Practical Research 2 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH HANDOUT LESSON: Characteristics of Quantitative Research and Steps in Conducting a Research OBJECTIVES: 1. Identify the characteristics of a quantitative research; and 2. Explain the seven steps in conducting a research CHARACTERISTICS OF RESEARCH 1. Empirical. Research is based on direct experience or observation by the researcher. The collection of data relies on practical experience. This means that research is learning by doing. 2. Logical. Research is based on logical reasoning and involves both inductive and deductive methods of data analysis. It is also based on valid procedures and principles. Scientific investigation is done in an orderly manner, so that researcher has a confidence in the results. 3. Cyclical – Research undergoes a cyclical process. It starts with a problem and ends with a problem. Hence, research is repeated. All researchers end their research process with a recommendation. As long as there is a recommendation in the part of the research, then there is still a potential problem that needs to be investigated by other researchers. Thus, research is cyclical. 4. Analytical - Research utilizes proven analytical procedures in gathering data, whether historical, descriptive, and experimental or any alternative research methods. 5. Replicable - The research design and procedures are replicated to enable the researcher to arrive at valid and conclusive results. The more replicated the researches are, the more valid and conclusive the results would be. Research can be replicated any time in a different setting, but its findings are never duplicated. Quantitative research cannot generate new concept or theory. It just only refines or recycles the old idea to make it relatable or appealing to the modern society. Conducting a research to validate the already constructed idea is a form of replicability. “Research is cyclical” means that “research is replicable”. In layman’s terms, the two characteristics “cyclical” and “replicable” are closely related to each other and they signify that research is repeated. 6. Critical - Research exhibits a careful and precise judgment. A researcher must be critical in treating his hypothesis. A higher level of confidence must be established, i.e., at 99% or 97% or 95% level of confidence. If the level of confidence is 99%, level of significance (margin of error) is 1%. The commonly employed confidence level is 95% (significance level is 5%). This means that a researcher is 95% certain that his research finding is valid and reliable. “Research is critical” means that a researcher is equipped with so much expertise in Statistics and Language. The soul of the quantitative research is Statistics and its body is Language. Characteristics of Quantitative Research The overarching aim of a quantitative research is to understand events, count them, and construct statistical models in an attempt to explain what is observed. The following are the characteristics of quantitative research: 1. The data are gathered using structured research instruments. 2. The results are based on larger sample sizes that are randomly chosen as representatives of the population. Practical Research 2 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH HANDOUT 3. The research can usually be replicated or repeated, given its high reliability. 4. The researcher has a clearly defined research question to which objective answers are sought. 5. All aspects of the study are carefully designed before data are collected. 6. Data are in the form of numbers and statistics. 7. Data are presented through tables, graphs, figures or other non-textual forms and followed by textual analysis and interpretation. 8. Project can be used to generalize concepts more widely, predict future results, or investigate causal relationships. 9. The researcher uses tools, such as questionnaires or computer software, to collect numerical data. 10. Findings are reusable. Steps in Conducting a Research Research is an organized and systematic method of finding answers to questions. The following are the seven steps of the research process. STEP 1. Research doesn’t start from a TITLE. It starts from a RESEARCH PROBLEM. HOW CAN A RESEARCHER GENERATE A RESEARCH PROBLEM? He looks for a particular phenomenon where he is doubtful or curious about. Doubt brings curiosity. Curiosity leads to inquiry. Inquiry leads to investigation. Investigation leads to research. If a researcher has already found a topic in which he is curious about it, then he now begins scanning all the available materials both online and printed sources to look a related information to this topic. If a teacher stated that research starts from a review of related literature (RRL), then he is definitely correct. Looking for a research problem can only be done by series of reading. Many researchers look at the research title; going to the research objectives and then proceed to the reference list. From this technique, they can generate potential research problems (working titles). That’s why, defining and developing a problem or topic is also doing RRL. STEP 2. After having a research problem, a researcher now starts the rigid readings to collect a background information to the chosen problem. He has a NOTEPAD where he writes all the relevant information about the research topic. He writes the research title, author, publisher, year of publication, volume number, issue number, pages and uniform resource locator (URL) or digital object identifier (DOI) (for online sources). URL specifies the location of digital information on the internet and can be found in the address bar of the internet browser. DOI is a string of numbers, letters and symbols used to permanently identify an article or document and link to it on the web. It will help the readers easily locate a document for citation purposes using American Psychological Association (APA) format. RRL is very useful in writing the BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY since every paragraph of this section must contain at least one citation to make it more credible. Writing the background of the study follows the deductive method. It starts from the general idea going to the specific details of the research topic. Significance of the study can be included Practical Research 2 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH HANDOUT in the background of the study. Last paragraph of this section must contain the major objective of the study and the convincing statement why there is a need to conduct this particular research. RRL is based from the research variables which are summarized in the conceptual framework. RRL is also anchored on the objectives of the study. It plays a vital role in the data analysis and interpretation to support or to oppose the current findings of the research. A researcher makes sure that every research objective he has, there is a corresponding RRL which he can use to support his findings in that particular research objective during the data analysis and interpretation. STEP 3. After all needed RRL are collected, a researcher starts planning his research design and