Dissertations 4: methodology: methods.
- Introduction & Philosophy
Primary & Secondary Sources, Primary & Secondary Data
When describing your research methods, you can start by stating what kind of secondary and, if applicable, primary sources you used in your research. Explain why you chose such sources, how well they served your research, and identify possible issues encountered using these sources.
There is some confusion on the use of the terms primary and secondary sources, and primary and secondary data. The confusion is also due to disciplinary differences (Lombard 2010). Whilst you are advised to consult the research methods literature in your field, we can generalise as follows:
Secondary sources normally include the literature (books and articles) with the experts' findings, analysis and discussions on a certain topic (Cottrell, 2014, p123). Secondary sources often interpret primary sources.
Primary sources are "first-hand" information such as raw data, statistics, interviews, surveys, law statutes and law cases. Even literary texts, pictures and films can be primary sources if they are the object of research (rather than, for example, documentaries reporting on something else, in which case they would be secondary sources). The distinction between primary and secondary sources sometimes lies on the use you make of them (Cottrell, 2014, p123).
Primary data are data (primary sources) you directly obtained through your empirical work (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p316).
Secondary data are data (primary sources) that were originally collected by someone else (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p316).
Comparison between primary and secondary data
Virtually all research will use secondary sources, at least as background information.
Often, especially at the postgraduate level, it will also use primary sources - secondary and/or primary data. The engagement with primary sources is generally appreciated, as less reliant on others' interpretations, and closer to 'facts'.
The use of primary data, as opposed to secondary data, demonstrates the researcher's effort to do empirical work and find evidence to answer her specific research question and fulfill her specific research objectives. Thus, primary data contribute to the originality of the research.
Ultimately, you should state in this section of the methodology:
What sources and data you are using and why (how are they going to help you answer the research question and/or test the hypothesis.
If using primary data, why you employed certain strategies to collect them.
What the advantages and disadvantages of your strategies to collect the data (also refer to the research in you field and research methods literature).
Quantitative, Qualitative & Mixed Methods
The methodology chapter should reference your use of quantitative research, qualitative research and/or mixed methods. The following is a description of each along with their advantages and disadvantages.
Quantitative research uses numerical data (quantities) deriving, for example, from experiments, closed questions in surveys, questionnaires, structured interviews or published data sets (Cottrell, 2014, p93). It normally processes and analyses this data using quantitative analysis techniques like tables, graphs and statistics to explore, present and examine relationships and trends within the data (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2015, p496).
Qualitative research is generally undertaken to study human behaviour and psyche. It uses methods like in-depth case studies, open-ended survey questions, unstructured interviews, focus groups, or unstructured observations (Cottrell, 2014, p93). The nature of the data is subjective, and also the analysis of the researcher involves a degree of subjective interpretation. Subjectivity can be controlled for in the research design, or has to be acknowledged as a feature of the research. Subject-specific books on (qualitative) research methods offer guidance on such research designs.
Mixed-method approaches combine both qualitative and quantitative methods, and therefore combine the strengths of both types of research. Mixed methods have gained popularity in recent years.
When undertaking mixed-methods research you can collect the qualitative and quantitative data either concurrently or sequentially. If sequentially, you can for example, start with a few semi-structured interviews, providing qualitative insights, and then design a questionnaire to obtain quantitative evidence that your qualitative findings can also apply to a wider population (Specht, 2019, p138).
Ultimately, your methodology chapter should state:
Whether you used quantitative research, qualitative research or mixed methods.
Why you chose such methods (and refer to research method sources).
Why you rejected other methods.
How well the method served your research.
The problems or limitations you encountered.
Doug Specht, Senior Lecturer at the Westminster School of Media and Communication, explains mixed methods research in the following video:
LinkedIn Learning Video on Academic Research Foundations: Quantitative
The video covers the characteristics of quantitative research, and explains how to approach different parts of the research process, such as creating a solid research question and developing a literature review. He goes over the elements of a study, explains how to collect and analyze data, and shows how to present your data in written and numeric form.
Link to quantitative research video
Some Types of Methods
There are several methods you can use to get primary data. To reiterate, the choice of the methods should depend on your research question/hypothesis.
Whatever methods you will use, you will need to consider:
why did you choose one technique over another? What were the advantages and disadvantages of the technique you chose?
what was the size of your sample? Who made up your sample? How did you select your sample population? Why did you choose that particular sampling strategy?)
ethical considerations (see also tab...)
procedure of the research (see box procedural method...).
Check Stella Cottrell's book Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide for some succinct yet comprehensive information on most methods (the following account draws mostly on her work). Check a research methods book in your discipline for more specific guidance.
Experiments are useful to investigate cause and effect, when the variables can be tightly controlled. They can test a theory or hypothesis in controlled conditions. Experiments do not prove or disprove an hypothesis, instead they support or not support an hypothesis. When using the empirical and inductive method it is not possible to achieve conclusive results. The results may only be valid until falsified by other experiments and observations.
For more information on Scientific Method, click here .
Observational methods are useful for in-depth analyses of behaviours in people, animals, organisations, events or phenomena. They can test a theory or products in real life or simulated settings. They generally a qualitative research method.
Questionnaires and surveys
Questionnaires and surveys are useful to gain opinions, attitudes, preferences, understandings on certain matters. They can provide quantitative data that can be collated systematically; qualitative data, if they include opportunities for open-ended responses; or both qualitative and quantitative elements.
Interviews are useful to gain rich, qualitative information about individuals' experiences, attitudes or perspectives. With interviews you can follow up immediately on responses for clarification or further details. There are three main types of interviews: structured (following a strict pattern of questions, which expect short answers), semi-structured (following a list of questions, with the opportunity to follow up the answers with improvised questions), and unstructured (following a short list of broad questions, where the respondent can lead more the conversation) (Specht, 2019, p142).
This short video on qualitative interviews discusses best practices and covers qualitative interview design, preparation and data collection methods.
In this case, a group of people (normally, 4-12) is gathered for an interview where the interviewer asks questions to such group of participants. Group interactions and discussions can be highly productive, but the researcher has to beware of the group effect, whereby certain participants and views dominate the interview (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p419). The researcher can try to minimise this by encouraging involvement of all participants and promoting a multiplicity of views.
This video focuses on strategies for conducting research using focus groups.
Check out the guidance on online focus groups by Aliaksandr Herasimenka, which is attached at the bottom of this text box.
Case studies are often a convenient way to narrow the focus of your research by studying how a theory or literature fares with regard to a specific person, group, organisation, event or other type of entity or phenomenon you identify. Case studies can be researched using other methods, including those described in this section. Case studies give in-depth insights on the particular reality that has been examined, but may not be representative of what happens in general, they may not be generalisable, and may not be relevant to other contexts. These limitations have to be acknowledged by the researcher.
Content analysis consists in the study of words or images within a text. In its broad definition, texts include books, articles, essays, historical documents, speeches, conversations, advertising, interviews, social media posts, films, theatre, paintings or other visuals. Content analysis can be quantitative (e.g. word frequency) or qualitative (e.g. analysing intention and implications of the communication). It can detect propaganda, identify intentions of writers, and can see differences in types of communication (Specht, 2019, p146). Check this page on collecting, cleaning and visualising Twitter data.
Extra links and resources:
A clear and comprehensive overview of research methods by Emerald Publishing. It includes: crowdsourcing as a research tool; mixed methods research; case study; discourse analysis; ground theory; repertory grid; ethnographic method and participant observation; interviews; focus group; action research; analysis of qualitative data; survey design; questionnaires; statistics; experiments; empirical research; literature review; secondary data and archival materials; data collection.
Doing your dissertation during the COVID-19 pandemic
Resources providing guidance on doing dissertation research during the pandemic: Online research methods; Secondary data sources; Webinars, conferences and podcasts;
- Virtual Focus Groups Guidance on managing virtual focus groups
5 Minute Methods Videos
The following are a series of useful videos that introduce research methods in five minutes. These resources have been produced by lecturers and students with the University of Westminster's School of Media and Communication.
Case Study Research
Quantitative Content Analysis
Qualitative Content Analysis
Social Media Research
Mixed Method Research
In this part, provide an accurate, detailed account of the methods and procedures that were used in the study or the experiment (if applicable!).
Include specifics about participants, sample, materials, design and methods.
If the research involves human subjects, then include a detailed description of who and how many participated along with how the participants were selected.
Describe all materials used for the study, including equipment, written materials and testing instruments.
Identify the study's design and any variables or controls employed.
Write out the steps in the order that they were completed.
Indicate what participants were asked to do, how measurements were taken and any calculations made to raw data collected.
Specify statistical techniques applied to the data to reach your conclusions.
Provide evidence that you incorporated rigor into your research. This is the quality of being thorough and accurate and considers the logic behind your research design.
Highlight any drawbacks that may have limited your ability to conduct your research thoroughly.
You have to provide details to allow others to replicate the experiment and/or verify the data, to test the validity of the research.
