This document consists of introductory material on quantitative methods. It is aimed at students of communication but is suitable for the other social scientific fields as well. The emphasis will, though, be on observational studies, with a focus on surveys and content analysis. Experimental research settings are not discussed in this document, although they form an essential part of the scientific study of communication. This limitation is due to framing issues, since this material has been prepared for a specific communication methods university course.
The examples presented in this paper are not from real studies, but specifically calculated for the purposes of the discussed themes, so they should not be taken as real research results. I have tried to avoid using any formulas and presented mathematical expressions only when I think it is absolutely necessary for the understanding of the explained matter. However, even then I have done so informally, with a focus on getting an intuitive grasp of the matter.
What will follow in this document is mainly based on my own experiences in teaching quantitative methods courses for communication students during three semesters. Hence, the choices made on what is included and excluded from the presentations of various methods are based on my comprehension of how much information is necessary for students whose background knowledge of statistics and research methods is not that strong yet. I have added a lot of links and options for further readings for those who would like to deepen their knowledge on some issues.
The presentations of issues and methods is not by any means meant to be exhaustive; rather the purpose has been to provide an easy and self-contained introduction to various options that are available if one chooses to conduct quantitative research. The focus will be heavily on the hands-on approach that I have adopted in my own studies of statistics and quantitative methods.