Study design in quantitative research is the method by which researchers plan how they will answer their research question using quantitative data. ‘Quantitative data’ is information that can be counted or measured.
There are five key questions which must be considered when designing a quantitative research study:
What is my research question?
A research question is the question a study tries to answer. Examples of research questions include:
- What is the impact of a shared sanitation intervention on quality of life and mental well-being in low-income urban neighbourhoods in Mozambique? (Ross et al., 2022)
- What is the impact of physical activity immediately prior to standardised testing on student test-taking behaviours? (Thompson et al., 2016)
Research questions are explored further on the Research Questions content page.
Who should be involved in my study?
The next step is to identify the population for the research study. For example, if a researcher would like to learn more about the impact of physical activity on student test-taking behaviour, their population of interest may be adolescents enrolled in public schools in their area. More information about the sampling and recruitment processes can be found on the Sampling and Sample Size Calculations and Recruitment content pages.
What information is already available or could be collected to answer my research question?
The information used to answer a quantitative research question is called quantitative data. Some quantitative research questions may be answered using data which is already available from previous studies. Other research questions may require the collection of new data using tools such as surveys.
What methods will I need to use in the study?
In quantitative research, there are a variety of study design and analysis methods which can be used for answering research questions. Each method has strengths and weaknesses which impact what conclusions can be made after the study is completed.
What resources do I have to complete the study?
Depending on your quantitative study design, you will require different amounts of resources, most importantly time and money. For example, a cohort study usually occurs across several years and involves the recruitment of many participants. In contrast, a cross-sectional survey would require less time and fewer resources. Being realistic about your budget and time constraints before beginning the study is essential.
(Author: Madison Wempe)