A guide to quantitive research methods

Published on by Randy Nicholas

Quantitative research is the most often used method for deriving factual evidence from experiments. Quantitative types of data include measurement and statistical data that creates models, theories and hypotheses based on collecting empirical data, and manipulating and analysing variables to answer questions. This article defines quantitative and qualitative methods and introduces how quantitative methods are used in scientific study.

Quantitative data

Statistics

Statistical methods are widely used by researchers in every field of scientific study including economics, biology,sociology, psychology, anthropology, computer science and even philosophy.

Quantitative researches design a study which typically collects a large amount of empirical data in the form of numbers which represent a variable in the experiment. For example, a study may seek to find how many families in the UK have more than ten thousand Euros in household debt. Statistics recorded for this experiment may include the number of houses, number of individuals living int he home, total income and total debt.

Measurement

Any study that requires distance, weight, volume, or energy output information makes use of quantitative research methods. Measurement is a means of expressing observations quantitatively in order to determine relationships or correlations. Some approximate measurements known as proxies are used as semi-quantitative record. For example, the width of a tree ring can be used to extrapolate historic regional climate information.

Quantitative versus qualititative

What is qualitative data?

The other branch of research, qualitative research concerns all forms of information derived from experiments that cannot be expressed numerically. For example, if a study is seeking to find what kind of emotions are experienced by women after giving birth, some variables sought may include quantitative data such as age and income but the description of emotions cannot be expressed in a number.

Qualitative and quantitative

Qualitative and quantitative research methods are both widely used by scientists in every field but in some disciplines, qualitative evidence is given less credibility than quantitative.

Some believe that qualitative research suffers from increased subjectivity and probability of bias. Proponents argue that qualitative research provides additional information and perspectives that quantitative research cannot, and since quantitative research is not immune to researchers' bias and the readers' subjectivity, it is every bit as valuable as quantitative research.

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