Nathan D.
Nathan D.

What Is Quantitative Research? | Definition, Methods & Uses

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Published on: Jan 4, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 3, 2023

Quantitative Research

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Quantitative research is a scientific research approach that utilizes numbers and statistics to analyze data. This type of research can track trends, measure impacts, and make comparisons.

Researchers can use a variety of methods in quantitative research, including surveys, experiments, and observational studies. Quantitative research can provide valuable insights about social phenomena.

This research has various applications, including making predictions, testing hypotheses, and estimating populations. In this blog post, we'll look at what quantitative research is and its common methods and uses.

Let’s get started!

Quantitative Research Definition

Quantitative research is a specific type of scientific research that relies on numerical data. This type of research is used to answer questions about the world that can be best measured through numbers.

Various methods can be employed in quantitative research, including surveys, experiments, and correlational studies. This approach has a wide range of applications in different disciplines, from social science to business.

By understanding the key concepts behind quantitative research, students can better utilize this method in their own work.

The use of this research is a way to learn about the world by collecting data that can be measured. This type of research is divided into two categories: informative and expressive.

Quantitative research typically uses statistics and mathematical models to arrive at conclusions. It is often seen as more rigorous and reliable than qualitative research, which relies on subjective descriptions and impressions.

However, quantitative research is not without its own potential drawbacks, which must be considered when using this method.

Characteristics of Quantitative Research Methods

Take a look at some characteristics of quantitative research.

  • Large Sample Size
    The first and most important characteristic of quantitative research is that it uses a large sample size. This ensures the reliability of the research. The sample size used in quantitative research reflects the entire target market.
  • Close-ended Questions
    Close-ended questions are specific questions that have a set answer. People prefer to answer close-ended questions because they are easier and more reliable than open-ended questions.
  • Reusable Outcome
    Quantitative research is often used to answer more than one question. Data collected for one research purpose can be used for the study of another research problem. This makes the use of data more efficient because it reduces the expense and time required for conducting research.
  • Structured Research Methods
    Structured research methods, like questionnaires, polls, and surveys, are used to conduct quantitative research. This type of research involves getting detailed information about people's preferences. Additionally, the internet and social media make it easy to reach a large number of people no matter where they live.
  • Numerical Outcome
    Quantitative research always produces numerical results. This might be in the form of percentages or a range of numbers. A numerical output is easy to read and understand. It is also easier to come to conclusions from numerical outcomes than from detailed results.
  • Prior Study
    The results of quantitative research can be used to study the results of other research. This is a way for scholars and researchers to establish their research hypothesis or problem. Quantitative research is more reliable than qualitative research and produces conclusions that are easier to understand.
  • Generalized Outcome
    The results of quantitative research can be applied to the entire population. This is because quantitative research is conducted on a large sample of the population. A decision can be made for the entire population based on the results of the sample population.
  • Highly Reliable Outcome
    Quantitative research methods are very reliable because the participants face close-ended questions. This means that they are less likely to give vague or incorrect information.

Quantitative research is often used for industrial research because the results are easy to understand and explain.

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Primary Quantitative Research Method

There are four different types of primary quantitative research methods: survey, experiment, causal-comparative, and correlation.

This type of research is used in marketing research to collect data. The data from primary quantitative research is used to make decisions, rather than relying on data from previous research.

1. Survey Research
This type of research is the most important tool for all types of quantitative research techniques. Through online surveys and questionnaires researchers ask a set of questions from a sample of participants.

Here are the most common types of surveys listed.

  • Cross-Sectional Survey - This survey is conducted on a target population at a given point of time. The researcher can evaluate different variables at the same time. Cross-sectional surveys are usually used to conduct research in retail stores, the healthcare industry, or SMEs.
  • Longitudinal Survey - This survey is also an observational survey, but in this type of survey, research is conducted over time. This way researchers can analyze the thought-processes and behavior of different participants. In a longitudinal survey, one variable is evaluated at different times.

This type of survey is useful in circumstances where a sequence of events matters. Longitudinal surveys are the right choice to use in medical and applied sciences fields.

2. Correlational Research
This research is to figure out how two things are related and how one thing affects the other. To do this study, you need at least two different groups. This method is used to analyze naturally occurring relationships between things.

Quantitative research is used to study the relationships between two or more variables. Researchers use mathematical analysis methods to understand how one variable impacts another.

3.Experimental Research
This type of research is called "true experimentation." It is based on one or more theories. Researchers use this type of research to see if a statement is true or not. It is mostly used in natural sciences because there are many theories that need to be proved right or wrong.

Researchers establish a statement and then try to verify whether it is valid or invalid.

4. Causal-Comparative Research
This research method is mainly based on the factor of comparison. It is used by researchers to figure out the cause-effect equation between two or more variables. One variable depends on the other independent variable.

The independent variable is set up in a natural way, and its impact on the dependent variable is observed. These variables or groups must be set up as they exist in reality.

