Advantages and disadvantages of quantitative research
This article explores some of the advantages and disadvantages of quantitative research. Quantitative and qualitative research are like siblings; however, they are completely different. Both have some strong advantages and disadvantages, and therefore, the researchers’ decision to select a particular method would mostly depend on their own skills, preference, time and money, and the research topic.
Definition of quantitative research
Quantitative research has become an essential tool in the world of data-driven decision making. It refers to the systematic investigation of phenomena using numerical data and statistical methods. It focuses on quantifying relationships, patterns, and trends among variables.
According to the University of Texas at Arlington (2022) quantitative research refers to a set of strategies, techniques and assumptions that are used to study psychological, social, and economic processes through the exploration of numeric patterns. One of the key focuses in this definition is numerical calculation.
According to BPP Learning Media (2013) quantitative research is concerned with numbers and statistical analysis and can provide numerical data as a result of each research participant being asked the same series of questions.
Quantitative research is grounded in positivism, which assumes that reality can be measured and observed objectively. Quantitative researchers aim to understand the relationships among variables by testing hypotheses and analysing numerical data. This research method is particularly useful for identifying patterns, predicting outcomes, and testing theories.
Characteristics of quantitative research
In quantitative research, researchers investigate phenomenon by collecting and analysing numerical data. Their focus is on numerical analysis of data by using different computational techniques.
Big sample size
Sample size is big in quantitative research. It is not unusual to see researchers sending questionnaires to hundreds of people. However, it worth mentioning that the sample size is usually decided by the researchers’ preference, time and money they have, and the scope of their project.
Use of visual aids
Quantitative data are often arranged and presented in tables, graphs, and charts. Researchers often use questionnaires to collect numerical data. They can run the data through tabulation and generate basic outputs.
Quantitative research techniques/instruments
Some of the popular quantitative research techniques are surveys, questionnaires, observation etc. The questionnaire is perhaps the most widely used tool of marketing research.
Advantages of quantitative research
In quantitative studies, researchers usually reach out to a large sample. Collection of substantial data increases the credibility of the studies.
Collecting quantitative data can be quick. Researchers can send questionnaires to many respondents with a single email. As questions are usually close ended, it is also easy and quick for the respondents to complete the questionnaire and send it back to the researchers immediately. The Internet and electronic questionnaire have indeed made it quicker.
Anonymity of the respondents is also a good advantage. Research participants are more comfortable and likely to share an honest perspective when they become confident that their feedback will not come back to trouble them in the future.
Quantitative research can be used to test hypotheses. Testing hypotheses plays a big role in studies where a deductive approach to research has been selected.
Disadvantages of quantitative research
In quantitative research, researchers are unable to explore the behaviours and attitudes of the respondents and may overlook broader themes and relationships as they are focused on numerical data. This type of research does not allow businesses to understand exactly what their customers think (BBC, 2023).
Analysing quantitative data can be very difficult and time consuming. Just imagine analysing around 200 completed questionnaires! Likewise, quantitative analysis may be difficult for those researchers who have non-statistical backgrounds.
Many people think that quantitative research is more credible than qualitative research because of its statistical nature. However, this could be misleading as the biases and opinions of the researchers may affect the data collection of quantitative research as much as they could affect that of a qualitative study.
Sampling strategies for quantitative research
Sampling is the process of selecting a subset of the population to represent the entire population. In quantitative research, the goal is to obtain a representative sample that accurately reflects the characteristics of the population. Therefore, quantitative researchers usually use probability sampling.
Probability sampling involves selecting participants based on their probability of being included in the sample. This approach ensures that each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected, which increases the representativeness and generalizability of the findings. Examples of probability sampling methods include simple random sampling, stratified sampling, and cluster sampling.
Ethical considerations in quantitative research
Ethical considerations are critical in quantitative research, as they ensure that the research is conducted in a responsible and respectful manner. Researchers must adhere to ethical principles and guidelines to protect the rights and welfare of the participants, ensure the integrity of the research, and maintain public trust.
There are several ethical considerations that researchers must address when conducting quantitative research. These include:
Informed consent refers to the process of obtaining voluntary and informed agreement from the participants to participate in the study. Researchers must provide clear and understandable information about the study purpose, procedures, risks, benefits, and confidentiality, and obtain written consent from the participants.
Confidentiality and anonymity refer to the protection of the participants’ privacy and personal information. Researchers must ensure that the data are stored securely, that the participants’ identities are protected, and that the data are used only for research purposes.
Deception refers to the intentional withholding or misrepresentation of information to the participants. Researchers must ensure that that the participants are debriefed and informed of the true purpose of the study.
Summary of advantages and disadvantages of quantitative research
Quantitative research is a powerful tool for generating objective and reliable data that can inform decision-making. It provides a solid foundation for identifying trends, patterns, and relationships, testing hypotheses, and evaluating interventions and programs.
As technology and data continue to evolve, quantitative research is likely to become even more important in the future. Advances in big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are likely to transform the way quantitative research is conducted and applied.
However, these advances also pose new challenges that researchers and stakeholders must address. Ensuring the validity and reliability of the data, protecting the privacy and rights of the participants, and using the findings responsibly and ethically will be critical to the future of quantitative research.
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Last update: 9 May 2023
BBC (2023) Market research, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z6y9rj6/revision/5 (accessed 09 May 2023)
BPP Learning Media (2013) Business Decision Making, 3rd edition, London: BPP Learning Media Ltd
The University of Texas at Arlington (2022) What is quantitative research, available at: https://libguides.uta.edu/quantitative_and_qualitative_research/quant (accessed 08 May 2023)
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.