Cottrell, S. (2014). Dissertations and project reports: a step by step guide. Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lombard, E. (2010). Primary and secondary sources. The Journal of Academic Librarianship , 36(3), 250-253
Saunders, M.N.K., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2015). Research Methods for Business Students. New York: Pearson Education.
Specht, D. (2019). The Media And Communications Study Skills Student Guide . London: University of Westminster Press.
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Research Methods for Dissertation – Types with Comparison
Published by Carmen Troy at August 13th, 2021 , Revised On June 14, 2023
“Research methods for a dissertation refer to the specific approaches, procedures, and techniques employed by researchers to investigate and gather data for their dissertation projects.”
These methods provide a systematic and structured framework for conducting research, ensuring the reliability, validity, and rigour of the study.
What are the different research methods for the dissertation, and which one should I use?
Choosing the right research method for a dissertation is a grinding and perplexing aspect of the dissertation research process. A well-defined research methodology helps you conduct your research in the right direction, validates the results of your research, and makes sure that the study you’re conducting answers the set research questions .
The research title, research questions, hypothesis , objectives, and study area generally determine the best research method in the dissertation.
This post’s primary purpose is to highlight what these different types of research methods involve and how you should decide which type of research fits the bill. As you read through this article, think about which one of these research methods will be the most appropriate for your research.
The practical, personal, and academic reasons for choosing any particular method of research are also analysed. You will find our explanation of experimental , descriptive , historical , quantitative , qualitative , and mixed research methods useful regardless of your field of study.
While choosing the right method of research for your own research, you need to:
- Understand the difference between research methods and methodology .
- Think about your research topic, research questions, and research objectives to make an intelligent decision.
- Know about various types of research methods so that you can choose the most suitable and convenient method as per your research requirements.
Research Methodology Vs. Research Methods
A well-defined research methodology helps you conduct your research in the right direction, validates the results of your research, and makes sure that the study you are conducting answers the set research questions .
Research methods are the techniques and procedures used for conducting research. Choosing the right research method for your writing is an important aspect of the research process .
You need to either collect data or talk to the people while conducting any research. The research methods can be classified based on this distinction.
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Types of Research Methods
Research methods are broadly divided into six main categories.
Experimental Research Methods
Descriptive research methods, historical research methods, quantitative research methods, qualitative research methods, mixed methods of research.
Experimental research includes the experiments conducted in the laboratory or observation under controlled conditions. Researchers try to study human behavior by performing various experiments. Experiments can vary from personal and informal natural comparisons. It includes three types of variables;
- Independent variable
- Dependent variable
- Controlled variable
Types of Experimental Methods
The experiments were conducted in the laboratory. Researchers have control over the variables of the experiment.
The experiments were conducted in the open field and environment of the participants by incorporating a few artificial changes. Researchers do not have control over variables under measurement. Participants know that they are taking part in the experiment.
The experiment is conducted in the natural environment of the participants. The participants are generally not informed about the experiment being conducted on them.
Example : Estimating the health condition of the population.
A quasi-experiment is an experiment that takes advantage of natural occurrences. Researchers cannot assign random participants to groups.
Example: Comparing the academic performance of the two schools.
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Descriptive research aims at collecting the information to answer the current affairs. It follows the Ex post facto research, which predicts the possible reasons behind the situation that has already occurred. It aims to answer questions like how, what, when, where, and what rather than ‘why.’
In historical research , an investigator collects, analyses the information to understand, describe, and explain the events that occurred in the past. Researchers try to find out what happened exactly during a certain period of time as accurately and as closely as possible. It does not allow any manipulation or control of variables.
Quantitative research is associated with numerical data or data that can be measured. It is used to study a large group of population. The information is gathered by performing statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques.
Quantitative research isn’t simply based on statistical analysis or quantitative techniques but rather uses a certain approach to theory to address research hypotheses or research questions, establish an appropriate research methodology, and draw findings & conclusions .
Some most commonly employed quantitative research strategies include data-driven dissertations, theory-driven studies, and reflection-driven research. Regardless of the chosen approach, there are some common quantitative research features as listed below.
- Quantitative research is based on testing or building on existing theories proposed by other researchers whilst taking a reflective or extensive route.
- Quantitative research aims to test the research hypothesis or answer established research questions.
- It is primarily justified by positivist or post-positivist research paradigms.
- The research design can be relationship-based, quasi-experimental, experimental, or descriptive.
- It draws on a small sample to make generalisations to a wider population using probability sampling techniques.
- Quantitative data is gathered according to the established research questions and using research vehicles such as structured observation, structured interviews, surveys, questionnaires, and laboratory results.
- The researcher uses statistical analysis tools and techniques to measure variables and gather inferential or descriptive data. In some cases, your tutor or members of the dissertation committee might find it easier to verify your study results with numbers and statistical analysis.
- The accuracy of the study results is based on external and internal validity and the authenticity of the data used.
- Quantitative research answers research questions or tests the hypothesis using charts, graphs, tables, data, and statements.
- It underpins research questions or hypotheses and findings to make conclusions.
- The researcher can provide recommendations for future research and expand or test existing theories.
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It is a type of scientific research where a researcher collects evidence to seek answers to a question . It is associated with studying human behaviour from an informative perspective. It aims at obtaining in-depth details of the problem.
As the term suggests, qualitative research is based on qualitative research methods, including participants’ observations, focus groups, and unstructured interviews.
Qualitative research is very different in nature when compared to quantitative research. It takes an established path towards the research process , how research questions are set up, how existing theories are built upon, what research methods are employed, and how the findings are unveiled to the readers.
You may adopt conventional methods, including phenomenological research, narrative-based research, grounded theory research, ethnographies , case studies , and auto-ethnographies.
Again, regardless of the chosen approach to qualitative research, your dissertation will have unique key features as listed below.
- The research questions that you aim to answer will expand or even change as the dissertation writing process continues. This aspect of the research is typically known as an emergent design where the research objectives evolve with time.
- Qualitative research may use existing theories to cultivate new theoretical understandings or fall back on existing theories to support the research process. However, the original goal of testing a certain theoretical understanding remains the same.
- It can be based on various research models, such as critical theory, constructivism, and interpretivism.
- The chosen research design largely influences the analysis and discussion of results and the choices you make. Research design depends on the adopted research path: phenomenological research, narrative-based research, grounded theory-based research, ethnography, case study-based research, or auto-ethnography.
- Qualitative research answers research questions with theoretical sampling, where data gathered from an organisation or people are studied.
- It involves various research methods to gather qualitative data from participants belonging to the field of study. As indicated previously, some of the most notable qualitative research methods include participant observation, focus groups, and unstructured interviews .
- It incorporates an inductive process where the researcher analyses and understands the data through his own eyes and judgments to identify concepts and themes that comprehensively depict the researched material.
- The key quality characteristics of qualitative research are transferability, conformity, confirmability, and reliability.
- Results and discussions are largely based on narratives, case study and personal experiences, which help detect inconsistencies, observations, processes, and ideas.s
- Qualitative research discusses theoretical concepts obtained from the results whilst taking research questions and/or hypotheses to draw general conclusions .
Now that you know the unique differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods, you may want to learn a bit about primary and secondary research methods.
Here is an article that will help you distinguish between primary and secondary research and decide whether you need to use quantitative and/or qualitative primary research methods in your dissertation.
Alternatively, you can base your dissertation on secondary research, which is descriptive and explanatory in essence.
Types of Qualitative Research Methods
Action research aims at finding an immediate solution to a problem. The researchers can also act as the participants of the research. It is used in the educational field.
A case study includes data collection from multiple sources over time. It is widely used in social sciences to study the underlying information, organisation, community, or event. It does not provide any solution to the problem. Researchers cannot act as the participants of the research.
In this type of research, the researcher examines the people in their natural environment. Ethnographers spend time with people to study people and their culture closely. They can consult the literature before conducting the study.
When you combine quantitative and qualitative methods of research, the resulting approach becomes mixed methods of research.
Over the last few decades, much of the research in academia has been conducted using mixed methods because of the greater legitimacy this particular technique has gained for several reasons including the feeling that combining the two types of research can provide holistic and more dependable results.
Here is what mixed methods of research involve:
- Interpreting and investigating the information gathered through quantitative and qualitative techniques.
- There could be more than one stage of research. Depending on the research topic, occasionally it would be more appropriate to perform qualitative research in the first stage to figure out and investigate a problem to unveil key themes; and conduct quantitative research in stage two of the process for measuring relationships between the themes.
Note: However, this method has one prominent limitation, which is, as previously mentioned, combining qualitative and quantitative research can be difficult because they both are different in terms of design and approach. In many ways, they are contrasting styles of research, and so care must be exercised when basing your dissertation on mixed methods of research.
When choosing a research method for your own dissertation, it would make sense to carefully think about your research topic , research questions , and research objectives to make an intelligent decision in terms of the philosophy of research design .
Dissertations based on mixed methods of research can be the hardest to tackle even for PhD students.
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Please Find Below an Example of Research Methods Section in a Dissertation or Thesis.
