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Quantitative research is a research strategy that focuses on quantifying the collection and analysis of data. It is formed from a
deductive Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, is the process of reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making ...
approach where emphasis is placed on the testing of theory, shaped by
empiricist In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, ...
and positivist philosophies. Associated with the
natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and ...

natural
, applied,
formal Formal, formality, informal or informality imply the complying with, or not complying with, some set theory, set of requirements (substantial form, forms, in Ancient Greek). They may refer to: Dress code and events * Formal wear, attire for forma ...
, and
social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist o ...

social science
s this research strategy promotes the
objective Objective may refer to: * Objective (optics), an element in a camera or microscope * ''The Objective'', a 2008 science fiction horror film * Objective pronoun, a personal pronoun that is used as a grammatical object * Objective Productions, a Briti ...
empirical investigation of observable
phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...
to test and understand relationships. This is done through a range of quantifying methods and techniques, reflecting on its broad utilization as a research strategy across differing
academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fact is ...
s. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ
mathematical model A mathematical model is a description of a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environm ...
s,
theories A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as observational study or researc ...
, and
hypotheses A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation An explanation is a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context Context may refer to: * Context (language use), the rel ...
pertaining to phenomena. The process of
measurement Measurement is the quantification (science), quantification of variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events. The scope and application of measurement are dependen ...

measurement
is central to quantitative research because it provides the fundamental connection between
empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity which is s ...
observation Observation is the active acquisition of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. Th ...

observation
and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Quantitative data is any data that is in numerical form such as statistics, percentages, etc. The researcher analyses the data with the help of
statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sens ...
and hopes the numbers will yield an
unbiased Bias is a disproportionate weight ''in favor of'' or ''against'' an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. People may develop biases for or against an individual, a group, ...
result that can be generalized to some larger population.
Qualitative research Qualitative research relies on data obtained by the researcher from first-hand observation, interviews, questionnaires (on which participants write descriptively), focus groups, participant-observation, recordings made in natural settings, docum ...
, on the other hand, inquires deeply into specific experiences, with the intention of describing and exploring meaning through text, narrative, or visual-based data, by developing themes exclusive to that set of participants. Quantitative research is widely used in
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
,
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
,
demography Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period ...

demography
,
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
,
marketing Marketing is the process of intentionally stimulating demand for and purchases of goods and services; potentially including selection of a target audience; selection of certain attributes or themes to emphasize in advertising; operation of adv ...

marketing
, community health, health & human development, gender studies, and
political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as ...
; and less frequently in
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
and
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

history
. Research in mathematical sciences, such as
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

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 Positivism is a philosophical theory A philosophical theory or philosophical position''Dictionary of Theories'', Jennifer Bothamley is a view that attempts to explain or account for a particular problem in philosophy Philosophy (from ...
and the
history of statisticsStatistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with a st ...
, in contrast with
qualitative research Qualitative research relies on data obtained by the researcher from first-hand observation, interviews, questionnaires (on which participants write descriptively), focus groups, participant-observation, recordings made in natural settings, docum ...
methods. Qualitative research produces information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses. Quantitative methods can be used to verify which of such hypotheses are true. A comprehensive analysis of 1274 articles published in the top two American sociology journals between 1935 and 2005 found that roughly two-thirds of these articles used quantitative
method Method ( grc, μέθοδος, methodos) literally means a pursuit of knowledge, investigation, mode of prosecuting such inquiry, or system. In recent centuries it more often means a prescribed process for completing a task. It may refer to: *Scien ...
.


