Using Quantitative Skills in Research and Academia
Quantitative Skills (QS) can take you far in academia and the research world, giving you the keys to unpick complex phenomena and critically evaluate other studies. These Q&As with established professors and early career researchers reveal the importance of QS within their diverse fields.
Professor John Micklewright
Professor of Quantitative Social Science, Institute of Education, University of London
“My skills enable me to work across disciplines.”
How did you first get interested in QS?
Although I’d studied Maths A Level, it wasn’t until after my undergraduate studies in Geography and Economics that I got drawn towards quantitative methods. I got a job as a research assistant and was soon hooked on using sample surveys to inform public policy. I enjoyed both the engagement with topical issues and the intellectual challenges involved.
How have you used QS in your working life?
I did a PhD in Economics and subsequently held various academic positions in university Economics departments. I also used QS while working for UNICEF where I measured child wellbeing and assessed the policies having an impact on it.
I now work with social scientists from a range of disciplines using QS to research education, the labour market and human development.
Dr Sarah Floud
Post-doctoral Epidemiologist and Social Scientist, Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Oxford University
“You don’t have to be good at maths to use QS.”
Tell us about your studies
I studied Maths, Ancient History and Latin at A Level. I think Latin was most useful in the long-run because it taught me to think logically. I began studying Classics, but after a break to recover from illness I completed a Social Policy and Social Psychology BSc and then a Social Research Methods in Social Policy MSc.
How did your QS skills influence your first career steps?
Having learnt QS as an undergraduate, I was spurred on to look for social research jobs. My first position was as a researcher and data analyst for a health promotion company and I went on to work as a government social researcher for the Department for Transport.
How do you use QS in your work now?
I have just completed a PhD in Epidemiology. I use my QS skills every day when analysing large datasets or reading and understanding scientific papers.
What advice would you give current students about what it takes to use QS?
You don’t have to be good at maths to use QS. You just need to be able to think logically and have an interest in trying to solve questions about people’s lives using data from real people.
These case studies represent a selection from the British Academy’s Stand Out and Be Counted booklet.
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