Background and Problem
Diversity management became prominent in the late twentieth century, with foundations in America. Historically homogeneous or nondiverse nations, such as Finland, have not yet experienced the issues associated with rising cultural and ethnic diversity in the workforce. Regardless of the environment, workforce diversity garners greater attention and is characterised by its expanding relevance due to globalised and international companies, global and national worker mobility, demographic shifts, or enhancing productivity.
As a result, challenges of diversity management have been handled through legal, financial, and moral pressures (Hayes et al., 2020). The evolving structure of the working population in terms of language, ethnic background, maturity level, faith, or ethnocultural history is said to pose a challenge to human resource management (HRM) in utilising diversity: the understanding, abilities, and expertise prospects of the entire workforce to deal with possible developments.
The European approach to diversity management is regarded as growing. However, it is found to emphasise the relationship to business and lack competence in diversity management problems. Mass immigration concentrates variety, sometimes treated as cultural minority issues, implying the normalisation of anti-discrimination actions (Yadav and Lenka, 2020).
These causes, in turn, have provided the basis of comprehensive diversity research, which has generated different theories, frameworks, concepts, and guidelines from interdisciplinary viewpoints, such as industrial and organisational psychology and behaviour (OB), cultural studies, anthropology, migration, economics, postcolonialism, and so on. And in the form of international, social and cultural, organisational, group, and individual scale diversity analysis. This dissertation focuses on diversity concerns from impression management, specifically from HRM as an executive-level phenomenon (Seliverstova, 2021).
As conceptual frameworks, organisational structures concentrating on the production of diversity and social psychology, notably social identity theory with diverse ‘identities’ of persons or intergroup connections, are primarily employed. The study’s primary goal in the workplace is to discover inequities or examine the effects of diversity on workplace outcomes.
Individual study interests include behaviours, emotions, intelligence, intercultural skills or competencies, while group research interests include group dynamics, intergroup interactions, effectiveness, and cooperation or collaboration. Organisational studies address themes such as workforce composition, workplace equality, and diversity challenges and how they may be managed accordingly. Domestic diversity, omitting national distinctions, or global diversity, about diverse country cultures, might be studied further (AYDIN and ÖZEREN, 2018).
Diversity is a context-dependent, particular, comparative, complicated, plural phrase or idea with varying interpretations in different organisations and cultures and no unified definition. As a result, in addition to many internal and external elements, diversity may be managed, individuals taught, and organisations have grown in various ways. This dissertation considers diversity in an organisational environment as a construct of ‘differences’ to be handled (Cummings, 2018).
Various management systems have grown in stages, bringing diverse diversity management concepts. Equality/equal opportunities (EO) legislation and diversity management are the two conventional approaches and primary streams with differing theoretical foundations for managing and dealing with workforce diversity challenges (DM).
These approaches relate to whether diversity is handled by increasing sameness by legal pressures or by voluntarily respecting people’s differences, which shows an organisation’s responsiveness and proactivity toward managing diversity. But most of the literature in this area has avoided the impression management theories (Coad and Guenther, 2014). Therefore, this study will add a new dimension in this area by introducing impression management analysis.
Research Aim and Objectives
This research aims to analyse the impact of organisational structure on human resources diversification from the viewpoint of impression managerial theory. It has the following objectives:
- It will examine the existing impression management literature to draw insights into the relationship under consideration.
- It will identify various factors such as competency, social inclusion, etc., affecting the management’s decision to recruit diverse human resources.
- It will recommend appropriate organisational structures and HR policies to improve diversification of HR by reviewing impression management theories.
This research will answer the following questions:
- How does organisational structure affect human resources diversification from the viewpoint of impression managerial theory?
- What factors such as competency, social inclusion, etc., affect the management decision to recruit diverse human resources?
- What are appropriate organisational structures and HR policies to improve diversification of HR by reviewing impression management theories?
The organisational structure significantly impacts the recruitment of diverse human resources.
According to Staniec and Zakrzewska-Bielawska (2010), considering strategy-oriented activities and organisational components are the critical foundation in the organisational structure required to align structure strategy. Each company’s internal organisation is somewhat distinctive, resulting from various corporate initiatives and historical conditions.
Furthermore, each design is based on essential success elements and vital tasks inherent in the firm plan. This article offers empirical research on unique organisational structure elements in Polish firms in the context of concentration and diversification tactics. And companies that adopted concentration techniques mainly used functional organisational structures.
Tasks were primarily classified and categorised based on functions and phases of the technical process, with coordination based on hierarchy. Jobs were also highly centralised and formalised. Organisational structures of an active type were also prevalent in many firms. Only a handful of the evaluated organisations possessed flexible contemporary divisional or matrix structures appropriate to differentiation. However, it appears that even such organisations should adjust their organisational solutions to perform successfully in an immensely complex and chaotic environment.
Similarly, according to Yang and Konrad (2011), diversity management techniques are the institutionalised methods created and applied by organisations to manage diversity among all organisational shareholders. They examined the existing research on the causes and significance of diversity management approaches.
They construct a research model indicating many potential routes for future study using institutional and resource-based theories. They also offer prospective avenues for study on diversity management techniques to further the two theoretical viewpoints. The findings indicate that research on diverse management practises might provide perceptions into the two ideologies. Diversity management provides a method for reconciling the agency vs structure issue for institutional concept.
Furthermore, diversity management is a suitable framework for studying how institutional pressures are translated into organisational action and the relationship between complying with institutional mandates and attaining high performance. Research on diversity management raises the importance of environmental normative elements in resource-based reasoning.
It allows for exploring essential resource sources and the co-evolution of diversity resources and management capacities, potentially developing dynamic resource-based theory. Furthermore, a review of the existing research on diversity management practices reveals that research in this field has nearly entirely concentrated on employee-related activities.
However, in establishing the idea of diversity management practises, we included the practises that companies put in place to manage diversity across all stakeholder groups on purpose. Management techniques for engaging with consumers, dealers, supervisors, board directors, and community members are critical for meeting institutional theory’s social and normative commitments.
Moreover, according to Sippola (2014), this research looks at diversity management from the standpoint of HRM. The study aims to discover the effects of expanding workforce diversity on HRM inside firms. This goal will be accomplished through four papers examining diversity management’s impacts on HRM from various viewpoints and mostly in longitudinal contexts.
The purpose of the first article, as a pilot survey, is to determine the reasons, advantages, and problems of rising cultural diversity and the consequences for HRM to get a preliminary grasp of the issue in the specific setting. According to the report, diversity is vital for productivity but is not often emphasised in HRM strategy.
The key areas that were changed were acquisition, development, and growth. The second article examines how different diversity management paradigms recognised in businesses affect HRM. It offers an experimentally verified typology that explains reactive or proactive strategic and operational level HRM activities in light of four alternative diversity management perspectives.
The third essay will examine how a ‘working culture bridge group’ strategy fosters and enhances workplace diversity. The research looks into how development goals are defined, what training and development techniques are used, and the consequences and causal factors when an analysis measures the training and development approach.
The primary goal of article four is to establish which components of diversity management design are globally integrated into multinational corporations (MNCs) and which integrating (delivery) methods are employed to facilitate it. Another goal is to identify the institutional problems faced by the Finnish national diversity setting during the integration process.
The findings show that the example organisation achieved more excellent global uniformity at the level of diversification concept through effective use of multiple frameworks but was forced to rely on a more multinational approach to implementing diversification policies and procedures. The difficulties faced emphasised the distinctiveness of Finland’s cognitive and normative institutional setting for diversity.
Furthermore, according to Guillaume et al. (2017), to compensate for the dual-edged character of demographic workplace diversity impacts on social inclusion, competence, and well-being-related factors, research has shifted away from straightforward main effect methods and begun to investigate factors that moderate these effects.
While there is no shortage of primary research on the circumstances that lead to favourable or poor results, it is unknown which contextual elements make it work. Using the Classification framework as a theoretical lens, they examine variables that moderate the impacts of workplace diversity on social integration, performance, and well-being outcomes, emphasising characteristics that organisations and managers can influence.
They suggest future study directions and end with practical applications. They concluded that faultlines, cross-categorisation, and status variations across demographic groupings highlight variety. Cross-categorisation has been proven to reduce intergroup prejudice while promoting social inclusion, competence, and well-being. Whether faultlines and subgroup status inequalities promote negative or good intergroup interactions and hinder social integration, performance, and well-being depends on whether situational factors encourage negative or positive intergroup connections. The impacts were not mitigated by team size or diversity type.
Furthermore, our data demonstrate that task characteristics are essential for workgroup diversity. Any demographic diversity in workgroups can promote creativity, but only when combined with task-relevant expertise improves the performance of teams undertaking complicated tasks. The type of team and the industrial context do not appear to play an effect. It is unclear if these findings apply to relational demography and organisational diversity impacts. There is some evidence that, under some settings, relational demography may increase creativity, and, as previously said, demographic variety may help firms function in growth-oriented strategy contexts.
