Quantitative research methods are typically used to measure how many people feel, think or act – essentially, they quantify how many people say ‘X’, do ‘Y’, think ‘Z’. Standard quantitative methods are polls or surveys. Here we look at some of the different ways to carry out quantitative research.

  1. Quantitative Research Approaches

There are two main ways quantitative research can be completed by the target sample, either by ‘self-completion’ or ‘interviewer administered’. The former means that the participant (a person who has agreed to take part in the research) completes the research themselves, whilst the latter means that an interviewer asks the questions and records the participants’ answers for them.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach to quantitative data collection, and self-completion or interviewer administered techniques are chosen for several different reasons. Factors such as budget, timings, subject matter of the research and the target sample need to be considered.

Self-completion methods


An online survey is one that participants complete themselves on a device (e.g. laptop, tablet or mobile phone).


  • Is typically cheaper & faster than other methods
  • Large sample sizes can be achieved nationally and internationally
  • No interviewer bias
  • Stimuli such as videos, can be included in the survey


  • Potential sampling issues can occur –hard-to-reach participants can be difficult to identify. Consider whether your online survey is accessible by all recipients.
  • Technical issues – some online surveys may not open correctly on certain browsers or devices – carry out a quick test before sending if possible.

Using an interviewer:                                                                                                                 


A face-to-face survey can be carried out almost anywhere; in-home, at an event or by asking people on the street.


  • Rapport – theinterviewer can build rapport, which is important for sensitive research subjects
  • Targeted – you can very selective about geographical areas and/or demographics
  • High quality – has a reputation for delivering representative samples and high quality data.


  • Cost and time – additional costs, such as interviewers time, need to be accounted for and time completing the interviews can mean the project can be time-consuming.
  • Reach – can be difficult, or at least very costly, if you need to reach all regions/areas of the population.
  • Bias – the rapport and influence of the interviewer can generate bias



  • Sampling – localised geographical targeting can be achieved more easily. Reaching customers via telephone may be required if you’re lacking email addresses of those you want to survey.
  • Access – overcome geographical and technical barriers, no travel required.
  • High quality – has a reputation for delivering representative samples and high quality data.


  • Cost – additional costs, such as interviewer’s time and cost of the calls, need to be accounted for so tend to be more expensive than other self-completion methods.
  • Visual aid(s) not possible – participants will not be able to see stimuli such as videos