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Data Analysis in Quantitative Research Proposal

Data Analysis in Quantitative Research Proposal

Definition of data analysis.

Data analysis in quantitative research proposal is one part of the chapter that researchers need in the beginning of writing a research proposal. Whereas in the research, it is an activity after the data from all collected. Activities in data analysis are: grouping data based on variables and types of respondents, tabulating data based on variables from all respondents, presenting data for each variable studied, doing calculations to answer the problem formulation, and doing calculations to test the proposed hypothesis.

Quantitative Data Analysis Techniques

In a research proposal, it must be clear what method of analysis is capable of answering the research hypothesis. Hypothesis is a temporary answer to the research problem. Data analysis techniques in quantitative research commonly use statistics. There are two kinds of statistical data analysis in research. These are descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Inferential statistics include parametric and non-parametric statistics.

Descriptive statistics

In preparing research proposals, researchers need to explain what is descriptive research. Descriptive statistic is a method to analyze data by describing data without intending to make generalizations. Descriptive statistics only describes the sample data and does not make conclusions that apply to the population. While, conclusion that applies to the population, then the data analysis technique is inferential statistics. In addition descriptive statistics also function to present information in such a way that data generated from research can be utilized by others in need.

Inferential Statistics

When researchers want to generalize broader conclusions in the research proposal, it is necessary to write inferential statistics. Inferential statistics (often also commonly inductive statistics or probability statistics) are statistical techniques used to analyze sample data and the results are applied to populations. It requires a random sampling process.

Inferential research involves statistical probability. Using of probability theory is to approach sample to the population. A conclusion applying to the population has a chance of error and truth level. If the chance of error is 5%, then the truth level is 95%. While the chance of error is 1%, then the truth level is 99%. This opportunity for error and truth is the level of significance. Statistical tables are useful for carrying out tests of the significance of this error. For example, t-test will use table-t. in each table provides significance level of what percentage of the results. For example the correlation analysis found a correlation coefficient of 0.54 and for a significance of 5% it means that a variable relationship of 0.54 can apply to 95 out of 100 samples taken from a population. Inferential statistics is a higher level then descriptive statistics. To that in the research proposal, the flow of conclusions becomes clear. Data Analysis is to make general conclusions (conclusions), make a prediction (prediction), or make an estimate (estimation).

Grad Coach

Quantitative Data Analysis 101

The lingo, methods and techniques, explained simply.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA)  and Kerryn Warren (PhD) | December 2020

Quantitative data analysis is one of those things that often strikes fear in students. It’s totally understandable – quantitative analysis is a complex topic, full of daunting lingo , like medians, modes, correlation and regression. Suddenly we’re all wishing we’d paid a little more attention in math class…

The good news is that while quantitative data analysis is a mammoth topic, gaining a working understanding of the basics isn’t that hard , even for those of us who avoid numbers and math . In this post, we’ll break quantitative analysis down into simple , bite-sized chunks so you can approach your research with confidence.

Quantitative data analysis methods and techniques 101

Overview: Quantitative Data Analysis 101

  • What (exactly) is quantitative data analysis?
  • When to use quantitative analysis
  • How quantitative analysis works

The two “branches” of quantitative analysis

  • Descriptive statistics 101
  • Inferential statistics 101
  • How to choose the right quantitative methods
  • Recap & summary

What is quantitative data analysis?

Despite being a mouthful, quantitative data analysis simply means analysing data that is numbers-based – or data that can be easily “converted” into numbers without losing any meaning.

For example, category-based variables like gender, ethnicity, or native language could all be “converted” into numbers without losing meaning – for example, English could equal 1, French 2, etc.

This contrasts against qualitative data analysis, where the focus is on words, phrases and expressions that can’t be reduced to numbers. If you’re interested in learning about qualitative analysis, check out our post and video here .

What is quantitative analysis used for?

Quantitative analysis is generally used for three purposes.

  • Firstly, it’s used to measure differences between groups . For example, the popularity of different clothing colours or brands.
  • Secondly, it’s used to assess relationships between variables . For example, the relationship between weather temperature and voter turnout.
  • And third, it’s used to test hypotheses in a scientifically rigorous way. For example, a hypothesis about the impact of a certain vaccine.

Again, this contrasts with qualitative analysis , which can be used to analyse people’s perceptions and feelings about an event or situation. In other words, things that can’t be reduced to numbers.

How does quantitative analysis work?

Well, since quantitative data analysis is all about analysing numbers , it’s no surprise that it involves statistics . Statistical analysis methods form the engine that powers quantitative analysis, and these methods can vary from pretty basic calculations (for example, averages and medians) to more sophisticated analyses (for example, correlations and regressions).

Sounds like gibberish? Don’t worry. We’ll explain all of that in this post. Importantly, you don’t need to be a statistician or math wiz to pull off a good quantitative analysis. We’ll break down all the technical mumbo jumbo in this post.

Need a helping hand?

how to write data analysis in quantitative research proposal

As I mentioned, quantitative analysis is powered by statistical analysis methods . There are two main “branches” of statistical methods that are used – descriptive statistics and inferential statistics . In your research, you might only use descriptive statistics, or you might use a mix of both , depending on what you’re trying to figure out. In other words, depending on your research questions, aims and objectives . I’ll explain how to choose your methods later.

So, what are descriptive and inferential statistics?

Well, before I can explain that, we need to take a quick detour to explain some lingo. To understand the difference between these two branches of statistics, you need to understand two important words. These words are population and sample .

First up, population . In statistics, the population is the entire group of people (or animals or organisations or whatever) that you’re interested in researching. For example, if you were interested in researching Tesla owners in the US, then the population would be all Tesla owners in the US.

However, it’s extremely unlikely that you’re going to be able to interview or survey every single Tesla owner in the US. Realistically, you’ll likely only get access to a few hundred, or maybe a few thousand owners using an online survey. This smaller group of accessible people whose data you actually collect is called your sample .

So, to recap – the population is the entire group of people you’re interested in, and the sample is the subset of the population that you can actually get access to. In other words, the population is the full chocolate cake , whereas the sample is a slice of that cake.

So, why is this sample-population thing important?

Well, descriptive statistics focus on describing the sample , while inferential statistics aim to make predictions about the population, based on the findings within the sample. In other words, we use one group of statistical methods – descriptive statistics – to investigate the slice of cake, and another group of methods – inferential statistics – to draw conclusions about the entire cake. There I go with the cake analogy again…

With that out the way, let’s take a closer look at each of these branches in more detail.

Descriptive statistics vs inferential statistics

Branch 1: Descriptive Statistics

Descriptive statistics serve a simple but critically important role in your research – to describe your data set – hence the name. In other words, they help you understand the details of your sample . Unlike inferential statistics (which we’ll get to soon), descriptive statistics don’t aim to make inferences or predictions about the entire population – they’re purely interested in the details of your specific sample .

When you’re writing up your analysis, descriptive statistics are the first set of stats you’ll cover, before moving on to inferential statistics. But, that said, depending on your research objectives and research questions , they may be the only type of statistics you use. We’ll explore that a little later.

So, what kind of statistics are usually covered in this section?

Some common statistical tests used in this branch include the following:

  • Mean – this is simply the mathematical average of a range of numbers.
  • Median – this is the midpoint in a range of numbers when the numbers are arranged in numerical order. If the data set makes up an odd number, then the median is the number right in the middle of the set. If the data set makes up an even number, then the median is the midpoint between the two middle numbers.
  • Mode – this is simply the most commonly occurring number in the data set.
  • In cases where most of the numbers are quite close to the average, the standard deviation will be relatively low.
  • Conversely, in cases where the numbers are scattered all over the place, the standard deviation will be relatively high.
  • Skewness . As the name suggests, skewness indicates how symmetrical a range of numbers is. In other words, do they tend to cluster into a smooth bell curve shape in the middle of the graph, or do they skew to the left or right?

Feeling a bit confused? Let’s look at a practical example using a small data set.

Descriptive statistics example data

On the left-hand side is the data set. This details the bodyweight of a sample of 10 people. On the right-hand side, we have the descriptive statistics. Let’s take a look at each of them.

First, we can see that the mean weight is 72.4 kilograms. In other words, the average weight across the sample is 72.4 kilograms. Straightforward.

Next, we can see that the median is very similar to the mean (the average). This suggests that this data set has a reasonably symmetrical distribution (in other words, a relatively smooth, centred distribution of weights, clustered towards the centre).

In terms of the mode , there is no mode in this data set. This is because each number is present only once and so there cannot be a “most common number”. If there were two people who were both 65 kilograms, for example, then the mode would be 65.

Next up is the standard deviation . 10.6 indicates that there’s quite a wide spread of numbers. We can see this quite easily by looking at the numbers themselves, which range from 55 to 90, which is quite a stretch from the mean of 72.4.

And lastly, the skewness of -0.2 tells us that the data is very slightly negatively skewed. This makes sense since the mean and the median are slightly different.

As you can see, these descriptive statistics give us some useful insight into the data set. Of course, this is a very small data set (only 10 records), so we can’t read into these statistics too much. Also, keep in mind that this is not a list of all possible descriptive statistics – just the most common ones.

But why do all of these numbers matter?

While these descriptive statistics are all fairly basic, they’re important for a few reasons:

  • Firstly, they help you get both a macro and micro-level view of your data. In other words, they help you understand both the big picture and the finer details.
  • Secondly, they help you spot potential errors in the data – for example, if an average is way higher than you’d expect, or responses to a question are highly varied, this can act as a warning sign that you need to double-check the data.
  • And lastly, these descriptive statistics help inform which inferential statistical techniques you can use, as those techniques depend on the skewness (in other words, the symmetry and normality) of the data.

Simply put, descriptive statistics are really important , even though the statistical techniques used are fairly basic. All too often at Grad Coach, we see students skimming over the descriptives in their eagerness to get to the more exciting inferential methods, and then landing up with some very flawed results.

Don’t be a sucker – give your descriptive statistics the love and attention they deserve!

Examples of descriptive statistics

Branch 2: Inferential Statistics

As I mentioned, while descriptive statistics are all about the details of your specific data set – your sample – inferential statistics aim to make inferences about the population . In other words, you’ll use inferential statistics to make predictions about what you’d expect to find in the full population.

What kind of predictions, you ask? Well, there are two common types of predictions that researchers try to make using inferential stats:

  • Firstly, predictions about differences between groups – for example, height differences between children grouped by their favourite meal or gender.
  • And secondly, relationships between variables – for example, the relationship between body weight and the number of hours a week a person does yoga.

In other words, inferential statistics (when done correctly), allow you to connect the dots and make predictions about what you expect to see in the real world population, based on what you observe in your sample data. For this reason, inferential statistics are used for hypothesis testing – in other words, to test hypotheses that predict changes or differences.

Inferential statistics are used to make predictions about what you’d expect to find in the full population, based on the sample.

Of course, when you’re working with inferential statistics, the composition of your sample is really important. In other words, if your sample doesn’t accurately represent the population you’re researching, then your findings won’t necessarily be very useful.

For example, if your population of interest is a mix of 50% male and 50% female , but your sample is 80% male , you can’t make inferences about the population based on your sample, since it’s not representative. This area of statistics is called sampling, but we won’t go down that rabbit hole here (it’s a deep one!) – we’ll save that for another post .

What statistics are usually used in this branch?

There are many, many different statistical analysis methods within the inferential branch and it’d be impossible for us to discuss them all here. So we’ll just take a look at some of the most common inferential statistical methods so that you have a solid starting point.

First up are T-Tests . T-tests compare the means (the averages) of two groups of data to assess whether they’re statistically significantly different. In other words, do they have significantly different means, standard deviations and skewness.

This type of testing is very useful for understanding just how similar or different two groups of data are. For example, you might want to compare the mean blood pressure between two groups of people – one that has taken a new medication and one that hasn’t – to assess whether they are significantly different.

Kicking things up a level, we have ANOVA, which stands for “analysis of variance”. This test is similar to a T-test in that it compares the means of various groups, but ANOVA allows you to analyse multiple groups , not just two groups So it’s basically a t-test on steroids…

Next, we have correlation analysis . This type of analysis assesses the relationship between two variables. In other words, if one variable increases, does the other variable also increase, decrease or stay the same. For example, if the average temperature goes up, do average ice creams sales increase too? We’d expect some sort of relationship between these two variables intuitively , but correlation analysis allows us to measure that relationship scientifically .

Lastly, we have regression analysis – this is quite similar to correlation in that it assesses the relationship between variables, but it goes a step further to understand cause and effect between variables, not just whether they move together. In other words, does the one variable actually cause the other one to move, or do they just happen to move together naturally thanks to another force? Just because two variables correlate doesn’t necessarily mean that one causes the other.

Stats overload…

I hear you. To make this all a little more tangible, let’s take a look at an example of a correlation in action.

Here’s a scatter plot demonstrating the correlation (relationship) between weight and height. Intuitively, we’d expect there to be some relationship between these two variables, which is what we see in this scatter plot. In other words, the results tend to cluster together in a diagonal line from bottom left to top right.

Sample correlation

As I mentioned, these are are just a handful of inferential techniques – there are many, many more. Importantly, each statistical method has its own assumptions and limitations.

For example, some methods only work with normally distributed (parametric) data, while other methods are designed specifically for non-parametric data. And that’s exactly why descriptive statistics are so important – they’re the first step to knowing which inferential techniques you can and can’t use.

Remember that every statistical method has its own assumptions and limitations,  so you need to be aware of these.

How to choose the right analysis method

To choose the right statistical methods, you need to think about two important factors :

  • The type of quantitative data you have (specifically, level of measurement and the shape of the data). And,
  • Your research questions and hypotheses

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Factor 1 – Data type

The first thing you need to consider is the type of data you’ve collected (or the type of data you will collect). By data types, I’m referring to the four levels of measurement – namely, nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio. If you’re not familiar with this lingo, check out the video below.

