample and gathered the data, you must analyze quantitative data. There are different data analysis techniques:
- Excel Spreadsheet – organize the data into a specific format.
- Statistics – mean, median, mode, frequency, percentages, minimum and maximum values.
- Tables – cross-tabulation or TURF analysis
- Survey Software - Online tools can also be used in order to analyze the data collected through a survey.
5.4 Advantages of Quantitative Research
- Results can be generalized
- Accurate results
- Easy to replicate the study
- No room for personal bias
- Wide scope of data collection and analysis
- Easier to test the hypothesis
- High reliability
6. Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Research
These are some of the differences between quantitative and qualitative research:
- The main difference is the purpose. Quantitative research is used to quantify an issue and qualitative to explore the issue.
- The data gathered is numerical in quantitative research, whereas the raw data is in words in qualitative research.
- The quantitative research mainly focuses on random sampling, and qualitative research has more purposive sampling.
However, there are more differences when it comes to Qualitative Vs. Quantitative research to differentiate the two types.
This was everything you needed to know before carrying out a quantitative research. We understand that it isn't easy, especially for someone who isn't familiar with the research method. If you face any difficulty, the experts at 5StarEssays are always available to assist.
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