Likewise, according to Ali, Tawfeq, and Dler (2020), diversity management refers to organisational strategies that strive to increase the integration of people from diverse backgrounds into the framework of corporate goals. Organisations should develop productive ways to implement diversity management (DM) policies to establish a creative enterprise that can enhance their operations, goods, and services.
Furthermore, human resource management HRM is a clever tool for any firm to manage resources within the company. As a result, this article explores the link between DM, HR policies, and workers’ creative work-related behaviours in firms in Kurdistan’s Fayoum city. According to the questionnaire, two hypotheses were tested: the influence of HRM on diversity management, HRM on innovation, and the impact of diversity management on innovation.
The first premise is that workplace diversity changes the nature of working relationships, how supervisors and managers connect, and how workers respond to one another. It also addresses human resource functions such as record-keeping, training, recruiting, and employee competence needs. The last premise on the influence of diversity management on innovation is that workplace diversity assists a business in hiring a diverse range of personnel.
In other words, a vibrant population need individuals of varied personalities. Workplace diversity refers to a company’s workforce consisting of employees of various genders, ages, faiths, races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, religions, dialects, training, capabilities, etc. According to the study’s findings, human resource management strategies have a substantial influence on diversity management.
Second, diversity management was found to have a considerable impact on creativity. Finally, human resource management techniques influenced innovation significantly. Based on the findings, it was discovered that diversity management had a more significant influence on creation than human resource management.
Lastly, according to Li et al. (2021), the universal trend of rising workplace age diversity has increased the study focus on the organisational effects of age-diverse workforces. Prior research has mainly concentrated on the statistical association between age diversity and organisational success rather than experimentally examining the probable processes behind this relationship.
They argue that age diversity influences organisational performance through human and social capital using an intellectual capital paradigm. Moreover, they investigate workplace functional diversity and age-inclusive management as two confounding factors affecting the benefits of age diversity on physical and human capital.
Their hypotheses were evaluated using data from the Association for Human Resource Management’s major manager-reported workplace survey. Age diversity was favourably linked with organisational performance via the mediation of higher human and social capital. Furthermore, functional diversity and age-inclusive management exacerbated the favourable benefits of age variety on human and social capital. Their study gives insight into how age-diverse workforces might generate value by nurturing knowledge-based organisational resources.
Research Gap/ Contribution
Although there is a vast body of research in diversity in the human resource management area, many researchers explored various dimensions. But no study explicitly discovers the impact of organisational culture on human resource diversification. Moreover, no researchers examined the scope of impression management in this context.
Therefore, this research will fill this considerable literature gap by finding the direct impact of organisational structure on human resource diversification. Secondly, by introducing a new dimension of impression management theory. It will open new avenues for research in this area, and it will help HR managers to formulate better policies for a more inclusive organisational structure.
It will be mixed quantitative and qualitative research based on the secondary data collected through different research journals and case studies of various companies. Firstly, the quantitative analysis will be conducted through a regression analysis to show the organisational structure’s impact on human resource diversification.
The dummy variable will be used to show organisational structure, and diversification will be captured through the ethnic backgrounds of the employees. Moreover, different variables will be added to the model, such as competency, social inclusion, etc. It will fulfil the objective of identifying various factors which affect the management decision to recruit diverse human resources. Secondly, a systematic review of the literature will be conducted for qualitative analysis to add the impression management dimension to the research. Google Scholar, JSTOR, Scopus, etc., will be used to search keywords such as human resource diversity, impression management, and organisation structure.
Although research offers a comprehensive empirical analysis on the relationship under consideration due to lack of resources, the study is limited to secondary data. It would be better if the research would’ve been conducted on the primary data collected through the organisations. That would’ve captured the actual views of the working professionals. It would’ve increased the validity of the research.
Ali, M., Tawfeq, A., & Dler, S. (2020). Relationship between Diversity Management and Human Resource Management: Their Effects on Employee Innovation in the Organizations. Black Sea Journal of Management and Marketing, 1 (2), 36-44.
AYDIN, E., & ÖZEREN, E. (2018). Rethinking workforce diversity research through critical perspectives: emerging patterns and research agenda. Business & Management Studies: An International Journal, 6 (3), 650-670.
Coad, A., & Guenther, C. (2014). Processes of firm growth and diversification: theory and evidence. Small Business Economics, 43 (4), 857-871.
Cummings, V. (2018). Economic Diversification and Empowerment of Local Human Resources: Could Singapore Be a Model for the GCC Countries?. In. Economic Diversification in the Gulf Region, II , 241-260.
Guillaume, Y., Dawson, J., Otaye‐Ebede, L., Woods, S., & West, M. (2017). Harnessing demographic differences in organizations: What moderates the effects of workplace diversity? Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38 (2), 276-303.
Hayes, T., Oltman, K., Kaylor, L., & Belgudri, A. (2020). How leaders can become more committed to diversity management. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 72 (4), 247.
Li, Y., Gong, Y., Burmeister, A., Wang, M., Alterman, V., Alonso, A., & Robinson, S. (2021). Leveraging age diversity for organizational performance: An intellectual capital perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106 (1), 71.
Seliverstova, Y. (2021). Workforce diversity management: a systematic literature review. Strategic Management, 26 (2), 3-11.
Sippola, A. (2014). Essays on human resource management perspectives on diversity management. Vaasan yliopisto.
Staniec, I., & Zakrzewska-Bielawska, A. (2010). Organizational structure in the view of single business concentration and diversification strategies—empirical study results. Recent advances in management, marketing, finances. WSEAS Press, Penang, Malaysia .
Yadav, S., & Lenka, U. (2020). Diversity management: a systematic review. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal .
Yang, Y., & Konrad, A. (2011). Understanding diversity management practices: Implications of institutional theory and resource-based theory. Group & Organization Management, 36 (1), 6-38.
FAQs About Research Methods for Dissertations
What is the difference between research methodology and research methods.
Research methodology helps you conduct your research in the right direction, validates the results of your research and makes sure that the study you are conducting answers the set research questions.
Research methods are the techniques and procedures used for conducting research. Choosing the right research method for your writing is an important aspect of the research process.
What are the types of research methods?
The types of research methods include:
- Experimental research methods.
- Descriptive research methods
- Historical Research methods
What is a quantitative research method?
Quantitative research is associated with numerical data or data that can be measured. It is used to study a large group of population. The information is gathered by performing statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques.
What is a qualitative research method?
It is a type of scientific research where a researcher collects evidence to seek answers to a question . It is associated with studying human behavior from an informative perspective. It aims at obtaining in-depth details of the problem.
What is meant by mixed methods research?
Mixed methods of research involve:
- There could be more than one stage of research. Depending on the research topic, occasionally, it would be more appropriate to perform qualitative research in the first stage to figure out and investigate a problem to unveil key themes; and conduct quantitative research in stage two of the process for measuring relationships between the themes.
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The Top 3 Types of Dissertation Research Explained
Preparing for your doctoral dissertation takes serious perseverance. You’ve endured years of studies and professional development to get to this point. After sleepless nights and labor-intensive research, you’re ready to present the culmination of all of your hard work. Even with a strong base knowledge, it can be difficult — even daunting — to decide how you will begin writing.
By taking a wide-lens view of the dissertation research process , you can best assess the work you have ahead of you and any gaps in your current research strategy. Subsequently, you’ll begin to develop a timeline so you can work efficiently and cross that finish line with your degree in hand.
What Is a Dissertation?
A dissertation is a published piece of research on a novel topic in your chosen field. Students complete a dissertation as part of a doctoral or PhD program. For most students, a dissertation is the first substantive piece of academic research they will write.
Because a dissertation becomes a published piece of academic literature that other academics may cite, students must defend it in front of a board of experts consisting of peers in their field, including professors, their advisor, and other industry experts.
For many students, a dissertation is the first piece of research in a long career full of research. As such, it’s important to choose a topic that’s interesting and engaging.
Types of Dissertation Research
Dissertations can take on many forms, based on research and methods of presentation in front of a committee board of academics and experts in the field. Here, we’ll focus on the three main types of dissertation research to get you one step closer to earning your doctoral degree.
The first type of dissertation is known as a qualitative dissertation . A qualitative dissertation mirrors the qualitative research that a doctoral candidate would conduct throughout their studies. This type of research relies on non-numbers-based data collected through things like interviews, focus groups and participant observation.
The decision to model your dissertation research according to the qualitative method will depend largely on the data itself that you are collecting. For example, dissertation research in the field of education or psychology may lend itself to a qualitative approach, depending on the essence of research. Within a qualitative dissertation research model, a candidate may pursue one or more of the following:
- Case study research
- Narrative research
- Grounded theory
Although individual approaches may vary, qualitative dissertations usually include certain foundational characteristics. For example, the type of research conducted to develop a qualitative dissertation often follows an emergent design, meaning that the content and research strategy changes over time. Candidates also rely on research paradigms to further strategize how best to collect and relay their findings. These include critical theory, constructivism and interpretivism, to name a few.
