Introduction Understanding is vital in every human life. Researchers around the world have been working exhaustively to try to find explanations of social patterns, variation and phenomena that we face daily. Mathematical methods have been developed through years to explain “scientifically” these kinds of issues. A common research method used between social sciences is the quantitative method,which is related with the empirical analysis of social patterns and variation through data collection and analysis. This method requires a deductive approach to the relationship between theory and research, in which the accents is placed in the testing of theories (Bryman, 2001, p. 22). Quantitative methods can be utilized in a variety of different disciplines, ranging from economics to socialscience. Also, they can be employed to different purpose; data collection, models building, developed of theories, developed of hypothesis, and/or to support evidence. The purpose of this essay is to introduce quantitative methods, discuss why we need them and how we use them, and to briefly introduce key concepts of data analysis and quantitative methodology. In addition, this essay will firstlyanalyse the concept of positivism between quantitative researchers, secondly it will basic definitions os quantitative methods and their use, and finally it will briefly analyse some important difficulties that researchers have faced with the use of quantitative methods.
Quantification and philosophies of science It is essential to understand that quantitative methods help to provide useful evidencetowards the better understanding of spatial process, and not to producing universal laws. It is imperative to clarify this since there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the use of the terms “positivism” and “quantification” as synonymous between quantitative geographers. (Fotheringham, 2006, p. 239). Positivism advocates the application of the methods of the natural
sciences to thestudy of social reality and beyond. (Bryman, 2001, p. 13). The two central tenets of positivism imply that the ability of geographers to generate knowledge is restricted to those things that they can observe in reality. Clearly, empirical testing is an important element of positivism. A positivist therefore is perceived as someone whose focus is the search for order and regularities with the ultimategoal of producing universal laws. (Fotheringham, 2006, p. 239). On the other hand, quantitative geographers believe that quantification generally provides strong evidence towards understanding spatial processes- much stronger, for example, than is provided by any other competing methods. However, they recognize that, counter to one of the tenets of positivism, rarely can they prove anythingabsolutely. The unusual goal of a quantitative analysis in geography is to accrue a sufficient evidence to make the adoption of a particular line of thought compelling (Fotheringham, 2006, p. 240). Therefore, whereas the goal of a positivist would be to uncover the truth about reality in the form of absolute laws, quantitative geographers realize that such absolutism is extremely difficult to find inmost instances and they hold to the more acceptable goal of simply accruing sufficient evidence on which to base a judgment. (Fotheringham, 2006, p. 241).
Uses and definitions of quantitative methods Quantitative methods can be employed to collect data, which can then be quantified using mathematical and statistical analysis in order to discern relationships between phenomena. The “data”correspond to the information obtained by measuring “things” at different times or locations across a study region. (Harvis and Jarvis, 2011, p.18). A set of measurements is called a variable, and it is called like that because the values are unlikely to have the same value all times and locations at which the measurements were made. A first analysis of a data can be done by two types of statistics;...
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