Overview

Quantitative research is generally closely affiliated with ideas from , which can include: * The generation of models, theories and
hypotheses A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation An explanation is a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context Context may refer to: * Context (language use), the rel ...
* The development of instruments and methods for measurement * Experimental control and manipulation of variables * Collection of empirical data * Modeling and analysis of data Quantitative research is often contrasted with
qualitative research Qualitative research relies on data obtained by the researcher from first-hand observation, interviews, questionnaires (on which participants write descriptively), focus groups, participant-observation, recordings made in natural settings, docum ...
, which purports to be focused more on discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships, including classifications of types of phenomena and entities, in a manner that does not involve mathematical models. Approaches to quantitative psychology were first modeled on quantitative approaches in the physical sciences by
Gustav Fechner Gustav Theodor Fechner (; ; 19 April 1801 – 18 November 1887) was a German experimental psychologist, philosopher, and physicist. An early pioneer in experimental psychology and founder of psychophysics, he inspired many 20th-century scientists ...

Gustav Fechner
in his work on
psychophysics Psychophysics quantitatively investigates the relationship between physical stimulus (physiology), stimuli and the sensation (psychology), sensations and perceptions they produce. Psychophysics has been described as "the scientific study of the re ...
, which built on the work of
Ernst Heinrich Weber Ernst is both a surname and a given name, the German, Dutch, and Scandinavian form of Ernest Ernest is a given name derived from Germanic languages, Germanic word ''ernst'', meaning "serious". Notable people and fictional characters with the name ...

Ernst Heinrich Weber
. Although a distinction is commonly drawn between qualitative and quantitative aspects of scientific investigation, it has been argued that the two go hand in hand. For example, based on analysis of the history of science, Kuhn concludes that “large amounts of qualitative work have usually been prerequisite to fruitful quantification in the physical sciences”. Qualitative research is often used to gain a general sense of phenomena and to form theories that can be tested using further quantitative research. For instance, in the social sciences qualitative research methods are often used to gain better understanding of such things as intentionality (from the speech response of the researchee) and meaning (why did this person/group say something and what did it mean to them?) (Kieron Yeoman). Although quantitative investigation of the world has existed since people first began to record events or objects that had been counted, the modern idea of quantitative processes have their roots in
Auguste Comte Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte (; 19 January 1798 – 5 September 1857) was a French philosophy, French philosopher and writer who formulated the doctrine of positivism. He is often regarded as the first Philosophy of science, phil ...

Auguste Comte
's positivist framework. Positivism emphasized the use of the scientific method through observation to empirically test hypotheses explaining and predicting what, where, why, how, and when phenomena occurred. Positivist scholars like Comte believed only scientific methods rather than previous spiritual explanations for human behavior could advance. Quantitative methods are an integral component of the five angles of analysis fostered by the data percolation methodology, which also includes qualitative methods, reviews of the literature (including scholarly), interviews with experts and computer simulation, and which forms an extension of data triangulation. Quantitative methods have limitations. These studies do not provide reasoning behind participants' responses, they often do not reach underrepresented populations, and they may span long periods in order to collect the data.


Use of statistics

Statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sens ...

Statistics
is the most widely used branch of mathematics in quantitative research outside of the physical sciences, and also finds applications within the physical sciences, such as in
statistical mechanics In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...
. Statistical methods are used extensively within fields such as economics, social sciences and biology. Quantitative research using statistical methods starts with the collection of data, based on the hypothesis or theory. Usually a big sample of data is collected – this would require verification, validation and recording before the analysis can take place. Software packages such as
SPSS SPSS Statistics is a statistical software Statistical software are specialized computer program A computer program is a collection of instructions that can be executed by a computer to perform a specific task. A computer program is usual ...

