Quantitative Data Collection Methods

Quantitative research methods describe and measure the level of occurrences on the basis of numbers and calculations. Moreover, the questions of “how many?” and “how often?” are often asked in quantitative studies. Accordingly, quantitative data collection methods are based on numbers and mathematical calculations.

Quantitative research can be described as ‘entailing the collection of numerical data and exhibiting the view of relationship between theory and research as deductive, a predilection for natural science approach, and as having an objectivist conception of social reality’[1]. In other words, quantitative studies mainly examine relationships between numerically measured variables with the application of statistical techniques.

Quantitative data collection methods are based on random sampling and structured data collection instruments. Findings of quantitative studies are usually easy to present, summarize, compare and generalize.

Qualitative studies, on the contrary, are usually based on non-random sampling methods and use non-quantifiable data such as words, feelings, emotions ect. Table below illustrates the main differences between qualitative and quantitative data collection and research methods:

  Quantitative Qualitative
Requirement Question Hypothesis Interest
Method Control and randomization Curiosity and reflexivity
Data collection Response Vewpoint
Outcome Dependent variable Accounts
Ideal Data Numerical Textual
Sample size Large (power) Small (saturation)
Context Eliminated Highlighted
Analysis Rejection on null Synthesis

Main differences between quantitative and qualitative methods


The most popular quantitative data collection methods include the following:

  • Interviews. Only highly structured interviews with closed-ended questions can be used for quantitative data collection. Interviews can be conducted in one of the following formats:
    • Face-to-face interviews;
    • Telephone interviews;
    • Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI).
  • Questionnaires (surveys). Again, questionnaires only with closed-ended questions can be used as quantitative data collection method. The following are popular formats for questionnaires:
    • Internet-based questionnaire;
    • Mail questionnaire;
    • Face-to-face survey.
  • Observations. The type of observation that can be used to collect quantitative data is systematic, where the researcher counts the number of occurrences of phenomenon.


My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step approach contains a detailed, yet simple explanation of quantitative methods. The e-book explains all stages of the research process starting from the selection of the research area to writing personal reflection. Important elements of dissertations such as research philosophy, research approach, research design, methods of data collection and data analysis are explained in simple words. John Dudovskiy


Quantitative Data Collection Methods


[1] Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2015) “Business Research Methods” 4th edition,  p.160