A Description of Quantitative Research

Quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques. [1] The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to phenomena. The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides the fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Quantitative data is any data that is in numerical form such as statistics, percentages, etc. 1] In layman’s terms, this means that the quantitative researcher asks a specific, narrow question and collects numerical data from participants to answer the question. The researcher analyzes the data with the help of statistics. The researcher is hoping the numbers will yield an unbiased result that can be generalized to some larger population. Qualitative research, on the other hand, asks broad questions and collects word data from participants. The researcher looks for themes and describes the information in themes and patterns exclusive to that set of participants.

Quantitative research is widely used in social sciences such as: psychology, economics, sociology, and political science, and information technology, and less frequently in anthropology and history. However, research in mathematical sciences such as: physics is also ‘quantitative’ by definition, though this use of the term differs in context. In the social sciences, the term relates to empirical methods, originating in both philosophical positivism and the history of statistics, which contrast qualitative research methods.

Quantitative research is generally made using scientific methods, which can include: The generation of models, theories and hypotheses The development of instruments and methods for measurement Experimental control and manipulation of variables Collection of empirical data Modeling and analysis of data The Process: The research process entails a number of steps which include the research question, literature review, research design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation of results and answering the research question. Hughes, 2006) From the above diagram it is evident that there are steps that should be followed when undertaking quantitative research, these steps are discussed below: (Creswell, 2003) 1) Selection of topic: The first step when undertaking quantitative research is the identification of the research topic, this involves designing the research question, the selection of the topic will depend on a number of factors and they include topic selection due to interest of an individual, significance of the social phenomena, research based on existing theories and the ability to research on the topic. Creswell, 2003) 2) Literature review: The next step is to undertake research on previous theories that have been developed based on the selected research topic. This step will also involve selection of the theoretical approach that will be used in the study. This step will also involve formulation of questions that will be answered in the study, at this point a literature review will be prepared in order to identify previous studies and theories that support the research questions and methods that will used in the study. Creswell, 2003) 3) Research design: Research design is determined by the research question, this involves identifying the most appropriate way to structure the quantitative research in order to answer the research question, the research question will also determine the type of data to be collected and analyzed. 4) Data collection methods: The research design will involve selection of the most appropriate data collection method.

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Questions will either be closed or open ended, open ended questions are those questions that will require the respondent to input his own answers to the questions whereas closed questions are those questions whereby the respondent will choose from a list of answers highlighted in the questionnaire. (Fowler, 2008) ii) Interviews: An interview can be undertaken to collect data, there are two types of interviews and they include face to face interview and telephone nterview, a face to face interview will involve collection of data whereby the respondent and research administrator sit together, a telephone interview on the other hand will involve calling the respondent and answers obtained over the phone, a face to face interview is considered more expensive given that the research administrator may be required to travel and also this process may be time consuming. Fowler, 2008) Interview are further subdivided into structured and unstructured interview, structured interview involves setting up a set of questions that will be administered while unstructured involve asking the respondent to elaborate on certain issues. (Fowler, 2008) iii) Observation Observation is another method of collecting data, this method involves observing participants and recording data, for example collecting data on the number of vehicles that use a certain highway will involve the observation method of collecting data. Fowler, 2008) iv) Analyzing documents: This is secondary data collection method that involves collecting data from published documents example journals and a book, other sources include online databases which are relatively cheap methods of obtaining data, this method is preferred given that it is less time consuming and also less costly.

This method however have a disadvantage given that it may given rise to accuracy problems, data accuracy will depend on the purpose of the data collected and that there may rise problem when data may unavailable and therefore a researcher will be required to use primary sources of data which include interview and questionnaires. Fowler, 2008) When designing the research data collection methods it is important that the researcher takes into consideration the respondent attitude, data collection methods such as questionnaires should be designed taking into consideration the reaction of the respondents when a certain question is directed to them, also the research questions should be clear and simple and should not be leading questions.

