Quantitative research is the dominant trend in modern social science. Quantitative research methods are based on strategies, assumptions and methodological prescriptions. They also cover psychological, economic and social aspects. As the name suggests, numerical models are used to analyze information. It is numerical information that enables researchers to conduct simple and complex statistical analyses. With the help of quantitative research, you can combine various data and derive relationships between certain indicators.
Globally, there are two methodological groups of research – quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research tools include surveys, experiments, structural studies, and mandatory comparisons. Qualitative tools allow you to find accurate answers to the questions asked.
Qualitative research requires the collection and subsequent processing of all kinds of surveys or the results of ongoing observations. Often, interviews are conducted for this method, focus groups are held, etc. In this article, we will look at the quantitative and qualitative approaches and highlight the strengths of each method.
Quantitative Research Methods
Most often, quantitative methods are used in the framework of correlation or experimental studies. The key is that they allow you to quickly collect the necessary information in the required format for further study. Quantification is often used in hypothesis testing and forecasting. At the same time, the results obtained can be extended to a wide population. The following methods of quantitative research can be distinguished:
To use it, you need to separate independent and dependent variables. Then the influence of the first variable on the second under certain conditions is measured.
For example, consider the impact of administration intervention in the fight against student procrastination. In the end, you need to compare the behavior of the experimental group before and after exposure to certain external factors.
Surveys done in person, via phone calls, and through test communication are a productive solution for collecting information.
A good example is the special psychological questionnaires that first-year students fill out. The surveys are designed to assess culture shock and first impressions of higher-education institutions. The larger the audience of respondents, the more truthful the results will be.
This method requires a precise definition of the event to track. This is the only way to achieve observation in a truly natural setting, without the harmful influence of external factors.
For example, to determine the ratio of passive to active students in a study group, it is necessary to attend several classes, in order to note students’ reactions to lectures independently. The focus group representatives cannot be aware of the purpose of the observations.
A lot of information has already been collected for past research, and this data can be reused to find answers to different questions — even if the original research topics were different. In particular, people’s actual attitudes towards climate change were measured using publicly available longitudinal studies.
Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research
Quantitative and qualitative studies are somewhat similar, but also have some significant differences. The table below summarizes the key features of each method.
|Quantitative Research||Qualitative Research|
|The main emphasis is on the practical testing of hypotheses and voiced theories.||The focus is on exploring initial ideas. On their basis, specific theories and hypotheses are formed.|
|Mathematical and statistical approaches are used as methods of information analysis.||The analysis of the collected information is carried out using generalization, interpretation, and subsequent classification of data.|
|The results are expressed using digital equivalents, graphs, and tables.||The results of qualitative studies are expressed in text format. This is the only way to tell everything you need, taking into account the nuances.|
|It takes a lot of respondents. Research becomes impossible due to their small number.||To collect valid information, you will need to interview at least two or three respondents. But their number is not limited – the principle “the more – the better” applies.|
|The subject of research is closed (multiple) questions.||The subject of research is “open” questions.|
|The most common terms sound like “testing,” “objectivity,” “reproducibility.”||The key elements of terminology include: “context”, “subjectivity”, “understanding”, etc.|
Both considered approaches have the right to life and can successfully solve various problems by qualified researchers. To get a genuinely truthful result, you will have to master multiple tools for processing information. But in the end, your efforts will be rewarded. The main difficulty lies in choosing the right type of research. It is also essential to select the best methods. If this condition is met, then there is no doubt that the desired result will be obtained. Otherwise, you can become a victim of biased information obtained from distorted research results.