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Quantitative Social Research Methods

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❶Social research methodologies can be classified as quantitative and qualitative. In Bottomore, Tom and William Outhwaite, ed.




The process of collecting information from a sample is referred to as 'sampling'. Sampling is quicker and cheaper than a complete census of a population. Social research is based on logic and empirical observations. Ragin writes in his Constructing Social Research book that "Social research involved the interaction between ideas and evidence.

Ideas help social researchers make sense of evidence, and researchers use evidence to extend, revise and test ideas. It should never lead or be mistaken with philosophy or belief. Social research aims to find social patterns of regularity in social life and usually deals with social groups aggregates of individuals , not individuals themselves although science of psychology is an exception here.

Research can also be divided into pure research and applied research. Pure research has no application on real life, whereas applied research attempts to influence the real world. There are no laws in social science that parallel the laws in natural science. A law in social science is a universal generalization about a class of facts.

A fact is an observed phenomenon , and observation means it has been seen, heard or otherwise experienced by researcher. A theory is a systematic explanation for the observations that relate to a particular aspect of social life. Concepts are the basic building blocks of theory and are abstract elements representing classes of phenomena. Axioms or postulates are basic assertions assumed to be true. Propositions are conclusions drawn about the relationships among concepts, based on analysis of axioms.

Hypotheses are specified expectations about empirical reality derived from propositions. Social research involves testing these hypotheses to see if they are true. Social research involves creating a theory, operationalization measurement of variables and observation actual collection of data to test hypothesized relationship. Social theories are written in the language of variables, in other words, theories describe logical relationships between variables.

Variables are logical sets of attributes, with people being the "carriers" of those variables for example, gender can be a variable with two attributes: Variables are also divided into independent variables data that influences the dependent variables which scientists are trying to explain. For example, in a study of how different dosages of a drug are related to the severity of symptoms of a disease, a measure of the severity of the symptoms of the disease is a dependent variable and the administration of the drug in specified doses is the independent variable.

Researchers will compare the different values of the dependent variable severity of the symptoms and attempt to draw conclusions. When social scientists speak of "good research" the guidelines refer to how the science is mentioned and understood.

It does not refer to how what the results are but how they are figured. Glenn Firebaugh summarizes the principles for good research in his book Seven Rules for Social Research.

The first rule is that "There should be the possibility of surprise in social research. In addition, good research will "look for differences that make a difference" Rule 2 and "build in reality checks" Rule 3.

Rule 4 advises researchers to replicate, that is, "to see if identical analyses yield similar results for different samples of people" p. The next two rules urge researchers to "compare like with like" Rule 5 and to "study change" Rule 6 ; these two rules are especially important when researchers want to estimate the effect of one variable on another e.

The final rule, "Let method be the servant, not the master," reminds researchers that methods are the means, not the end, of social research; it is critical from the outset to fit the research design to the research issue, rather than the other way around.

Explanations in social theories can be idiographic or nomothetic. An idiographic approach to an explanation is one where the scientists seek to exhaust the idiosyncratic causes of a particular condition or event, i. Nomothetic explanations tend to be more general with scientists trying to identify a few causal factors that impact a wide class of conditions or events.

For example, when dealing with the problem of how people choose a job, idiographic explanation would be to list all possible reasons why a given person or group chooses a given job, while nomothetic explanation would try to find factors that determine why job applicants in general choose a given job.

Research in science and in social science is a long, slow and difficult process that sometimes produces false results because of methodological weaknesses and in rare cases because of fraud, so that reliance on any one study is inadvisable. The ethics of social research are shared with those of medical research. In the United States, these are formalized by the Belmont report as:.

The principle of respect for persons holds that a individuals should be respected as autonomous agents capable of making their own decisions, and that b subjects with diminished autonomy deserve special considerations. The principle of beneficence holds that a the subjects of research should be protected from harm, and, b the research should bring tangible benefits to society.

By this definition, research with no scientific merit is automatically considered unethical. The principle of justice states the benefits of research should be distributed fairly. The definition of fairness used is case-dependent, varying between " 1 to each person an equal share, 2 to each person according to individual need, 3 to each person according to individual effort, 4 to each person according to societal contribution, and 5 to each person according to merit.

The origin of the survey can be traced back at least early as the Domesday Book in , [6] [7] while some scholars pinpoint the origin of demography to with the publication of John Graunt 's Natural and Political Observations upon the Bills of Mortality. While Durkheim rejected much of the detail of Comte's philosophy, he retained and refined its method, maintaining that the social sciences are a logical continuation of the natural ones into the realm of human activity, and insisting that they may retain the same objectivity, rationalism, and approach to causality.

What has been called our positivism is but a consequence of this rationalism. Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide , a case study of suicide rates among Catholic and Protestant populations, distinguished sociological analysis from psychology or philosophy. By carefully examining suicide statistics in different police districts, he attempted to demonstrate that Catholic communities have a lower suicide rate than that of Protestants, something he attributed to social as opposed to individual or psychological causes.

