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Understanding Quantitative Research Methods: A Comprehensive Guide

Ewa Sulewska
January 3, 2024

In social science, the choice of research method can shape the results of your study. That's why understanding the primary differences between quantitative and qualitative research becomes necessary. Unraveling the nuances between these two methods illustrates the core of academic exploration and the diverse complexity of knowledge construction. 

In this article, I will focus on the quantitative research method, but in the next one, I plan to expand the topic of qualitative research. 

Understanding Quantitative Research 

In short, quantitative research is a type of study that collects and analyzes data to uncover patterns, relationships, and trends using numerical measures.

For brands, quantitative research is all about gathering meaningful info from both current and potential customers. How? Well, in contrast to qualitative research, it uses methods like online surveys, polls, case study research and questionnaires. The cool thing about this approach is that it gives you numbers and real, solid data you can work with. Once you've got these numbers all lined up, you can start making some educated guesses about the future of a product or service. You can also figure out cause-and-effect relationships, which is super helpful for making changes that really hit the mark.

What About Quantitative Research Design?

Before you start your research, it’s best to decide whether your study will be exploratory or conclusive. Exploratory research aims to develop conclusions by examining a topic in depth. Conclusive research, on the other hand, seeks to reach a final conclusion about an issue. 

Let me quote the author of “Types of Quantitative Research Methods and Designs” article published by Grand Canyon University: “Research design refers to your approach for answering your fundamental research questions. If you are writing a quantitatively based dissertation, your research design will center on numerical data collection and analysis.” If you need an entire article, you can find it here.

Key Components of Quantitative Research Methods

Quantitative research brings some standout qualities, making it a perfect fit for certain tasks. Let's check some of them: 

Sample size

Sample size is very important in quantitative research and refers to the number of participants included in the study. Selecting a fitting sample size is crucial for getting accurate and reliable results. Too small sample may lead to underpowered analyses and generalization, while a large sample size may be impractical and costly. By estimating the right sample size, investigators can ensure that their analysis detects meaningful effects.

The Right Tools

As I mentioned earlier in the text, quantitative research is based on surveys, polls, experiments, and questionnaires. It’s essential to pick the right tool for your research, as the results may be determined by it. 

Close-ended questions

They are asked to each participant in a set order and in an unchanging form, so you can assume that the differences are the result of participant differences, not measurements. Closed questions are those a person answers with a simple yes or no. 

Previous research

Before you even start thinking about your poll, focus on finding prior quantitative studies on the research subjects. Firstly, it’s possible you’ll find your answer there. Secondly, it helps you prepare better questions and frames for your research. 

Visual aids

Tables, charts, graphs, or other numerical forms of visualization of collected data may be crucial for your analysis. Make sure to present them understandably. 

Generalization of results

Quantitative research is based on generalizing its results. That means you can easily use data from research conducted on a small group to make smart choices that benefit a broader population.

Primary And Secondary Quantitative Research Methods

The difference between primary and secondary data is one of the basic divisions in social research methodologies. Primary data is gathered directly from respondents during interviews, surveys, etc. Secondary data is the result of previously conducted analyses.

Primary Quantitative Research Methods:

  • Survey research: The easiest and the most common research method. It's based on participants completing a survey questionnaire in the presence of interviewers or without them.
  • Descriptive research: Its role is to uncover the what, when, and where of the research problem without delving too deeply into the why. This research focuses on describing and observing the characteristics or behaviors without influencing them in any way. The findings from descriptive research may provide insights into the preferences and behaviors of the target group without attempting to set up a causal relationship. 
  • Correlational research: It is used to find the relationship between variables and their influence on each other. 
  • Causal-comparative research: This type of research is based on studying the cause-effect relationship between two or more variables. 
  • Experimental research: This method is purely theoretical. It is based on one or more theories, but the theories must be proven first before the beginning of the investigation. The whole study research is conducted to provide or disprove the statement. It’s a great method if you’re in the lookout for psychological research.
  • Try top-notch technology: Have you ever heard of eye tracking? In the XXI century, you can test how users react to your website or video. I mean, how they REALLY react. This kind of research is often more informative than any poll or survey, and you can conduct it just by using a simple webcam. A great example of this kind of top-notch tech is RealEye.  Sounds good? Check out the main page for more insights.

Secondary Quantitative Methods:

  • Google it: The internet has become the perfect resource for conducting quantitative research. Gathering data through your laptop or mobile device is easier, allowing you to reach larger and more diverse groups. Thanks to this, you can better understand your target group.  
  • Libraries: Remember those? They are all still an amazing source of knowledge about many subjects. Especially if you're looking for specific or historical data.
  • Market research reports: They are another possible source of quantitative information. Those reports can provide you an overview of the industry and sometimes include quantitative data you won't find anywhere else.
  • Use your contacts: Maybe you know somebody who is an expert in the field? Perhaps they already have the proper data? Check your contact list and look for someone who can be helpful in your research. 

Best Practices and Advantages of Quantitative Research

Understanding quantitative research methods entails not just grasping its techniques, but also appreciating its strengths, limitations, and ethical implications. So before you start your journey with qualitative research methods, remember those key practices.

1. Qualitative vs. quantitative research

It's necessary to understand the difference between quantitative and qualitative research and to apply the one that best suits your needs. 

2. Thoughtful Study Design and Sampling

Whether it's experimental, correlational, or descriptive, choosing the right design is crucial. Equally important is the sampling strategy. Make sure that your sample has a perfect size. You're looking for something between a too-small and too-large group.

3. Get Your Goals Straight

Know what you're after before you begin data collection. Quantitative study requires clear research goals and hypotheses. Remember: clarity enables precise analysis and guides the direction of the research towards expected effects.

4. Use Primary and Secondary Quantitative Research Methods

Why waste your time inventing new thesis or results when (possibly) you already have them in your pocket? Conduct research on the internet, in books, and by talking to your friends. Who knows? They may already know some answers to your questions.

If you need some profound insights about human behavior or how people see certain stimuli, RealEye could be the right tool for you. Start a free trial version of RealEye today, and let us help you to get to know your audience.

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