Why does this matter?

Well, because different statistical methods and techniques require different types of data. This is one of the “assumptions” I mentioned earlier – every method has its assumptions regarding the type of data.

For example, some techniques work with categorical data (for example, yes/no type questions, or gender or ethnicity), while others work with continuous numerical data (for example, age, weight or income) – and, of course, some work with multiple data types.

If you try to use a statistical method that doesn’t support the data type you have, your results will be largely meaningless . So, make sure that you have a clear understanding of what types of data you’ve collected (or will collect). Once you have this, you can then check which statistical methods would support your data types here .

If you haven’t collected your data yet, you can work in reverse and look at which statistical method would give you the most useful insights, and then design your data collection strategy to collect the correct data types.

Another important factor to consider is the shape of your data . Specifically, does it have a normal distribution (in other words, is it a bell-shaped curve, centred in the middle) or is it very skewed to the left or the right? Again, different statistical techniques work for different shapes of data – some are designed for symmetrical data while others are designed for skewed data.

This is another reminder of why descriptive statistics are so important – they tell you all about the shape of your data.

Factor 2: Your research questions

The next thing you need to consider is your specific research questions, as well as your hypotheses (if you have some). The nature of your research questions and research hypotheses will heavily influence which statistical methods and techniques you should use.

If you’re just interested in understanding the attributes of your sample (as opposed to the entire population), then descriptive statistics are probably all you need. For example, if you just want to assess the means (averages) and medians (centre points) of variables in a group of people.

On the other hand, if you aim to understand differences between groups or relationships between variables and to infer or predict outcomes in the population, then you’ll likely need both descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.

So, it’s really important to get very clear about your research aims and research questions, as well your hypotheses – before you start looking at which statistical techniques to use.

Never shoehorn a specific statistical technique into your research just because you like it or have some experience with it. Your choice of methods must align with all the factors we’ve covered here.

Time to recap…

You’re still with me? That’s impressive. We’ve covered a lot of ground here, so let’s recap on the key points:

  • Quantitative data analysis is all about  analysing number-based data  (which includes categorical and numerical data) using various statistical techniques.
  • The two main  branches  of statistics are  descriptive statistics  and  inferential statistics . Descriptives describe your sample, whereas inferentials make predictions about what you’ll find in the population.
  • Common  descriptive statistical methods include  mean  (average),  median , standard  deviation  and  skewness .
  • Common  inferential statistical methods include  t-tests ,  ANOVA ,  correlation  and  regression  analysis.
  • To choose the right statistical methods and techniques, you need to consider the  type of data you’re working with , as well as your  research questions  and hypotheses.

how to write data analysis in quantitative research proposal

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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74 Comments

Oddy Labs

Hi, I have read your article. Such a brilliant post you have created.

Derek Jansen

Thank you for the feedback. Good luck with your quantitative analysis.

Abdullahi Ramat

Thank you so much.

Obi Eric Onyedikachi

Thank you so much. I learnt much well. I love your summaries of the concepts. I had love you to explain how to input data using SPSS

Lumbuka Kaunda

Amazing and simple way of breaking down quantitative methods.

Charles Lwanga

This is beautiful….especially for non-statisticians. I have skimmed through but I wish to read again. and please include me in other articles of the same nature when you do post. I am interested. I am sure, I could easily learn from you and get off the fear that I have had in the past. Thank you sincerely.

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Mvogo Mvogo Ephrem

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Maya

Your article is so good! However, I am still a bit lost. I am doing a secondary research on Gun control in the US and increase in crime rates and I am not sure which analysis method I should use?

Joy

Based on the given learning points, this is inferential analysis, thus, use ‘t-tests, ANOVA, correlation and regression analysis’

Peter

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Include me in your posts.

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Mrinal

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Emiola Adesina

Thank you so much. This is a very good foundation and intro into quantitative data analysis. Appreciate!

Josyl Hey Aquilam

You have a very impressive, simple but concise explanation of data analysis for Quantitative Research here. This is a God-send link for me to appreciate research more. Thank you so much!

Lynnet Chikwaikwai

Avery good presentation followed by the write up. yes you simplified statistics to make sense even to a layman like me. Thank so much keep it up. The presenter did ell too. i would like more of this for Qualitative and exhaust more of the test example like the Anova.

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Nūr

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Hilaria Barsabal

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AMON TAYEBWA

VERY INTERESTING AND SUPPORTIVE TO NEW RESEARCHERS LIKE ME. AT LEAST SOME BASICS ABOUT QUANTITATIVE.

Tariq

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chikumbutso

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Idris Haruna

simple and constant direction to research. thanks

Mbunda Castro

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AshikB

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himalaya ravi

Do you provide any assistance for other steps of research methodology like making research problem testing hypothesis report and thesis writing?

Sarah chiwamba

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Lopamudra

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Thisali Liyanage

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Melissa

I am doing a quality improvement project to determine if the implementation of a protocol will change prescribing habits. Would this be a t-test?

Aliyah

The is a very helpful blog, however, I’m still not sure how to analyze my data collected. I’m doing a research on “Free Education at the University of Guyana”

Belayneh Kassahun

tnx. fruitful blog!

Suzanne

So I am writing exams and would like to know how do establish which method of data analysis to use from the below research questions: I am a bit lost as to how I determine the data analysis method from the research questions.

Do female employees report higher job satisfaction than male employees with similar job descriptions across the South African telecommunications sector? – I though that maybe Chi Square could be used here. – Is there a gender difference in talented employees’ actual turnover decisions across the South African telecommunications sector? T-tests or Correlation in this one. – Is there a gender difference in the cost of actual turnover decisions across the South African telecommunications sector? T-tests or Correlation in this one. – What practical recommendations can be made to the management of South African telecommunications companies on leveraging gender to mitigate employee turnover decisions?

Your assistance will be appreciated if I could get a response as early as possible tomorrow

Like

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FAROUK AHMAD NKENGA

Thanks for yhe guidance. Can you send me this guidance on my email? To enable offline reading?

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Thank you very much, this service is very helpful.

George William Kiyingi

Every novice researcher needs to read this article as it puts things so clear and easy to follow. Its been very helpful.

Adebisi

Wonderful!!!! you explained everything in a way that anyone can learn. Thank you!!

Miss Annah

I really enjoyed reading though this. Very easy to follow. Thank you

Reza Kia

Many thanks for your useful lecture, I would be really appreciated if you could possibly share with me the PPT of presentation related to Data type?

Protasia Tairo

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Fatuma Chobo

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naphtal

Very interesting mostly for social scientists

Boy M. Bachtiar

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You’re welcome 🙂

Dr Mafaza Mansoor

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I have been struggling to understand a lot of these concepts. Thank you for the informative piece which is written with outstanding clarity.

Eric

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didin

Always greet intro and summary. I learn so much from GradCoach

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading your informative and inspiring piece. Your profound insights into this topic truly provide a better understanding of its complexity. I agree with the points you raised, especially when you delved into the specifics of the article. In my opinion, that aspect is often overlooked and deserves further attention.

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Thazika Chitimera

Thank you very much for this post. It made me to understand how to do my data analysis.

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how to write data analysis in quantitative research proposal

Home Market Research

Data Analysis in Research: Types & Methods

data-analysis-in-research

Content Index

Why analyze data in research?

Types of data in research, finding patterns in the qualitative data, methods used for data analysis in qualitative research, preparing data for analysis, methods used for data analysis in quantitative research, considerations in research data analysis, what is data analysis in research.

Definition of research in data analysis: According to LeCompte and Schensul, research data analysis is a process used by researchers to reduce data to a story and interpret it to derive insights. The data analysis process helps reduce a large chunk of data into smaller fragments, which makes sense. 

Three essential things occur during the data analysis process — the first is data organization . Summarization and categorization together contribute to becoming the second known method used for data reduction. It helps find patterns and themes in the data for easy identification and linking. The third and last way is data analysis – researchers do it in both top-down and bottom-up fashion.

LEARN ABOUT: Research Process Steps

On the other hand, Marshall and Rossman describe data analysis as a messy, ambiguous, and time-consuming but creative and fascinating process through which a mass of collected data is brought to order, structure and meaning.

We can say that “the data analysis and data interpretation is a process representing the application of deductive and inductive logic to the research and data analysis.”

Researchers rely heavily on data as they have a story to tell or research problems to solve. It starts with a question, and data is nothing but an answer to that question. But, what if there is no question to ask? Well! It is possible to explore data even without a problem – we call it ‘Data Mining’, which often reveals some interesting patterns within the data that are worth exploring.

Irrelevant to the type of data researchers explore, their mission and audiences’ vision guide them to find the patterns to shape the story they want to tell. One of the essential things expected from researchers while analyzing data is to stay open and remain unbiased toward unexpected patterns, expressions, and results. Remember, sometimes, data analysis tells the most unforeseen yet exciting stories that were not expected when initiating data analysis. Therefore, rely on the data you have at hand and enjoy the journey of exploratory research. 

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Every kind of data has a rare quality of describing things after assigning a specific value to it. For analysis, you need to organize these values, processed and presented in a given context, to make it useful. Data can be in different forms; here are the primary data types.

  • Qualitative data: When the data presented has words and descriptions, then we call it qualitative data . Although you can observe this data, it is subjective and harder to analyze data in research, especially for comparison. Example: Quality data represents everything describing taste, experience, texture, or an opinion that is considered quality data. This type of data is usually collected through focus groups, personal qualitative interviews , qualitative observation or using open-ended questions in surveys.
  • Quantitative data: Any data expressed in numbers of numerical figures are called quantitative data . This type of data can be distinguished into categories, grouped, measured, calculated, or ranked. Example: questions such as age, rank, cost, length, weight, scores, etc. everything comes under this type of data. You can present such data in graphical format, charts, or apply statistical analysis methods to this data. The (Outcomes Measurement Systems) OMS questionnaires in surveys are a significant source of collecting numeric data.
  • Categorical data: It is data presented in groups. However, an item included in the categorical data cannot belong to more than one group. Example: A person responding to a survey by telling his living style, marital status, smoking habit, or drinking habit comes under the categorical data. A chi-square test is a standard method used to analyze this data.

Learn More : Examples of Qualitative Data in Education

Data analysis in qualitative research

Data analysis and qualitative data research work a little differently from the numerical data as the quality data is made up of words, descriptions, images, objects, and sometimes symbols. Getting insight from such complicated information is a complicated process. Hence it is typically used for exploratory research and data analysis .

Although there are several ways to find patterns in the textual information, a word-based method is the most relied and widely used global technique for research and data analysis. Notably, the data analysis process in qualitative research is manual. Here the researchers usually read the available data and find repetitive or commonly used words. 

For example, while studying data collected from African countries to understand the most pressing issues people face, researchers might find  “food”  and  “hunger” are the most commonly used words and will highlight them for further analysis.

LEARN ABOUT: Level of Analysis

The keyword context is another widely used word-based technique. In this method, the researcher tries to understand the concept by analyzing the context in which the participants use a particular keyword.  

For example , researchers conducting research and data analysis for studying the concept of ‘diabetes’ amongst respondents might analyze the context of when and how the respondent has used or referred to the word ‘diabetes.’

The scrutiny-based technique is also one of the highly recommended  text analysis  methods used to identify a quality data pattern. Compare and contrast is the widely used method under this technique to differentiate how a specific text is similar or different from each other. 

For example: To find out the “importance of resident doctor in a company,” the collected data is divided into people who think it is necessary to hire a resident doctor and those who think it is unnecessary. Compare and contrast is the best method that can be used to analyze the polls having single-answer questions types .

Metaphors can be used to reduce the data pile and find patterns in it so that it becomes easier to connect data with theory.

Variable Partitioning is another technique used to split variables so that researchers can find more coherent descriptions and explanations from the enormous data.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Research Questions and Questionnaires

There are several techniques to analyze the data in qualitative research, but here are some commonly used methods,

  • Content Analysis:  It is widely accepted and the most frequently employed technique for data analysis in research methodology. It can be used to analyze the documented information from text, images, and sometimes from the physical items. It depends on the research questions to predict when and where to use this method.
  • Narrative Analysis: This method is used to analyze content gathered from various sources such as personal interviews, field observation, and  surveys . The majority of times, stories, or opinions shared by people are focused on finding answers to the research questions.
  • Discourse Analysis:  Similar to narrative analysis, discourse analysis is used to analyze the interactions with people. Nevertheless, this particular method considers the social context under which or within which the communication between the researcher and respondent takes place. In addition to that, discourse analysis also focuses on the lifestyle and day-to-day environment while deriving any conclusion.
  • Grounded Theory:  When you want to explain why a particular phenomenon happened, then using grounded theory for analyzing quality data is the best resort. Grounded theory is applied to study data about the host of similar cases occurring in different settings. When researchers are using this method, they might alter explanations or produce new ones until they arrive at some conclusion.

LEARN ABOUT: 12 Best Tools for Researchers

Data analysis in quantitative research

The first stage in research and data analysis is to make it for the analysis so that the nominal data can be converted into something meaningful. Data preparation consists of the below phases.

Phase I: Data Validation

Data validation is done to understand if the collected data sample is per the pre-set standards, or it is a biased data sample again divided into four different stages

  • Fraud: To ensure an actual human being records each response to the survey or the questionnaire
  • Screening: To make sure each participant or respondent is selected or chosen in compliance with the research criteria
  • Procedure: To ensure ethical standards were maintained while collecting the data sample
  • Completeness: To ensure that the respondent has answered all the questions in an online survey. Else, the interviewer had asked all the questions devised in the questionnaire.