The other factor that should be taken into consideration is the cost, when selecting the data collection method one should take into consideration the cost associated with that method and whether there exist ways to reduce such costs, face to face interview sometimes may be costly and time consuming and therefore questionnaires that are relatively cheap may be preferred, also the questionnaires may be more appropriate given that they are less time consuming given that a lot of data can be collected at once, for example a tudy that involves participants from different regions and the respondent sends the questionnaires to the respondents. (Fowler, 2008) 5) Sampling: Sampling in social research refers to the selection of a few respondents from a population, in some studies it is impossible to collect data from the entire population and therefore a sample is selected, when an appropriate sample is selected it results will represent the entire population, a sample reduces the cost associated with data collection and also reduces time consumed while collecting data.

There are two types of sampling and they include probability sampling methods and non probability sampling methods. In probability sampling the sampling error can be estimated and a confidence interval established for the entire population, probability sampling methods include random sampling, systematic sampling, stratified sampling and clustered sampling. Stuart, 1994) i) Simple random sampling: In simple random sampling the population respondents or units are identified and a random number generator is used, each unit in the population is assigned a number and the unit corresponding with the random number generator is included in the sample. The appropriate sample size is calculated using the expected error and therefore the number of total units selected corresponds to the calculated sample size. Stuart, 1994) ii) Systematic sampling: This is a probability sampling method that involves the selection of the sample using intervals, the first step in undertaking a systematic sample is assigning each unit a number, the researcher then decides on the appropriate sample size and then the sample is selected using intervals, example a study may use systematic sample with a ten unit interval, this means that the first number to be selected will be 1, the next 11, the next 21, if the interval is 5 then the first number will be 1 then 6 then 11 etc. Stuart, 1994) iii) Stratified sampling: Stratified sampling is also an acceptable probability sampling method, this method involves subdividing the entire population using certain characteristics example stratifying data into regions or gender, the next step involves undertaking simple random sampling on the categories and selecting the appropriate sample size. (Maxwell, 2005) iv) Snowball sampling: Snowball sampling is another sampling method which is a non probability sampling method, this method involves selecting the first respondent and then asking the respondent to refer you to another respondent, a good example where

Snowball sampling is used where we have certain units with unique characteristics, example a research study on gay marriages will use these sampling method, or a study on prostitution will involve this sampling method given that the respondents will refer you to people they know who have the same characteristics. (Stuart, 1994) 6) Ethical issues: In research there are some ethical issues that need to be taken into consideration, this includes confidentiality, cause no harm to respondents, anonymity and consent.

A researcher should treat information collected with confidentiality, this means that the researcher should not state that a particular respondents made a certain statement. The other ethical issue to observe is anonymity whereby the respondent should not given out their names or reference numbers that may identify them as the particular individual that gave certain statements. (Punch, 2005) The other ethical issue is consent.

Participants should be briefed on the purpose of the study and also be informed on any recording that may take place, this way the researcher should gain the consent of the participants by briefing them on the purpose of the study and also how the information will be recorded. Finally the research should not cause harm to the individuals, this takes place whereby the researcher should not ask questions that offend the participants. Fowler, 2008) 7) Data analysis: When data has been collected the next step is to analyze data using statistical techniques such as calculating the mean, variance, correlation and regression analysis, all the data collected should be analyzed but some exceptions are made for example cases where we have incomplete questionnaires are rejected and not included in the analysis. In this stage the researcher should report accurately the results obtained and should not in any way alter variables collected in achieving desired results.

Data should be presented as they are and a report written to show how the data respond to the research question or topic. (Bamberger, 2000) 8) Other factors to consider: A good research study will be free from bias, this means that the information and data collected from the study should not vary in any systematic way, and bias in a study may be eliminated through the use of random sampling and also eliminating biased treatment of participants that may affect their responses. (Flick, 2006) Conclusion: From the above discussion it is evident that when undertaking quantitative research one has to take into consideration a number of actors, the first step is to formulate a research question, the next step involves literature review where a researcher should search for information on previous studies undertaken on the chosen research question. The next step involves research design where the data collection method and the sampling method is chosen, a researcher may chose to use questionnaires, interview or observation to collect data. Research design also involves choosing an appropriate sampling method when the population is large, sampling methods include random sampling, quota sampling, systematic sampling and stratified sampling.

