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Research Methodologies

A guide on the different types of research methods, and how to determine which one to use in your own research.

About This Guide

This guide is organized to help you determine the best research approach for a research project, paper, or case study.  It contains information on the following topics:

Covers the different types of research designs.

Provides a brief overview of the types of research methodologies and how they differ from research methods.

Provides examples of different qualitative and quantitative research methods.

A list of references that were used to help create this guide.

Resources you can use for extra help.

Beginning The Research Process

Before you start thinking about research methodologies and methods to use in your project, you will need to have a clear understanding of the research you will be conducting.  According to Dawson (2019), you can use the five "W's" to define your research project:

  • What is your research about?  Try to summarize your research question/objective in one sentence.  It should be clear and concise.
  • Why are you conducting this research?  You should have a clear rationale behind the project.
  • Who will participate in your research project?  Will anyone be assisting you in the process?  Will you be using human subjects to collect data?
  • Where are you going to conduct this research?  This may impact what resources will be available to you.
  • When are you going to complete this project?  You should think of a potential timeline for your research process and set milestones to stay on track.

Once you have determined these elements of your research project, you can begin thinking about research methodologies and methods.

*You can use the "Research Starters" function on DragonQuest if you need assistance selecting a research topic.  They are great for brainstorming ideas and viewing potential sources!  It may even help you decide on a research method.  To access research starters, just conduct a keyword search on DragonQuest.  The research starter will display at the top of the page next to a yellow lightbulb.  Note that research starters are general topics.  If your keyword search is too specific, a research starter may not show.

The Scientific Method & Theories

As a research method, science implements logic, theoretical frameworks, and observation to determine the accuracy of a hypothesis (Jenkins-Smith, et al., 2017).  It is a way to test existing theories and formulate new ones from research findings.  A theory is a set of related principles that explain a certain phenomenon (Jenkins-Smith, et al., 2017).  Not all theories are necessarily true, but oftentimes there is scientific evidence to support a theory.  However, not all theories are considered "good" theories.

Characteristics of Good Theories

  • Logical and consistent (it makes sense).
  • Explains why something occurs or is.
  • It can generate a hypothesis or research question that is testable.

It is common for researchers to apply a theory as a context or "lens" to their data analysis.  In some cases, they will formulate a new theory based on their findings.  You can learn more about theoretical frameworks and theoretical analysis in this guide here.

Academic Writer

You can utilize the quick guides and tutorials in Academic Writer to assist you in conducting your research and writing about the results.  Some of Academic Writer's topics that focus on conducting a case study/research include:

  • Bias-free language
  • Participation in research
  • Manuscript sections (including the "method" and "results and findings" sections)
  • Tables and figures

Academic Writer also contains several guides on how to write professionally at the academic level.  They are very useful for those new to writing research papers at the academic level.  For more information on how to use Academic Writer, view our tutorial here.