Phase II: Data Editing

More often, an extensive research data sample comes loaded with errors. Respondents sometimes fill in some fields incorrectly or sometimes skip them accidentally. Data editing is a process wherein the researchers have to confirm that the provided data is free of such errors. They need to conduct necessary checks and outlier checks to edit the raw edit and make it ready for analysis.

Phase III: Data Coding

Out of all three, this is the most critical phase of data preparation associated with grouping and assigning values to the survey responses . If a survey is completed with a 1000 sample size, the researcher will create an age bracket to distinguish the respondents based on their age. Thus, it becomes easier to analyze small data buckets rather than deal with the massive data pile.

LEARN ABOUT: Steps in Qualitative Research

After the data is prepared for analysis, researchers are open to using different research and data analysis methods to derive meaningful insights. For sure, statistical analysis plans are the most favored to analyze numerical data. In statistical analysis, distinguishing between categorical data and numerical data is essential, as categorical data involves distinct categories or labels, while numerical data consists of measurable quantities. The method is again classified into two groups. First, ‘Descriptive Statistics’ used to describe data. Second, ‘Inferential statistics’ that helps in comparing the data .

Descriptive statistics

This method is used to describe the basic features of versatile types of data in research. It presents the data in such a meaningful way that pattern in the data starts making sense. Nevertheless, the descriptive analysis does not go beyond making conclusions. The conclusions are again based on the hypothesis researchers have formulated so far. Here are a few major types of descriptive analysis methods.

Measures of Frequency

  • Count, Percent, Frequency
  • It is used to denote home often a particular event occurs.
  • Researchers use it when they want to showcase how often a response is given.

Measures of Central Tendency

  • Mean, Median, Mode
  • The method is widely used to demonstrate distribution by various points.
  • Researchers use this method when they want to showcase the most commonly or averagely indicated response.

Measures of Dispersion or Variation

  • Range, Variance, Standard deviation
  • Here the field equals high/low points.
  • Variance standard deviation = difference between the observed score and mean
  • It is used to identify the spread of scores by stating intervals.
  • Researchers use this method to showcase data spread out. It helps them identify the depth until which the data is spread out that it directly affects the mean.

Measures of Position

  • Percentile ranks, Quartile ranks
  • It relies on standardized scores helping researchers to identify the relationship between different scores.
  • It is often used when researchers want to compare scores with the average count.

For quantitative research use of descriptive analysis often give absolute numbers, but the in-depth analysis is never sufficient to demonstrate the rationale behind those numbers. Nevertheless, it is necessary to think of the best method for research and data analysis suiting your survey questionnaire and what story researchers want to tell. For example, the mean is the best way to demonstrate the students’ average scores in schools. It is better to rely on the descriptive statistics when the researchers intend to keep the research or outcome limited to the provided  sample  without generalizing it. For example, when you want to compare average voting done in two different cities, differential statistics are enough.

Descriptive analysis is also called a ‘univariate analysis’ since it is commonly used to analyze a single variable.

Inferential statistics

Inferential statistics are used to make predictions about a larger population after research and data analysis of the representing population’s collected sample. For example, you can ask some odd 100 audiences at a movie theater if they like the movie they are watching. Researchers then use inferential statistics on the collected  sample  to reason that about 80-90% of people like the movie. 

Here are two significant areas of inferential statistics.

  • Estimating parameters: It takes statistics from the sample research data and demonstrates something about the population parameter.
  • Hypothesis test: I t’s about sampling research data to answer the survey research questions. For example, researchers might be interested to understand if the new shade of lipstick recently launched is good or not, or if the multivitamin capsules help children to perform better at games.

These are sophisticated analysis methods used to showcase the relationship between different variables instead of describing a single variable. It is often used when researchers want something beyond absolute numbers to understand the relationship between variables.

Here are some of the commonly used methods for data analysis in research.

  • Correlation: When researchers are not conducting experimental research or quasi-experimental research wherein the researchers are interested to understand the relationship between two or more variables, they opt for correlational research methods.
  • Cross-tabulation: Also called contingency tables,  cross-tabulation  is used to analyze the relationship between multiple variables.  Suppose provided data has age and gender categories presented in rows and columns. A two-dimensional cross-tabulation helps for seamless data analysis and research by showing the number of males and females in each age category.
  • Regression analysis: For understanding the strong relationship between two variables, researchers do not look beyond the primary and commonly used regression analysis method, which is also a type of predictive analysis used. In this method, you have an essential factor called the dependent variable. You also have multiple independent variables in regression analysis. You undertake efforts to find out the impact of independent variables on the dependent variable. The values of both independent and dependent variables are assumed as being ascertained in an error-free random manner.
  • Frequency tables: The statistical procedure is used for testing the degree to which two or more vary or differ in an experiment. A considerable degree of variation means research findings were significant. In many contexts, ANOVA testing and variance analysis are similar.
  • Analysis of variance: The statistical procedure is used for testing the degree to which two or more vary or differ in an experiment. A considerable degree of variation means research findings were significant. In many contexts, ANOVA testing and variance analysis are similar.
  • Researchers must have the necessary research skills to analyze and manipulation the data , Getting trained to demonstrate a high standard of research practice. Ideally, researchers must possess more than a basic understanding of the rationale of selecting one statistical method over the other to obtain better data insights.
  • Usually, research and data analytics projects differ by scientific discipline; therefore, getting statistical advice at the beginning of analysis helps design a survey questionnaire, select data collection  methods, and choose samples.

LEARN ABOUT: Best Data Collection Tools

  • The primary aim of data research and analysis is to derive ultimate insights that are unbiased. Any mistake in or keeping a biased mind to collect data, selecting an analysis method, or choosing  audience  sample il to draw a biased inference.
  • Irrelevant to the sophistication used in research data and analysis is enough to rectify the poorly defined objective outcome measurements. It does not matter if the design is at fault or intentions are not clear, but lack of clarity might mislead readers, so avoid the practice.
  • The motive behind data analysis in research is to present accurate and reliable data. As far as possible, avoid statistical errors, and find a way to deal with everyday challenges like outliers, missing data, data altering, data mining , or developing graphical representation.

LEARN MORE: Descriptive Research vs Correlational Research The sheer amount of data generated daily is frightening. Especially when data analysis has taken center stage. in 2018. In last year, the total data supply amounted to 2.8 trillion gigabytes. Hence, it is clear that the enterprises willing to survive in the hypercompetitive world must possess an excellent capability to analyze complex research data, derive actionable insights, and adapt to the new market needs.

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Writing a Rsearch Proposal

A  research proposal  describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.  Your paper should include the topic, research question and hypothesis, methods, predictions, and results (if not actual, then projected).

Research Proposal Aims

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

  • Introduction

Literature review

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Proposal Format

The proposal will usually have a  title page  that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

Introduction The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.. Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your  topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and  research questions To guide your  introduction , include information about:  
  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights will your research contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong  literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or  synthesize  prior scholarship

Research design and methods

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your project. Next, your  research design  or  methodology  section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions. Write up your projected, if not actual, results.

Contribution to knowledge

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Lastly, your research proposal must include correct  citations  for every source you have used, compiled in a  reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use free APA citation generators like BibGuru. Databases have a citation button you can click on to see your citation. Sometimes you have to re-format it as the citations may have mistakes. 

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Wong, P.T. P. http://www.meaning.ca/archives/archive/art_how_to_write_P_Wong.htm .

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Arboleda, C. R. (1981). Communication research . Communication Foundation for Asia.

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BANBEIS (Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics). (2017). Bangladesh education statistics 2016. Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS).

Borbasi, S., & Jackson, D. (2012). Navigating the maze of research . Mosby Elsevier.

Burns, N., Grove, S. K. (2009). The practice of nursing research: Appraisal, synthesis and generation of evidence. Saunders Elsevier.

Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research design: Qualitative & quantitative approaches . SAGE Publications.

Hasnat, M. A. (2017). School enrollment high but dropouts even higher. Dhaka Tribune September 8, 2017. https://www.Dhakatribune.com/Bangladesh/education/2017/09/08/school-enrollment-high-dropouts-even-higher .

Institute of International Studies. (n.d). Dissertation proposal workshop. Institute of International Studies. http://iis.berkeley.edu/node/424 .

Pajares, F. (n.d). The elements of a proposal. Emory University. Retrieved from http://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/ElementsOfaProposal.pdf .

Przeworski, A., & Frank, S. (1995). On the art of writing proposals: some candid suggestions for applicants to social science research council competitions. Social Science Research Council. Retrieved from http://iis.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/pdf/the_art_of_writing_proposals.pdf .

University of Michigan. (n.d). Research and sponsored projects. http://orsp.umich.edu/proposal-writers-guide-research-proposals-title-page .

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Karim, M.R. (2022). Designing Research Proposal in Quantitative Approach. In: Islam, M.R., Khan, N.A., Baikady, R. (eds) Principles of Social Research Methodology. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-5441-2_10

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A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research Questions and Hypotheses in Scholarly Articles

Edward barroga.

1 Department of General Education, Graduate School of Nursing Science, St. Luke’s International University, Tokyo, Japan.

Glafera Janet Matanguihan

2 Department of Biological Sciences, Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA, USA.

The development of research questions and the subsequent hypotheses are prerequisites to defining the main research purpose and specific objectives of a study. Consequently, these objectives determine the study design and research outcome. The development of research questions is a process based on knowledge of current trends, cutting-edge studies, and technological advances in the research field. Excellent research questions are focused and require a comprehensive literature search and in-depth understanding of the problem being investigated. Initially, research questions may be written as descriptive questions which could be developed into inferential questions. These questions must be specific and concise to provide a clear foundation for developing hypotheses. Hypotheses are more formal predictions about the research outcomes. These specify the possible results that may or may not be expected regarding the relationship between groups. Thus, research questions and hypotheses clarify the main purpose and specific objectives of the study, which in turn dictate the design of the study, its direction, and outcome. Studies developed from good research questions and hypotheses will have trustworthy outcomes with wide-ranging social and health implications.

INTRODUCTION

Scientific research is usually initiated by posing evidenced-based research questions which are then explicitly restated as hypotheses. 1 , 2 The hypotheses provide directions to guide the study, solutions, explanations, and expected results. 3 , 4 Both research questions and hypotheses are essentially formulated based on conventional theories and real-world processes, which allow the inception of novel studies and the ethical testing of ideas. 5 , 6

It is crucial to have knowledge of both quantitative and qualitative research 2 as both types of research involve writing research questions and hypotheses. 7 However, these crucial elements of research are sometimes overlooked; if not overlooked, then framed without the forethought and meticulous attention it needs. Planning and careful consideration are needed when developing quantitative or qualitative research, particularly when conceptualizing research questions and hypotheses. 4

There is a continuing need to support researchers in the creation of innovative research questions and hypotheses, as well as for journal articles that carefully review these elements. 1 When research questions and hypotheses are not carefully thought of, unethical studies and poor outcomes usually ensue. Carefully formulated research questions and hypotheses define well-founded objectives, which in turn determine the appropriate design, course, and outcome of the study. This article then aims to discuss in detail the various aspects of crafting research questions and hypotheses, with the goal of guiding researchers as they develop their own. Examples from the authors and peer-reviewed scientific articles in the healthcare field are provided to illustrate key points.

DEFINITIONS AND RELATIONSHIP OF RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES

A research question is what a study aims to answer after data analysis and interpretation. The answer is written in length in the discussion section of the paper. Thus, the research question gives a preview of the different parts and variables of the study meant to address the problem posed in the research question. 1 An excellent research question clarifies the research writing while facilitating understanding of the research topic, objective, scope, and limitations of the study. 5

On the other hand, a research hypothesis is an educated statement of an expected outcome. This statement is based on background research and current knowledge. 8 , 9 The research hypothesis makes a specific prediction about a new phenomenon 10 or a formal statement on the expected relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable. 3 , 11 It provides a tentative answer to the research question to be tested or explored. 4

Hypotheses employ reasoning to predict a theory-based outcome. 10 These can also be developed from theories by focusing on components of theories that have not yet been observed. 10 The validity of hypotheses is often based on the testability of the prediction made in a reproducible experiment. 8

Conversely, hypotheses can also be rephrased as research questions. Several hypotheses based on existing theories and knowledge may be needed to answer a research question. Developing ethical research questions and hypotheses creates a research design that has logical relationships among variables. These relationships serve as a solid foundation for the conduct of the study. 4 , 11 Haphazardly constructed research questions can result in poorly formulated hypotheses and improper study designs, leading to unreliable results. Thus, the formulations of relevant research questions and verifiable hypotheses are crucial when beginning research. 12

CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES

Excellent research questions are specific and focused. These integrate collective data and observations to confirm or refute the subsequent hypotheses. Well-constructed hypotheses are based on previous reports and verify the research context. These are realistic, in-depth, sufficiently complex, and reproducible. More importantly, these hypotheses can be addressed and tested. 13

There are several characteristics of well-developed hypotheses. Good hypotheses are 1) empirically testable 7 , 10 , 11 , 13 ; 2) backed by preliminary evidence 9 ; 3) testable by ethical research 7 , 9 ; 4) based on original ideas 9 ; 5) have evidenced-based logical reasoning 10 ; and 6) can be predicted. 11 Good hypotheses can infer ethical and positive implications, indicating the presence of a relationship or effect relevant to the research theme. 7 , 11 These are initially developed from a general theory and branch into specific hypotheses by deductive reasoning. In the absence of a theory to base the hypotheses, inductive reasoning based on specific observations or findings form more general hypotheses. 10

TYPES OF RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES

Research questions and hypotheses are developed according to the type of research, which can be broadly classified into quantitative and qualitative research. We provide a summary of the types of research questions and hypotheses under quantitative and qualitative research categories in Table 1 .

