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There are many ways to categorise research methods, with most falling into the fields of either qualitative or quantitative.
Qualitative research uses non-measurable sources of data and relies mostly on observation techniques to gain insights. It is mostly used to answer questions beginning with “why?” and how?”. Examples of qualitative data collection methods include focus groups, observation, written records, and individual interviews.
Quantitative research presents data in a numerical format, enabling researchers to evaluate and understand this data through statistical analysis. It answers questions such as “who?”, “when?” “what?”, and “where?”. Common examples include interviews, surveys, and case studies/document review. Generally, quantitative data tells us what respondents’ choices are and qualitative tells us why they made those choices.
Once you have determined which type of research you wish to undertake, it is time to select a data collection method. Whilst quantitative and qualitative collection methods often overlap, this article focuses on quantitative data collection methods.
As quantitative observation uses numerical measurement, its results are more accurate than qualitative observation methods, which cannot be measured.
To ensure accuracy and consistency, an appropriate sample size needs to be determined for quantitative research. A sample should include enough respondents to make general observations that are most reflective of the whole population.
The more credible the sample size, the more meaningful the insights that the market researcher can draw during the analysis process.
Quantitative surveys are a data collection tool used to gather close-ended responses from individuals and groups. Question types primarily include categorical (e.g. “yes/no”) and interval/ratio questions (e.g. rating-scale, Likert-scale). They are used to gather information such based upon the behaviours, characteristics, or opinions, and demographic information such as gender, income, occupation.
Surveys are traditionally completed on pen-and-paper but these days are commonly found online, which is a more convenient method.
Surveys are an ideal choice when you want simple, quick feedback which easily translates into statistics for analysis. For example, “60% of respondents think price is the most important factor when making buying decisions”.
Quantitative interviews are like surveys in that they use a question-and-answer format. The major difference between the two methods is the recording process.
In interviews, respondents are read each question and answer option to them by an interviewer who records responses, whereas in surveys, the respondent reads each question and answers themselves, recording their own response.
For quantitative interviews to be effective, each question and answer must be asked the same way to each respondent, with little to no input from the interviewer.
Quantitative interviews work well when the market researcher is conducting fieldwork to scope potential respondents. For example, approaching buyers of a certain product at a supermarket.
Published case studies and online sources are forms of secondary data, that is, data which has already been prepared and compiled for analysis.
Case studies are descriptive or explanatory publications which detail specific individuals, groups, or events. Whilst case studies are conducted using qualitative methods such as direct observation and unstructured interviewing, researchers can gather statistical data published in these sources to gain quantitative insights.
Other forms of secondary data include journals, books, magazines, and government publications.
Secondary data collection methods are most appropriately used when the market researcher is exploring a topic which already has extensive information and data available and is looking for supplementary insights for guidance.
For example, a study on caffeine consumption habits could draw statistics from existing medical case studies.
Quantitative research produces the most accurate and meaningful insights for analysis.
Surveys are a common form of quantitative data collection and can be created and completed online, making them a convenient and accessible choice. However, they must be well-designed and executed to ensure accurate results.
Interviews are an ideal choice for in-person data collection and can improve respondents’ understanding of questions. Time and potential interview bias are drawbacks to this method.
Collecting secondary data is a relatively quick and inexpensive way of gathering supplementary insights for research but there is limited control over context, availability, and quality of the data.
We use quality panel providers to source respondents that suit your specific research needs.
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