Quantitative research involves the collection and analysis of numerical data to describe, control, predict, or explain phenomena or variables of interest. An analyst conducting a quantitative research project seeks to establish and explain relationships between variables and describe prevailing situations. Because of the singular perspective of focusing on explaining the phenomenon under examination, quantitative research functions under agreed-on steps that guide the investigation process.
A major goal of quantitative research is for the analyst to follow the study objective. The linear steps in the quantitative research process constitute the pre-established strategies and routines that assist in increasing the investigators’ objectivity. Focusing on objectivity permits quantitative researchers to generalize the findings of the study of the particular situation involved in that investigation. However, the quantitative research paradigm disregards the respondents’ perspectives and experiences in extremely controlled settings because there lacks a direct relationship between investigators and the participants when collecting data. Consequently, the research process becomes objective.
1. Identification and Statement of the Research Problem
The purpose of an investigation guides the decisions and choices about the methodology selected for that study. The purpose of a quantitative research study is narrow and focuses on limited key variables. The researcher needs to ensure that the study question and hypothesis are stated clearly, precisely, and unambiguously because they are a guide to the study. Failure to have an efficient research problem causes misalignment between the collected data and proposed analytical methods or study question and the necessary statistics, as the investigation progresses. Therefore, a researcher needs to decide the area of interest and then formulate the research problem.
2. Conduct an Extensive Review of Relevant Literature
Literature reviews are essential for; (a) determining the extent a specific research area aids in revealing interpretable trends and patterns; (b) generating new theories and frameworks; (c) identifying existing literature on a subject or topic; (d) establishing topics or question that need additional investigation; (e) combining empirical findings on a research question to support evidence-based practice. A review of literature aids in justifying the research problem by providing background information for the study. Additionally, learning what other researchers have done previously may inform decisions regarding the study design, data collection procedures, methodologies, population, analytical techniques, sampling, and instrumentation. Also, reading the studies of other researchers assists an investigator in refining or clarifying their research question or identifying gaps in the existing literature. Analyzing contradictory literature in the study findings and important information missing from an article will assist in identifying gaps in a research topic. Additionally, an investigator needs to analyze the strengths and limitations of the study by evaluating unintended bias, sample size, or whether the author’s methods may be replicated. Therefore, reviewing related literature guides quantitative research studies. An investigator may use academic journals, government reports, books, and bibliographies depending on the problem to conduct a literature search.
3. Development of a Research Plan
A research plan is developed by incorporating the information of the literature review and the objective and purpose of the study. The plan consists of an appropriate research design formed based on the nature of the study hypothesis or question, strategies used to select the sample population, and data collection and analysis procedures and instrumentation. The research design facilitates the efficiency of the study to yield extensive evidence with optimum effort, expenditure, and time.
4. Collection of the Data
Data collection is a thoroughly established aspect of quantitative research and does not take a lot of time to execute. Data is collected directly from participants using instruments such as surveys, checklists, inventories, and tests. In a quantitative research study, the data collection procedures, instruments, and sampling strategies do not change when the investigation commences. Quantitative researchers prefer having a constant, unchangeable data collection strategy because they believe it enhances the objectivity of their investigation. Sampling strategies focus on the random selection of participants and collection of data from an expansive study population because generalization is a fundamental aspect of quantitative research.
5. Data Analysis and Interpretation of the Results
It is important to ensure that data is free of error and is in a form suitable for examination before analysis, and this will involve cleaning, recoding, transforming, and integrating the information from other sources. Data preparation is a time-consuming process that needs to be conducted systematically and thoughtfully to ensure the reliability of analysis results. Quantitative data result in complex datasets; therefore, analysis is required to derive relevant information from it. Analysis to be conducted is determined by the study objectives and characteristics of the data items. Data is analyzed and interpreted using statistical techniques that compare groups, measures the relationship that exists among variables, and focus on numerical descriptions. The conclusions of the study will be drawn from the interpretation of the results of the statistical analysis of data. Additionally, the conclusion and the recommendations for practice and future research are linked to the body of information used as the basis for conducting the literature review.
Fundamental steps when planning quantitative research involves identifying the problem statements, the purpose of the study, and the research design. The design of the study is influenced by the purpose of the research. The purpose of the research study is normally limited to key variables. Additionally, a quantitative researcher is required to identify the purpose and design of the study to ensure the reliability and validity of the data. Also, investigators need to identify research questions that address the problem and purpose statements precisely and logically.