Limitations and Weaknesses of Quantitative Research: Research entails the collection of materials for academic or other purposes. It is a process of gathering information and data to solve or existing problem or prevent future problems. Research works can be done via two methods. Qualitative research or quantitative research.
Qualitative research involves the carrying out of research by gathering non-numerical data. For example, gathering of video evidence, texts or messages for analysis. On the other hand, quantitative research is the process where by numerical data are collected and analyzed. It is effectively used to find patterns and averages as well as generalising a finding or result to a wider population. Quantitative research is mostly used in natural and social sciences such as biology, psychology, economics, among others.
Quantitative research could be carried out using any four methods of researching which are descriptive research, correlational research, experimental research or survey research. In descriptive, one seeks to know the ‘what’ of a thing rather than the ‘why’ of such thing. It tries to describe the various components of an information.
Correlational research involves the research between two variables to ascertain the relationship between the variables. It understudies the impact of one variable on the other. On the other hand, an experimental research is one that uses scientific methods to establish the relationship between groups of variables. That is, it tries to establish a cause-effect relationship between the various variables under study.
Finally, the survey research which is most widely used involves the preparation of set questionnaires, interviews and polls to which answers are provided by a segment of the target population and then, conclusions are drawn from such answers given. Survey research studies the relationship between various variables in a given research.
One of the major benefit of quantitative research method is that it makes one arrive at a well considered conclusion since samples are collected from those who are directly affected by the research. The data collected are majorly converted to a numerical form which aids in statistical analysis. Also, quantitative research is more convenient for projects with scientific and social science inclinations.
Weaknesses of Quantitative Research
Notwithstanding the benefits of quantitative research, the research method has its own weaknesses and limitations. This is because the method is not applicable and convenient in all cases of research. Thus, using a quantitative research method in a research where qualitative research method should be used will not produce the needed result.
To this end, some of the weaknesses and limitations of quantitative research are highlighted below.
1. It Requires a Large Number of Respondents: In the course of carrying out a quantitative research, recourse has to be made to a large number of respondents. This is because you are sampling a section of a population to get their views, which views will be seen as that of the general population. In doing this, a huge number of respondents have to be consulted so as to get a fair view or percentage of the target population.
For example, if one wishes to carry out a quantitative research in Nigeria as to her acceptance of a policy of the government, one will need to consult wider. This is because Nigeria has a population of over 200 million people and the opinions of a few thousands cannot pass out as that of 200 million people. In the light of this, more respondents will be required to be interviewed so as to enable one get a fair view of the population.
Large number of respondents is thus, one of the weaknesses or limitations of quantitative research as a small sampling of a section of the target population might not be of much help to the research.
2. It is time consuming: Unlike qualitative research which has to do with analysis of already prepared data, quantitative research demands that you source for and collate the data yourself while converting such data collected into a numerical form for proper analysis. This process is time consuming. Again, the task of sending out questionnaires to respondents and waiting for answers to such questionnaires might be time consuming as most respondents will reply late or may not even reply at all.
Great patience is therefore needed in carrying out a quantitative research. It is therefore not always a good method of research in cases of urgencies as the time to get responses might take too long.
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3. It requires huge resources: Quantitative research requires huge investment of time, money and energy. It is time consuming just as it also involve huge financial commitments.
In carrying out quantitative research, one needs to get your questions prepared, sent out and also followed up to ensure that such is answered. Also, some respondents might demand to be paid before giving their inputs to such a research. An example is the trending online surveys in which the target respondents are paid for every survey they carry out for a researcher.
4. Difficulty in Analyzing the Data Collected: Data are collected from respondents and then converted into statistics. This usually poses as a limitation to a researcher who is not an expert in statistics. Analysis of collected data is also demanding and time consuming. A researcher needs to make such information collected into numerical data and correlate them with the larger population. Where this is not properly done, it means that the outcome might be false or misleading.
Also, due to the fact that a researcher might not have control over the environment he is researching in, as any such environment is susceptible to change at any point in time, the outcome of his research might be inconsistent.
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5. Outcomes of quantitative research is usually limited: In quantitative research, the outcomes are usually limited. This is because the outcome is usually based on what the researcher wants. This limited outcome is due to the structured pattern of the questionnaires. Questionnaires usually have close ended questions which gives a respondent little or no opportunity of explanations. Thus, the answers provided are limited to the questions asked and nothing more.
6. Data outcomes are usually generalised: As noted earlier, quantitative research is usually conducted on a section of a target population and not on the whole population. The outcome of this research is then generalised as the view of the entire population. What this portends is that the views of few respondents in that research is seen as that of the general populace. Such views from them might be biased or insincere, yet they are seen as that of the entire population.
In the light of this, the fallacy of hasty generalisation is prone to be committed in a quantitative research. Generalisation of the views of a section of the population might not be the best as their views may be biased.
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In conclusion, quantitative research is a veritable means of conducting research especially in the fields of natural sciences and social sciences. This is because it mostly has a one on one interaction between the researcher and the various respondents as it majorly studies behavior. This advantage notwithstanding, the research method has its own limitations and weaknesses. These limitations and weaknesses often times affect the quality of a research which is done using the quantitative method of research.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.