Gaining Insight into Quantitative Research Methods

Quantitative Research Methods for Business Success

Appropriately deciding between using quantitative or qualitative research methods requires an intimate understanding of both methodologies. While quantitative research collects numerical data for analysis, qualitative research collects and analyzes non numerical data. Quantitative research is commonplace in the social sciences field and is increasingly being utilized for business success efforts. Reasons that quantitative research is undertaken range from dependent variable vs independent variable comparisons to case studies examination.

The three main types of quantitative data research design include descriptive, experimental, and correlational research. In descriptive research, the independent variable and the dependent variable are summarized. In experimental research, any existing cause and effect relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable is explored. In correlational research, the relationships between an independent variable and a dependent variable are investigated. If an appropriate sample size and sampling method are used research study conclusions can be applied to a larger population. Both experimental and correlational research can be used for predictions or hypothesis testing utilizing statistics.

Statistical analysis of quantitative data helps organizations establish averages and identify patterns. Statistical analysis also helps organizations make more informed predictions and decisions. Quantitative data collection often necessitates the use of operational definitions. Operational definitions translate abstract concepts into quantifiable data measurements. Methods quantitative research use vary depending on the objectives of the organization conducting research.

Methods of Quantitative Research

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There are various methods of quantitative research available for social sciences and alternative applications. An experiment is one of the methods quantitative researchers use. An experiment uses a controlled independent variable in order to measure effects on a dependent variable if any exist. Alternatively, an experiment can use a controlled dependent variable to measure effects on an independent variable if any exist.

A real world example of experimental quantitative research could be used for a research question about procrastination intervention. Let's say an organization wanted to understand if high school students procrastinated less with intervention. In the experiment, high school students would be split into equitable groups. One group of high school students would be provided an intervention while another would not. Self rating tests would be administered to high school students of both groups. Then, analyzing the research question answers, a conclusion could be reached regarding the effectiveness of an intervention on procrastination levels.

Another quantitative research example is observation. Observation identifies behavior as it occurs within its natural setting. An example of using quantitative observation methods could be to measure hours an employee is at a business. Researchers would observe and annotate the times at which an employee arrives and leaves an office. Using quantitative data collected researchers could then answer the research question with an average number of employee hours.

Methods quantitative researchers commonly utilize also include surveys. Surveys ask sample size participants specific research questions in order to collect data as needed. Surveys are incredibly versatile which explains their popularity in the quantitative data world. Survey administration can be in person or through technologically advanced tools. A common example of using technology for quantitative data collection includes online surveys administered. A sample size of the larger population can then answer questions at their convenience.

As a result, online surveys are generally considered more accessible than in person surveys administered. Another advantage that online surveys offer is anonymity. So long as the respondent is within the sample size parameter, their personal information is not important. Anonymity has been demonstrated to produce more accurate and truthful research question responses. Research question accuracy levels are important when quantitative research is applied to a case study or research study conclusions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Quantitative Research Methods

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There are both significant advantages and disadvantages of using quantitative research methods. A prominent advantage of using quantitative research methods is the hypothesis testing capabilities it affords. Everything from data collection to research designs used must be carefully considered during hypothesis testing. As such, quantitative research methods are consistent and reliable. Another advantage of using quantitative research methods is sample size availability. The data quantitative research produces can be applied to much larger populations using a sample size that is limited.

Using quantitative research methods, organizations can embark on a new research study or build upon case studies previously published. This is due to the fact that quantitative data is replicable over a period of time. Therefore, previous case studies and new research study material is compatible and complementary. For example, different participants at a future date should be able to reproduce case studies completed in the present day. Alternatively, case studies could be replicated in a different cultural setting. The replicability and reproduction offered by quantitative research are attributed to standardization.

Disadvantages of using quantitative research methods include structural biases. Structural biases can even occur with strict standardization practices recognized. Unfortunately, structural biases posit data gathered and analyzed as potentially inaccurate. A common example of structural bias is through sampling. Best practices to avoid sampling bias include online surveys being accessible and the clear definition of target populations.

Another prominent example of a quantitative research disadvantage is oversimplifying. Numerical data is not always the best method for evaluating complex subject matters like human emotionality. As such, qualitative research is often used for more complex subject matters that necessitate more context or respondent feedback. Qualitative research methods use open ended questions and focus groups to collect comprehensive research question answers.

Key Takeaways of Quantitative Research Method Application

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  • Research quantitative researchers undertake can assist with business functions ranging from market research to customer satisfaction surveys.
  • In order to use quantitative research methods correctly, organizations must understand the advantages and disadvantages presented.