Research questions in quantitative research

In quantitative research, research questions inquire about the relationships among variables being investigated and are usually framed at the start of the study. These are precise and typically linked to the subject population, dependent and independent variables, and research design. 1 Research questions may also attempt to describe the behavior of a population in relation to one or more variables, or describe the characteristics of variables to be measured ( descriptive research questions ). 1 , 5 , 14 These questions may also aim to discover differences between groups within the context of an outcome variable ( comparative research questions ), 1 , 5 , 14 or elucidate trends and interactions among variables ( relationship research questions ). 1 , 5 We provide examples of descriptive, comparative, and relationship research questions in quantitative research in Table 2 .

Hypotheses in quantitative research

In quantitative research, hypotheses predict the expected relationships among variables. 15 Relationships among variables that can be predicted include 1) between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable ( simple hypothesis ) or 2) between two or more independent and dependent variables ( complex hypothesis ). 4 , 11 Hypotheses may also specify the expected direction to be followed and imply an intellectual commitment to a particular outcome ( directional hypothesis ) 4 . On the other hand, hypotheses may not predict the exact direction and are used in the absence of a theory, or when findings contradict previous studies ( non-directional hypothesis ). 4 In addition, hypotheses can 1) define interdependency between variables ( associative hypothesis ), 4 2) propose an effect on the dependent variable from manipulation of the independent variable ( causal hypothesis ), 4 3) state a negative relationship between two variables ( null hypothesis ), 4 , 11 , 15 4) replace the working hypothesis if rejected ( alternative hypothesis ), 15 explain the relationship of phenomena to possibly generate a theory ( working hypothesis ), 11 5) involve quantifiable variables that can be tested statistically ( statistical hypothesis ), 11 6) or express a relationship whose interlinks can be verified logically ( logical hypothesis ). 11 We provide examples of simple, complex, directional, non-directional, associative, causal, null, alternative, working, statistical, and logical hypotheses in quantitative research, as well as the definition of quantitative hypothesis-testing research in Table 3 .

Research questions in qualitative research

Unlike research questions in quantitative research, research questions in qualitative research are usually continuously reviewed and reformulated. The central question and associated subquestions are stated more than the hypotheses. 15 The central question broadly explores a complex set of factors surrounding the central phenomenon, aiming to present the varied perspectives of participants. 15

There are varied goals for which qualitative research questions are developed. These questions can function in several ways, such as to 1) identify and describe existing conditions ( contextual research question s); 2) describe a phenomenon ( descriptive research questions ); 3) assess the effectiveness of existing methods, protocols, theories, or procedures ( evaluation research questions ); 4) examine a phenomenon or analyze the reasons or relationships between subjects or phenomena ( explanatory research questions ); or 5) focus on unknown aspects of a particular topic ( exploratory research questions ). 5 In addition, some qualitative research questions provide new ideas for the development of theories and actions ( generative research questions ) or advance specific ideologies of a position ( ideological research questions ). 1 Other qualitative research questions may build on a body of existing literature and become working guidelines ( ethnographic research questions ). Research questions may also be broadly stated without specific reference to the existing literature or a typology of questions ( phenomenological research questions ), may be directed towards generating a theory of some process ( grounded theory questions ), or may address a description of the case and the emerging themes ( qualitative case study questions ). 15 We provide examples of contextual, descriptive, evaluation, explanatory, exploratory, generative, ideological, ethnographic, phenomenological, grounded theory, and qualitative case study research questions in qualitative research in Table 4 , and the definition of qualitative hypothesis-generating research in Table 5 .

Qualitative studies usually pose at least one central research question and several subquestions starting with How or What . These research questions use exploratory verbs such as explore or describe . These also focus on one central phenomenon of interest, and may mention the participants and research site. 15

Hypotheses in qualitative research

Hypotheses in qualitative research are stated in the form of a clear statement concerning the problem to be investigated. Unlike in quantitative research where hypotheses are usually developed to be tested, qualitative research can lead to both hypothesis-testing and hypothesis-generating outcomes. 2 When studies require both quantitative and qualitative research questions, this suggests an integrative process between both research methods wherein a single mixed-methods research question can be developed. 1

FRAMEWORKS FOR DEVELOPING RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES

Research questions followed by hypotheses should be developed before the start of the study. 1 , 12 , 14 It is crucial to develop feasible research questions on a topic that is interesting to both the researcher and the scientific community. This can be achieved by a meticulous review of previous and current studies to establish a novel topic. Specific areas are subsequently focused on to generate ethical research questions. The relevance of the research questions is evaluated in terms of clarity of the resulting data, specificity of the methodology, objectivity of the outcome, depth of the research, and impact of the study. 1 , 5 These aspects constitute the FINER criteria (i.e., Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, and Relevant). 1 Clarity and effectiveness are achieved if research questions meet the FINER criteria. In addition to the FINER criteria, Ratan et al. described focus, complexity, novelty, feasibility, and measurability for evaluating the effectiveness of research questions. 14

The PICOT and PEO frameworks are also used when developing research questions. 1 The following elements are addressed in these frameworks, PICOT: P-population/patients/problem, I-intervention or indicator being studied, C-comparison group, O-outcome of interest, and T-timeframe of the study; PEO: P-population being studied, E-exposure to preexisting conditions, and O-outcome of interest. 1 Research questions are also considered good if these meet the “FINERMAPS” framework: Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, Relevant, Manageable, Appropriate, Potential value/publishable, and Systematic. 14

As we indicated earlier, research questions and hypotheses that are not carefully formulated result in unethical studies or poor outcomes. To illustrate this, we provide some examples of ambiguous research question and hypotheses that result in unclear and weak research objectives in quantitative research ( Table 6 ) 16 and qualitative research ( Table 7 ) 17 , and how to transform these ambiguous research question(s) and hypothesis(es) into clear and good statements.

a These statements were composed for comparison and illustrative purposes only.

b These statements are direct quotes from Higashihara and Horiuchi. 16

a This statement is a direct quote from Shimoda et al. 17

The other statements were composed for comparison and illustrative purposes only.

CONSTRUCTING RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES

To construct effective research questions and hypotheses, it is very important to 1) clarify the background and 2) identify the research problem at the outset of the research, within a specific timeframe. 9 Then, 3) review or conduct preliminary research to collect all available knowledge about the possible research questions by studying theories and previous studies. 18 Afterwards, 4) construct research questions to investigate the research problem. Identify variables to be accessed from the research questions 4 and make operational definitions of constructs from the research problem and questions. Thereafter, 5) construct specific deductive or inductive predictions in the form of hypotheses. 4 Finally, 6) state the study aims . This general flow for constructing effective research questions and hypotheses prior to conducting research is shown in Fig. 1 .

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Research questions are used more frequently in qualitative research than objectives or hypotheses. 3 These questions seek to discover, understand, explore or describe experiences by asking “What” or “How.” The questions are open-ended to elicit a description rather than to relate variables or compare groups. The questions are continually reviewed, reformulated, and changed during the qualitative study. 3 Research questions are also used more frequently in survey projects than hypotheses in experiments in quantitative research to compare variables and their relationships.

Hypotheses are constructed based on the variables identified and as an if-then statement, following the template, ‘If a specific action is taken, then a certain outcome is expected.’ At this stage, some ideas regarding expectations from the research to be conducted must be drawn. 18 Then, the variables to be manipulated (independent) and influenced (dependent) are defined. 4 Thereafter, the hypothesis is stated and refined, and reproducible data tailored to the hypothesis are identified, collected, and analyzed. 4 The hypotheses must be testable and specific, 18 and should describe the variables and their relationships, the specific group being studied, and the predicted research outcome. 18 Hypotheses construction involves a testable proposition to be deduced from theory, and independent and dependent variables to be separated and measured separately. 3 Therefore, good hypotheses must be based on good research questions constructed at the start of a study or trial. 12

In summary, research questions are constructed after establishing the background of the study. Hypotheses are then developed based on the research questions. Thus, it is crucial to have excellent research questions to generate superior hypotheses. In turn, these would determine the research objectives and the design of the study, and ultimately, the outcome of the research. 12 Algorithms for building research questions and hypotheses are shown in Fig. 2 for quantitative research and in Fig. 3 for qualitative research.

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EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH QUESTIONS FROM PUBLISHED ARTICLES

  • EXAMPLE 1. Descriptive research question (quantitative research)
  • - Presents research variables to be assessed (distinct phenotypes and subphenotypes)
  • “BACKGROUND: Since COVID-19 was identified, its clinical and biological heterogeneity has been recognized. Identifying COVID-19 phenotypes might help guide basic, clinical, and translational research efforts.
  • RESEARCH QUESTION: Does the clinical spectrum of patients with COVID-19 contain distinct phenotypes and subphenotypes? ” 19
  • EXAMPLE 2. Relationship research question (quantitative research)
  • - Shows interactions between dependent variable (static postural control) and independent variable (peripheral visual field loss)
  • “Background: Integration of visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive sensations contributes to postural control. People with peripheral visual field loss have serious postural instability. However, the directional specificity of postural stability and sensory reweighting caused by gradual peripheral visual field loss remain unclear.
  • Research question: What are the effects of peripheral visual field loss on static postural control ?” 20
  • EXAMPLE 3. Comparative research question (quantitative research)
  • - Clarifies the difference among groups with an outcome variable (patients enrolled in COMPERA with moderate PH or severe PH in COPD) and another group without the outcome variable (patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH))
  • “BACKGROUND: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) in COPD is a poorly investigated clinical condition.
  • RESEARCH QUESTION: Which factors determine the outcome of PH in COPD?
  • STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: We analyzed the characteristics and outcome of patients enrolled in the Comparative, Prospective Registry of Newly Initiated Therapies for Pulmonary Hypertension (COMPERA) with moderate or severe PH in COPD as defined during the 6th PH World Symposium who received medical therapy for PH and compared them with patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) .” 21
  • EXAMPLE 4. Exploratory research question (qualitative research)
  • - Explores areas that have not been fully investigated (perspectives of families and children who receive care in clinic-based child obesity treatment) to have a deeper understanding of the research problem
  • “Problem: Interventions for children with obesity lead to only modest improvements in BMI and long-term outcomes, and data are limited on the perspectives of families of children with obesity in clinic-based treatment. This scoping review seeks to answer the question: What is known about the perspectives of families and children who receive care in clinic-based child obesity treatment? This review aims to explore the scope of perspectives reported by families of children with obesity who have received individualized outpatient clinic-based obesity treatment.” 22
  • EXAMPLE 5. Relationship research question (quantitative research)
  • - Defines interactions between dependent variable (use of ankle strategies) and independent variable (changes in muscle tone)
  • “Background: To maintain an upright standing posture against external disturbances, the human body mainly employs two types of postural control strategies: “ankle strategy” and “hip strategy.” While it has been reported that the magnitude of the disturbance alters the use of postural control strategies, it has not been elucidated how the level of muscle tone, one of the crucial parameters of bodily function, determines the use of each strategy. We have previously confirmed using forward dynamics simulations of human musculoskeletal models that an increased muscle tone promotes the use of ankle strategies. The objective of the present study was to experimentally evaluate a hypothesis: an increased muscle tone promotes the use of ankle strategies. Research question: Do changes in the muscle tone affect the use of ankle strategies ?” 23

EXAMPLES OF HYPOTHESES IN PUBLISHED ARTICLES

  • EXAMPLE 1. Working hypothesis (quantitative research)
  • - A hypothesis that is initially accepted for further research to produce a feasible theory
  • “As fever may have benefit in shortening the duration of viral illness, it is plausible to hypothesize that the antipyretic efficacy of ibuprofen may be hindering the benefits of a fever response when taken during the early stages of COVID-19 illness .” 24
  • “In conclusion, it is plausible to hypothesize that the antipyretic efficacy of ibuprofen may be hindering the benefits of a fever response . The difference in perceived safety of these agents in COVID-19 illness could be related to the more potent efficacy to reduce fever with ibuprofen compared to acetaminophen. Compelling data on the benefit of fever warrant further research and review to determine when to treat or withhold ibuprofen for early stage fever for COVID-19 and other related viral illnesses .” 24
  • EXAMPLE 2. Exploratory hypothesis (qualitative research)
  • - Explores particular areas deeper to clarify subjective experience and develop a formal hypothesis potentially testable in a future quantitative approach
  • “We hypothesized that when thinking about a past experience of help-seeking, a self distancing prompt would cause increased help-seeking intentions and more favorable help-seeking outcome expectations .” 25
  • “Conclusion
  • Although a priori hypotheses were not supported, further research is warranted as results indicate the potential for using self-distancing approaches to increasing help-seeking among some people with depressive symptomatology.” 25
  • EXAMPLE 3. Hypothesis-generating research to establish a framework for hypothesis testing (qualitative research)
  • “We hypothesize that compassionate care is beneficial for patients (better outcomes), healthcare systems and payers (lower costs), and healthcare providers (lower burnout). ” 26
  • Compassionomics is the branch of knowledge and scientific study of the effects of compassionate healthcare. Our main hypotheses are that compassionate healthcare is beneficial for (1) patients, by improving clinical outcomes, (2) healthcare systems and payers, by supporting financial sustainability, and (3) HCPs, by lowering burnout and promoting resilience and well-being. The purpose of this paper is to establish a scientific framework for testing the hypotheses above . If these hypotheses are confirmed through rigorous research, compassionomics will belong in the science of evidence-based medicine, with major implications for all healthcare domains.” 26
  • EXAMPLE 4. Statistical hypothesis (quantitative research)
  • - An assumption is made about the relationship among several population characteristics ( gender differences in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of adults with ADHD ). Validity is tested by statistical experiment or analysis ( chi-square test, Students t-test, and logistic regression analysis)
  • “Our research investigated gender differences in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of adults with ADHD in a Japanese clinical sample. Due to unique Japanese cultural ideals and expectations of women's behavior that are in opposition to ADHD symptoms, we hypothesized that women with ADHD experience more difficulties and present more dysfunctions than men . We tested the following hypotheses: first, women with ADHD have more comorbidities than men with ADHD; second, women with ADHD experience more social hardships than men, such as having less full-time employment and being more likely to be divorced.” 27
  • “Statistical Analysis
  • ( text omitted ) Between-gender comparisons were made using the chi-squared test for categorical variables and Students t-test for continuous variables…( text omitted ). A logistic regression analysis was performed for employment status, marital status, and comorbidity to evaluate the independent effects of gender on these dependent variables.” 27

