The Nature of Quantitative Research

Posted by: | Posted on: September 15, 2008

Key Points:

  • Quantitative research can be characterized as a linear series of steps moving from theory to conclusion, but the process described is an ideal type from which there are many departures.
  • The measurement process entails the search for indicators.
  • Establishing the reliability and validity of measures is important for assessing their quality.
  • Can be characterized as exhibiting certain preoccupations, the most central of which are: measurement, causality; generalization; and replication.
  • It has been subjected to many criticisms by qualitative researchers. These criticisms tend to revolve around the view that a natural science model is inappropriate for studying the social world.

Questions for Review:

The main steps in quantitative research

  • What are the main steps in quantitative research?
  • To what extent do the main steps follow a strict sequence?
  • Do the step suggest a deductive approach to the relationship between theory and research?

Concepts and their measurement

  • Why is measurement important for the quantitative researcher?
  • What is the different between a measure and an indicator?
  • Why might multiple-indicator approaches to the measurement of concepts be preferable to those that rely on a single indicator?

Reliability and validity

  • What are the main ways fo thinking about the reliability of the measurement process? Is one form fo reliability the most important?
  • Whereas validity presupposes reliability, reliability does not presuppose validity. Discuss.
  • What are the main criteria for evaluating measurement validity?

The main preoccupations of quantitative researchers

  • Outline the main preoccupations of quantitative researchers. What reasons can you give for their prominence?
  • Why might replication be an important preoccupation among quantitative researchers, in spite of the tendency for replications in social research to be fairly rare?

The critique of quantitative research

  • The crucial problem with quantitative research is the failure of its practitioners to address adequately the issue of meaning. Discuss.
  • How central is the adoption by quantitative researchers of a natural science model of conducting research to the critique by qualitative researchers of quantitative research?

Source: Alan Bryman. 2004. P.81-82, Second Edition, Oxford University Press

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