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What Is Quantitative Research?

9/12/2012

What is quantitative research?

As opposed to the broad-based, open-ended approach of qualitative research, the fundamental purpose of quantitative research is to seek specific answers to specific questions. The prototypical quantitative research project is a survey or measurement via a set of tests related to a particular phenomenon of interest. Quantitative research is an empirical approach that utilizes statistics to generate conclusions and is sometimes referred to as logical positivism.

Who can use quantitative research?

Anyone who wants a relatively quick, cost-effective, numeric answer to one or more focused questions might benefit from a quantitative research program. Quantitative researchers run the gamut of disciplines from economics, political science, psychology and sociology to business operations, human resources, and marketing to criminal justice, education, and health care. In short, quantitative research can be a practical way to test a theory or evaluate a possible course of action following some intervention or implementation of a program to effect change.

How do you actually do quantitative research?

Good quantitative research rigorously and systematically follows the scientific method.

First, develop one or more hypotheses, keeping in mind that your goal is to determine the relationship between one thing (an independent variable) and another (an outcome or dependent variable).

Second, design an experiment (a survey, for example, or a questionnaire) that tests these variables as efficiently as possible.

Third, select a statistically representative sample of the particular population you wish to examine.

Fourth, it’s time to actually conduct the test, attempting to limit as many extraneous variables as possible.

Fifth, analyze the results, commonly with the assistance of quantitative research software.

Last but not least, report your results, taking care to explain to your audience both the predictive power of, and the limitations inherent to, quantitative research.

How can Dedoose help you with your quantitative research project?

The right tool for analyzing the results of a quantitative research program is a dedicated statistical software package, the best known of which is IBM’s SPSS.

Dedoose is not a replacement for such an application. Instead, Dedoose is the ideal choice for bringing together both your quantitative and qualitative results into a more comprehensive and powerful mixed-methods study. Employing Dedoose to integrate the findings from quantitative research with those from qualitative research enables researchers to tackle questions from perspectives that are not possible from just one or the other. Dedoose gives you the best of both worlds: the cost-effective simplicity of a quantitative research program and the in-depth insight of a qualitative research approach, all wrapped up in a state-of-the-art web application.

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