A Description of Quantitative Research

Pages: 12 (3708 words) Published: December 1, 2012
Quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques.[1] The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to phenomena. The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides the fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Quantitative data is any data that is in numerical form such as statistics, percentages, etc.[1] In layman's terms, this means that the quantitative researcher asks a specific, narrow question and collects numerical data from participants to answer the question. The researcher analyzes the data with the help of statistics. The researcher is hoping the numbers will yield an unbiased result that can be generalized to some larger population. Qualitative research, on the other hand, asks broad questions and collects word data from participants. The researcher looks for themes and describes the information in themes and patterns exclusive to that set of participants. Quantitative research is widely used in social sciences such as: psychology, economics, sociology, and political science, and information technology, and less frequently in anthropology and history. However, research in mathematical sciences such as: physics is also 'quantitative' by definition, though this use of the term differs in context. In the social sciences, the term relates to empirical methods, originating in both philosophical positivism and the history of statistics, which contrast qualitative research methods.

Quantitative research is generally made using scientific methods, which can include: The generation of models, theories and hypotheses The development of instruments and methods for measurement
Experimental control and manipulation of variables
Collection of empirical data
Modeling and analysis of data
The Process:
The research process entails a number of steps which include the research question, literature review, research design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation of results and answering the research question. (Hughes, 2006) From the above diagram it is evident that there are steps that should be followed when undertaking quantitative research, these steps are discussed below: (Creswell, 2003) 1) Selection of topic: The first step when undertaking quantitative research is the identification of the research topic, this involves designing the research question, the selection of the topic will depend on a number of factors and they include topic selection due to interest of an individual, significance of the social phenomena, research based on existing theories and the ability to research on the topic. (Creswell, 2003) 2) Literature review: The next step is to undertake research on previous theories that have been developed based on the selected research topic. This step will also involve selection of the theoretical approach that will be used in the study. This step will also involve formulation of questions that will be answered in the study, at this point a literature review will be prepared in order to identify previous studies and theories that support the research questions and methods that will used in the study. (Creswell, 2003) 3) Research design: Research design is determined by the research question, this involves identifying the most appropriate way to structure the quantitative research in order to answer the research question, the research question will also determine the type of data to be collected and analyzed. 4) Data collection methods: The research design will involve selection of the most appropriate data collection method. Data collection methods include Questionnaires, Structured Interview, and Observation and analyzing documents i) Questionnaires: Questionnaires involve the formulation of...