EXAMPLES OF HYPOTHESIS AS WRITTEN IN PUBLISHED ARTICLES IN RELATION TO OTHER PARTS

  • EXAMPLE 1. Background, hypotheses, and aims are provided
  • “Pregnant women need skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth, but that skilled care is often delayed in some countries …( text omitted ). The focused antenatal care (FANC) model of WHO recommends that nurses provide information or counseling to all pregnant women …( text omitted ). Job aids are visual support materials that provide the right kind of information using graphics and words in a simple and yet effective manner. When nurses are not highly trained or have many work details to attend to, these job aids can serve as a content reminder for the nurses and can be used for educating their patients (Jennings, Yebadokpo, Affo, & Agbogbe, 2010) ( text omitted ). Importantly, additional evidence is needed to confirm how job aids can further improve the quality of ANC counseling by health workers in maternal care …( text omitted )” 28
  • “ This has led us to hypothesize that the quality of ANC counseling would be better if supported by job aids. Consequently, a better quality of ANC counseling is expected to produce higher levels of awareness concerning the danger signs of pregnancy and a more favorable impression of the caring behavior of nurses .” 28
  • “This study aimed to examine the differences in the responses of pregnant women to a job aid-supported intervention during ANC visit in terms of 1) their understanding of the danger signs of pregnancy and 2) their impression of the caring behaviors of nurses to pregnant women in rural Tanzania.” 28
  • EXAMPLE 2. Background, hypotheses, and aims are provided
  • “We conducted a two-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate and compare changes in salivary cortisol and oxytocin levels of first-time pregnant women between experimental and control groups. The women in the experimental group touched and held an infant for 30 min (experimental intervention protocol), whereas those in the control group watched a DVD movie of an infant (control intervention protocol). The primary outcome was salivary cortisol level and the secondary outcome was salivary oxytocin level.” 29
  • “ We hypothesize that at 30 min after touching and holding an infant, the salivary cortisol level will significantly decrease and the salivary oxytocin level will increase in the experimental group compared with the control group .” 29
  • EXAMPLE 3. Background, aim, and hypothesis are provided
  • “In countries where the maternal mortality ratio remains high, antenatal education to increase Birth Preparedness and Complication Readiness (BPCR) is considered one of the top priorities [1]. BPCR includes birth plans during the antenatal period, such as the birthplace, birth attendant, transportation, health facility for complications, expenses, and birth materials, as well as family coordination to achieve such birth plans. In Tanzania, although increasing, only about half of all pregnant women attend an antenatal clinic more than four times [4]. Moreover, the information provided during antenatal care (ANC) is insufficient. In the resource-poor settings, antenatal group education is a potential approach because of the limited time for individual counseling at antenatal clinics.” 30
  • “This study aimed to evaluate an antenatal group education program among pregnant women and their families with respect to birth-preparedness and maternal and infant outcomes in rural villages of Tanzania.” 30
  • “ The study hypothesis was if Tanzanian pregnant women and their families received a family-oriented antenatal group education, they would (1) have a higher level of BPCR, (2) attend antenatal clinic four or more times, (3) give birth in a health facility, (4) have less complications of women at birth, and (5) have less complications and deaths of infants than those who did not receive the education .” 30

Research questions and hypotheses are crucial components to any type of research, whether quantitative or qualitative. These questions should be developed at the very beginning of the study. Excellent research questions lead to superior hypotheses, which, like a compass, set the direction of research, and can often determine the successful conduct of the study. Many research studies have floundered because the development of research questions and subsequent hypotheses was not given the thought and meticulous attention needed. The development of research questions and hypotheses is an iterative process based on extensive knowledge of the literature and insightful grasp of the knowledge gap. Focused, concise, and specific research questions provide a strong foundation for constructing hypotheses which serve as formal predictions about the research outcomes. Research questions and hypotheses are crucial elements of research that should not be overlooked. They should be carefully thought of and constructed when planning research. This avoids unethical studies and poor outcomes by defining well-founded objectives that determine the design, course, and outcome of the study.

Disclosure: The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

Author Contributions:

  • Conceptualization: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
  • Methodology: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
  • Writing - original draft: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
  • Writing - review & editing: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.

CRENC Learn

How to Create a Data Analysis Plan: A Detailed Guide

by Barche Blaise | Aug 12, 2020 | Writing

how to create a data analysis plan

If a good research question equates to a story then, a roadmap will be very vita l for good storytelling. We advise every student/researcher to personally write his/her data analysis plan before seeking any advice. In this blog article, we will explore how to create a data analysis plan: the content and structure.

This data analysis plan serves as a roadmap to how data collected will be organised and analysed. It includes the following aspects:

  • Clearly states the research objectives and hypothesis
  • Identifies the dataset to be used
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Clearly states the research variables
  • States statistical test hypotheses and the software for statistical analysis
  • Creating shell tables

1. Stating research question(s), objectives and hypotheses:

All research objectives or goals must be clearly stated. They must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART). Hypotheses are theories obtained from personal experience or previous literature and they lay a foundation for the statistical methods that will be applied to extrapolate results to the entire population.

2. The dataset:

The dataset that will be used for statistical analysis must be described and important aspects of the dataset outlined. These include; owner of the dataset, how to get access to the dataset, how the dataset was checked for quality control and in what program is the dataset stored (Excel, Epi Info, SQL, Microsoft access etc.).

3. The inclusion and exclusion criteria :

They guide the aspects of the dataset that will be used for data analysis. These criteria will also guide the choice of variables included in the main analysis.

4. Variables:

Every variable collected in the study should be clearly stated. They should be presented based on the level of measurement (ordinal/nominal or ratio/interval levels), or the role the variable plays in the study (independent/predictors or dependent/outcome variables). The variable types should also be outlined.  The variable type in conjunction with the research hypothesis forms the basis for selecting the appropriate statistical tests for inferential statistics. A good data analysis plan should summarize the variables as demonstrated in Figure 1 below.

Presentation of variables in a data analysis plan

5. Statistical software

There are tons of software packages for data analysis, some common examples are SPSS, Epi Info, SAS, STATA, Microsoft Excel. Include the version number,  year of release and author/manufacturer. Beginners have the tendency to try different software and finally not master any. It is rather good to select one and master it because almost all statistical software have the same performance for basic and the majority of advance analysis needed for a student thesis. This is what we recommend to all our students at CRENC before they begin writing their results section .

6. Selecting the appropriate statistical method to test hypotheses

Depending on the research question, hypothesis and type of variable, several statistical methods can be used to answer the research question appropriately. This aspect of the data analysis plan outlines clearly why each statistical method will be used to test hypotheses. The level of statistical significance (p-value) which is often but not always <0.05 should also be written.  Presented in figures 2a and 2b are decision trees for some common statistical tests based on the variable type and research question

A good analysis plan should clearly describe how missing data will be analysed.

How to choose a statistical method to determine association between variables

7. Creating shell tables

Data analysis involves three levels of analysis; univariable, bivariable and multivariable analysis with increasing order of complexity. Shell tables should be created in anticipation for the results that will be obtained from these different levels of analysis. Read our blog article on how to present tables and figures for more details. Suppose you carry out a study to investigate the prevalence and associated factors of a certain disease “X” in a population, then the shell tables can be represented as in Tables 1, Table 2 and Table 3 below.

Table 1: Example of a shell table from univariate analysis

Example of a shell table from univariate analysis

Table 2: Example of a shell table from bivariate analysis

Example of a shell table from bivariate analysis

Table 3: Example of a shell table from multivariate analysis

Example of a shell table from multivariate analysis

aOR = adjusted odds ratio

Now that you have learned how to create a data analysis plan, these are the takeaway points. It should clearly state the:

  • Research question, objectives, and hypotheses
  • Dataset to be used
  • Variable types and their role
  • Statistical software and statistical methods
  • Shell tables for univariate, bivariate and multivariate analysis

Further readings

Creating a Data Analysis Plan: What to Consider When Choosing Statistics for a Study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4552232/pdf/cjhp-68-311.pdf

Creating an Analysis Plan: https://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/healthprotection/fetp/training_modules/9/creating-analysis-plan_pw_final_09242013.pdf

Data Analysis Plan: https://www.statisticssolutions.com/dissertation-consulting-services/data-analysis-plan-2/

Photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Barche Blaise

Dr Barche is a physician and holds a Masters in Public Health. He is a senior fellow at CRENC with interests in Data Science and Data Analysis.

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16 comments.

Ewane Edwin, MD

Thanks. Quite informative.

James Tony

Educative write-up. Thanks.

Mabou Gabriel

Easy to understand. Thanks Dr

Amabo Miranda N.

Very explicit Dr. Thanks

Dongmo Roosvelt, MD

I will always remember how you help me conceptualize and understand data science in a simple way. I can only hope that someday I’ll be in a position to repay you, my dear friend.

Menda Blondelle

Plan d’analyse

Marc Lionel Ngamani

This is interesting, Thanks

Nkai

Very understandable and informative. Thank you..

Ndzeshang

love the figures.

Selemani C Ngwira

Nice, and informative

MONICA NAYEBARE

This is so much educative and good for beginners, I would love to recommend that you create and share a video because some people are able to grasp when there is an instructor. Lots of love

Kwasseu

Thank you Doctor very helpful.

Mbapah L. Tasha

Educative and clearly written. Thanks

Philomena Balera

Well said doctor,thank you.But when do you present in tables ,bars,pie chart etc?

Rasheda

Very informative guide!

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Research Method

Home » How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

Table of Contents

How To Write a Research Proposal

How To Write a Research Proposal

Writing a Research proposal involves several steps to ensure a well-structured and comprehensive document. Here is an explanation of each step:

1. Title and Abstract

  • Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research.
  • Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal.

2. Introduction:

  • Provide an introduction to your research topic, highlighting its significance and relevance.
  • Clearly state the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Discuss the background and context of the study, including previous research in the field.

3. Research Objectives

  • Outline the specific objectives or aims of your research. These objectives should be clear, achievable, and aligned with the research problem.

4. Literature Review:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings, identify gaps, and highlight how your research will contribute to the existing knowledge.

5. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to employ to address your research objectives.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques you will use.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate and suitable for your research.

6. Timeline:

  • Create a timeline or schedule that outlines the major milestones and activities of your research project.
  • Break down the research process into smaller tasks and estimate the time required for each task.

7. Resources:

  • Identify the resources needed for your research, such as access to specific databases, equipment, or funding.
  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources to carry out your research effectively.

8. Ethical Considerations:

  • Discuss any ethical issues that may arise during your research and explain how you plan to address them.
  • If your research involves human subjects, explain how you will ensure their informed consent and privacy.

9. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

  • Clearly state the expected outcomes or results of your research.
  • Highlight the potential impact and significance of your research in advancing knowledge or addressing practical issues.

10. References:

  • Provide a list of all the references cited in your proposal, following a consistent citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

11. Appendices:

  • Include any additional supporting materials, such as survey questionnaires, interview guides, or data analysis plans.

Research Proposal Format

The format of a research proposal may vary depending on the specific requirements of the institution or funding agency. However, the following is a commonly used format for a research proposal:

1. Title Page:

  • Include the title of your research proposal, your name, your affiliation or institution, and the date.

2. Abstract:

  • Provide a brief summary of your research proposal, highlighting the research problem, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.

3. Introduction:

  • Introduce the research topic and provide background information.
  • State the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Explain the significance and relevance of the research.
  • Review relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings and identify gaps in the existing knowledge.
  • Explain how your research will contribute to filling those gaps.

5. Research Objectives:

  • Clearly state the specific objectives or aims of your research.
  • Ensure that the objectives are clear, focused, and aligned with the research problem.

6. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to use.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate for your research.

7. Timeline:

8. Resources:

  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources effectively.

9. Ethical Considerations:

  • If applicable, explain how you will ensure informed consent and protect the privacy of research participants.

10. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

11. References:

12. Appendices:

Research Proposal Template

Here’s a template for a research proposal:

1. Introduction:

2. Literature Review:

3. Research Objectives:

4. Methodology:

5. Timeline:

6. Resources:

7. Ethical Considerations:

8. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

9. References:

10. Appendices:

Research Proposal Sample

Title: The Impact of Online Education on Student Learning Outcomes: A Comparative Study

1. Introduction

Online education has gained significant prominence in recent years, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes by comparing them with traditional face-to-face instruction. The study will explore various aspects of online education, such as instructional methods, student engagement, and academic performance, to provide insights into the effectiveness of online learning.

2. Objectives

The main objectives of this research are as follows:

  • To compare student learning outcomes between online and traditional face-to-face education.
  • To examine the factors influencing student engagement in online learning environments.
  • To assess the effectiveness of different instructional methods employed in online education.
  • To identify challenges and opportunities associated with online education and suggest recommendations for improvement.

3. Methodology

3.1 Study Design

This research will utilize a mixed-methods approach to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. The study will include the following components:

3.2 Participants

The research will involve undergraduate students from two universities, one offering online education and the other providing face-to-face instruction. A total of 500 students (250 from each university) will be selected randomly to participate in the study.

