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What is a Quantitative Research Paper?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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A quantitative research paper is a type of paper typically written for a class in some level of education, though it could be prepared for publication in a scholarly journal as well. The quantitative paper is typically specifically written in a way that is scientific, and often deals with the use of the scientific method and experimentation to gather data. This data is then processed, analyzed, and translated into usable information or knowledge that is discussed and demonstrated in the paper as well. A quantitative research paper can be utilized in just about any type of field or area of knowledge, as long as the process included the generation of raw, typically numerical, data that is constructed into some final understanding.

In general, there are two basic types of information used in preparing a research paper, and the type of information used in the final paper will often indicate just what type of research has been done. These two types of data are quantitative observations or information and qualitative observations. Qualitative information typically does not deal with specific numbers and values, but more often indicates vague degrees of change or understanding. Descriptive words like “hot” or “cold” or “many people in the test group” usually indicate qualitative data, which is information that describes the quality of something and not necessarily precise values.

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A quantitative research paper, however, utilizes quantitative data or information that directly relates to numerical values and quantities discovered through research or experimentation. This type of data will include specific values such as “35° F (about 1.7° C)” or “300° F (almost 150° C)” or “72% of the test group” rather than general indicators. Such information is typically gathered through scientific processes and research, and may include experimentation to gather the data as well.

This is why the scientific method is often utilized in a quantitative research paper. Since precise numbers are often used, a hypothesis can often be formed and tested through experimentation, which is then interpreted and presented in a quantitative research paper. While this may not always be the case, the use of the scientific method to examine a problem by forming a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis to produce real data, and then using that data to support or disprove a hypothesis is quite common.

A quantitative research paper is often written for science classes, though social sciences, language studies, ethnographic courses, and even a student in a history or art class could potentially include this type of paper. For example, an art student may wish to consider the art style known as pointillism in a new way. If he or she used quantitative data to determine the average number of dots used in a square inch (about 2.5 cm) of canvas in a famous work of pointillism, then the resulting work would likely be a quantitative research paper.

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