How to Write a Quantitative Research Proposal

Good research begins with a good proposal.
Good research begins with a good proposal. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Exploration of business, social, and scientific questions using mathematical rigor is the pursuit of quantitative research. Accordingly to Leedy and Ormand, authors of Practical Research, quantitative research answers questions about relationships among measured variables with the purpose of explaining, predicting, and controlling phenomena. These approaches are generally known as traditional, experimental, or positivist study. Completion of quantitative research confirms or refutes a hypothesis and analyzes the performance of the statistical analysis.

Determine the purpose. Quantitative research seeks to explain or predict outcomes that can be generalized to other settings. Frame the intent of the research into clear and concise assertions that will establish, confirm, or validate relationships among the variables (or factors of the study).

Define the constructs of the experiment. Establish a foundational body of knowledge by summarizing the seminal (founding and influential) concepts and theories on which the research is based. Research multiple sources to establish a solid perspective of supporting theory and alternate viewpoints.

Establish the research variables for the study. Determine what attributes will be measured and what factors potentially influence these variables. Ascertain which elements will be controlled (from external influence) and those elements that are subject to variability, and document any anticipated anomalies or circumstances that might unduly bias the study. Establish the hypotheses and methods of measurement.

Specify the data source. Define the population from which data will be obtained. Describe the identifiable characteristics that will be used to select, develop or standardize the data to prepare it for statistical analysis. This includes items such as sourcing, selection criteria (random or selection), collection method, and sample size.

Assess your instruments. Review and research the planned method of collection to ensure compliance with policies and procedures of the university and government regulatory agencies. Studies that involve sensitive data or information about children, ethnicity, or sexual orientation must follow specific guidelines to protect the privacy of the participants. Define what steps will be used to ensure reliability and validity of the data.

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  • “Dissertation and Scholarly Research”; Marilyn Simon; 2005
  • “Practical Research: Planning and Design”; Paul Leedy and Jeanne Ormand; 2005
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