Whether you want to improve your company’s services, identify potential new products, understand buyer motivations, increase customer satisfaction, plan your next marketing campaign, or manage a host of other key business initiatives, data collection and analysis will help you make informed decisions about the best way to proceed.
When it comes to data collection, the two main methods are quantitative data collection and qualitative data collection. This article will focus on quantitative data collection methods.
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The difference between quantitative and qualitative data
Quantitative data is measurable numerical data researchers collect by asking close-ended or multiple-choice questions using surveys, polls, questionnaires, and other methods.
Qualitative data is more descriptive and contextual, and its purpose is to help researchers understand people’s perceptions, behaviors, and motivations. Interview questions and open-ended surveys and questionnaires are two of the most common ways to collect qualitative data.
You can find a more thorough discussion of qualitative vs quantitative data here.
Quantitative data-collection methods
Conducting surveys is the most common quantitative data-collection method. Unlike qualitative surveys, in which participants answer open-ended questions and can share as much detail as they’d like, close-ended surveys ask respondents to answer yes or no and/or multiple choice questions. These surveys can also gather demographic data — like age, gender, income, or occupation.
Another type of closed-ended survey question may ask respondents to rate something along a scale, for example, by presenting a statement and asking if the respondent strongly agrees, agrees, disagrees, or strongly disagrees. Participants can respond to surveys online or through the mail.
You can also collect quantitative data through interviews. The quantitative interview is much more structured than a qualitative interview, with interviewers asking respondents a standard set of close-ended questions that don’t allow for responses with detailed context.
Interviews may be face-to-face meetings, or interviewers can interact with participants via telephone or online methods. Completing a quantitative interview is similar to filling out a close-ended survey, except the exchange is verbal.
Observation is a simple method of gathering quantitative data in which researchers observe or count subjects attending a specific event or using a service in a designated locale. It’s a way to retrieve numerical data that focuses on the “what” rather than the “why.”
Collecting data this way is often referred to as “structured observation,” in which researchers focus on observing, then quantifying specific narrowly defined behaviors.
Document review and secondary data collection
Document review is a process in which researchers analyze quantitative data they’ve found in existing primary documents, such as public records and personal documents. Researchers can use the supplementary data found in these documents to strengthen and support data from other quantitative data-collection methods.
Secondary data collection involves gathering and reviewing data from government publications, books, websites, business documents, magazines, journals, and previously published case studies. Secondary data collection is useful when a researcher wants to gain supplementary insights to support primary data they’ve collected.
Quantitative vs qualitative data-collection methods: When to use them
For richer, deeper, and more actionable insights into the kind of improvements that will have the most impact, use an integrated approach that relies on both quantitative and qualitative data-collection methods.
While qualitative data will give you context into the “whys” of consumer behavior and help you understand people’s thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, quantitative data is necessary to confirm or test a hypothesis or theory and to gather objective, conclusive answers.
Quantitative data research methods can help you
- Get accurate answers to close-ended questions (“Compared to our competitors, are our prices higher, lower, or about the same?” or “How likely are you to buy our products?”) with a scaled selection of answers to choose from — i.e., extremely likely, somewhat likely, not likely, or not at all likely)
- Validate a hypothesis or theory
- Measure trends and make important organizational or business decisions
- Gather higher-quality data, like facts and statistics, that you can analyze and convert into charts and graphs
- Obtain more information from more respondents in less time than with qualitative methods (Quantitative data collection via a method like surveys is inherently easier to conduct and will likely result in a larger respondent pool.)
As mentioned previously, surveys are the most common method of quantitative data collection and the simplest to get started with. Jotform has the tools you need to make quantitative data collection easy.
Choose from more than 1,000 survey templates when you want to understand customer demographics or conduct a market research survey. You can select a premade survey template or make your own from scratch by using the Jotform Form Builder to design, format, and customize your survey.If a questionnaire is more appropriate for your purposes, Jotform offers over 500 questionnaire templates to help you collect feedback and gather objective data. As with our survey templates, you can use Jotform’s drag-and-drop functionality to customize your questionnaire, write your own questions, add rating scales and survey tables, and customize fonts and colors.