Advantages and disadvantages of quantitative research
This article explores some of the advantages and disadvantages of quantitative research. Quantitative and qualitative research are like siblings; however, they are completely different. Both have some strong advantages and disadvantages, and therefore, the researchers’ decision to select a particular method would mostly depend on their own skills, preference, time and money, and the research topic.
Definition of quantitative research
Quantitative research is, as the term suggests, concerned with the collection and analysis of data in numeric form (Blaxter et al., 2010).
According to BPP Learning Media (2013) quantitative research is concerned with numbers and statistical analysis and can provide numerical data as a result of each research participant being asked the same series of questions.
Characteristics of quantitative research
In quantitative research, researchers investigate phenomenon by collecting and analysing numerical data. Their focus is on numerical analysis of data by using different computational techniques.
Sample size is big in quantitative research. It is not unusual to see researchers sending questionnaires to hundreds of people. However, it worth mentioning that the sample size is usually decided by the researchers’ preference, time and money they have, and the scope of their project.
Quantitative data are often arranged and presented in tables, graphs, and charts. Researchers often use questionnaires to collect numerical data. They can run the data through tabulation and generate basic outputs.
Quantitative research techniques/instruments
Some of the popular quantitative research techniques are surveys, questionnaires, observation etc. The questionnaire is perhaps the most widely used tool of marketing research.
Advantages of quantitative research
In quantitative studies, researchers usually reach out to a large sample. Collection of substantial data increases the credibility of the studies.
Collecting quantitative data can be quick. Researchers can send questionnaires to many respondents with a single email. As questions are usually close ended, it is also easy and quick for the respondents to complete the questionnaire and send it back to the researchers immediately. The Internet and electronic questionnaire have indeed made it quicker.
Anonymity of the respondents is also a good advantage. Research participants are more comfortable and likely to share an honest perspective when they become confident that their feedback will not come back to trouble them in the future.
Quantitative research can be used to test hypotheses. Testing hypotheses plays a big role in studies where a deductive approach to research has been selected.
Disadvantages of quantitative research
In quantitative research, researchers are unable to explore the behaviours and attitudes of the respondents and may overlook broader themes and relationships as they are focused on numerical data. This type of research does not allow businesses to understand exactly what their customers think (BBC, 2021).
Analysing quantitative data can be very difficult and time consuming. Just imagine analysing around 200 completed questionnaires! Likewise, quantitative analysis may be difficult for those researchers who have non-statistical backgrounds.
Many people think that quantitative research is more credible than qualitative research because of its statistical nature. However, this could be misleading as the biases and opinions of the researchers may affect the data collection of quantitative research as much as they could affect that of a qualitative study.
We hope the article ‘Advantages and disadvantages of quantitative research’ has been a helpful read. You may also like reading Qualitative vs quantitative research. Other articles that may draw your attention are:
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Last update: 19 June 2021
BBC (2021) Market research, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z6y9rj6/revision/5 (accessed 19 June 2021)
Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., and Tight, M. (2010) How to research, 4th edition, England: Open University Press
BPP Learning Media (2013) Business Decision Making, 3rd edition, London: BPP Learning Media Ltd
Author: Joe David
Joe David has years of teaching experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality, and tourism management. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management.