Research Essentials: Quantitative Research Methods

For a refresher from our qualitative entry, we learned that quantitative research methods are concerned with measurable quantities. In the simplest form, quantitative research analyses things we can count. So what shape does this research take in the field? And why or how would it be a useful method for your business. With the hope of answering these questions and more, we will set out to introduce the essentials of quantitative research.

If we look at the two methods in comparison (remember our handy cartoon from the previous post), then we can argue that quantitative research is generally considered more of a social or hard science methodology. This is primarily because the data collected and analysed in quantitative studies is usually done through numerical comparisons and statistical reports. These data sets can be collated from company records and/or research organizations within the field. Depending on the specificity of your project or main research question, you will be able to determine which data sets will be most useful.

For example, if you were concerned with researching what is the most popular car color, you could simply use statistical data that maps cars sold by their color and draw numerical comparisons based on those results. You may be interested in only cars sold from your company and you can examine the results based on brand, make, and style.  If you are more concerned with broader trends, you can examine what color cars are sold on regional or national levels. These results may help your company decide how to improve their car color selection through identifying this specific consumer trend.

Though primarily concerned with statistics, quantitative data can also involve human subjects. Surveys can be conducted online (with Survey Monkey as the most prominent application), in person, through the mail, or over the phone. Since quantitative data assumes a fixed and measurable reality, survey questions will not have as much flexibility as a qualitative survey or focus group.

So which method, quantitative or qualitative, would be best for your company or your research project? It is of course possible, and even more effective at times, to combine research methods, such as statistical analysis and focus groups, in order to get the most accurate results. If your study has determined that blue is the most popular car color sold on a regional level, it might be interesting (and informative) to ask a select number of consumers what they like about the color blue, or how much color factored in to their decision. In this sense, combining statistical analysis with consumer opinions and perspectives may provide the most comprehensive answer to your research.

Whatever your research projects, Abbey Research is here to help. We hope that these first few Research Essential features have answered some of the more basic questions about how to start conducting research. This feature will continue to appear on our blog as we continue our focus on making research accessible.