Because qualitative researchers integrate non-numerical data, their methods of collection often include unstructured interview, focus groups and participant observations. Of course, researchers still need rubrics from which to assess the quality of their findings, even though they won’t be numbers-based. To do so, they subject the data collected to the following criteria: dependability, transferability and validity.
When it comes time to present their findings, doctoral candidates who produce qualitative dissertation research have several options. Some choose to include case studies, personal findings, narratives, observations and abstracts. Their presentation focuses on theoretical insights based on relevant data points.
Quantitative dissertation research, on the other hand, focuses on the numbers. Candidates employ quantitative research methods to aggregate data that can be easily categorized and analyzed. In addition to traditional statistical analysis, quantitative research also hones specific research strategy based on the type of research questions. Quantitative candidates may also employ theory-driven research, replication-based studies and data-driven dissertations.
When conducting research, some candidates who rely on quantitative measures focus their work on testing existing theories, while others create an original approach. To refine their approach, quantitative researchers focus on positivist or post-positivist research paradigms. Quantitative research designs focus on descriptive, experimental or relationship-based designs, to name a few.
To collect the data itself, researchers focus on questionnaires and surveys, structured interviews and observations, data sets and laboratory-based methods. Then, once it’s time to assess the quality of the data, quantitative researchers measure their results against a set of criteria, including: reliability, internal/external validity and construct validity. Quantitative researchers have options when presenting their findings. Candidates convey their results using graphs, data, tables and analytical statements.
Many PhD candidates also use a hybrid model in which they employ both qualitative and quantitative methods of research. Mixed dissertation research models are fairly new and gaining traction. For a variety of reasons, a mixed-method approach offers candidates both versatility and credibility. It’s a more comprehensive strategy that allows for a wider capture of data with a wide range of presentation optimization.
In the most common cases, candidates will first use quantitative methods to collect and categorize their data. Then, they’ll rely on qualitative methods to analyze that data and draw meaningful conclusions to relay to their committee panel.
With a mixed-method approach, although you’re able to collect and analyze a more broad range of data, you run the risk of widening the scope of your dissertation research so much that you’re not able to reach succinct, sustainable conclusions. This is where it becomes critical to outline your research goals and strategy early on in the dissertation process so that the techniques you use to capture data have been thoroughly examined.
How to Choose a Type of Dissertation Research That’s Right for You
After this overview of application and function, you may still be wondering how to go about choosing a dissertation type that’s right for you and your research proposition. In doing so, you’ll have a couple of things to consider:
- What are your personal motivations?
- What are your academic goals?
It’s important to discern exactly what you hope to get out of your doctoral program . Of course, the presentation of your dissertation is, formally speaking, the pinnacle of your research. However, doctoral candidates must also consider:
- Which contributions they will make to the field
- Who they hope to collaborate with throughout their studies
- What they hope to take away from the experience personally, professionally and academically
To discern which type of dissertation research to choose, you have to take a closer look at your learning style, work ethic and even your personality.
Quantitative research tends to be sequential and patterned-oriented. Steps move in a logical order, so it becomes clear what the next step should be at all times. For most candidates, this makes it easier to devise a timeline and stay on track. It also keeps you from getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of research involved. You’ll be able to assess your progress and make simple adjustments to stay on target.
On the other hand, maybe you know that your research will involve many interviews and focus groups. You anticipate that you’ll have to coordinate participants’ schedules, and this will require some flexibility. Instead of creating a rigid schedule from the get-go, allowing your research to flow in a non-linear fashion may actually help you accomplish tasks more efficiently, albeit out of order. This also allows you the personal versatility of rerouting research strategy as you collect new data that leads you down other paths.
After examining the research you need to conduct, consider more broadly: What type of student and researcher are you? In other words, What motivates you to do your best work?
You’ll need to make sure that your methodology is conducive to the data you’re collecting, and you also need to make sure that it aligns with your work ethic so you set yourself up for success. If jumping from one task to another will cause you extra stress, but planning ahead puts you at ease, a quantitative research method may be best, assuming the type of research allows for this.
The skills you master while working on your dissertation will serve you well beyond the day you earn your degree. Take into account the skills you’d like to develop for your academic and professional future. In addition to the hard skills you will develop in your area of expertise, you’ll also develop soft skills that are transferable to nearly any professional or academic setting. Perhaps you want to hone your ability to strategize a timeline, gather data efficiently or draw clear conclusions about the significance of your data collection.
If you have considerable experience with quantitative analysis, but lack an extensive qualitative research portfolio, now may be your opportunity to explore — as long as you’re willing to put in the legwork to refine your skills or work closely with your mentor to develop a strategy together.
For many doctoral candidates who hope to pursue a professional career in the world of academia, writing your dissertation is a practice in developing general research strategies that can be applied to any academic project.
Candidates who are unsure which dissertation type best suits their research should consider whether they will take a philosophical or theoretical approach or come up with a thesis that addresses a specific problem or idea. Narrowing down this approach can sometimes happen even before the research begins. Other times, candidates begin to refine their methods once the data begins to tell a more concrete story.
Next Step: Structuring Your Dissertation Research Schedule
Once you’ve chosen which type of dissertation research you’ll pursue, you’ve already crossed the first hurdle. The next hurdle becomes when and where to fit dedicated research time and visits with your mentor into your schedule. The busyness of day-to-day life shouldn’t prevent you from making your academic dream a reality. In fact, search for programs that assist, not impede, your path to higher levels of academic success.
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What are acceptable dissertation research methods?
August 16, 2023
Reading time: 3â4 minutes
Doctoral research is the cornerstone of a PhD program .
In order to write a dissertation, you must complete extensive, detailed research. Depending on your area of study, different types of research methods will be appropriate to complete your work.
âThe choice of research method depends on the questions you hope to answer with your research,â says Curtis Brant, PhD, Capella University dean of research and scholarship.
Once youâve identified your research problem, youâll employ the methodology best suited for solving the problem.
There are two primary dissertation research methods: qualitative and quantitative.
Qualitative research focuses on examining the topic via cultural phenomena, human behavior or belief systems. This type of research uses interviews, open-ended questions or focus groups to gain insight into peopleâs thoughts and beliefs around certain behaviors and systems.
Dr. Brant says there are several approaches to qualitative inquiry. The three most routinely used include:
Generic qualitative inquiry. The researcher focuses on peopleâs experiences or perceptions in the real world. This often includes, but is not limited to, subjective opinions, attitudes and beliefs .
Case study. The researcher performs an in-depth exploration of a program, event, activity or process with an emphasis on the experience of one or more individuals. The focus of this kind of inquiry must be defined and often includes more than one set of data, such as interviews and field notes, observations or other qualitative data.
Phenomenological. The researcher identifies lived experiences associated with how an individual encounters and engages with the real world .
Qualitative research questions seek to discover:
- A participantâs verbal descriptions of a phenomenon being investigated
- A researcherâs observations of the phenomenon being investigated
- An integrated interpretation of participantâs descriptions and researchers observations
Quantitative research involves the empirical investigation of observable and measurable variables. It is used for theory testing, predicting outcomes or determining relationships between and among variables using statistical analysis.
According to Dr. Brant, there are two primary data sources for quantitative research.
Surveys: Surveys involve asking people a set of questions, usually testing for linear relationships, statistical differences or statistical independence. This approach is common in correlation research designs.
Archival research (secondary data analysis). Archival research involves using preexisting data to answer research questions instead of collecting data from active human participants.
Quantitative research questions seek to address:
- Descriptions of variables being investigated
- Measurements of relationships between (at least two) variables
- Differences between two or more groupsâ scores on a variable or variables
Which method should you choose?
Choosing a qualitative or quantitative methodology for your research will be based on the nature of the questions you ask, the preferred method in your field, the feasibility of the approach and other factors. Many programs offer doctoral mentors and support teams that can help guide you throughout the process.
Capella University offers PhD and professional doctorate degree programs ranging from business to education and health to technology. Learn more about Capella doctoral programs and doctoral support.
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- What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
Published on August 25, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on June 22, 2023.
Your research methodology discusses and explains the data collection and analysis methods you used in your research. A key part of your thesis, dissertation , or research paper , the methodology chapter explains what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of your research and your dissertation topic .
It should include:
- The type of research you conducted
- How you collected and analyzed your data
- Any tools or materials you used in the research
- How you mitigated or avoided research biases
- Why you chose these methods
- Your methodology section should generally be written in the past tense .
- Academic style guides in your field may provide detailed guidelines on what to include for different types of studies.
- Your citation style might provide guidelines for your methodology section (e.g., an APA Style methods section ).
Table of contents
How to write a research methodology, why is a methods section important, step 1: explain your methodological approach, step 2: describe your data collection methods, step 3: describe your analysis method, step 4: evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made, tips for writing a strong methodology chapter, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about methodology.
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Your methods section is your opportunity to share how you conducted your research and why you chose the methods you chose. It’s also the place to show that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated .
It gives your research legitimacy and situates it within your field, and also gives your readers a place to refer to if they have any questions or critiques in other sections.