Sampling helps in reducing costs associated with collecting data from the entire population and also is less time consuming whereby the study is undertaken only a few participants. After sampling and preparation of the data collection method the next step is data analysis and interpretation, this involves recording all the data collected and analyzing data to make statistical inferences and descriptive statistics, results should also report on how the data has helped answer the research question.

Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. [1] Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed than large samples.

In the conventional view, qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only propositions (informed assertions). Quantitative methods can then be used to seek empirical support for such research hypotheses. This view has been disputed by Oxford University professor Bent Flyvbjerg, who argues that qualitative methods and case study research may be used both for hypotheses-testing and for generalizing beyond the particular cases studied Research training in the Philippines: exploring the issues for a nation striving to enhance research quality Angelito Calma

Centre for the Study of Higher Education The University of Melbourne Abstract Internationally, research training is changing face due to global changes affecting higher education. Higher education in the Philippines is also affected by these changes. Currently, the Philippines, through the Commission on Higher Education and higher education institutions, is embarking on new ways to enhance research and research training. To reach this objective, however, some areas of research and research training require attention.

Thus, the purpose of this paper is two-fold: (1) to identify areas for scrutiny and (2) to propose possible strategies to enhance research training in the Philippines. Introduction It was more than a decade ago that the OECD (1995) highlighted the changing face of research training internationally. Today, research and research training remain under pressure to address a broad array of societal demands. This is due to changes globally and to how nations and universities position themselves as shareholders in a complex knowledge society.

If relevance and viability were the language of the past, now and into the future issues of quality, accountability, and internationalisation of research will come to the fore. In the Philippines, higher education pushes for ways to ‘[promote] research to push forward the frontiers of knowledge and to develop a culture of research among higher education institutions’ (Commission on Higher Education [CHED], 2007a, para. 2). To reach this objective, however, some areas of research and research training require inquiry and evaluation.

Thus, the rationale for this paper is two-fold: (1) to identify areas for scrutiny and (2) to propose possible strategies to enhance research training in the Philippines. The effects of globalisation place necessary demands upon higher education generally. In particular, the effects are felt in the areas of teaching, research, and postgraduate research training. Marginson (2007) maintains that higher education supports ‘multiple connections across the range of teaching, research, doctoral training, and business activities’ (p. ) and universities will continually compete to occupy global spaces to position themselves strategically. Part of this global positioning strategy is advancing research. One way of doing this is by pursuing developments in postgraduate research training. Thus, research training in the future will increasingly play an important role. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the field of research training. The range of research objectives is quite diverse.

However, it is observed that research into research training primarily involves the development and evaluation of practices across specific disciplines and institutions. In the Philippines, however, little has been done in this area, much less on the analysis and appraisal of national and institutional research training policies. Research training in the Philippines… 2 This is why research training in the Philippines needs examination and, I will argue, development.

For a country where research is at the periphery of higher education curricula and where universities are mostly ‘teaching universities’ as opposed to ‘research universities’ (Bernardo, 2007), the Philippines faces one of the greatest challenges in restructuring its higher education to compete globally, or even with its closest neighbour countries, in areas of research. In the past years, the country’s competitive advantage has largely been its human capital due to the substantial economic gains that dollar remittances from overseas workers bring in.

The emphasis in higher education has been on the education and training of nurses, teachers, engineers, and computing specialists and this could well be explained by employment opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe. This is evident in the statistical reports published by the CHED (2007b) which reflect (1) Business & Administration, (2) Medical, (3) Education & Teacher Training, and (4) Engineering & Technology courses remain as top disciplines of choice for most students in recent years.

