Quantitative researchers are far more concerned about measurement issues than qualitative researchers are. They use a deductive approach, they
begin with a concept and then create empirical measures that precisely and accurately capture it in a form that can be expressed in numbers.
Qualitative researchers use inductive approach, so they measure features of social life as part of a process that integrates creating new concepts or
theories with measurement. They develop ways to express variable and nonvariable concepts. Does not use numbers.
Measurement helps people observe what is otherwise invisible. Measurement extends human senses. It lets us observe things that were once unseen
and unknown but were predicted by theory. Before you can measure, you need a clear idea about what you are interested in. some things are easy to
see like age, sex, skin colour. Even things that are easy to see, others might interpret differently. Like when one sees someone as old, another might say
it’s elderly. So each researcher needs to devise measures for difficult-to-observe aspects of the social world.
Quantitative and qualitative measurement
• Timing is a difference between the two styles. Quantitative researchers think about variables and convert them into specific actions during a
planning stage that occurs before and is separate from gathering or analyzing data. Measurement for qualitative researchers occurs in the data-
• Second difference involves the data itself. Quantitative data are in numbers. Qualitative researchers don’t convert all observation into a single
medium such as numbers. Instead they develop many ongoing processes to measure, which leaves the data in various shapes, sizes and forms.
• Third difference is how the two styles make linkages. Quantitative researchers contemplate and reflect on concepts before they gather any data.
They construct measurement techniques that bridge concepts and data.
• Qualitative researchers also reflect on ideas before data collection, but they develop many of their concepts during data collection.
Parts of the measurement process
• Quantitative follow deductive. They begin with an abstract idea, follow with a measurement procedure and end with empirical data that represent
• Qualitative researchers primarily follow inductive route. They begin with empirical data, follow with abstract ideas, relate ideas and data, and end
with a mixture of ideas and data.
• Conceptualization: the process of developing clear, rigorous, systematic conceptual definitions for abstract ideas/concepts.
• Conceptual definition: a systematic definition of a construct that is explicitly written to clarify one’s thinking. It is often linked to other concepts or
theoretical statements. This is basically how you come up with a way to describe what a term is. Like trying to develop a conceptual definition of the
word “prejudice”. One would rely on personal experience, deep thinking, discussions with other people and the existing scholarly literature.
• Conceptualization is the process of thinking through the meaning of a construct. Let’s say you believe that prejudice means an inflexible
negative attitude that an individual holds and is directed toward a race or ethnic group that is an out-group. It can lead to behaviour of treating
people unequally. Thus, your initial thought, “prejudice is a negative feeling” has become a precisely defined construct. Because it’s more specific.
• Operationalization: the process of moving from the conceptual definition of a construct to a set of specific activities or measures that allow a
researcher to observe it empirically (its operational definition).
• Operational definition: the definition of a variable in terms of the specific activities to measure or indicate it with empirical evidence. Like
questionnaires, a method of observing events in a field setting, or any process carried out by the researcher that reflects, documents or represents
the abstract construct as it is expressed in the conceptual definition.
Quantitative conceptualization and operationalization
• Measurement process for quantitative research follows a sequence: first conceptualization, then operationalization, and finally application of the
operational definition or measuring to collect the data.
• At the most abstract level, the researcher is interested in the causal relationship between two constructs, or a conceptual hypothesis. At the level
of operational definitions, the researcher is interested in testing an empirical hypothesis to determine the degree of association between
indicators. This is the level at which correlations, statistics, questionnaires, and the like are used. The third level is the concrete empirical world. • Conceptual hypothesis: a type of hypothesis in which the researcher expresses variables in abstract, conceptual terms and expresses the
relationship among variables in a theoretical way.
• Empirical hypothesis: a type of hypothesis in which the researcher expresses variables in specific terms and expresses the association among
the measured indicators of observable, empirical evidence.
• ABSTRACT CONSTRUCT conceptualization CONCEPTUAL DEFINITION operationalization INDICATOR OR MEASURE (tests empirical
• EXAMPLE ^: let’s say you’re studying recent refugees’ use of their social networks in the quality of their resulting jobs. The study is an explanatory
study with two main variables in causal hypothesis.
o Begin with the conceptual hypothesis: The social networks of recent refugees affect quality of employment in Canada.
o They conceptualized the independent variable, social networks, and defined it as the size of the refugees’ formal and informal networks.
o The researchers conceptualized the dependent variable, job quality, and defined it has how desirable the refugee’s job was.
o The researchers operationalized the independent variable by asking refugees about the extent of the familial and extra-familial social
o They operationalized the dependent by creating an index of job quality which included the status of the job, if it was permanent of
temporary, and if the inficidual refugee’s educational qualifications matched those required by the position.
o They then tested the empirical hypothesis: The greater the social networks of recent immigrants, the more likely they are to have
Qualitative conceptualization and operationalization
o In this style, conceptualization is a process of forming theoretical definitions as one struggles to “make sense” or organize the data and
one’s preliminary ideas.
o As you gather and analyze qualitative data, you develop new concepts, formulate definitions for the concepts, and considers
relationships among the concepts.
o They conceptualize by developing clear, explicit definitions of constructs.
o Conceptualization is largely determined by the data
o Data gathering occurs with or prior to full operationalization.
o Qualitative operationalization describes how the researcher collects data, but it includes the researcher’s use of pre-existing techniques
and concepts that were blended with those that emerged during the data collection process.
o Ideas and evidence are mutually interdependent.
All data need to be reliable and valid, which is impossible to achieve. Reliability – the dependability or consistency of the measure of a variable. Validity
– a term meaning “truth” that can be applied to the logical tightness of experimental design, the ability to generalize findings outside a study, the quality
of measurement and the proper use of procedures.
Reliability and validity in QUANTITATIVE research
• How to improve reliability (4 ways)
o Clearly conceptualize constructs, o Use a precise level of measurement
o Use multiple indicators
o Use pilot tests
• Clearly conceptualize all constructs: reliability increases when you create unambiguous, clear theoretical definitions. Constructs should be
specified to eliminate “noise” (things that could interfere with information).