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Quantitative Research Methods

            There are two main approaches to social research namely qualitative and quantitative research methods. Quantitative method is the approach that systematically investigates a social phenomenon using statistical figures and numerical computation techniques. The basis of quantitative research is a formulated hypothesis that must be verifiable by mathematical and statistical means (Maxim, 1999). The design of the entire experiment is based around the hypothesis with the aim of proving or disapproving it. The data collected is analysed to attest the models, theories, and hypothesis generated from the research question. Collection of data may be through surveys or structured questionnaires producing information on the specific case studied. The information obtained after the analysis is used to form a general conclusion representing the entire group under study proving the hypothesis as true or false.

            Among the basic preconditions for appropriate and accurate quantitative analysis, there is need to properly consider the following aspects during the process of designing and carrying out the research. The starting point for any quantitative research is the research question. The question reflects the curiosity that drove the researcher to start the study by stating the research problem. Through inductive reasoning and observation based on the research question, a hypothesis is formulated which tries to explain the relationship between variable and the expected results of the research findings. The hypothesis should be testable by statistical and analytical means, disputable, and realistic otherwise it loses credibility and impartiality.          

            Hypothesis, unlike the research question, speculates the outcome of the study. A well-formulated hypothesis makes your research researchable. It also guides you to determine the aim and objective of your study. The aim has a broader scope but is should be directly related and limited to the hypothesis statement. The objectives are more specific and direct you to the parameters and variables involved in your study. They also guide you on the actual input as a researcher by giving you clear directions on what actually to investigate. This helps you to design the structure and plan you the research. The study question, the relevant data to collect, and how the data will be analyzed depends on the research design used. Varieties of designs differ with the quality of data they present for a cause-and-effect relationship between the variables (Neuman, 2003). That is why it is important to choose the right research design to ensure that your analysis is appropriate and accurate. A good design is that which manipulates only one variable at a time and thus avoids making statistical analysis cumbersome. Its structure should be in a manner that allows others to repeat the research and obtain similar findings.

            The techniques of collecting data are also an important aspect of a successful quantitative analysis. The technique depends on the research design in use. In most social researches, questionnaires and interviews are used. In administering an interview, different modes such as; face-to-face, telephone conversation, and internet communications are used. In all these cases, the interviewer poses a question to the respondents who express their answers in their own understanding and according to the laid directives. When collecting data using this technique it advisable to record all the conversation to ensure that you capture all the information given by the respondent.

            The other commonly used technique is the use of questionnaires. When designing a questionnaire, the first thing to do is to determine its aim basing on the objectives of your study. Then you select the suitable question style and design the questions to use. The target sample population for your study will guide you in the selection of style and design of the questions. Educational qualifications of the respondents and their depth of understanding of the study topic are some of the major factors considered. Questions should be open ended, where the respondent gives varied answers based on their opinions or close headed questions where respondents are required to give specific answers such as no, yes, or numerical values. One should avoid asking leading questions because they may skew the study toward the opinion of the researcher. Ambiguous and difficult question may make the research invalid due to the failure of the respondent to give the required information. It is very important to pilot the questionnaire using a few respondents before administering it so that you can be able to determine whether there is need to revise the questions. After collecting the data, you then analyze it using the right statistical methods and make a report.

            Randomization of the study population is the other important aspect that makes your research appropriate and accurate. Since it is not realistic to study the whole group, one carries out the study on a sample of the population and the results presumed to represent the whole group. Random sampling is the best to use but at times stratified random sample are used to make sure that the study sample represents all categories of the population thus avoiding any biasness in the findings. The sample should be convenient enough to work with. To eliminate biasness from other confounding variables a researchers uses control groups that allow them to measure one variable at a time. They also help the researcher to verify that the research design is capable of producing results and gives reliable baseline data with which they can compare their results (Neuman, 2003). For good results, valid and reliable tools of measurement must be applied and appropriate approach to data processing and analysis used. Lastly, it is important to use appropriate statistical and mathematical computation methods in order to have accurate analysis of the data.

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