SOCB05 – Lecture 5 – June 6 2013
Quantitative Research Methods
Quantitative vs Qualitative
One isn’t really better than the other. Sometimes they actually compliment
each other in studies to get a fuller picture.
Emphasis on measurement and analysis of causal relationships
between variables (not processes)
Claim that their work is “value-free”. Relying on statistics, so
their opinions aren’t biasing their research.
Emphasis on qualities of entities and on the processes and
meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured in
terms of quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency.
Socially constructed nature of reality, intimate relationship
between the researcher and what is studied/participants.
Seen in a lot of feminist studies, researchers will spend
time explaining how they are connected to their topic.
Tests or verifies theories or explanations
Identifies variables to study
Relates to RQ
Uses standards of validity and reliability
Observes and measures information numerically
Employs statistccal procedures
More borad and generalizable
Collects participant “meaning”
Focuses on a single concept or process
Often brings in personal information from researcher
Has extremely high accuracy of information.
Studies context or setting of participants
In-depth, contextual picture.
The Quantitative Approach
o Appropriate when measurement can offer a useful description. That
will be handy for your study.
o The type of measurement depends on what you want to do with the
To use very precise metrics
To make comparisons To provide a subjective impression of an object of study in
reference to ourselves
Are there generalizations to be made or hypotheses to be tested?
o If yes, then quantitative is the best option.
o Appropraite when there are statistical generalizations to be
made/hypotheses to be tested.
o One of the reasons for using statistics is that we……..
Are there observable differences?
o “Is the tendency I observed in this group something distinctive,
different from what one would expect just by chance? Or are these
two, or three, or some larger of groups different in ways that exceed
o Validity: we may not be measuring what we think we are measuring.
Subjects don’t see it as we do.
o Reliability: We may not have confidence that our “yardstick” is
measuring in a consistent way.
o Convenience samples.
o Survey Research
Very important in applied social research
Includes any measurement procedures that involves asking
questions to respondents.
Interviews: Tools for qualitative research
Completed by the interviewer based on what the
Questionnaires: Tools for quantitative research.
Usually paper-and-pencil instruments that the
respondents complete. Could be over the phone
Why use this method?
o Uniqueness of topic. Not available from
o Probability Sampling. Need an unbiased
representation of the population of
o Standardization of measurement. Want
to be able to compare participants, so
you need the questions to be asked the
exact same each time to each person.
o Analysis Needs.
Example: Have a secondary
source, and want your own data
to compliment it.
What are my options? o Self-Administered Questionnaire
Handed out, and people fill it out
on their own.
Higher response turnout than
More likely to answer truthfully.
Can get clarification if you don’t
o Phone Survey
Can access people far away from
where you are. No need for
Can avoid biases: Can’t see who
you are interviewing, and they
can’t see who’s interviewing
People aren’t always truthful.
Often scripted so there’s no room
People hang up and don’t answer
o Web Survey
Not accessible to everyone. So
you might not actually get the
population you wanted.
Can be easy to ignore.
Won’t be reflective of the entire
Either get people who hate it or
Might not limit how many times
you can answer the survey, so
one person could answer 5 times.
o Face-to-Face Interview
Constructing a Questionnaire
o Decisions need to be made about:
Don’t cram questions
onto a paper, space them
out to make it not overwhelming for the
Don’t put extremely
personal questions first.
o Things to consider:
Determining the question
Choosing the format that you
want to se to collect the
Developing the best wording for
o Open-ended: Respondent is asked to
provide her own answer to question.
6 Types: Completely
unstructured, word association,
sentence completion, story
completion, picture completion,
o Closed-Ended: Respondent is asked to
choose the best answer from the
Example: Multiple choice.
Nominal: Use a categorical
question when the possible
answers are categories, and the