3.3 Data Collection

The research will employ the following data collection methods:

  • Quantitative: Pre- and post-assessments will be conducted to measure students’ learning outcomes. Data on student demographics and academic performance will also be collected from university records.
  • Qualitative: Focus group discussions and individual interviews will be conducted with students to gather their perceptions and experiences regarding online education.

3.4 Data Analysis

Quantitative data will be analyzed using statistical software, employing descriptive statistics, t-tests, and regression analysis. Qualitative data will be transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically to identify recurring patterns and themes.

4. Ethical Considerations

The study will adhere to ethical guidelines, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of participants. Informed consent will be obtained, and participants will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time.

5. Significance and Expected Outcomes

This research will contribute to the existing literature by providing empirical evidence on the impact of online education on student learning outcomes. The findings will help educational institutions and policymakers make informed decisions about incorporating online learning methods and improving the quality of online education. Moreover, the study will identify potential challenges and opportunities related to online education and offer recommendations for enhancing student engagement and overall learning outcomes.

6. Timeline

The proposed research will be conducted over a period of 12 months, including data collection, analysis, and report writing.

The estimated budget for this research includes expenses related to data collection, software licenses, participant compensation, and research assistance. A detailed budget breakdown will be provided in the final research plan.

8. Conclusion

This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes through a comparative study with traditional face-to-face instruction. By exploring various dimensions of online education, this research will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and challenges associated with online learning. The findings will contribute to the ongoing discourse on educational practices and help shape future strategies for maximizing student learning outcomes in online education settings.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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Quantitative Data Analysis: Types, Analysis & Examples

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analysis of quantitative data

Analysis of Quantitative data enables you to transform raw data points, typically organised in spreadsheets, into actionable insights. Refer to the article to know more!

Analysis of Quantitative Data : Data, data everywhere — it’s impossible to escape it in today’s digitally connected world. With business and personal activities leaving digital footprints, vast amounts of quantitative data are being generated every second of every day. While data on its own may seem impersonal and cold, in the right hands it can be transformed into valuable insights that drive meaningful decision-making. In this article, we will discuss analysis of quantitative data types and examples!

Data Analytics Course

If you are looking to acquire hands-on experience in quantitative data analysis, look no further than Physics Wallah’s Data Analytics Course . And as a token of appreciation for reading this blog post until the end, use our exclusive coupon code “READER” to get a discount on the course fee.

Table of Contents

What is the Quantitative Analysis Method?

Quantitative Analysis refers to a mathematical approach that gathers and evaluates measurable and verifiable data. This method is utilized to assess performance and various aspects of a business or research. It involves the use of mathematical and statistical techniques to analyze data. Quantitative methods emphasize objective measurements, focusing on statistical, analytical, or numerical analysis of data. It collects data and studies it to derive insights or conclusions.

In a business context, it helps in evaluating the performance and efficiency of operations. Quantitative analysis can be applied across various domains, including finance, research, and chemistry, where data can be converted into numbers for analysis.

Also Read: Analysis vs. Analytics: How Are They Different?

What is the Best Analysis for Quantitative Data?

The “best” analysis for quantitative data largely depends on the specific research objectives, the nature of the data collected, the research questions posed, and the context in which the analysis is conducted. Quantitative data analysis encompasses a wide range of techniques, each suited for different purposes. Here are some commonly employed methods, along with scenarios where they might be considered most appropriate:

1) Descriptive Statistics:

  • When to Use: To summarize and describe the basic features of the dataset, providing simple summaries about the sample and measures of central tendency and variability.
  • Example: Calculating means, medians, standard deviations, and ranges to describe a dataset.

2) Inferential Statistics:

  • When to Use: When you want to make predictions or inferences about a population based on a sample, testing hypotheses, or determining relationships between variables.
  • Example: Conducting t-tests to compare means between two groups or performing regression analysis to understand the relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable.

3) Correlation and Regression Analysis:

  • When to Use: To examine relationships between variables, determining the strength and direction of associations, or predicting one variable based on another.
  • Example: Assessing the correlation between customer satisfaction scores and sales revenue or predicting house prices based on variables like location, size, and amenities.

4) Factor Analysis:

  • When to Use: When dealing with a large set of variables and aiming to identify underlying relationships or latent factors that explain patterns of correlations within the data.
  • Example: Exploring underlying constructs influencing employee engagement using survey responses across multiple indicators.

5) Time Series Analysis:

  • When to Use: When analyzing data points collected or recorded at successive time intervals to identify patterns, trends, seasonality, or forecast future values.
  • Example: Analyzing monthly sales data over several years to detect seasonal trends or forecasting stock prices based on historical data patterns.

6) Cluster Analysis:

  • When to Use: To segment a dataset into distinct groups or clusters based on similarities, enabling pattern recognition, customer segmentation, or data reduction.
  • Example: Segmenting customers into distinct groups based on purchasing behavior, demographic factors, or preferences.

The “best” analysis for quantitative data is not one-size-fits-all but rather depends on the research objectives, hypotheses, data characteristics, and contextual factors. Often, a combination of analytical techniques may be employed to derive comprehensive insights and address multifaceted research questions effectively. Therefore, selecting the appropriate analysis requires careful consideration of the research goals, methodological rigor, and interpretative relevance to ensure valid, reliable, and actionable outcomes.

Analysis of Quantitative Data in Quantitative Research

Analyzing quantitative data in quantitative research involves a systematic process of examining numerical information to uncover patterns, relationships, and insights that address specific research questions or objectives. Here’s a structured overview of the analysis process:

1) Data Preparation:

  • Data Cleaning: Identify and address errors, inconsistencies, missing values, and outliers in the dataset to ensure its integrity and reliability.
  • Variable Transformation: Convert variables into appropriate formats or scales, if necessary, for analysis (e.g., normalization, standardization).

2) Descriptive Statistics:

  • Central Tendency: Calculate measures like mean, median, and mode to describe the central position of the data.
  • Variability: Assess the spread or dispersion of data using measures such as range, variance, standard deviation, and interquartile range.
  • Frequency Distribution: Create tables, histograms, or bar charts to display the distribution of values for categorical or discrete variables.

3) Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA):

  • Data Visualization: Generate graphical representations like scatter plots, box plots, histograms, or heatmaps to visualize relationships, distributions, and patterns in the data.
  • Correlation Analysis: Examine the strength and direction of relationships between variables using correlation coefficients.

4) Inferential Statistics:

  • Hypothesis Testing: Formulate null and alternative hypotheses based on research questions, selecting appropriate statistical tests (e.g., t-tests, ANOVA, chi-square tests) to assess differences, associations, or effects.
  • Confidence Intervals: Estimate population parameters using sample statistics and determine the range within which the true parameter is likely to fall.

5) Regression Analysis:

  • Linear Regression: Identify and quantify relationships between an outcome variable and one or more predictor variables, assessing the strength, direction, and significance of associations.
  • Multiple Regression: Evaluate the combined effect of multiple independent variables on a dependent variable, controlling for confounding factors.

6) Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Modeling:

  • Factor Analysis: Identify underlying dimensions or constructs that explain patterns of correlations among observed variables, reducing data complexity.
  • Structural Equation Modeling (SEM): Examine complex relationships between observed and latent variables, assessing direct and indirect effects within a hypothesized model.

7) Time Series Analysis and Forecasting:

  • Trend Analysis: Analyze patterns, trends, and seasonality in time-ordered data to understand historical patterns and predict future values.
  • Forecasting Models: Develop predictive models (e.g., ARIMA, exponential smoothing) to anticipate future trends, demand, or outcomes based on historical data patterns.

8) Interpretation and Reporting:

  • Interpret Results: Translate statistical findings into meaningful insights, discussing implications, limitations, and conclusions in the context of the research objectives.
  • Documentation: Document the analysis process, methodologies, assumptions, and findings systematically for transparency, reproducibility, and peer review.

Also Read: Learning Path to Become a Data Analyst in 2024

Analysis of Quantitative Data Examples

Analyzing quantitative data involves various statistical methods and techniques to derive meaningful insights from numerical data. Here are some examples illustrating the analysis of quantitative data across different contexts:

How to Write Data Analysis in Quantitative Research Proposal?

Writing the data analysis section in a quantitative research proposal requires careful planning and organization to convey a clear, concise, and methodologically sound approach to analyzing the collected data. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write the data analysis section effectively:

Step 1: Begin with an Introduction

  • Contextualize : Briefly reintroduce the research objectives, questions, and the significance of the study.
  • Purpose Statement : Clearly state the purpose of the data analysis section, outlining what readers can expect in this part of the proposal.

Step 2: Describe Data Collection Methods

  • Detail Collection Techniques : Provide a concise overview of the methods used for data collection (e.g., surveys, experiments, observations).
  • Instrumentation : Mention any tools, instruments, or software employed for data gathering and its relevance.

Step 3 : Discuss Data Cleaning Procedures

  • Data Cleaning : Describe the procedures for cleaning and pre-processing the data.
  • Handling Outliers & Missing Data : Explain how outliers, missing values, and other inconsistencies will be managed to ensure data quality.

Step 4 : Present Analytical Techniques

  • Descriptive Statistics : Outline the descriptive statistics that will be calculated to summarize the data (e.g., mean, median, mode, standard deviation).
  • Inferential Statistics : Specify the inferential statistical tests or models planned for deeper analysis (e.g., t-tests, ANOVA, regression).

Step 5: State Hypotheses & Testing Procedures

  • Hypothesis Formulation : Clearly state the null and alternative hypotheses based on the research questions or objectives.
  • Testing Strategy : Detail the procedures for hypothesis testing, including the chosen significance level (e.g., α = 0.05) and statistical criteria.

Step 6 : Provide a Sample Analysis Plan

  • Step-by-Step Plan : Offer a sample plan detailing the sequence of steps involved in the data analysis process.
  • Software & Tools : Mention any specific statistical software or tools that will be utilized for analysis.

Step 7 : Address Validity & Reliability

  • Validity : Discuss how you will ensure the validity of the data analysis methods and results.
  • Reliability : Explain measures taken to enhance the reliability and replicability of the study findings.

Step 8 : Discuss Ethical Considerations

  • Ethical Compliance : Address ethical considerations related to data privacy, confidentiality, and informed consent.
  • Compliance with Guidelines : Ensure that your data analysis methods align with ethical guidelines and institutional policies.

Step 9 : Acknowledge Limitations

  • Limitations : Acknowledge potential limitations in the data analysis methods or data set.
  • Mitigation Strategies : Offer strategies or alternative approaches to mitigate identified limitations.

Step 10 : Conclude the Section

  • Summary : Summarize the key points discussed in the data analysis section.
  • Transition : Provide a smooth transition to subsequent sections of the research proposal, such as the conclusion or references.

Step 11 : Proofread & Revise

  • Review : Carefully review the data analysis section for clarity, coherence, and consistency.
  • Feedback : Seek feedback from peers, advisors, or mentors to refine your approach and ensure methodological rigor.

What are the 4 Types of Quantitative Analysis?

Quantitative analysis encompasses various methods to evaluate and interpret numerical data. While the specific categorization can vary based on context, here are four broad types of quantitative analysis commonly recognized:

  • Descriptive Analysis: This involves summarizing and presenting data to describe its main features, such as mean, median, mode, standard deviation, and range. Descriptive statistics provide a straightforward overview of the dataset’s characteristics.
  • Inferential Analysis: This type of analysis uses sample data to make predictions or inferences about a larger population. Techniques like hypothesis testing, regression analysis, and confidence intervals fall under this category. The goal is to draw conclusions that extend beyond the immediate data collected.
  • Time-Series Analysis: In this method, data points are collected, recorded, and analyzed over successive time intervals. Time-series analysis helps identify patterns, trends, and seasonal variations within the data. It’s particularly useful in forecasting future values based on historical trends.
  • Causal or Experimental Research: This involves establishing a cause-and-effect relationship between variables. Through experimental designs, researchers manipulate one variable to observe the effect on another variable while controlling for external factors. Randomized controlled trials are a common method within this type of quantitative analysis.

Each type of quantitative analysis serves specific purposes and is applied based on the nature of the data and the research objectives.

Also Read: AI and Predictive Analytics: Examples, Tools, Uses, Ai Vs Predictive Analytics

Steps to Effective Quantitative Data Analysis 

Quantitative data analysis need not be daunting; it’s a systematic process that anyone can master. To harness actionable insights from your company’s data, follow these structured steps:

Step 1 : Gather Data Strategically

Initiating the analysis journey requires a foundation of relevant data. Employ quantitative research methods to accumulate numerical insights from diverse channels such as:

  • Interviews or Focus Groups: Engage directly with stakeholders or customers to gather specific numerical feedback.
  • Digital Analytics: Utilize tools like Google Analytics to extract metrics related to website traffic, user behavior, and conversions.
  • Observational Tools: Leverage heatmaps, click-through rates, or session recordings to capture user interactions and preferences.
  • Structured Questionnaires: Deploy surveys or feedback mechanisms that employ close-ended questions for precise responses.

Ensure that your data collection methods align with your research objectives, focusing on granularity and accuracy.

Step 2 : Refine and Cleanse Your Data

Raw data often comes with imperfections. Scrutinize your dataset to identify and rectify:

  • Errors and Inconsistencies: Address any inaccuracies or discrepancies that could mislead your analysis.
  • Duplicates: Eliminate repeated data points that can skew results.
  • Outliers: Identify and assess outliers, determining whether they should be adjusted or excluded based on contextual relevance.

Cleaning your dataset ensures that subsequent analyses are based on reliable and consistent information, enhancing the credibility of your findings.

Step 3 : Delve into Analysis with Precision

With a refined dataset at your disposal, transition into the analytical phase. Employ both descriptive and inferential analysis techniques:

  • Descriptive Analysis: Summarize key attributes of your dataset, computing metrics like averages, distributions, and frequencies.
  • Inferential Analysis: Leverage statistical methodologies to derive insights, explore relationships between variables, or formulate predictions.

