Essay on Quantitative Methods Of The Social Sciences

Essay on Quantitative Methods Of The Social Sciences

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Quantitative methods in the social sciences are an effective tool for understanding patterns and variation in social data. They are the systematic, numeric collection and objective analysis of data that can be generalized to a larger population and seek to find cause in variance (Matthews and Ross 2010, p.141; Henn et al. 2009, p.134). These methods are often debated, but quantitative measurement is important to the social sciences because of the numeric evidence that can be used to drive more in depth qualitative research and to focus regional policy, to name a few (Johnston et al. 2014). Basic quantitative methods, such as descriptive and inferential statistics, are used regularly to identify and explain large social trends that can then be projected across a greater area (Harris and Jarvis 2011). While more advanced statistical methods can be used in the form of regression models to understand causal relationships and to predict outcomes based off changes in those relationships (Harris and Jarvis 2011, p.195). These techniques do claim critics because of the early connections quantitative methods and positivism and the uncertainties in collection methods; however, their continued use demonstrates the strength of the tool set and the consistency these methods bring to the social sciences (Bryman 2001).

Despite the hesitation of some, quantitative methods are essential in modern society. They provide a foundation to in depth academic qualitative research and necessary evidence for public policy (Johnston et al. 2014). Supporters of quantitative methods value the objective and replicable information that can be gathered and used as evidence to support human trends in a geographic region that qualitative methods alone ca...


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...where data collection and hypothesis testing is conducted from information that can be observed and recorded by the senses (Matthews and Ross 2010, p.27). Because information can only be observed, positivists look for regularities and explain causation when one event regularly follows another, which is why many will criticize quantitative methods if they associate them with the positivist approach to research (Jones 2010).

Those in social science will continue to debate the importance of quantitative methods, but despite their hesitance, these methods bring to the field strengths in a systematic approach that can generalize and provide strong evidence. Perhaps the strongest relationship is that when quantitative and qualitative methods meet, providing both numeric evidence and a more in depth understanding of the data collected (Matthews and Ross 2010, p. 145).

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