  • Sampling Methods - There are two ways to sample methods for quantitative research: probability and non-probability sampling.
    1. Probability Method - The participants in this research are randomly selected from the population. This means that each person has an equal chance of being chosen. Probability sampling can be done using four different techniques:
      • Cluster Sampling: A large population is divided into two parts depending on where they live. Then, people are chosen randomly from each group.
      • Simple Random Sampling: In this sampling method, participants are randomly selected from a large population.
      • Stratified Random Sampling: This method divides the population into two groups and randomly selects people from them.
      • Systematic Sampling: In this method, a certain number of samples are chosen from the population at fixed intervals. The interval is decided by how many people are in the population divided by how many samples are chosen.
    2.  Non-Probability Sampling - The researcher chooses the participants for this study. He uses his own knowledge and experience to pick people.
      This means that not all participants have the same chance of getting picked. The different types of non-probability sampling are as follows:
      • Convenience Sampling: These samples are easy and quick to select. Researchers select participants as they please.
      • Consecutive Sampling: This type of sampling is similar to convenience sampling but with one difference. A researcher can select one group and do research on it for a long time, then move to the next group.
      • Snowball Sampling: This type of sampling is used when the researcher wants to study a specific group of people. This type of sampling is often used when it is difficult to find participants.
      • Quota Sampling: The researcher chooses members of a group based on what he knows about them.
      • Judgmental Sampling: This type of sampling is where the researcher only selects participants based on their knowledge and skills.

Secondary Quantitative Research Method

Secondary quantitative research is also called desktop research. This type of research uses existing data to learn more about something. The data is from different sources like reports, libraries, government records, and the internet.

This type of research is used to make sure primary quantitative research is accurate. This means that the results from primary quantitative research can be checked against data that already exists.

There are five main methods of collecting data through secondary quantitative research.

Data Available on the Internet: The internet has a lot of information about every topic. Technology has advanced so much that we can now find information about anything on the internet. There are websites, forums, and blogs where people share their research and findings. Researchers can use this information to do their own research.
Public Libraries: Public libraries are a reliable source of information. They keep copies of important research studies. This can be used to verify the research.
Commercial Information Sources: Like newspapers, journals, radio, and television can be a great way to get information for this research. These sources have fresh data about things like economic developments, market research, political news, and demographic information.
However, not all commercial information sources are reliable. You should only use the information from these sources if you trust that it is accurate.
Government and Non-government Resources: The data from government and non-government records are reliable and detailed. It can be used to validate the research results.
Educational Institutes: Educational institutes research a variety of topics and publish the outcomes of their research. Reports from these institutes can be used to validate the outcomes of other research.

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Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

When it comes to research, there are different types that you may hear about. The two most common ones are quantitative and qualitative. But what does that actually mean?

Qualitative research is a type of research that collects data through interviews, focus groups, and observation.

Quantitative research, on the other hand, uses numerical data to answer questions. This might include surveys or questionnaires. So which one is right for your project? That really depends on what you’re looking to learn.

Let’s take a look at the table below so you can decide which one is right for you!

Quantitative Research vs. Qualitative Research
Quantitative ResearchResearch PerspectiveQualitative Research
Test the hypothesis and analyze research questions, and aspectsResearch ObjectiveFind new ideas and research new elements
Testing and analyzingResearch MethodObservation & interpretation of the results
StructuredData Collection MethodUnstructured
Uninvolved and the results are all-inclusiveResearchers InvolvementDetailed results
Large sample size and generalized resultsSamplingSmall sample size and in their natural state

Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative Research

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using a quantitative research method.

 Advantages of Quantitative Research

  • It allows for a more accurate understanding of the research problem by relying on numerical data and statistical analysis.
  • Quantitative research can be tested and checked. This makes the collected data more reliable and less open to argument.
  • When you collect quantitative data, the results will tell you which statistical tests to use. This makes it easier to interpret the data and present the findings. This process is less error-prone and subjective.
  • Complex research is seen as valuable because not many people understand the math involved. Quantitative research is often associated with important things like computer modeling, stock selection, portfolio evaluation, and other data-based business decisions.
  • When you do quantitative research, it makes your small business look more impressive to other people.

Disadvantages of Quantitative Research

  • Quantitative research can be limiting because it only looks for relationships that are concrete and statistical. This can lead researchers to overlook broader themes and relationships. Focusing solely on numbers can miss surprising or big-picture information that can benefit your business.
  • Developing a research model can be difficult. Here, you need to carefully develop a hypothesis and set up a model for collecting and analyzing data.
  • If you make any mistakes while collecting the data (like being biased), it can mess up all of your results. Even coming up with a hypothesis can be hard, especially if it's something that's subjective and open to interpretation.
  • Quantitative research is based on statistics. People often think this kind of research is more credible or scientific than observational, qualitative research. But both kinds of research can be subjective and misleading.
  • The researchers' opinions and biases are likely to impact quantitative approaches to information gathering as they are qualitative research. In fact, the impact of this bias occurs earlier in the process of quantitative research than it does in qualitative research.

Quantitative Research Examples

The following are some examples of quantitative research to help you understand it better.

Quantitative Research Examples

Quantitative Research Example for Students

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Nathan D.


Nathan D. (Education, Literature)

Nathan completed his Ph.D. in journalism and has been writing articles for well-respected publications for many years now. His work is carefully researched and insightful, showing a true passion for the written word. Nathan's clients appreciate his expertise, deep understanding of the process, and ability to communicate difficult concepts clearly.

Nathan completed his Ph.D. in journalism and has been writing articles for well-respected publications for many years now. His work is carefully researched and insightful, showing a true passion for the written word. Nathan's clients appreciate his expertise, deep understanding of the process, and ability to communicate difficult concepts clearly.

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