Quantitative research methods gather quantifiable data to investigate one or more research questions and hypotheses. Numerical and statistical data offers researchers unbiased, factual evidence from which to draw their conclusions based on mathematical and computational analysis. In addition to numerical data, quantitative research also makes use of closed question interviews, surveys, and polls. Hence, it is often used in companies to evaluate customer and employee satisfaction, or to gain comprehensive user feedback and assess performance to improve quality and efficiency.
Quantitative research methods are used extensively in the social sciences, including sociology, anthropology, and psychology to test theories and hypotheses. While the research is carried out on a select group of study participants, the qualitative research methods used should apply to a much wider study population.
Some of the common characteristics of quantitative research include:
- Tools including surveys, questionnaires and pools to collect a broad set of data.
- A large sample size to represent the entire study population. Ensuring accurate data collection requires selecting the most appropriate research methodology.
- Closed-question surveys are tailored to the study at hand to collect a comprehensive data set.
- Previous studies are assessed and evaluated to review pre-existing knowledge of the research topic.
- Quantitative data is typically presented as graphs, tables and other visual forms to allow readers to interpret the data in visually representative ways other than a list of numbers.
- Identify the specific research problem/focal points to study. In doing so, narrow own the specific type(s) of data to analyze.
- Write a list of potential, plausible hypotheses to predict and explain the research problem.
- Create a list of viable research methods and data collection techniques that you can use to prove/disprove each of the selected hypotheses.
- Collecting several data types will give you a broader data set to analyze and interpret the results, and draw broader and more logical conclusions.
- Comprehensively analyze the data to understand whether the data is reliable and accurate enough to answer the research question.
- Consider the most effective ways to present the data, such as in a chart, table, graph, or any other visual representation. Clear communication of data allows readers to dissect and interpret the information with greater ease.
Researchers use quantitative methods to measure phenomena and test hypotheses. Therefore, they need to collect structured, quantifiable data that can be statistically analyzed and categorized accordingly. Hence, quantitative research is often conducted to understand a population’s preferences, behavior, opinions and feelings, performance, etc. Hence, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, researchers in the social sciences often use quantitative analysis as it focuses on people.
The most common quantitative research methods are surveys/questionnaires, interviews, and polls. Researchers will then process the data collected to better understand and describe the research problem, test hypotheses, models, and theories, and draw logical conclusions that lead to suggestions for future research and improvements to existing structures.
Ease of Use: As quantitative data is numerical by nature, it can be visualized in numerous ways, making is easy to explain and interpret.
Factual: Quantitative research deals with facts, proving or disproving hypotheses based on statistical results. Therefore, results are concrete and accurate, with very little scope for doubtful conclusions or dubious results and interpretations thereof.
Reduced bias: The research methods employed in quantitative research possess a much greater degree of control in the data collection process. Closed-ended questions, for example, give reliable, responses that allow for a greater degree of accuracy.
There are numerous ways in which researchers gather quantitative data in their research. Depending on the subject, the researcher will tailor their research methods and tools to obtain the most accurate and appropriate data. As quantitative research analyzes historical events and trends to predict future patterns and behaviors, the most common tools aim to capture recorded data from a select group, which can then be applied to a larger study population.
Typical research tools include the following:
- Closed questionnaires and surveys
- Company records, including financial reports
- Random sampling
- Datasets comprising a large pool of data
- Data comprising customer interaction, trends, consumption patterns
- Machine-learning methods for quantitative analysis.
Let’s consider a few examples of studies in which quantitative research is applied:
A city-wide taxi service wants to learn more about it’s customers. In addition to learning about their clients’ most frequent routes and areas, they also want to learn about how satisfied they are with the service. To do so, they send them a closed questionnaire to rate aspects of the company, such as the service, driver satisfaction, use of the app, price, etc. Further, quantitative analysis can be used to produce a large amount of information about peak hours, pricing charts, and many other variables.
In a hospital, quantitative analysis is often used to collect data on efficiency and performance in the hospital setting. Patients may be offered surveys to rate their satisfaction and experience regarding waiting times, frequency of visits, doctor’s consultations, and the hospital environment. Conducting such research can highlight where key improvements are needed to improve the hospital experience for patients.
To find out how long employees spend in the office environment, organizations may conduct surveys or record entry and exit times. This numerical data can then be used to analyze average arrival and leaving times, and how long employees spend. Such analysis is conducted to determine employee performance and satisfaction.
In project management, quantitative analysis is often conducted to allocate resources to particular projects or areas of a company. In marketing and finance projects, production costs and budgets can also be determined through the use of quantitative research tools and methods