Research is defined as “the systematic study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions” (Dictionary.com, n.d.). Quantitative research consists of numerous methodologies in which specific data points are measured by way of numerical data that has been obtained through experiments or studies. Quantitative research also makes use of statistical analysis that is used to draw conclusions from the findings by way of numerical representation (method, result, implication). While there are several types of quantitative research designs, the most widely known is hypothesis testing.
This article will provide a clear definition for Quantitative Research, discuss its types and give examples so readers may better understand its purpose and benefits when compared with qualitative research.
Quantitative research definition and description
Quantitative research “is a field of study that makes use of mathematical models, data analysis and scientific methods to measure phenomena” (Quantitative Research, n.d., ¶1). Quantitative researchers develop ideas based on existing theories or new hypotheses. Quantitative researchers are more often concerned with questions relating to correlation, cause-and-effect relationships, etc. Quantitative research can be used in all fields including the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences and business. Quantitative research is primarily defined by its purpose which is to draw conclusions from data or observations gathered through systematic methods, usually through statistical analysis. Quantitative methods have been widely used for several decades due to their ability to generate numerical results that can indicate a particular outcome. Quantitative researchers also use specific methodologies to reach their conclusions.
The following are the most common types of Quantitative Research:
According to a report by McDonnell and MacLeod (2007), “the four main types of quantitative research design were identified as experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, and descriptive” (p. 3). However, these four classifications have been expanded further to include several subcategories. Quantitative research is often used in clinical studies for this reason there has been an expansion of its classifications from the original four to now six classifications including: 1) randomized controlled trial; 2) true experiment; 3) naturalistic observation study; 4) quasi-experiment; 5) time series; and 6) cross-sectional study (Quantitative Research, n.d.).
Each of these various types of Quantitative Research will be discussed in greater detail throughout the course of this article for the purpose of illustrating what they are and how they can be used to answer research questions.
Quantitative research methodology
Quantitative methodology is systematic and logical specific process that must be followed when conducting any type of Quantitative Research ( Quantitative Research , n.d.). Quantitative methodology consists of several phases including: designing a test; hypothesizing; collecting data; analyzing data; interpreting results; drawing conclusions; presenting findings; and codifying them into an effective report or presentation for others to review. Frequently Quantitative researchers will follow a specific Quantitative Research methodology which includes the following steps: 1) problem statement; 2) research questions/hypotheses; 3) literature review/background information; 4) data analysis and 5) conclusion or findings (Quantitative Research, n.d.).
Quantitative research examples and variations
The Quantitative Research methods described previously are commonly used in clinical studies but they can also be used in research studies that explore relationships between variables, product testing, psychological experiments and more. Quantitative Researchers often use the scientific method as well as provide numerical results from their research to make conclusions about what has been observed. According to McDonnell and MacLeod (2007), “Quantitative research is the study of variables using numerical evidence and statistical analysis” (p. 3). Quantitative research can be used in education, business, psychology, among other fields to help researchers understand the world through numbers. Quantitative research can also be conducted by gathering information from people and then analyzing it to answer questions. Quantitative studies are often conducted with surveys or experiments but can also include observations and interviews as well (Quantitative Research , n.d.).
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