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December 1, 2014 / C H Thompson

Quantitative sources

quantitative secondary sources by Sam Cook a former student

There are two types of quantitative sources, primary and secondary.

Positivists prefer to collect quantitative data through the following research methods which are seen to collect reliable data:

  • closed/structured questionnaires
  • structured interviews
  • the experiment
  • the comparative method
  • official statistics
  • social surveys

The core principles of positivism (quantitative methods listed above) are:

  • social scientific research is based on logic with a clear methodology
  • research must be objective throughout all processes
  • the role of theory is to generate a hypothesis (prediction) which can be tested
  • look for cause and effect (patterns of behaviour) in order to uncover universal laws about the social world – what Durkheim termed social-facts
  • positvists use quantitative methods

A popular source of secondary data for sociologists is the large amount of official statistics collected by national and local government for example births, death and marriage data as well as education data and crime data. While this page looks at the type of examination questions structured on research methods.

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