You can start by introducing your overall approach to your research. You have two options here.
Option 1: Start with your “what”
What research problem or question did you investigate?
- Aim to describe the characteristics of something?
- Explore an under-researched topic?
- Establish a causal relationship?
And what type of data did you need to achieve this aim?
- Quantitative data , qualitative data , or a mix of both?
- Primary data collected yourself, or secondary data collected by someone else?
- Experimental data gathered by controlling and manipulating variables, or descriptive data gathered via observations?
Option 2: Start with your “why”
Depending on your discipline, you can also start with a discussion of the rationale and assumptions underpinning your methodology. In other words, why did you choose these methods for your study?
- Why is this the best way to answer your research question?
- Is this a standard methodology in your field, or does it require justification?
- Were there any ethical considerations involved in your choices?
- What are the criteria for validity and reliability in this type of research ? How did you prevent bias from affecting your data?
Once you have introduced your reader to your methodological approach, you should share full details about your data collection methods .
In order to be considered generalizable, you should describe quantitative research methods in enough detail for another researcher to replicate your study.
Here, explain how you operationalized your concepts and measured your variables. Discuss your sampling method or inclusion and exclusion criteria , as well as any tools, procedures, and materials you used to gather your data.
Surveys Describe where, when, and how the survey was conducted.
- How did you design the questionnaire?
- What form did your questions take (e.g., multiple choice, Likert scale )?
- Were your surveys conducted in-person or virtually?
- What sampling method did you use to select participants?
- What was your sample size and response rate?
Experiments Share full details of the tools, techniques, and procedures you used to conduct your experiment.
- How did you design the experiment ?
- How did you recruit participants?
- How did you manipulate and measure the variables ?
- What tools did you use?
Existing data Explain how you gathered and selected the material (such as datasets or archival data) that you used in your analysis.
- Where did you source the material?
- How was the data originally produced?
- What criteria did you use to select material (e.g., date range)?
The survey consisted of 5 multiple-choice questions and 10 questions measured on a 7-point Likert scale.
The goal was to collect survey responses from 350 customers visiting the fitness apparel company’s brick-and-mortar location in Boston on July 4–8, 2022, between 11:00 and 15:00.
Here, a customer was defined as a person who had purchased a product from the company on the day they took the survey. Participants were given 5 minutes to fill in the survey anonymously. In total, 408 customers responded, but not all surveys were fully completed. Due to this, 371 survey results were included in the analysis.
- Information bias
- Omitted variable bias
- Regression to the mean
- Survivorship bias
- Undercoverage bias
- Sampling bias
In qualitative research , methods are often more flexible and subjective. For this reason, it’s crucial to robustly explain the methodology choices you made.
Be sure to discuss the criteria you used to select your data, the context in which your research was conducted, and the role you played in collecting your data (e.g., were you an active participant, or a passive observer?)
Interviews or focus groups Describe where, when, and how the interviews were conducted.
- How did you find and select participants?
- How many participants took part?
- What form did the interviews take ( structured , semi-structured , or unstructured )?
- How long were the interviews?
- How were they recorded?
Participant observation Describe where, when, and how you conducted the observation or ethnography .
- What group or community did you observe? How long did you spend there?
- How did you gain access to this group? What role did you play in the community?
- How long did you spend conducting the research? Where was it located?
- How did you record your data (e.g., audiovisual recordings, note-taking)?
Existing data Explain how you selected case study materials for your analysis.
- What type of materials did you analyze?
- How did you select them?
In order to gain better insight into possibilities for future improvement of the fitness store’s product range, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 returning customers.
Here, a returning customer was defined as someone who usually bought products at least twice a week from the store.
Surveys were used to select participants. Interviews were conducted in a small office next to the cash register and lasted approximately 20 minutes each. Answers were recorded by note-taking, and seven interviews were also filmed with consent. One interviewee preferred not to be filmed.
- The Hawthorne effect
- Observer bias
- The placebo effect
- Response bias and Nonresponse bias
- The Pygmalion effect
- Recall bias
- Social desirability bias
- Self-selection bias
Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches. If a standalone quantitative or qualitative study is insufficient to answer your research question, mixed methods may be a good fit for you.
Mixed methods are less common than standalone analyses, largely because they require a great deal of effort to pull off successfully. If you choose to pursue mixed methods, it’s especially important to robustly justify your methods.
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Next, you should indicate how you processed and analyzed your data. Avoid going into too much detail: you should not start introducing or discussing any of your results at this stage.
In quantitative research , your analysis will be based on numbers. In your methods section, you can include:
- How you prepared the data before analyzing it (e.g., checking for missing data , removing outliers , transforming variables)
- Which software you used (e.g., SPSS, Stata or R)
- Which statistical tests you used (e.g., two-tailed t test , simple linear regression )
In qualitative research, your analysis will be based on language, images, and observations (often involving some form of textual analysis ).
Specific methods might include:
- Content analysis : Categorizing and discussing the meaning of words, phrases and sentences
- Thematic analysis : Coding and closely examining the data to identify broad themes and patterns
- Discourse analysis : Studying communication and meaning in relation to their social context
Mixed methods combine the above two research methods, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process.
Above all, your methodology section should clearly make the case for why you chose the methods you did. This is especially true if you did not take the most standard approach to your topic. In this case, discuss why other methods were not suitable for your objectives, and show how this approach contributes new knowledge or understanding.
In any case, it should be overwhelmingly clear to your reader that you set yourself up for success in terms of your methodology’s design. Show how your methods should lead to results that are valid and reliable, while leaving the analysis of the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results for your discussion section .
- Quantitative: Lab-based experiments cannot always accurately simulate real-life situations and behaviors, but they are effective for testing causal relationships between variables .
- Qualitative: Unstructured interviews usually produce results that cannot be generalized beyond the sample group , but they provide a more in-depth understanding of participants’ perceptions, motivations, and emotions.
- Mixed methods: Despite issues systematically comparing differing types of data, a solely quantitative study would not sufficiently incorporate the lived experience of each participant, while a solely qualitative study would be insufficiently generalizable.
Remember that your aim is not just to describe your methods, but to show how and why you applied them. Again, it’s critical to demonstrate that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated.
1. Focus on your objectives and research questions
The methodology section should clearly show why your methods suit your objectives and convince the reader that you chose the best possible approach to answering your problem statement and research questions .
2. Cite relevant sources
Your methodology can be strengthened by referencing existing research in your field. This can help you to:
- Show that you followed established practice for your type of research
- Discuss how you decided on your approach by evaluating existing research
- Present a novel methodological approach to address a gap in the literature
3. Write for your audience
Consider how much information you need to give, and avoid getting too lengthy. If you are using methods that are standard for your discipline, you probably don’t need to give a lot of background or justification.
Regardless, your methodology should be a clear, well-structured text that makes an argument for your approach, not just a list of technical details and procedures.
If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Normal distribution
- Measures of central tendency
- Chi square tests
- Confidence interval
- Quartiles & Quantiles
- Cluster sampling
- Stratified sampling
- Thematic analysis
- Cohort study
- Peer review
- Implicit bias
- Cognitive bias
- Conformity bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Availability heuristic
- Attrition bias
Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.
Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).
In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .
In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.
In a scientific paper, the methodology always comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion . The same basic structure also applies to a thesis, dissertation , or research proposal .
Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.
Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.
Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.
Reliability and validity are both about how well a method measures something:
- Reliability refers to the consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).
- Validity refers to the accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent what they are supposed to measure).
If you are doing experimental research, you also have to consider the internal and external validity of your experiment.
A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.
In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.
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Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods dissertations
What are they and which one should i choose.
In the sections that follow, we briefly describe the main characteristics of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods dissertations. Rather than being exhaustive, the main goal is to highlight what these types of research are and what they involve. Whilst you read through each section, try and think about your own dissertation, and whether you think that one of these types of dissertation might be right for you. After reading about these three types of dissertation, we highlight some of the academic, personal and practical reasons why you may choose to take on one type over another.
- Types of dissertation: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods dissertations
- Choosing between types: Academic, personal and practical justifications
Types of dissertation
Whilst we describe the main characteristics of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods dissertations, the Lærd Dissertation site currently focuses on helping guide you through quantitative dissertations , whether you are a student of the social sciences, psychology, education or business, or are studying medical or biological sciences, sports science, or another science-based degree. Nonetheless, you may still find our introductions to qualitative dissertations and mixed methods dissertations useful, if only to decide whether these types of dissertation are for you. We discuss quantitative dissertations , qualitative dissertations and mixed methods dissertations in turn:
When we use the word quantitative to describe quantitative dissertations , we do not simply mean that the dissertation will draw on quantitative research methods or statistical analysis techniques . Quantitative research takes a particular approach to theory , answering research questions and/or hypotheses , setting up a research strategy , making conclusions from results , and so forth. Classic routes that you can follow include replication-based studies , theory-driven research and data-driven dissertations . However, irrespective of the particular route that you adopt when taking on a quantitative dissertation, there are a number of core characteristics to quantitative dissertations:
They typically attempt to build on and/or test theories , whether adopting an original approach or an approach based on some kind of replication or extension .
