Quantitative research is research that uses numerical analysis. In essence, this approach reduces the data into numbers, such as the percent of teenage mothers in Florida. The researcher knows in advance what he/she is looking for and all aspects of the study are carefully designed before the data is collected. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to phenomena.
Quantitative research is generally done using scientific methods, which includes the following steps:
- Developing models, theories, and hypotheses of what the researcher expects to find.
- Developing instruments and methods for measuring the data.
- Experimental control and manipulation of variables.
- Collecting the data.
- Modeling and analyzing the data.
- Evaluating the results.
Methods Of Data Collection
- Surveys or questionnaires with closed-ended questions.
- Using secondary data (data that someone else has collected).
- Experiments (with a control group and an experimental group).
Strengths Of Quantitative Research
The greatest strength of quantitative research is that it produce quantifiable, reliable data that are usually generalizable to some larger population. Quantitative analysis also allows researchers to test specific hypotheses, in contrast to qualitative research, which is more exploratory.
Weakness of Quantitative Research
The greatest weakness of the quantitative approach is that it decontextualizes human behavior in a way that removes the event from its real world setting and ignores the effects of variables that have not been included in the model. It also lacks a depth and richness of data that is present with qualitative research. Because there are so many participants using quantitative methods, it is impossible to know the details about each and every one.
Anderson, M.L. and Taylor, H.F. (2009). Sociology: The Essentials. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.