The objective is not just number crunching but deriving actionable insights. Interpret your findings to discern underlying patterns, correlations, or trends that inform strategic decision-making. For instance, if data indicates a notable relationship between user engagement metrics and specific website features, consider optimizing those features for enhanced user experience.

Step 4 : Visual Representation and Communication

Transforming your analytical outcomes into comprehensible narratives is crucial for organizational alignment and decision-making. Leverage visualization tools and techniques to:

  • Craft Engaging Visuals: Develop charts, graphs, or dashboards that encapsulate key findings and insights.
  • Highlight Insights: Use visual elements to emphasize critical data points, trends, or comparative metrics effectively.
  • Facilitate Stakeholder Engagement: Share your visual representations with relevant stakeholders, ensuring clarity and fostering informed discussions.

Tools like Tableau, Power BI, or specialized platforms like Hotjar can simplify the visualization process, enabling seamless representation and dissemination of your quantitative insights.

Also Read: Top 10 Must Use AI Tools for Data Analysis [2024 Edition]

Statistical Analysis in Quantitative Research

Statistical analysis is a cornerstone of quantitative research, providing the tools and techniques to interpret numerical data systematically. By applying statistical methods, researchers can identify patterns, relationships, and trends within datasets, enabling evidence-based conclusions and informed decision-making. Here’s an overview of the key aspects and methodologies involved in statistical analysis within quantitative research:

  • Mean, Median, Mode: Measures of central tendency that summarize the average, middle, and most frequent values in a dataset, respectively.
  • Standard Deviation, Variance: Indicators of data dispersion or variability around the mean.
  • Frequency Distributions: Tabular or graphical representations that display the distribution of data values or categories.
  • Hypothesis Testing: Formal methodologies to test hypotheses or assumptions about population parameters using sample data. Common tests include t-tests, chi-square tests, ANOVA, and regression analysis.
  • Confidence Intervals: Estimation techniques that provide a range of values within which a population parameter is likely to lie, based on sample data.
  • Correlation and Regression Analysis: Techniques to explore relationships between variables, determining the strength and direction of associations. Regression analysis further enables prediction and modeling based on observed data patterns.

3) Probability Distributions:

  • Normal Distribution: A bell-shaped distribution often observed in naturally occurring phenomena, forming the basis for many statistical tests.
  • Binomial, Poisson, and Exponential Distributions: Specific probability distributions applicable to discrete or continuous random variables, depending on the nature of the research data.

4) Multivariate Analysis:

  • Factor Analysis: A technique to identify underlying relationships between observed variables, often used in survey research or data reduction scenarios.
  • Cluster Analysis: Methodologies that group similar objects or individuals based on predefined criteria, enabling segmentation or pattern recognition within datasets.
  • Multivariate Regression: Extending regression analysis to multiple independent variables, assessing their collective impact on a dependent variable.

5) Data Modeling and Forecasting:

  • Time Series Analysis: Analyzing data points collected or recorded at specific time intervals to identify patterns, trends, or seasonality.
  • Predictive Analytics: Leveraging statistical models and machine learning algorithms to forecast future trends, outcomes, or behaviors based on historical data.

If this blog post has piqued your interest in the field of data analytics, then we highly recommend checking out Physics Wallah’s Data Analytics Course . This course covers all the fundamental concepts of quantitative data analysis and provides hands-on training for various tools and software used in the industry.

With a team of experienced instructors from different backgrounds and industries, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of topics related to data analytics. And as an added bonus for being one of our dedicated readers, use the coupon code “ READER ” to get an exclusive discount on this course!

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Analysis of Quantitative Data FAQs

What is quantitative data analysis.

Quantitative data analysis involves the systematic process of collecting, cleaning, interpreting, and presenting numerical data to identify patterns, trends, and relationships through statistical methods and mathematical calculations.

What are the main steps involved in quantitative data analysis?

The primary steps include data collection, data cleaning, statistical analysis (descriptive and inferential), interpretation of results, and visualization of findings using graphs or charts.

What is the difference between descriptive and inferential analysis?

Descriptive analysis summarizes and describes the main aspects of the dataset (e.g., mean, median, mode), while inferential analysis draws conclusions or predictions about a population based on a sample, using statistical tests and models.

How do I handle outliers in my quantitative data?

Outliers can be managed by identifying them through statistical methods, understanding their nature (error or valid data), and deciding whether to remove them, transform them, or conduct separate analyses to understand their impact.

Which statistical tests should I use for my quantitative research?

The choice of statistical tests depends on your research design, data type, and research questions. Common tests include t-tests, ANOVA, regression analysis, chi-square tests, and correlation analysis, among others.

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The Research Proposal: Analysing Data

Introduction This chapter is linked to the analysing data section of the web program. As well as describing how you intend collecting the data for your research study in your research proposal, you need to state how you will analyse the data. The problem is that ‘raw’ data on their own are meaningless, so before we can use the data, they need to be organised and interpreted – in other words, analysed (Botti & Endacott 2005). If you have data from a quantitative research study, they will normally be in a numerical form; in order to use these data, you need to use statistics to analyse them. For many people, the term statistics can immediately make them panic, even mentally switch off, but in fact dealing with statistics can be fun! We all use statistics every day without thinking of it as statistics. The statistics we typically use most frequently are ‘averages’ and ‘percentages’ – as in the average age of the footballers playing for Manchester City is …, or the percentage of girls who go to university to take a nursing degree is …,and so on. So statistics are nothing to fret about, as you will discover as you work through this chapter. Totally different from the analysis of data obtained from a quantitative research study is the analysis of data obtained from a qualitative research study. Here the data may be numerical, but they mainly comprise words, or sometimes non-verbal and non-numerical data such as drawings. In many ways, qualitative research data are harder to analyse because, unlike with quantitative research data which convert readily to statistics – and there are many different tests/computer programs to analyse the statistics for you – qualitative data analysis is less direct and possibly a little nebulous, as you will see. Although there are certain processes that we can use to help us analyse our qualitative data, the fact is that qualitative data are more open to interpretation than are quantitative data. Therefore, we shall start by looking at, and discussing, how we can analyse data from quantitative research studies. Quantitative data analysis First, a brief resume of the types of data collection from chapter 8. When we are undertaking quantitative research, data collection involves the production of numerical data to address the research objectives, questions and/or hypotheses. During this process, the variables in the study are measured using a variety of techniques, including: observation; interview; questionnaire; scales; physiological measurements. Data analysis What do we mean by data analysis? Well, data analysis is a process we use in order to reduce, organise and give meaning to the data we have collected by using the data collection tools discussed in chapter 8. Within quantitative research, the analysis of data involves the use of: descriptive and exploratory procedures to describe the study variables and the sample; statistical techniques in order to test any proposed relationships; techniques that will help us to make predictions; techniques that will allow us to examine cause and effect. It is worth pointing out at that, unlike in the past, when dealing with statistics we no longer need to do calculations ourselves. Computers can perform most analyses. The choice of technique that is used in any research study is determined mainly by: the research objectives, questions or hypotheses; the research design; the research instruments and how/what they can measure. So, without further ado, let us start by looking at how we can undertake and analyse quantitative research, with a brief introduction to statistics. Introduction to statistics Always treat statistics with caution as well as respect, for as the British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) once famously (or infamously) said: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.’ In this section we are going to take a general look at what we mean by statistics and statistical data. So, let us start with some definitions: Data We talk about data in statistics. Data (singular ‘datum’) are things known or assumed as a basis for inference, or, to put it more simply, ‘Pieces of information that are collected during a study’ (Burns & Grove 2005: 733). Statistics Statistics are concerned with the systematic collection of numerical data and their interpretation. Burns & Grove (2005: 752) refer to a statistic as simply ‘a numerical value obtained from a sample that is used to estimate the parameters of a population’ . The word’statistics’ can be used to refer to: numerical facts, such as the number of people living in a particular town; the study of ways of collecting and interpreting these facts. It can be argued that figures are not facts in themselves. It is only when they are interpreted that they become relevant to discussions and decisions. So statistics are there to inform our discussions – they are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Sample You may recall from chapter 7 that a sample is a group of people, events, behaviours or other elements you need to have in order to conduct your research study. Population A population is what we call the group of individuals or elements that meets the sampling criteria (a sample being representative of that population). So, if we were interested in looking at the number of childhood cancers diagnosed in 2006 in the United Kingdom (i.e. our ‘population’), we might not be able to survey the entire population of children with cancer in that year living in the UK, and so we would look at a sample taken from all the children with cancer in 2006 living in the UK (see chapter 7 for the criteria we need to apply to our sample). Parameter Parameter has, like many English words, several meanings. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1991) it can be defined as: a quantity constant in the case considered but varying in different cases; a measurable (or quantifiable) characteristic or feature; a constant element or factor, particularly serving as a limit or boundary. You may be wondering at this point what this means in terms of research. Well, to simplify matters, let us look at the definition given by Burns & Grove (2005 : 745): ‘a measure or numerical value of a population’ – in other words, the numbers found in any given population. Statistics can be divided into two types: Descriptive statistics Description ‘involves identifying and understanding the nature and attributes of nursing phenomena and sometimes the relationships among these phenomena’ (Burns & Grove 2005: 733). According to Sim & Wright (2000), descriptive statistics have two functions: 1. organising, summarising and presenting numerical data; 2. describing the distribution (i.e. the structure of the data collected) which will help with the analysis of inferential statistics, which are much more complex (Botti & Endacott 2005). Descriptive statistics include the presentation of data in tables and diagrams, as well as the calculation of percentages, averages, measures of dispersion (the variation or variability within the statistics) and correlation (the degree of relationship between two variables), in order to show the relevant features of the data and reduce them to manageable proportions. In other words, descriptive statistics involve the summary of the statistics in such a way that the researcher can organise the data in these statistics and give them meaning and insight. Inductive/inferential statistics Inductive or inferential statistics involve methods of inferring properties of a population on the basis of known results from a sample that is representative of the population. To infer is to deduce or conclude from facts and reasoning (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 2007), and inference is the use of inductive reasoning to move from a specific case to a general truth (and hence is also known as inductive reasoning). The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives one meaning of inductive as ‘leading on to’, and according to Burns & Grove (2005: 739), in relation to statistics, inductive reasoning is ‘reasoning from the specific to the general in which particular instances are observed and then combined into a larger whole – or general statement’. Thus, with these types of statistics, statistics are used to infer results from the specific study of a sample to a general statement about the larger population. So, inferential statistics are statistics that are designed to allow an inference to be made from a sample statistic to a population parameter. They are commonly used to test hypotheses (see chapter 5) that consist of similarities and differences in subsets of the sample under study. These methods are based directly on probability theory. Probability theory ‘addresses relative rather than absolute causality. Thus, from a probability perspective, a cause will not produce a specific effect each time that particular cause occurs, but the probability value indicates how frequently the effect might occur with the cause’ (Burns & Grove 2005: 747); in other words, given a certain situation, behaviour or event, how often that situation, behaviour or event might cause a particular result. So much for the general background to statistics; now we can start to look at some actual simple statistics. To begin with, you need to know that symbols are used in statistics to simplify their presentation. Some of the more common ones are given below. Symbols used in statistics As a form of shorthand, we use symbols instead of words: μ (lower-case Greek letter mu) = the mean χ (lower-case Greek letter chi) = each of the individual operations Σ (capital Greek letter sigma) = the operation of summing all the values of χ. n = number of observations σ (lower-case Greek letter sigma) = standard deviation (also symbolised by ‘s’). x = mean value s 2 = variance SS = sum of squared errors When you come to the statistical equations, you can refer to this list for the meanings of the symbols. Now, to boost your confidence and to demonstrate that statistics can be quite simple (and perhaps a little fun) it is time to look at some simple and common statistical calculations, which are regularly used in statistics – and to some extent in our everyday lives, although you may not be aware that you are using them. Average ‘Average’ is a measure of central tendency and of location. It summarises a group of figures and smoothes out any abnormalities. It also provides a mental picture of the distribution that it represents. In addition, it can provide knowledge about the whole distribution. The word is often used loosely in everyday conversation; however, used in this way, it can conceal important facts. There is more than one kind of average, so we shall consider these next, commencing with the type that we use most often when we talk about the ‘average’. Arithmetic mean ‘Arithmetic mean’ is the type of average to which most people refer when they use the word ‘average’, and it can be defined as the sum of the items divided by the number of these items. So, arithmetic mean = ‘the total value of items’ % the ‘total number of items’ or in symbols: Where Σ = the sum of χ (value of items) and n = number of items. The actual mathematical equation is For example, if we were to look at the ages of child branch student nurses, a group of 21 students, in their first year the university, we might find that there are: 11 aged 18 years 5 aged 19 2 aged 20 1 aged 25 1 aged 33 1 aged 51 According to our equation, to get the arithmetic mean of the group’ s age, we add all the ages together (= 442) and divide that by 21. This gives us an average of 21 years (or 21.047619 if you used a calculator). So we can see that the average age of this group of students on commencement at the university is 21 years. But can we now say that the age of child branch students on commencing university everywhere is 21 years? Hopefully, your answer is no. After what you have read in chapter 7 and 8, as well as in the web program, you should have realised that the group (our sample) is far too small for us to be able to generalise to child branch students everywhere else (the population). To Do Using the method and equation above, work out the arithmetic mean average age of your friends. You should also have noticed that, even in our small sample, our average of 21 years conceals a very important fact: the great majority of these students are aged 18–20 years when they commence university; there are just three students in the group who are aged 21 years or over. Therefore, the average does not give an accurate idea of the group’s age range, let alone allowing us to generalise. Always bear in mind the words of Thomas Carlyle (1840: 9) ‘A witty statesman said, you might prove anything by figures.’ However, we do have a couple of calculations that we can do with these figures that can give us a more realistic average. The first of these is the median. Median The median, another type of average, is the value of the middle item of a distribution which is set out in order. i.e. n plus 1 divided by 2, where n is the number of items. Now we can return to the ages of the cohort of 21 child branch student nurses when they commence at the university, namely: 11 aged 18 years 5 aged 19 2 aged 20 1 aged 25 1 aged 33 1 aged 51 To Do Use the formula above for median calculations, and work out the median of the group. Remember that the middle point of the ages of the group when laid out in a line from youngest to oldest is the median Did you get the same answer? You can see that the mid-point is the age at rank order number 11, which in this case is 18 years (as there are ten ages before that one and ten after it). If we look at the formula , then the mid-point is 21+1 divided by 2, or i.e. in this case the eleventh age in the row, which is 18. To Do Now do the same calculation with the ages of your friends. Is it different from your arithmetic mean average? It may be if you have friends of many different ages. In our example, does the median age give a more accurate idea of the group as a whole than the arithmetic mean average does? I think you would agree that the answer has to be yes, because 18 years is closer to the age of the great majority of the group. However, it still does not identify the anomaly that is the ages of the older students. So, we have yet another type of average to look at – the mode. Mode The mode is the numerical value of a score that occurs with the greatest frequency in a distribution. However, it does not necessarily indicate the centre of the set of data (Burns & Grove 2005). To Do Using the ages of our group of child branch students, work out the modal age of the group and see if you get the answer that we do. Again, use the ages to work out the mode (remember that the mode is the number that occurs most often): 11 aged 18 years 5 aged 19 2 aged 20 1 aged 25 1 aged 33 1 aged 51 In this case, 18 years of age occurs more frequently than any other age in our group; therefore the mode of the group is 18 years. In this case, the mode is the same as the median (but both are different from the mean), but this is not always the case. Consequently, you need to look closely at any statistics, because they are not always what they seem to be. To Do Again, using the ages of your friends, work out the mode of their ages. How does it compare with the other two ‘averages’? Finally, let us look at range. Range The range is an everyday method of describing the dispersion (spread) of data. It can be defined as the highest value in a distribution less the lowest. Let us look again at our group of child branch student nurses. The range of ages is 18–51 years. Therefore, the range of ages is 51 – 18 years = 33 years. If you combine this with a modal age of 18, what does this tell you about the general age of student nurses in the child branch? Answer: with a modal age of 18, although there is a range of 33 years (from 18 to 51 years), whilst most of the student nurses are young, there are some older ones (and even one of 51 years), but most of the child branch student nurses are at the younger end of the age range. To Do Finally, work out the range of ages of your group of friends. Now you can reflect on your friends, their ages and whether you have friends mainly of the same age as you or friends whose ages are very wide-ranging. Does this say anything about you and your criteria for friendship? So, you can see that statistics are not just a string of numbers and lots of calculations, but are a starting point for debate and discussion. Reflection on averages Often range is given along with mean, median or mode. Why? Answer: the advantage of giving range and one of the averages is that you get a much better idea of the group’s ages as in the example of the child branch student nurses. It also overcomes the problem of how we demonstrate that there are some major anomalies in our group, which are virtually ignored by the various averages. (The ‘anomalies’ in our example are the students who are much older than most of the group.) So, we can say that the group of child branch student nurses has a: mean of 21 years median of 18 years mode of 18 years range of 18–51 years and we now have a clearer picture of the group in terms of their ages. Standard deviation We just have one more important simple statistic to discuss: standard deviation. Standard deviation is a simple measure of the variability or dispersion (distribution) of a set of data. Basically, it measures the spread of the data about the mean value. A low standard deviation is an indication that all the individual data points are very close to the same value (i.e. the mean – see above), while a high standard deviation is an indication that the data are spread over a wide range of values. There is a formula to help us to work out standard deviation: The same symbol you were introduced to earlier are relevant to this formula. So this formula (in words) is ‘Standard deviation (σ) equals the square root (√) of the sum of (Σ) the mean value minus the mean squared ([χ–μ] 2 ), divided by the number of observations (n). For an example of how we calculate a standard deviation, let us look at the group of students (our population) we used above in our discussion of averages. We want to find the standard deviation of: 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 19 19 19 19 19 20 20 25 33 51 years First, we have to work out the arithmetic mean. We have already done this and obtained a mean of 21. Now we need to subtract that from each of the ages and square the result. So, for example, 18 – 21 = –3, and squared = 9 (minus numbers squared = positive numbers). Score Deviation Squared deviation χ χ − μ (χ − μ) 2 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 18 −3 9 19 −2 4 19 −2 4 19 −2 4 19 −2 4 19 −2 4 20 −1 2 20 −1 2 25 4 16 33 12 144 51 12 900 Next we have to add up these results. (This is where a calculator comes in handy, and even more so for the next two parts of the equation.) The total of the squared deviations is 1,183, which we now divide by the number of subjects (21), or 1,183 ÷ 21 = 56.34. Now find the square root of 56.34, which is 7.505997601918082 (rounded = 7.5). This is the standard deviation, but what do we do with it? The 7.5 score that we have for this group of students is used to give us an idea of the spread of the data that we have regarding the age of the age range. So if the mean is 21, first we have to see how many of the students fall within one standard deviation (i.e. 7.5) of the mean. In other words, how many students fall within the range of 13.5 – 28.5 (7.5 either side of 21). Well, 18 out of 21 fall between 13.5 and 21, whilst one falls within the range between 21 and 28.5. That means that 19 out of 21 (90%) of the student nurses fall within one standard deviation of the mean. Next we look at how many fall between 6 and 13.5 and between 28.5 and 36 (i.e. within the second standard deviation). The answer is that none falls between 6 and 13.5, and one falls between 28.5 and 36 (5%). Finally, three standard deviations would be ages between 0 and 6 and between 36 and 43.5 – the answer is none. The only remaining student falls between 43.5 and 51, which is four standard deviations. So, given these results, it is clear that, although the group is very homogeneous as regards their ages, there are two students who cause the spread of data to be extensive. According to Hinton (1995: 15–16), in many cases ‘most of the scores (about two-thirds – about 66.7%) will lie within one standard deviation less than, and one standard deviation greater than, the mean’. Our group does not quite fit that finding, with 90% being within one standard deviation, however, there is a special reason for this, and that is that our population is unique in that student nurses, particularly child branch students, are generally starting out in the world afterleaving school, and so they will generally be around the same age. A word of caution – the formula works for a population. If, however,we wanted to calculate the standard deviation of a sample, the formula is slightly different, namely: However, the rest of the calculation is as described above, but with the final stage of the calculation using the denominator n – 1 rather than just n. Summary This concludes our brief look at statistics. All the statistics you will encounter are variants of these. Some of them may be more complicated, but, like the examples given above, all are attempting to make sense of numerical data. Finally, a reminder to be wary of statistics when they are presented to you: ‘He uses statistics as a drunken man uses a lamp post – for support rather than illumination’ (attributed to Andrew Lang, 1844–1912) . Data analysis Let us commence our look at data analysis by looking at a hypothetical research study. There are different ways of approaching our research question/ hypothesis, and the way we put together our research question will determine the type of methodology, data collection method, statistics, analysis and presentation we shall use to approach our research problem. Examples of research questions Are females more likely to be nurses than males? Is the proportion of males who are nurses the same as the proportion of females? Is there a relationship between gender and becoming a nurse? In these examples, you can see that there are three ways to approach the research problem, which is concerned with the relationship between males and females in nursing, but the way in which the problem is expressed as a question will determine your methodology. Another research problem with variables Hypothesis

