Whatever qualitative method you decide to use for your research, you will have to employ different types of quantitative research methods in order to organize your data and be able to interpret them. The success of your research project depends on that, since in any other case you will be left with hypotheses and general notions that you can neither confirm nor disprove. In other words, the ‘quantitative’ part refers to empirical data; how you collect them in the first place and how you handle them afterwards. The purpose of the various types of quantitative research is to clearly define and explain a phenomenon with the help of statistics and mathematical models, so that when you complete your research you will have not just a vague theory, but specific measurable results. There are basically three types of quantitative research: manual data collection through interviews, survey research, and automated data collection.
Manual collection is the most common of the three types of quantitative research methods, which is better for the collection of small data sets. For example, if you wanted to know how a certain class of high school students would respond to a new course, the best thing you can do is to visit the school yourself and interview the students one by one. This way you will have total control over the research project. Nevertheless, the results of your research would be limited to that specific class only, and could not be considered indicative of what high school students think in general about the issue. If you want more reliable results with regards to the beliefs of the general population, personal interviews are not enough, since they can be used only for a small group of people, which means that your results will not bear ay statistical significance. In the event that you chose to interview 2,000 students, however, this would prove to be very time-consuming and practically impossible. Survey research, on the other hand, can produce reliable results and do so fast. This type of quantitative method uses fixed questionnaires to gather large sets of data that can be easily organized, and hence easily interpreted. Applying survey research in the high school project mentioned above, would allow the researcher to gather data from many students, from different high-schools, and from different areas so that the researcher is able to identify and factor out certain aspects of his findings that may be high school- specific, area-specific, or even related to the sex of the participants. In other words, survey research can yield results that are of greater statistical importance. Nevertheless, automated data collection is the by far the most accurate of the three types of quantitative research, since they factor out almost completely the possibility of human error. Automated computers with proper software are both responsible for the gathering of data, as well as making certain calculations and producing precise and reliable results.
All types of quantitative research have their merits, and many researchers often use more than one for their projects, in order to produce the best possible results.