Quantitative Research & Software
Sofware for Quantitative Research
A multitude of software programs designed for use with quantitative data is available today. Quantitative research, predominantly statistical analysis, is still common in the social sciences and such software is frequently used among social science researchers. Most notably, statistical packages find applications in the social sciences. The main demand made of of such packages in social science research is that they be comprehensive, flexible, and can be used with almost any type of file. A useful statistical software tool can generate tabulated reports, charts, and plots of distributions and trends, as well as generate descriptive statistics and more complex statistical analyses. Lastly, a user interface that makes it very easy and intuitive for all levels of users is a must.
Quantitative and qualitative research are commonly considered to differ fundamentally. Yet, their objectives as well as their applications overlap in numerous ways. Quantitative Research is considered to have as its main purpose the quantification of data. This allows generalizations of results from a sample to an entire population of interest and the measurement of the incidence of various views and opinions in a given sample. Yet, quantitative research is not infrequently followed by qualitative research which then aims to explore select findings further. Qualitative research, on the other hand, is considered to be particularly suitable for gaining an in-depth understanding of underlying reasons and motivations. It provides insights into the setting of a problem. At the same time, it frequently generates ideas and hypotheses for later quantitative research.
The main differences between quantitative and qualitative research consist in respect to data sample, data collection, data analysis, and last but not least in regard to outcomes. While clearly originally at home in purely qualitative research, a powerful and flexible program like ATLAS.ti can also produce quantitative data and features a direct data export to SPSS, the most popular statistical quantitative software package. Also, the possibility to fully export project results in the universal open XML data format (XML data can be easily transformed and reshaped to be usable in a huge number of applications), make ATLAS.ti uniquely suited for contemporary mixed method approaches.