Research methods are different from research methodologies because they are the ways in which you will collect the data for your research project. The best method for your project largely depends on your topic, the type of data you will need, and the people or items from which you will be collecting data. The following boxes below contain a list of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods.
When constructing your questions for a survey or questionnaire, there are things you can do to ensure that your questions are accurate and easy to understand (Dawson, 2019):
Quantitative Research Measures
When you are considering a quantitative approach to your research, you need to identify why types of measures you will use in your study. This will determine what type of numbers you will be using to collect your data. There are four levels of measurement:
This is when a select group of people gather to talk about a particular topic. They can also be called discussion groups or group interviews (Dawson, 2019). They are usually lead by a moderator to help guide the discussion and ask certain questions. It is critical that a moderator allows everyone in the group to get a chance to speak so that no one dominates the discussion. The data that are gathered from focus groups tend to be thoughts, opinions, and perspectives about an issue.
Advantages of Focus Groups
Disadvantages of Focus Groups
There are two ways to conduct research observations:
These types of questionnaires are the opposite of "multiple choice" questionnaires because the answer boxes are left open for the participant to complete. This means that participants can write short or extended answers to the questions. Upon gathering the responses, researchers will often "quantify" the data by organizing the responses into different categories. This can be time consuming because the researcher needs to read all responses carefully.
This is the most common type of interview where researchers aim to get specific information so they can compare it to other interview data. This requires asking the same questions for each interview, but keeping their responses flexible. This means including follow-up questions if a subject answers a certain way. Interview schedules are commonly used to aid the interviewers, which list topics or questions that will be discussed at each interview (Dawson, 2019).
Often used for nonhuman research, theoretical analysis is a qualitative approach where the researcher applies a theoretical framework to analyze something about their topic. A theoretical framework gives the researcher a specific "lens" to view the topic and think about it critically. it also serves as context to guide the entire study. This is a popular research method for analyzing works of literature, films, and other forms of media. You can implement more than one theoretical framework with this method, as many theories complement one another.
Common theoretical frameworks for qualitative research are (Grant and Osanloo, 2014):
These are in-depth interviews where the researcher tries to understand an interviewee's perspective on a situation or issue. They are sometimes called life history interviews. It is important not to bombard the interviewee with too many questions so they can freely disclose their thoughts (Dawson, 2019).
Other mixed method approaches that incorporate quantitative and qualitative research methods depend heavily on the research topic. It is strongly recommended that you collaborate with your academic advisor before finalizing a mixed method approach.
How do you determine which research method would be best for your proposal? This heavily depends on your research objective. According to Dawson (2019), there are several questions to ask yourself when determining the best research method for your project: