Quantitative research is one of the major form of research used in the world today. This form of research has several distinct characteristics. In all, there are at least six characteristics of quantitative research and they are listed below.
- Description of a research problem
- A review of literature that provides justified research problem and questions
- Purpose statement that is narrow, observable, and measurable
- Collection of numeric data
- Statistical analysis
- Write up of the results using a standardized format
In this post we will discuss the first three and look at the next three in a future post.
The Research Problem
The researcher begins by finding a research problem through finding trends in a field or finding something that needs to be explained. An example of a trend would be to assess students’ perception of food services. If the sample does not like the food it can be inferred that the population of the school is disappointed as well.
A different research problem would be to understand the relationship among variables. A variable is a measurable attribute that is studied. For example, a researcher may want to know the relationship between height and weight. He wants to know if an increase in height will lead to an increase in weight.
Review of Literature
The literature review serves two main purposes
- Justify the need for the research problem and need
- Suggest potential purposes and research questions
The review of literature helps you to find something that has not been studied before or that no one has examined thoroughly. For example, a review of literature might indicate that we know little about how height affects weight. This natural leads to the question “does height affect weight?” The literature review provides the need for the study as well as helps to shape the research questions.
The research question has already been alluded to. Your goal is to develop specific, narrow, and measurable questions. Specific questions helps you to only have a handful of variables you need to deal with. For example, in our height and weight illustration the question we can ask is “does height influences weight?” In this example, we are looking at two specific variables which are height and weight. We need to measure the height of people and we also need to measure the weight of the same people. We can then use statistics to see if height influences weight. Clear questions are important in clear research design as we will see in the future.
These initial steps are critical to successful research. If the beginning is off and not clear there is no hope for the study. It is at the early stages of a study that students struggle are most frustrated. If a good job is done here the rest of the study is relatively easy to complete.