sampling technique. This research section involves Statistics already. Research design is the blueprint of the research process. It is based from the major objective of the study. In other words, the major research objective of the study determines what particular research design will be applicable. Statistical tools can be determined using the specific research objectives. Methodology refers to the systematic procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information about a topic. It allows the readers to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability as well as the research parameters used in the study. Determining the sample is also a part of methodology. Sample should be systematically done using mathematical formula. Quantitative research has a large population. Thus, sampling technique is very necessary. Construction of the research instrument is a part of methodology together with the testing of its validity and reliability. Testing the validity means that research experts are invited to check the overall content of the research instrument if it will answer what the study intends to answer. Valid research instrument is an instrument that can generate the solution of the research problem. Research problem is also known as research objective or research question or statement of the problem (SOP). STEP 4. After all plans of the research process are laid down in the methodology, data gathering activity follows. However, this activity cannot be pursued if there is no research instrument already validated by research experts. Research instrument is a measurement tool designed to obtain data on a topic of interest from research subjects. Interview, focus group discussion, participatory rapid appraisal and tape or video recorder are some of the research tools used in gathering qualitative research data. Checklist, survey questionnaire and multiple-choice paper pencil test are the research instruments used for data collection in quantitative research. Research ethics should be observed all the times particularly the informed consent, human rights protection, anonymity and privacy during the data gathering activities. STEP 5. After all the needed data are collected, presentation of quantitative data through tables, graphs or figures follow. Presentation of data is based from the order of the research objectives. In quantitative research, data analysis is usually done in deductive approach. In deductive approach, overall mean is discussed first before tackling the indicators receiving the lowest and highest means. After the detailed discussion of the overall mean, the lowest and the highest means, RRL is used to support or contradict the current research findings. Then, implication of the results will be given. In qualitative research, data analysis is done in inductive approach. Presentation of the picture or photo is done first. Writing a short caption about the picture follows. Then, detailed explanation of the event or phenomenon depicted in the picture (photo) comes next. Verbatim quotes from the participants are explained without any alteration. Contradicting ideas should be explained and afterwards, a Practical Research 2 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH HANDOUT resolution should be given. Presentation of data without analysis and interpretation is dull. STEP 6. After all data are presented, analyzed and interpreted, conclusions are formulated based from the summary of findings. Summary of findings is based from the order of the research questions. Conclusions are applicable only in quantitative research. Quantitative research is conducted to validate the already constructed theory. Major conclusion is based from the major objective or hypothesis of the research. Thus, conclusion is needed. Insights gained are applied in qualitative research. STEP 7. After drawing conclusions or laying down the new insights gained, recommendation of the current researcher should be formulated based from the conclusions or insights gained. From this recommendation, new problem is found. Thus, another research starts defining his research problem based from the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the previous research. New researcher might replicate the previous research using other setting or larger population. Thus, research is repeated (cyclical). Approaches Applied in Conducting a Research Inductive Approach is also known as bottom-up approach. It is concerned with the generation of new theory emerging from the specific data to general idea. It is often times associated with qualitative research. It starts with the observations and theories are proposed towards the end of the research process as a result of personal reflection. Qualitative Research is inductive when the researcher starts with the observations and the new theory or insight is generated towards the end of the research process. In Qualitative Research, the researcher begins from gathering all the small or specific details of the subject before he will give his generalization towards the end of the research process. This means that NO CONCLUSION will be formulated. NEW INSIGHTS OR THEORIES GAINED will be used instead of conclusions. Deductive Approach is also known as top-down approach. It usually begins with a hypothesis. Its emphasis is generally on causality. It starts with general idea to specific investigations of a certain phenomenon. It is usually associated with quantitative research. Quantitative Research is deductive when it starts from an already constructed theory or principle. The researcher begins with a hypothesis or already constructed theory. The aim of quantitative research is to test hypothesis or theory. In Quantitative Research, the researcher begins with an expected pattern “that is tested against observations”. In other words, inductive approach is not mutually exclusive to qualitative research. Deductive approach is also not mutually exclusive to quantitative research. Quantitative Research versus Qualitative Research Quantitative research uses numbers and figures to denote a particular phenomenon. In contrast to Qualitative research which is subjective, Quantitative research is characterized by objectives, in which only the real or factual, not the emotional condition or existence of the object matters. Qualitative research uses verbatim quotes of the participants and it employs thematic analysis or clustering of ideas. Quantitative research is more specific compared with qualitative research. Qualitative research is broader compared with quantitative research. Quantitative research can only validate the Practical Research 2 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH HANDOUT already established theory. Qualitative research has a wider scope compared with quantitative research. Qualitative research is primary exploratory research. It is used to gain understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problem or it helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Quantitative research is used to quantify the problem using rating scale and other research parameters. It is used to quantify reasons, opinions and motivations.