He developed the notion of objective suis generis " social facts " to delineate a unique empirical object for the science of sociology to study. For Durkheim, sociology could be described as the "science of institutions , their genesis and their functioning".

In the midth century there was a general—but not universal—trend for U. American sociology to be more scientific in nature, due to the prominence at that time of action theory and other system-theoretical approaches. Merton released his Social Theory and Social Structure Although a distinction is commonly drawn between qualitative and quantitative aspects of scientific investigation, it has been argued that the two go hand in hand.

Although quantitative investigation of the world has existed since people first began to record events or objects that had been counted, the modern idea of quantitative processes have their roots in Auguste Comte 's positivist framework. Positivist scholars like Comte believed only scientific methods rather than previous spiritual explanations for human behavior could advance.

Quantitative methods are an integral component of the five angles of analysis fostered by the data percolation methodology, [7] which also includes qualitative methods, reviews of the literature including scholarly , interviews with experts and computer simulation, and which forms an extension of data triangulation.

Quantitative methods have limitations. These studies do not provide reasoning behind participants' responses, they often do not reach underrepresented populations, and they may span long periods in order to collect the data. Statistics is the most widely used branch of mathematics in quantitative research outside of the physical sciences, and also finds applications within the physical sciences, such as in statistical mechanics. Statistical methods are used extensively within fields such as economics, social sciences and biology.

Quantitative research using statistical methods starts with the collection of data, based on the hypothesis or theory. Usually a big sample of data is collected — this would require verification, validation and recording before the analysis can take place. Causal relationships are studied by manipulating factors thought to influence the phenomena of interest while controlling other variables relevant to the experimental outcomes.

In the field of health, for example, researchers might measure and study the relationship between dietary intake and measurable physiological effects such as weight loss, controlling for other key variables such as exercise. Quantitatively based opinion surveys are widely used in the media, with statistics such as the proportion of respondents in favor of a position commonly reported. In opinion surveys, respondents are asked a set of structured questions and their responses are tabulated.

In the field of climate science, researchers compile and compare statistics such as temperature or atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Empirical relationships and associations are also frequently studied by using some form of general linear model , non-linear model, or by using factor analysis.

A fundamental principle in quantitative research is that correlation does not imply causation , although some such as Clive Granger suggest that a series of correlations can imply a degree of causality. This principle follows from the fact that it is always possible a spurious relationship exists for variables between which covariance is found in some degree.

Associations may be examined between any combination of continuous and categorical variables using methods of statistics. Views regarding the role of measurement in quantitative research are somewhat divergent. Measurement is often regarded as being only a means by which observations are expressed numerically in order to investigate causal relations or associations.

However, it has been argued that measurement often plays a more important role in quantitative research. This is because accepting a theory based on results of quantitative data could prove to be a natural phenomenon. He argued that such abnormalities are interesting when done during the process of obtaining data, as seen below:. In classical physics, the theory and definitions which underpin measurement are generally deterministic in nature.

In contrast, probabilistic measurement models known as the Rasch model and Item response theory models are generally employed in the social sciences. Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique for measuring social and psychological attributes and phenomena.

This field is central to much quantitative research that is undertaken within the social sciences. Quantitative research may involve the use of proxies as stand-ins for other quantities that cannot be directly measured. Tree-ring width, for example, is considered a reliable proxy of ambient environmental conditions such as the warmth of growing seasons or amount of rainfall.

Although scientists cannot directly measure the temperature of past years, tree-ring width and other climate proxies have been used to provide a semi-quantitative record of average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere back to A. When used in this way, the proxy record tree ring width, say only reconstructs a certain amount of the variance of the original record. The proxy may be calibrated for example, during the period of the instrumental record to determine how much variation is captured, including whether both short and long term variation is revealed.

In the case of tree-ring width, different species in different places may show more or less sensitivity to, say, rainfall or temperature: In most physical and biological sciences , the use of either quantitative or qualitative methods is uncontroversial, and each is used when appropriate. In the social sciences, particularly in sociology , social anthropology and psychology , the use of one or other type of method can be a matter of controversy and even ideology, with particular schools of thought within each discipline favouring one type of method and pouring scorn on to the other.

The majority tendency throughout the history of social science, however, is to use eclectic approaches-by combining both methods. Qualitative methods might be used to understand the meaning of the conclusions produced by quantitative methods.


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Quantitative Social Research Methods explores the entire spectrum of quantitative social research methods and their application, with special reference to the development sector. It provides detailed coverage of all statistical research and analysis method with an emphasis on multivariate analysis techniques, such as regression discriminant .

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Among the specific strengths of using quantitative methods to study social science research problems: Allows for a broader study, involving a greater number of subjects, and enhancing the generalization of the results; Allows .

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Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches [H. Russell Bernard] on drossel.tk *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. H. Russell Bernard′s text provides a comprehensive guide to doing research in the social and behavioral sciences/5(9). Quantitative Social Research Methods. Los Angeles, CA: Sage, Labaree, Robert. Types of Research Designs. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Papers: Types of Designs research guide. USC Libraries, The content of this section was created by Dr. Labaree and used with his permission.

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