They answer quantitative research questions and/or research (or null ) hypotheses .
They are mainly underpinned by positivist or post-positivist research paradigms .
They draw on one of four broad quantitative research designs (i.e., descriptive , experimental , quasi-experimental or relationship-based research designs).
They try to use probability sampling techniques , with the goal of making generalisations from the sample being studied to a wider population , although often end up applying non-probability sampling techniques .
They use research methods that generate quantitative data (e.g., data sets , laboratory-based methods , questionnaires/surveys , structured interviews , structured observation , etc.).
They draw heavily on statistical analysis techniques to examine the data collected, whether descriptive or inferential in nature.
They assess the quality of their findings in terms of their reliability , internal and external validity , and construct validity .
They report their findings using statements , data , tables and graphs that address each research question and/or hypothesis.
They make conclusions in line with the findings , research questions and/or hypotheses , and theories discussed in order to test and/or expand on existing theories, or providing insight for future theories.
If you choose to take on a quantitative dissertation , go to the Quantitative Dissertations part of Lærd Dissertation now. You will learn more about the characteristics of quantitative dissertations, as well as being able to choose between the three classic routes that are pursued in quantitative research: replication-based studies , theory-driven research and data-driven dissertations . Upon choosing your route, the Quantitative Dissertations part of Lærd Dissertation will help guide you through these routes, from topic idea to completed dissertation, as well as showing you how to write up quantitative dissertations.
Qualitative dissertations , like qualitative research in general, are often associated with qualitative research methods such as unstructured interviews, focus groups and participant observation. Whilst they do use a set of research methods that are not used in quantitative dissertations, qualitative research is much more than a choice between research methods. Qualitative research takes a particular approach towards the research process , the setting of research questions , the development and use of theory , the choice of research strategy , the way that findings are presented and discussed, and so forth. Overall, qualitative dissertations will be very different in approach, depending on the particular route that you adopt (e.g., case study research compared to ethnographies). Classic routes that you can follow include autoethnographies , case study research , ethnographies , grounded theory , narrative research and phenomenological research . However, irrespective of the route that you choose to follow, there are a number of broad characteristics to qualitative dissertations:
They follow an emergent design , meaning that the research process , and sometimes even the qualitative research questions that you tackle, often evolve during the dissertation process.
They use theory in a variety of ways - sometimes drawing on theory to help the research process; on other occasions, using theory to develop new theoretical insights ; sometimes both - but the goal is infrequently to test a particular theory from the outset.
They can be underpinned by one of a number of research paradigms (e.g., interpretivism , constructivism , critical theory , amongst many other research paradigms).
They follow research designs that heavily influence the choices you make throughout the research process, as well as the analysis and discussion of 'findings' (i.e., such research designs differ considerably depending on the route that is being followed, whether an autoethnography , case study research , ethnography , grounded theory , narrative research , phenomenological research , etc.).
They try to use theoretical sampling - a group of non-probability sampling techniques - with the goal of studying cases (i.e., people or organisations) that are most appropriate to answering their research questions.
They study people in-the-field (i.e., in natural settings ), often using multiple research methods , each of which generate qualitative data (e.g., unstructured interviews , focus groups , participant observation , etc.).
They interpret the qualitative data through the eyes and biases of the researcher , going back-and-forth through the data (i.e., an inductive process ) to identify themes or abstractions that build a holistic/gestalt picture of what is being studied.
They assess the quality of their findings in terms of their dependability , confirmability , conformability and transferability .
They present (and discuss ) their findings through personal accounts , case studies , narratives , and other means that identify themes or abstracts , processes , observations and contradictions , which help to address their research questions.
They discuss the theoretical insights arising from the findings in light of the research questions, from which tentative conclusions are made.
If you choose to take on a qualitative dissertation , you will be able to learn a little about appropriate research methods and sampling techniques in the Fundamentals section of Lærd Dissertation. However, we have not yet launched a dedicated section to qualitative dissertations within Lærd Dissertation. If this is something that you would like us to do sooner than later, please leave feedback .
Mixed methods dissertations
Mixed methods dissertations combine qualitative and quantitative approaches to research. Whilst they are increasingly used and have gained greater legitimacy, much less has been written about their components parts. There are a number of reasons why mixed methods dissertations are used, including the feeling that a research question can be better addressed by:
Collecting qualitative and quantitative data , and then analysing or interpreting that data, whether separately or by mixing it.
Conducting more than one research phase ; perhaps conducting qualitative research to explore an issue and uncover major themes, before using quantitative research to measure the relationships between the themes.
One of the problems (or challenges) of mixed methods dissertations is that qualitative and quantitative research, as you will have seen from the two previous sections, are very different in approach. In many respects, they are opposing approaches to research. Therefore, when taking on a mixed methods dissertation, you need to think particularly carefully about the goals of your research, and whether the qualitative or quantitative components (a) are more important in philosophical, theoretical and practical terms, and (b) should be combined or kept separate.
Again, as with qualitative dissertations, we have yet to launch a dedicated section of Lærd Dissertation to mixed methods dissertations . However, you will be able to learn about many of the quantitative aspects of doing a mixed methods dissertation in the Quantitative Dissertations part of Lærd Dissertation. You may even be able to follow this part of our site entirely if the only qualitative aspect of your mixed methods dissertation is the use of qualitative methods to help you explore an issue or uncover major themes, before performing quantitative research to examine such themes further. Nonetheless, if you would like to see a dedicated section to mixed methods dissertations sooner than later, please leave feedback .
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Confused About Different Types of Dissertation and How to Do Research on Them?
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Introduction to dissertation: a brief explanation, types of dissertation, introduction to research, different types of dissertation research, how to choose right dissertation research method, facing issue in structuring your dissertation ask experts.
A dissertation is an academic task that provides the student's opportunity to write a substantial piece on an interesting topic, or students can also choose from different types of dissertation . This is one of the chances that the students can produce the work of the scholarship using the other academic skills they have developed. When it comes to preparing the doctoral dissertation, then it takes extreme perseverance. Master's or Ph.D. students must submit their dissertation to get their doctoral degrees. So after the sleepless nights and the labor-intensive research, you are ready to present the culmination of your hard work.
For this reason, having a solid knowledge base can be tricky, even though sometimes deciding where to begin and what to write is daunting. University and college students are worried about completing their dissertation writing task and completing their master's or Ph.D. write-up. Also, they must be aware of the things associated with writing the dissertation. One of them is the types of dissertation and how to conduct the research for the dissertation types. So in this blog, we will provide information about the different types of dissertation .
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Dissertation, whenever students hear this word, they say it is a long piece of the academic write-up. It is based on the original research that the students conducted during the time of the writing task. A dissertation is the final step to finishing the Ph.D. program. For the students, the dissertation is one of the most extended pieces of academic writing they have ever completed. While writing the dissertation requires research, writing, and analysis, skills, and it can be intimidating to know where to start or begin with the write-up. The dissertation has three types, so let's learn about the different types of dissertation .
When it comes to the types of the dissertation, then there are three main types of the dissertation. They are qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods in the dissertation types. Therefore this blog will elaborate on the different types of dissertation by addressing their similarities and differences.
1. Quantitative Dissertation
Several students need clarification when they read or hear the word quantitative and types of methodology in dissertation . Here the word quantitative does not mean that the whole dissertation should be a quantitative research method or the usage of statistical analysis techniques. Instead, it addresses the research questions, hypotheses, or both. This is the type of research that helps to relate to establish the research strategy, conclude results, and make inferences.
2. Qualitative Dissertation
This is the second type of dissertation involving qualitative research methods. These methods are judged in the form of unstructured interviews, focus groups, and participant observation. Although several students use the research methods not employed in the quantitative dissertations, qualitative research is beyond the choice between the research methods. Stuck on how to write dissertation methodology , then consult experts. On the other hand, the research process is differently done by establishing the research questions, developing and utilizing the theoretical methods, and much more in a unique way.
3. Mixed Methods Dissertation
This is the last or third type of dissertation that is mixed methods. There are several reasons why students need to include mixed methods in the form of the thesis and the dissertations with various types of research dissertation . In this type of dissertation, students use both qualitative and quantitative approaches during the research. These types of dissertations are increasingly used with more profound legitimacy, and their components need to be adequately addressed.
Those mentioned above are the three types of dissertation. However, while writing the dissertation, research also plays a vital role. So know what research is and how to use different research methods for dissertation introduction writing .
Also Read: What to Do If I Fail My Dissertation? What is the Solution?
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Selecting the correct research method for the dissertation is one of the most frustrating tasks for students. However, a student with a well-defined research methodology helps them conduct the research in the right direction. Also, it allows them to validate the results and ensures that the study that students are working on answers the hard research questions to plan your dissertation .
Several things come under the research title, and the research title, questions, hypothesis, objectives, and all the study areas are generally helpful in determining the best research methods. So what are you waiting for? Your professor assigned you the dissertation writing task then it is the right time to choose the type of dissertations research to make your job easier for you.
