Frank Rennie, Keith Smyth, Gareth davies, Matt Sillars and Amy Woolvin

Chapter 5 – Quantitative research methods

All the content relating to the chapter above is below


Our objectives within this chapter are many, and in our exploration of key concepts and considerations relating to quantitative research we will: introduce the concept of quantitative analysis; consider the planning cycle; differentiate between primary and secondary sources of data; and introduce sampling approaches and statistical tests.

Key Points

Fundamentally, quantitative research methods are about objective measurement. This simply means to use numbers to explain our research findings. Our research may involve questionnaires or surveys, investigating opinion using scales, or be more experimental using tests which measure performance or ability. Regardless, quantitative research uses numerical data to describe findings.

A key issue in quantitative methods is ‘How many participants is enough…” Debates on validity and reliability often hang on concepts such as ‘effect size’ and ‘power’. Linked to this is the issue of participant numbers. This can be perplexing and confusing, but there are handy online calculators which can be helpful. They also give you Standard deviation and helps you understand Confidence Levels.

What is a sample size?

The number of completed responses your survey receives is your sample size. It’s called a sample because it only represents part of the group of people (or population) whose opinions or behavior you care about. As an example, one way of sampling is to use a so-called “Random Sample,” where respondents are chosen entirely by chance from the population at large.

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The Web Resource for Social Science Research has again produced another good resource for the often confusing quasi experimental research design. There are links from the home page to a whole host of research related resources. You may want to bookmark this site.

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Although this is a sports science-orientated site, it covers lots of topics very well. The link takes you to a text-based site where you can navigate and scroll to all the different types of information you might be after.

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This is an online App which is very powerful. It allows you to ‘clip’ websites, add photographs and then organise your research notes around topics. You can create to-do lists and timelines. All hyperlinks in web clips are maintained and text in photographs is even recognised – you can take a photograph of a text book cover and Evernote will be able to find it again through a text search. It will synch with all your devices enabling you organise your research anywhere at anytime.

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A very popular way to think your way around a project which is not based on linear flow charts and ‘lists’ is mind- mapping. There are a lot of Apps out there for this but ‘xmind’ is very popular and flexible. Integrates with Microsoft Office.

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