Quantitative Research Techniques Used in Sociology

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Quantitative research techniques used in Sociology

Devon D.E. Francis

Quantitative research consists of those studies in which the data concerned can be analyzed in terms of numbers; Research can also be qualitative, that is, it can describe events, persons and so forth scientifically without the use of numerical data. Quantitative research is based more directly on its original plans and its results are more readily analyzed and interpreted. It is more open and responsive to its subject. Both types of research are valid and useful. They are not mutually exclusive. It is possible for a single investigation to use both methods. Key Characteristics

* Control: This is the most important element because it enables the sociologist to identify the causes of observations. Studies are conducted in an attempt to answer certain questions. They represent attempts to identify why something happens, what causes some event, or under what conditions an event does occur. Control is necessary in order to provide unambiguous answers to such questions. To answer questions in social science we have to eliminate the simultaneous influence of many variables to isolate the cause of an effect. Controlled inquiry is absolutely essential to this because without it the cause of an effect could not be isolated.

* Operational Definition: This means that terms must be defined by the steps or operations used to measure them. Such a procedure is necessary to eliminate any confusion in meaning and communication. Stating an operational definition forces one to identify the empirical referents, or terms. In this manner, ambiguity is minimised.

* Replication: To be replicable, the data obtained in a study must be reliable; that is, the same result must be found if the study is repeated. If observations are not repeatable, our descriptions and explanations are thought to be unreliable.

* Hypothesis Testing: The systematic creation of a hypothesis...
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