Below mentioned are the different types of dissertation methodology that students can conduct while conducting it.
1. Quantitative Research Methods
Numerical data or data that may be quantified are linked to quantitative research. It is employed to research a sizable population. Statistical, mathematical, or computational methods are used to collect the data.
2. Qualitative Research Methods
It is a scientific investigation in which a researcher gathers data to find solutions to a problem. It has to do with learning about human behavior through research. It seeks to understand all the pertinent information about the issue.
3. Mixed Methods of Research
Mixed research methods result from combining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Much academic research has been undertaken utilising mixed methods over the previous few decades due to the increased legitimacy this specific strategy has earned. It includes the idea that combining the two types of study can produce comprehensive and more reliable results.
4. Experimental Research Methods
Laboratory experiments and observational studies under controlled settings are considered experimental research. Various experiments are carried out to understand human behavior better. Investigations range from simple natural comparisons to personal observations, which helps to prepare a perfect dissertation .
5. Historical Research Methods
In historical research, a researcher gathers and examines data to comprehend, characterise, and justify previous occurrences. Researchers attempt to ascertain precisely and closely what occurred during a specific historical period. It forbids any variable manipulation or control.
6. Descriptive Research Methods
The goal of descriptive research is to gather data to address contemporary issues. It is based on Ex post facto research, which hypothesises potential causes for an already-occurring phenomenon. Instead of managing "why," it seeks to address questions like "how," "what," "when," "where," and "what."
With the help of the above-mentioned details, students can know how many types of research for dissertation are, and they can make the perfect dissertation structure . But some students need help choosing what type of research is best for them and for their write-up. So with the below-mentioned section, you will know how to select the suitable research method for your dissertation.
Also Read: How to Write a Dissertation Conclusion to Make a Perfect Ending?
Some students need clarification after getting the information about the different dissertation types and research types. But why? They still need clarification on choosing the dissertation research type that is perfect for them. Every student needs to discern what they hope for their doctoral program. At the same time, consider the right dissertation research method. There are a couple of things that need to be considered. So they are:
- What are your motivations, personally or professionally?
- What are your academic goals or dreams?
- Mention the contributions you made to the field
- Want to collaborate with someone throughout the studies
- Things that they want to take away from their experiences, whether they are personal, professional, or academic.
Still, have doubts? If you do not get the correct answer, then do not worry. This is the right time to consult expert writers.
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Research methods are the tools used to help you find, collect, analyse and interpret information in order to answer your research question. Sound methodology is important to make sure your research results are trusted and respected in your field. In some disciplines, the use of standardised methods is also important to allow fellow researchers to replicate, or repeat, their studies. The resources on this page have been designed with researchers in mind and can help you choose an appropriate research method for your dissertation.
SAGE Research Methods contains over 1,000 e-books, reference works, journal articles and videos which provide information about research methods and design. The database can help provide context for writing a research question, conducting a literature review, choosing a research method, collecting and analysing data and writing up the findings. It includes a range of methods commonly used in numerous disciplines. View the Sage Research Methods Guide for further details. Kortext and BibliU are online textbook providers, with numerous e-texts on research methods .
Open educational resources on research methods are available from the Open Access Research Methods Resource Collection . The National Centre for Research Methods has many online resources which are intended to help people interested in social science research methods. While the Global Social Change Research Project curates a lot of open access resources, predominantly on quantitative methods with some qualitative methods. Once you have located background information about your research design, you may want to locate scholarly journal articles on your research topic that use a particular type of methodology. Previous dissertations and theses will also help you to determine which methodologies are appropriate for a specific research question and how to construct a research study.
- Academic communication skills resources This list includes useful resources for academic communication skills including academic writing, research methods, critical thinking, skills for literature reviews and systematic reviews, referencing, presentation skills, writing for publication, statistics and general study skills.
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Explore the SAGE Methods Map to learn more about research terms and find useful content.
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Popular research methods texts
Real World Research
Real World Research provides a clear route-map of the various steps needed to carry out a piece of applied research to a high professional standard.
Research methods in health
An accessible introduction to the concepts and practicalities of research methods in health and health services.
This bestselling text pioneered the comparison of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research design.
Research methods for business students
A textbook for Business and Management students conducting a research-led project or dissertation.
Introduction to Social Research
Keith Punch takes a fresh look at the entire research process, from formulating a research question to writing up your research.
The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research
This handbook presents a comprehensive, interdisciplinary overview of the field of qualitative research.
This text guides students and researchers through the process of doing qualitative research, clearly explaining how different theoretical approaches inform what you do in practice.
Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods
A student-friendly introduction to quantitative research methods and basic statistics.
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15 kinds of research methodologies for phd. pupils, basic research.
Pure research or fundamental research or basic research zooms on enhancing scientific knowledge for the exhaustive understanding of a topic or certain natural phenomena, essentially in natural sciences; knowledge that is obtained for the purpose of knowledge it is called fundamental research.
Research that covers real life applications of the natural sciences; aimed at offering an answer to particular practical issues and develops novel technologies
2.Fixed research versus flexible research
In fixed research, the design of the study is fixed prior to the main phase of data gathering; moreover, fixed designs are essentially theoretical. Variables that need to be controlled and measured need to be known in advance and they are measured quantitatively.
3.Quantitative research and qualitative research
Quantitative research denotes gauging phenomena in various grades; on the other hand, qualitative research sometimes deems Boolean measurements alone; solution can be studied qualitatively for its appropriateness. However, comparison between candidate solutions requires quantitative observation.
4.Experimental research and non-experimental research
In an experimental design , operationalize the variables to be measured; moreover, operationalize in the best manner. Consider the study expectations, outcome measurement, variable measurement, and the methods to answer research questions.
Think of the practical limitations such as the availability of data-sets and experimental set-ups that represent actual scenarios.
5.Exploratory research and confirmatory research
Confirmatory research tests a priori hypotheses—outcome predictions done prior to the measurement stage. Such a priori hypotheses are usually derived from a theory or the results of previous studies.
Exploratory research generates a posteriori hypotheses by investigating a data-set and ascertaining potential connection between variables.
6.Explanatory research or casual research
Causal research is also called explanatory research ; conducted to ascertain the extent and type of cause-effect relationships. Causal research are conducted to evaluate effects of specific changes on existing norms, various processes etc.
Descriptive research is the available statement of affairs; researcher has no control over variable. Descriptive studies are characterised as simply an effort to ascertain, define or recognize. Not “why it is that way” nor “how it came to be,” which is the objective of analytical research.
Historical research explores and explains the meanings, phases and traits of a phenomena or process at a certain phase of time in the past; historical research is a research strategy from the research of history.
9.Casual comparative research
Also called as “ex-post facto” research (In Latin, implies “after the fact”); researchers determine the causes or consequences of differences that already exist between or among groups of individuals.
An effort to ascertain a causative relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable; relationship between the independent variable and dependent variable are usually a suggested relationship (not proved yet) because you do not have complete control over the independent variable
Correlational research is a form of non-experimental research technique wherein a researcher measures 2 variables and assesses the statistical connection between them with no influence from any external variable.
The correlation between two variables is given through correlation coefficient, which is a statistical measure that calculates the strength of the relationship between two variables that is a value measured between -1 and +1.
11.Evaluation research method
Evaluation research technique is known as program evaluation and refers to a research purpose instead of a particular technique; objective is to assess the effect of social involvements such as new treatment techniques, innovations in services, etc.
A form of applied research to have some real-world effect. Methods such as surveys and experiments are used in evaluation research.
12.Formative and summative evaluation
While learning is in progress, formative assessment offers feedback and information; measures participant’s progress and also assess researcher’s own progress as well.
For example, when implementing a new program, you can determine whether or not the activity should be used again (or modified) with the help of observation and/or surveying.
Summative assessment happens after the learning has ended and offers info and feedback to sum up the process; essentially, no formal learning is happening at this phase other than incidental learning which might take place through the completion of program.
Descriptive research studies define the characteristics of a particular individual, or of a group.
Studies showing whether certain variables are linked are examples of diagnostic research.
Researcher defines what he or she wants to measure and finds adequate methods for measuring it along with a clear description of ‘population’.
Aim is to obtain complete and accurate information. And the researcher plans the procedure carefully.
Prognostic research (specifically in clinical research) examines chosen predictive variables and risk factors; prognostic research assesses influence on the outcome of a disease. Clinicians have a better understanding of the history of the ailment.
This understanding facilitates clinical decision-making via providing apt treatment alternatives and helps to predict accurate disease outcomes.
Assessing prognostic studies involves ascertaining the internal validity of the study design and assessing the effects of bias or systemic errors.
A systematic inquiry for improving and/or honing researchers’ actions. Researchers find it an empowering experience.
Action research has positive result for various reasons; most important is that action research is pertinent to the research participants.
Relevance is assured because the aim of each research project is ascertained by the researchers, who are also the main beneficiaries of the research observations.
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