Home > Get ready > Research tutorials > Quantitative research

Quantitative research

Quantitative research measures the number, the quantity or amount, answering to the question “how many…”, and tries to project for future period. The quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of phenomena and their relationships. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories or hypothesis that provide predictions and generalizations.

In social sciences, quantitative research is mainly used in economics, marketing, sociology, psychology, political science, and less frequently in anthropology and history. Research in natural sciences, such as physics, biology, is also quantitative by definition.


Quantitative methods for collecting data are chosen when the research needs to:

- Identify the factors that influence a certain outcome

- Establish the usefulness of a certain action

- Generalize a result and predict trends

- Collect large volumes of data

- Establish patterns

- Develop mathematical models


The quantitative methods for data collection are:

  • Surveys (questionnaires): ask the same questions to large numbers of participants and measure opinions as numerical data

  • Experiments: testing hypotheses in laboratories, testing cause and effect relationships, through field experiments

  • Observations: counting the number of times a specific phenomenon occurs, or the coding of observational data in order to translate it into numbers


The quantitative methods for data analysis are:

  • Descriptive statistics: describes the basic features of the data in a study (what happens in the data collected), provides simple summaries about the sample and the measures

  • Inferential statistics: reaches conclusions that extend beyond the immediate data alone, makes inferences from the collected data to more general conditions



Babbie, E. (2011). The Basics of Social Research. 5th edition. Belmont, USA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Bhattacherjee, A. (2012). Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices. Textbook Collection. Book 3. Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=oa_textbooks

Creswell, J.W. (2014). Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches. 4th edition. USA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Trochim, W.M.K. (2006). Descriptive Statistics. Retrieved from: http:// http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/statdesc.php

Trochim, W.M.K. (2006). Inferential Statistics. Retrieved from: http:// http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/statinf.php