SPSS
and R are typically used for this purpose. Causal relationships are studied by manipulating factors thought to influence the phenomena of interest while controlling other variables relevant to the experimental outcomes. In the field of health, for example, researchers might measure and study the relationship between dietary intake and measurable physiological effects such as weight loss, controlling for other key variables such as exercise. Quantitatively based opinion surveys are widely used in the media, with statistics such as the proportion of respondents in favor of a position commonly reported. In opinion surveys, respondents are asked a set of structured questions and their responses are tabulated. In the field of climate science, researchers compile and compare statistics such as temperature or atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Empirical relationships and associations are also frequently studied by using some form of
general linear model The general linear model or general multivariate regression model is a compact way of simultaneously writing several multiple linear regression models. In that sense it is not a separate statistical linear model. The various multiple linear regres ...
, non-linear model, or by using
factor analysis Factor analysis is a statistical Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolu ...
. A fundamental principle in quantitative research is that
correlation does not imply causation The phrase "correlation does not imply causation" refers to the inability to legitimately deduce a cause-and-effect relationship between two events or variables solely on the basis of an observed association or correlation In statistics ...
, although some such as
Clive Granger Sir Clive William John Granger (; 4 September 1934 – 27 May 2009) was a British econometrician known for his contributions to nonlinear time series In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such top ...
suggest that a series of correlations can imply a degree of causality. This principle follows from the fact that it is always possible a
spurious relationship In statistics, a spurious relationship or spurious correlation is a mathematical relationship in which two or more events or variables are Correlation and dependence, associated but ''Correlation does not imply causation, not'' Causality, causally ...
exists for variables between which
covariance In probability theory and statistics, covariance is a measure of the joint variability of two random variables. If the greater values of one variable mainly correspond with the greater values of the other variable, and the same holds for the less ...

covariance
is found in some degree. Associations may be examined between any combination of continuous and categorical variables using methods of statistics.


Measurement

Views regarding the role of measurement in quantitative research are somewhat divergent. Measurement is often regarded as being only a means by which observations are expressed numerically in order to investigate causal relations or associations. However, it has been argued that measurement often plays a more important role in quantitative research. For example, Kuhn argued that within quantitative research, the results that are shown can prove to be strange. This is because accepting a theory based on results of quantitative data could prove to be a natural phenomenon. He argued that such abnormalities are interesting when done during the process of obtaining data, as seen below: :When measurement departs from theory, it is likely to yield mere numbers, and their very neutrality makes them particularly sterile as a source of remedial suggestions. But numbers register the departure from theory with an authority and finesse that no qualitative technique can duplicate, and that departure is often enough to start a search (Kuhn, 1961, p. 180). In classical physics, the theory and definitions which underpin measurement are generally
deterministic Determinism is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality is the ...

deterministic
in nature. In contrast, probabilistic measurement models known as the
Rasch model The Rasch model, named after Georg Rasch, is a psychometric model for analyzing categorical data, such as answers to questions on a reading assessment or questionnaire responses, as a function of the trade-off between (a) the respondent's abiliti ...
and
Item response theory In psychometrics Psychometrics is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. As defined by the US National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), psychometrics refers to psychological measurement ...
models are generally employed in the social sciences.
Psychometrics Psychometrics is a field of study within concerned with the theory and technique of . Psychometrics generally refers to specialized fields within psychology and education devoted to testing, measurement, assessment, and related activities. P ...
is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique for measuring social and psychological attributes and phenomena. This field is central to much quantitative research that is undertaken within the social sciences. Quantitative research may involve the use of '' proxies'' as stand-ins for other quantities that cannot be directly measured. Tree-ring width, for example, is considered a reliable proxy of ambient environmental conditions such as the warmth of growing seasons or amount of rainfall. Although scientists cannot directly measure the temperature of past years, tree-ring width and other climate proxies have been used to provide a semi-quantitative record of average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere back to 1000 A.D. When used in this way, the proxy record (tree ring width, say) only reconstructs a certain amount of the variance of the original record. The proxy may be calibrated (for example, during the period of the instrumental record) to determine how much variation is captured, including whether both short and long term variation is revealed. In the case of tree-ring width, different species in different places may show more or less sensitivity to, say, rainfall or temperature: when reconstructing a temperature record there is considerable skill in selecting proxies that are well correlated with the desired variable.


