Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research Methods

Quantitative Research

Click on the tabbed links above for information on specific types of qualitative research.

Quantitative research focuses primarily on the collection and analysis of quantitative or numerical data. In contrast to qualitative research, quantitative research employs statistical methodology at every stage of the research process, from inception to completion. Here results are sought with the intention to generalize, and thus subjectivity is removed from the equation as much as possible. Participants are chosen through random sampling in an effort to promote an unbiased representation of the target population.

From Center for Innovation in Reseach & Teaching, here is a list of characteristics and advantages of quantitative research design:

  • The data collected is numeric, allowing for collection of data from a large sample size.
  • Statistical analysis allows for greater objectivity when reviewing results and therefore, results are independent of the researcher.
  • Numerical results can be displayed in graphs, charts, tables and other formats that allow for better interpretation.
  • Data analysis is less time-consuming and can often be done using statistical software.
  • Results can be generalized if the data are based on random samples and the sample size was sufficient.
  • Data collection methods can be relatively quick, depending on the type of data being collected.
  • Numerical quantitative data may be viewed as more credible and reliable, especially to policy makers, decision makers, and administrators.

Further Reading:


Looking for readings on quantitative research within a specific field? Try searching for more resources using the keywords "quantitative research" AND the field of your choice.



Click here or the image above to view sample search results.


Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching. An overview of quantitative research. Retrieved from https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/research_ready/quantresearch/overview_quant
Levine, E. (2011). Quantitative research. In J. J. Fitzpatrick, Encyclopedia of nursing research (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from http://ezproxyles.flo.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/spennurres/quantitative_research/0?institutionId=1429

While it can be used as both a qualitative and quantitative method, descriptive research is typically classified as the latter for its focus on gathering quantifiable data to statistically analyze a target group, concept, or phenomenon. These studies make use of the following tools:
           • surveys
           • measurement tools
           • chart or record reviews
           • physiological measurements
           • meta-analyses
           • secondary data analyses

Descriptive research is used when there is very little information available about a phenomenon or to increase understanding of a well-research phenomenon by providing a new perspective. It has minimal interpretation to keep its findings objective, and thus more readily accepted as a factual representation.


Looking for additional readings on or examples of descriptive research? Click the image below or here for a list of relevant resources.


Descriptive research. (2010). In A. B. Powers, Dictionary of nursing theory and research (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from http://ezproxyles.flo.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/spnurthres/descriptive_research/0?institutionId=1429
Tarzian, A. J., & Zichi Cohen, M. (2011). Descriptive research. In J. J. Fitzpatrick, Encyclopedia of nursing research (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from http://ezproxyles.flo.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/spennurres/descriptive_research/0?institutionId=1429

Correlational research seeks to identify a relationship between two or more variables, without conducting any manipulations of said variables. This provides correlational research with the distinct advantage of being more grounded in reality than the artificiality of laboratory experiments. Additionally, correlational research is notable for its ability to handle large amounts of data connected to one specific subject area, as well as the fact it can be used to study variables that would be otherwise deemed unethical if conducted in a laboratory experiment.

Further Reading:


Looking for additional readings on or examples of correlational research? Click the image below or here for a list of relevant resources.


Correlational research. (2010). In A. B. Powers, Dictionary of nursing theory and research (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from http://ezproxyles.flo.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/spnurthres/correlational_research/0?institutionId=1429

Quasi-experimental research (also known as causal-comparative research) seeks to determine cause-and-effect relationships between two or more variables. While similar to the experimental research design, quasi-experimental differs in that there is no control group, no random selection, no random assignment, and/or no active manipulation. Essentially, quasi-experimental is an experimental design that is restricted by a lack of manipulation of one of the components, yet still seeks to determine a casual relationship between variables.

Like experimental research, quasi-experiments are dependent on probabilities, meaning they can only present the probability that one thing causes another. Thus, quasi-experiments cannot claim to be able to prove a single effect will always be the result of a single variable.

Check out Writing@CSU for a list of advantages and disadvantages in using quasi-experimental research.

Further Reading:


Looking for additional readings on or examples of quasi-experimental research? Click the image below or here for a list of relevant resources.


Abraham, I., & MacDonald, K. (2011). Quasi Experimental research. In J. J. Fitzpatrick, Encyclopedia of nursing research (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from http://ezproxyles.flo.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/spennurres/quasi_experimental_research/0?institutionId=1429
Colorado State University Writing Center. Basic concepts of Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research. Retrieved from https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1361&guideid=64

Experimental research work to provide strong evidence to prove hypothesis about a causal relationship between independent and dependent variables. It is a method borrowed from the physical and natural sciences and is characterized by three components: manipulation, control, and randomization.

Experimental research roughly consists of five phases:

  1. Identifying a research problem
  2. Planning an experimental research study
  3. Conducting the experiment
  4. Analyzing the data
  5. Presentation of the findings

Like quasi-experimental research, experiments are dependent on probabilities, meaning they can only present the probability that one thing causes another. Thus, experiments cannot claim to be able to prove a single effect will always be the result of a single variable.

Check out Writing@CSU for a list of advantages and disadvantages in using experimental research.

Further Reading:


Looking for additional readings on or examples of experimental research? Click the image below or here for a list of relevant resources.


Abraham, I., & MacDonald, K. (2011). Experimental research. In J. J. Fitzpatrick, Encyclopedia of nursing research (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from http://ezproxyles.flo.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/spennurres/experimental_research/0?institutionId=1429
experimental method. (2006). In B. S. Turner (Ed.), Cambridge dictionary of sociology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://ezproxyles.flo.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/cupsoc/experimental_method/0?institutionId=1429
Colorado State University Writing Center. Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research. Retrieved from https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm