What Is Quantitative Research | 4 mins read

What is Quantitative Research? Usage, Characteristics, & Best Practice

what is quantitative research usage characteristics best practice
Mary Kate Morrow

By Mary Kate Morrow

What is Quantitative Research?

The term quantitative research refers to the techniques, strategies, and assumptions used to study various processes. The objective of a quantitative research study is to determine the relationship between an independent variable and an outcome or dependent variable within a population. Quantitative research methods may include a sample population research study and multiple choice or closed ended questions administered. Quantitative research is the research method type the social sciences most often utilize. Additional processes that commonly utilize quantitative research include psychology and economics.

The ultimate purpose of quantitative research is to produce knowledge. Using quantitative research, social sciences professionals and researchers can learn more about a specific research problem or concern. Quantitative research also allows professionals to learn more about a sample population which is a particular group of people. Data gathered ideally answers questions about the sample population that researchers hold.

Characteristics of Quantitative Research

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There are various characteristics of quantitative research that all social sciences researchers and business professionals should be aware of. Distinctive characteristics of quantitative research range from sample size to closed ended questions administered. A characteristic of quantitative research is that research design is either experimental or descriptive. Descriptive research design typically measures subjects one time while experimental research design measures before and after treatment. While descriptive research design defines variable associates only, experimental research design defines causality.

A research study that is quantitative is logical and objective, focusing on convergent reasoning. The data quantitative research professionals gather is unchanging in nature. Within quantitative research numeric patterns are examined and statistical analysis is commonplace. Numerical data utilized in a quantitative research project can be extremely complex or relatively simple. Data collected during a quantitative research study is often expressed in percentages or averages.

Case studies are commonly used in order to extrapolate previous statistical analysis and research study information. A case study can help researchers decide which research problem and research questions they are interested in. Case studies also offer research project ideas that may require further data gathered to reach conclusions. Unsurprisingly, quantitative data is foundational for quantitative research. Quantitative data is widely represented through charts, graphs, and tables. Quantitative data proves market research validity and ensures data gathered is understood optimally.

Structured tools are a notable characteristic of quantitative research. Methods used include surveys, questionnaires, and polls. Data collected by these structured tools are detailed and actionable. Closed ended questions are formulated based on the research study topic. Closed ended questions also facilitate streamlined quantitative data collection.

Another distinctive characteristic of quantitative research includes sample sizes that represent a larger target market. In order for the sample size to be accurate, appropriate sampling methods must be utilized. Research methods that are quantitative grant generalization of sample size results for an entire population. As such, using quantitative research methods allows researchers to take suitable actions to address a research problem appropriately.

Advantages and Best Practices of Quantitative Research

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Using quantitative research methods offers researchers many significant advantages. However, best practices must be abided by in order for optimal results to occur. Best practices include understanding the differences between qualitative vs quantitative research methodologies. Differentiating between quantitative and qualitative research methodologies allows for researchers to select the research method best suited to their needs.

Best practices of quantitative research necessitate a suitable sample size chosen. The sample population must be representational of the larger population. Research questions and goals should be both concise and clear. It is essential that researchers in the social sciences and other fields designate research goals before data collection occurs. As a result, the data collected is both purposeful and directly associated with the particular research problem and goal designated.

Best practices also assert that questions administered to study participants should be simple. Oftentimes, researchers facilitate this by posing close ended questions and multiple choice answer options. A significant advantage that quantitative research methods offer is participant anonymity. So long as researchers can verify that participants fit into the target population additional personal information is not necessary. Anonymous data gathered is more truthful as respondents are more honest when allowed anonymity.

Likewise, quantitative research does not necessitate direct observation of respondents. Lack of supervision can also help respondents in a research study feel less pressured or stressed. Data quantitative research offers is less prone to subjectivity and error than qualitative research data. With less subjectivity and error potential quantitative research conclusions are often viewed as more prestigious than qualitative research conclusions.

Quantitative research is also commonly considered more prestigious than qualitative research due to the complex data analysis involved. Unsurprisingly, many small businesses consider their quantitative research accomplishments as a subject of immense pride.

Another advantage that quantitative research offers is duplicative results. Quantitative research study results may have slight variations throughout a period of time but should not have large differences. Quantitative research conclusions reached are able to be duplicated by future quantitative research studies.

The accuracy and longevity of quantitative data posit case studies that utilize it as reliable and valuable. Considering that many quantitative research studies use past case study results, researchers can build off each other's work. However, experts warn that all previously formed case studies and quantitative data used must be vetted thoroughly.

What is Quantitative Research?- Key Takeaways

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  • Characteristics of quantitative research include descriptive and experimental research design types.
  • Best practices of quantitative research include both sample size accuracy and data analysis performed precisely.

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