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Data Collection | Definition, Methods & Examples

Published on June 5, 2020 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on June 21, 2023.

Data collection is a systematic process of gathering observations or measurements. Whether you are performing research for business, governmental or academic purposes, data collection allows you to gain first-hand knowledge and original insights into your research problem .

While methods and aims may differ between fields, the overall process of data collection remains largely the same. Before you begin collecting data, you need to consider:

  • The  aim of the research
  • The type of data that you will collect
  • The methods and procedures you will use to collect, store, and process the data

To collect high-quality data that is relevant to your purposes, follow these four steps.

Table of contents

Step 1: define the aim of your research, step 2: choose your data collection method, step 3: plan your data collection procedures, step 4: collect the data, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about data collection.

Before you start the process of data collection, you need to identify exactly what you want to achieve. You can start by writing a problem statement : what is the practical or scientific issue that you want to address and why does it matter?

Next, formulate one or more research questions that precisely define what you want to find out. Depending on your research questions, you might need to collect quantitative or qualitative data :

  • Quantitative data is expressed in numbers and graphs and is analyzed through statistical methods .
  • Qualitative data is expressed in words and analyzed through interpretations and categorizations.

If your aim is to test a hypothesis , measure something precisely, or gain large-scale statistical insights, collect quantitative data. If your aim is to explore ideas, understand experiences, or gain detailed insights into a specific context, collect qualitative data. If you have several aims, you can use a mixed methods approach that collects both types of data.

  • Your first aim is to assess whether there are significant differences in perceptions of managers across different departments and office locations.
  • Your second aim is to gather meaningful feedback from employees to explore new ideas for how managers can improve.

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Based on the data you want to collect, decide which method is best suited for your research.

  • Experimental research is primarily a quantitative method.
  • Interviews , focus groups , and ethnographies are qualitative methods.
  • Surveys , observations, archival research and secondary data collection can be quantitative or qualitative methods.

Carefully consider what method you will use to gather data that helps you directly answer your research questions.

When you know which method(s) you are using, you need to plan exactly how you will implement them. What procedures will you follow to make accurate observations or measurements of the variables you are interested in?

For instance, if you’re conducting surveys or interviews, decide what form the questions will take; if you’re conducting an experiment, make decisions about your experimental design (e.g., determine inclusion and exclusion criteria ).

Operationalization

Sometimes your variables can be measured directly: for example, you can collect data on the average age of employees simply by asking for dates of birth. However, often you’ll be interested in collecting data on more abstract concepts or variables that can’t be directly observed.

Operationalization means turning abstract conceptual ideas into measurable observations. When planning how you will collect data, you need to translate the conceptual definition of what you want to study into the operational definition of what you will actually measure.

  • You ask managers to rate their own leadership skills on 5-point scales assessing the ability to delegate, decisiveness and dependability.
  • You ask their direct employees to provide anonymous feedback on the managers regarding the same topics.

You may need to develop a sampling plan to obtain data systematically. This involves defining a population , the group you want to draw conclusions about, and a sample, the group you will actually collect data from.

Your sampling method will determine how you recruit participants or obtain measurements for your study. To decide on a sampling method you will need to consider factors like the required sample size, accessibility of the sample, and timeframe of the data collection.

Standardizing procedures

If multiple researchers are involved, write a detailed manual to standardize data collection procedures in your study.

This means laying out specific step-by-step instructions so that everyone in your research team collects data in a consistent way – for example, by conducting experiments under the same conditions and using objective criteria to record and categorize observations. This helps you avoid common research biases like omitted variable bias or information bias .

This helps ensure the reliability of your data, and you can also use it to replicate the study in the future.

Creating a data management plan

Before beginning data collection, you should also decide how you will organize and store your data.

  • If you are collecting data from people, you will likely need to anonymize and safeguard the data to prevent leaks of sensitive information (e.g. names or identity numbers).
  • If you are collecting data via interviews or pencil-and-paper formats, you will need to perform transcriptions or data entry in systematic ways to minimize distortion.
  • You can prevent loss of data by having an organization system that is routinely backed up.

Finally, you can implement your chosen methods to measure or observe the variables you are interested in.

The closed-ended questions ask participants to rate their manager’s leadership skills on scales from 1–5. The data produced is numerical and can be statistically analyzed for averages and patterns.

To ensure that high quality data is recorded in a systematic way, here are some best practices:

  • Record all relevant information as and when you obtain data. For example, note down whether or how lab equipment is recalibrated during an experimental study.
  • Double-check manual data entry for errors.
  • If you collect quantitative data, you can assess the reliability and validity to get an indication of your data quality.

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how to write data analysis in quantitative research proposal

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Student’s  t -distribution
  • Normal distribution
  • Null and Alternative Hypotheses
  • Chi square tests
  • Confidence interval
  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Data cleansing
  • Reproducibility vs Replicability
  • Peer review
  • Likert scale

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Framing effect
  • Cognitive bias
  • Placebo effect
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Hindsight bias
  • Affect heuristic

Data collection is the systematic process by which observations or measurements are gathered in research. It is used in many different contexts by academics, governments, businesses, and other organizations.

When conducting research, collecting original data has significant advantages:

  • You can tailor data collection to your specific research aims (e.g. understanding the needs of your consumers or user testing your website)
  • You can control and standardize the process for high reliability and validity (e.g. choosing appropriate measurements and sampling methods )

However, there are also some drawbacks: data collection can be time-consuming, labor-intensive and expensive. In some cases, it’s more efficient to use secondary data that has already been collected by someone else, but the data might be less reliable.

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

Reliability and validity are both about how well a method measures something:

  • Reliability refers to the  consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).
  • Validity   refers to the  accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent what they are supposed to measure).

If you are doing experimental research, you also have to consider the internal and external validity of your experiment.

Operationalization means turning abstract conceptual ideas into measurable observations.

For example, the concept of social anxiety isn’t directly observable, but it can be operationally defined in terms of self-rating scores, behavioral avoidance of crowded places, or physical anxiety symptoms in social situations.

Before collecting data , it’s important to consider how you will operationalize the variables that you want to measure.

In mixed methods research , you use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods to answer your research question .

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