You need quantitative research data, conducted on a statistically significant sample to get the most informative results for your business.
You may already use quantitative research, or you may be new to this research type. Join us as we explore quantitative research, how to use it, and the best ways to collect quantitative data.
Research in which collected data is converted into numbers or numerical data is quantitative research. It is widely used in surveys, demographic studies, census information, marketing, and other studies that use numerical data to analyze results.
Primary quantitative research yields results that are objective, statistical, and unbiased. These results are often used as benchmarks.
Distinguishing features of quantitative research:
As we just described, quantitative research collects numerical data. It is statistical and structured, and its results are objective and conclusive.
Qualitative research collects non-numerical data to gain insights. It is performed with the goal of gaining a deeper understanding of a topic, issue, or problem from an individual perspective. Data is meant to describe rather than predict. Information is gathered through focus groups, observation, and open-ended survey questions.
Qualitative research data is not numerical. Because of its exploratory nature, answers are descriptive text or statements rather than choices from a structured answer set. This makes qualitative research more time-consuming to analyze than quantitative research, though it is equally valuable in a well-structured survey.
Refer to this article for further information about the difference between quantitative and qualitative research.
There are several advantages to quantitative research. Some of the most salient advantages are:
No research method is perfect. These are some of the main limitations of quantitative research:
Quantitative research methods are used for descriptive, correlational, causal-comparative, and experimental research. Let’s take a closer look at each type.
This type of quantitative research is used to explain the current state of a variable or topic. It can answer what, where, when, and how, but not why questions (those are answered in qualitative research). The researcher does not control or manipulate the variables. They just observe and measure them.
Surveys are often used to gather a large amount of data that can be analyzed for frequencies, averages, and patterns. For example, surveys can be used to describe the demographics of a given region, gauge public opinion on political topics, and evaluate customer satisfaction with a company’s products.
Observations are often used to gather data without relying on survey respondents' honesty or accuracy. This method of descriptive research is used to understand how individuals act in real-life situations.
Case studies can also be used to gather detailed information to identify characteristics of a narrowly defined subject. They are frequently used to generate hypotheses and theories.
The goal of descriptive research is to understand the current status of an identified variable.
When to Use
Descriptive research is used to identify categories and trends, form hypotheses, arrange comparisons, confirm existing phenomena, and outline sample characteristics.
The following are examples of descriptive research:
The correlational research method examines the relationships between different subjects and variables without the researcher controlling or manipulating any of them. It is focused on relationships between fixed variables. Correlational research relies on the scientific method and hypotheses.
Surveys are fast, easy ways to measure your variables of interest. It’s essential to ensure that your questions are formulated correctly and your questions are free of bias. Our question bank is very useful in helping you design your survey questions.
Naturalistic observation allows you to gather data about a behavior or phenomenon in its natural environment. This may include measuring frequencies, durations, scales, and amounts.
Secondary data is a fast, inexpensive way to conduct correlational research. However, the data may not be reliable or not entirely relevant to your study—and you have no control over it.
The goal of correlational research is to identify variables that have some sort of relationship to the extent that one creates a change in the other.
When to Use
Correlational research is used to gather data quickly from natural settings so you can generalize findings to a real-life situation.
The following are examples of correlational research:
The causal-comparative research method is used to identify a cause and effect relationship between two variables, where one variable is dependent and another is independent. It has aspects in common with experimentation but cannot be considered a true experiment.
There are three main types of quasi-experimental research designs:
Nonequivalent groups: groups are similar, but only one experiences treatment or variable
Regression discontinuity: researchers assign an arbitrary cutoff in the list of participants. Those above the cutoff receive treatment or variable and those below do not. The individuals just below the threshold are used as a control group because they are so near the threshold.
Natural experiments: an external event or situation (nature) results in the random assignment of subjects to the variable recipient group. These experiments are observational and are not considered true experiments.
The goal of causal-comparative research is to identify how different groups are affected by the same circumstance.
When to Use
Causal-comparative/quasi-experimental research is often used when experimental research is deemed infeasible, unethical, or prohibited.
The following are examples of causal-comparative/quasi-experimental research:
The experimental research method is research that is guided by a specific hypothesis or hypotheses. It is very useful for guiding decision-making. Any research conducted using the scientific method uses experimental research methods.
There are three types of experimental research designs:
Pre-experimental: a researcher observes a group or multiple groups after implementing a treatment or introducing a factor that is assumed to lead to changes in the groups. This is used to understand if further research is necessary for the observed groups.
True experimental: depends on statistical analysis to support or refute the hypothesis. The participants must be chosen in random sampling.
Quasi-experimental: participants are not chosen at random.
The goal of experimental research is to prove or disprove a specific hypothesis. It uses the scientific method to establish the cause-effect relationship among a group of variables.
When to Use
Use experimental research when you need to compare two or more groups that are experiencing different conditions.
The following are examples of experimental research:
Data collection, the process of gathering and measuring information on variables of interest, is critical in any type of research. How the information is collected and used and what insights it can generate are determined by the methodology and analytical approach of the researcher.
In quantitative research, you’ll use one or more of these methods to collect data.
Questionnaires or surveys ask questions to help researchers collect data. There are several types of survey questions. For quantitative surveys, closed-ended questions that yield numerical values and answers are typically used.
This type of survey gathers data from multiple demographic groups during the same time period. With cross-sectional surveys, you can compare data across demographics and track multiple variables.
These surveys gather data from one demographic group at multiple time periods. A longitudinal survey may be used to follow up with participants at, for example, one month, two months, one year, and five years later. The goal of a longitudinal survey is to see how habits change over time or what impact habits have on a group of people over the course of months or years.
Similar to surveys, participants are asked a series of questions in interviews. Instead of answering online or on paper, the researcher asks questions face-to-face with the participant. Interviews may be structured, where each participant is asked the same questions in the same order, or unstructured, where questions are asked as the researcher thinks of them or in response to what a participant says.
In observation, a researcher watches people and notes their behaviors, actions, and habits. Observation is most often used in qualitative research, but can also be used in quantitative research.
Whether you’re engaging in descriptive, correlational, causal-comparative, or experimental research, you need a panel of participants that meets your requirements. SurveyMonkey Audience will find the ideal respondents for your quantitative research in a matter of minutes.
Discover how easy it is to conduct quantitative research with an audience with the exact characteristics you need. Get started now!
Collect market research data by sending your survey to a representative sample
Get help with your market research project by working with our expert research team
Test creative or product concepts using an automated approach to analysis and reporting