Relationship with qualitative methods

In most
physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), "Physical" (Olivia Newton-John song) *Physical ( ...
and
biological science Biology is the natural science Natural science is a Branches of science, branch of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Phenomenon, natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and exper ...
s, the use of either quantitative or qualitative methods is uncontroversial, and each is used when appropriate. In the social sciences, particularly in
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
,
social anthropology Social anthropology is the study of patterns of behaviour in human societies and cultures. It is the dominant constituent of anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous a ...
and
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
, the use of one or other type of method can be a matter of controversy and even ideology, with particular schools of thought within each discipline favouring one type of method and pouring scorn on to the other. The majority tendency throughout the history of social science, however, is to use eclectic approaches-by combining both methods. Qualitative methods might be used to understand the meaning of the conclusions produced by quantitative methods. Using quantitative methods, it is possible to give precise and testable expression to qualitative ideas. This combination of quantitative and qualitative data gathering is often referred to as mixed-methods research.


Examples

* Research that consists of the percentage amounts of all the elements that make up Earth's atmosphere. * Survey that concludes that the average patient has to wait two hours in the waiting room of a certain doctor before being selected. * An experiment in which group x was given two tablets of aspirin a day and group y was given two tablets of a placebo a day where each participant is
randomly In common parlance, randomness is the apparent or actual lack of pattern or predictability in events. A random sequence of events, symbols or steps often has no :wikt:order, order and does not follow an intelligible pattern or combination. I ...

randomly
assigned to one or other of the groups. The numerical factors such as two tablets, percent of elements and the time of waiting make the situations and results quantitative. * In
finance Finance is a term for the management, creation, and study of money In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the left corn ...

finance
, quantitative research into the
stock market A stock market, equity market, or share market is the aggregation of buyers and sellers of stock In finance, stock (also capital stock) consists of all of the shares In financial markets A financial market is a market in whic ...

stock market
s is used to develop models to price complex trades, and develop algorithms to exploit investment hypotheses, as seen in quantitative
hedge fund A hedge fund is a pooled investment fund Image:Financial info.jpg, The values and performance of collective funds are listed in newspapers. An investment fund is a way of investment, investing money alongside other investors in order to benefit ...
s and Trading Strategy Indices.A Simple Overview of Quantitative Analysis
Investopeda, January 2018


See also

*
Antipositivism In social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life ...
* Case study research *
Econometrics Econometrics is the application of Statistics, statistical methods to economic data in order to give Empirical evidence, empirical content to economic relationships.M. Hashem Pesaran (1987). "Econometrics," ''The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Econ ...

Econometrics
*
Falsifiability Falsifiability is a standard of evaluation of scientific theories and hypotheses that was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book The Logic of Scientific Discovery, ''Logik der Forschung'' (1934). He proposed it as the ...
*
Market research Market research is an organized effort to gather information about target markets A target market is a group of customers within a business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling Pr ...

Market research
*
Positivism Positivism is a philosophical theory A philosophical theory or philosophical position''Dictionary of Theories'', Jennifer Bothamley is a view that attempts to explain or account for a particular problem in philosophy Philosophy (from ...
*
Qualitative research Qualitative research relies on data obtained by the researcher from first-hand observation, interviews, questionnaires (on which participants write descriptively), focus groups, participant-observation, recordings made in natural settings, docum ...
*
Quantitative marketing research Quantitative marketing research is the application of quantitative research Quantitative may refer to: * Quantitative research, scientific investigation of quantitative properties * Quantitative analysis (disambiguation) * Meter (poetry), Quantit ...
* Quantitative psychology *
Quantification (science) In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
*
Observational study In fields such as epidemiology Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution (who, when, and where), patterns and determinants In mathematics, the determinant is a Scalar (mathematics), scalar value that is a function (mathematics), ...
*
Sociological positivism Positivism is a philosophical theory that states that "genuine" knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (procedural knowledge), or objects ( ...
*
Statistical survey Survey methodology is "the study of survey Survey may refer to: Statistics and human research * Statistical survey Survey methodology is "the study of survey methods". As a field of applied statistics concentrating on Survey (human research) ...
*
Statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sens ...

Statistics


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Quantitative Research