However, there has been less attention placed into the education and training of undergraduate and postgraduate students in the area of research. Research remains a peripheral component of undergraduate and postgraduate curricula whilst research training continues to be an under-developed activity. The influx of students from other countries also influences higher education in the Philippines. This is especially so now that neighbour countries like South Korea increasingly view Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs) as hubs for undergraduate education.

One reason for this is because English is one of the two official languages of the Philippines. However, the Philippines has thus far not positioned itself as a preferred choice for postgraduate education despite English language advantage. Perhaps some areas that need development are the HEIs’ readiness for research, their research capabilities, and the strength of their academic staff in research and research training. The Philippines remains relatively unsuccessful in attracting postgraduate students from Asia-Pacific compared to countries from non-English speaking backgrounds such as Singapore or Malaysia.

It has been the national policy of the CHED to enhance research in the Philippines. To do this, examining and developing research training is critical. Research training is at the core of enhancing and promoting research within HEIs. There are even more reasons to develop research training in the Philippines given the strategic directions that HEIs currently take. First, amongst HEIs, one of their aims has been to attract international students due to insufficient funding on public universities as well as to move away from over-dependence on tuition fees from local students for private universities.

Second, universities increasingly find it important to integrate research into their postgraduate education curricula and moving towards becoming ‘research universities’. Finally, HEIs push for local accreditation and international quality standards benchmarking to mark their place in Asia-Pacific. Thus, it is a critical part of this transformation and positioning to examine research training structures, policies, and practices. This paper focuses on presenting briefly the higher education system in the Philippines and the context of postgraduate education and research training within HEIs.

It concludes with an exploration of some important areas for scrutiny and possible strategies to develop research training in the country. Instructions 1. Conducting Research o1 Formulate a research question. Qualitative studies aim to explore and/or describe, not explain phenomena. The question should reflect precisely what you aim to explore or describe in your study. The question should also connect to or be relevant to the field that you are studying.

For example, if you are interested in exploring how the parents of young children understand their children’s learning in an arts environment your question could be, “What are the parental perceptions of learning for their preschoolers ages 3 through 5 in an early childhood museum-based visual arts program? ” o2 Conduct a literature review. Look for strong academic literature from peer-reviewed journals on your chosen subject. o3 Choose a qualitative approach. This should match or be connected to the subject of your study.

Examples of qualitative approaches include ethnography (immersing yourself in one specific culture or group of people to conduct in-depth interviews and observation), phenomenology (exploring the participant’s subjective interpretations), grounded theory (creating new theory that is grounded in the data) or action research (the researcher is part of what is being studied, such as a teacher researching her own classroom). o4 Decide on the methods that you will be using. Common qualitative methods include participant observation, direct observation, interviewing and document reviews.

Some methods may work better with some approaches. For example, if you are conducting an ethnographic study you would want to rely more heavily on observation techniques. o5 Collect your data via the chosen method. o6 Analyze your data. This may include a method such as constant comparison (comparing different pieces of data against each other). Typically, qualitative researchers will analyze their data using a system of alphabetic codes that express different themes or concepts that emerge from the information.

Considerations for Choosing a Topic •Choose a topic that you find interesting. oYou will be spending a lot of time researching and writing it, and a topic that interests you will make the process more enjoyable. •Pick a controversial issue that you are passionate about. oA hot topic for a speech or persuasive paper that interests you will make the research appealing. •Select a topic with multi-purpose research potential oIs it possible to research two different aspects of the same subject for two classes? If so, you will be multi-tasking and saving time.

Note: this is not turning in the same paper for two different classes; this is using your research time wisely •Choose a topic that relates to your personal interests or future profession. oIf you are writing a persuasive paper on a topic of your choice can you tie it into your major so that the research will have a future benefit to you? This will add value to the research process. •Decide on a unique or original topic. Put your own spin on it! oImagine your professor reading 25 papers on the same topics year after year. An original topic or perspective will be welcomed favorably!

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