For biology, psychology and social sciences, there can be a huge variety of methods to choose from, and a researcher will have to justify their choice. The first method is the straightforward experiment, involving the standard practice of manipulating quantitative, independent variables to generate statistically analyzable data. Generally, the system of scientific measurements is interval or ratio based. The researcher is accepting or refuting the null hypothesis. The results generated are analyzable and are used to test hypotheses , with statistics giving a clear and unambiguous picture.
This research method is one of the most difficult, requiring rigorous design and a great deal of expense, especially for larger experiments. The other problem, where real life organisms are used, is that taking something out of its natural environment can seriously affect its behavior. It is also the biggest drain on time and resources, and is often impossible to perform for some fields, because of ethical considerations. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a prime example of experimental research that was fixated on results, and failed to take into account moral considerations.
In other fields of study, which do not always have the luxury of definable and quantifiable variables - you need to use different research methods. These should attempt to fit all of the definitions of repeatability or falsifiability , although this is not always feasible.
Opinion based research methods generally involve designing an experiment and collecting quantitative data. For this type of research, the measurements are usually arbitrary, following the ordinal or interval type. Questionnaires are an effective way of quantifying data from a sample group, and testing emotions or preferences.
This method is very cheap and easy, where budget is a problem, and gives an element of scale to opinion and emotion. These figures are arbitrary, but at least give a directional method of measuring intensity. By definition, this experiment method must be used where emotions or behaviors are measured, as there is no other way of defining the variables. Whilst not as robust as experimental research , the methods can be replicated and the results falsified.
Observational research is a group of different research methods where researchers try to observe a phenomenon without interfering too much. Observational research methods, such as the case study , are probably the furthest removed from the established scientific method. Observational research tends to use nominal or ordinal scales of measurement. Observational research often has no clearly defined research problem , and questions may arise during the course of the study.
Observation is heavily used in social sciences, behavioral studies and anthropology, as a way of studying a group without affecting their behavior.
Whilst the experiment cannot be replicated or falsified , it still offers unique insights, and will advance human knowledge. Case studies are often used as a pre-cursor to more rigorous methods, and avoid the problem of the experiment environment affecting the behavior of an organism. Observational research methods are useful when ethics are a problem. In an ideal world, experimental research methods would be used for every type of research, fulfilling all of the requirements of falsifiability and generalization.
However, ethics , time and budget are major factors, so any experimental design must make compromises. As long as a researcher recognizes and evaluates flaws in the design when choosing from different research methods, any of the scientific research methods are valid contributors to scientific knowledge.
Check out our quiz-page with tests about:. And quantitative data, it must be remembered, are also collected in accordance with certain research vehicles and underlying research questions.
Even the production of numbers is guided by the kinds of questions asked of the subjects, so is essentially subjective, although it appears less so than qualitative research data. This is carried out when we wish to understand meanings, look at, describe and understand experience, ideas, beliefs and values, intangibles such as these.
This is a common approach and helps you to 'triangulate' ie to back up one set of findings from one method of data collection underpinned by one methodology, with another very different method underpinned by another methodology - for example, you might give out a questionnaire normally quantitative to gather statistical data about responses, and then back this up and research in more depth by interviewing normally qualitative selected members of your questionnaire sample.
Look at the very brief outlines of different methods below. Consider which you intend using and whether you could also find it more useful to combine the quantitative with the qualitative. Interviews enable face to face discussion with human subjects. If you decide to interview you will need to draw up an interview schedule of questions which can be either closed or open questions, or a mixture of these. Closed questions tend to be used for asking for and receiving answers about fixed facts such as name, numbers, and so on.
They do not require speculation and they tend to produce short answers. With closed questions you could even give your interviewees a small selection of possible answers from which to choose. If you do this you will be able to manage the data and quantify the responses quite easily. The Household Survey and Census ask closed questions, and often market researchers who stop you in the street do too.
The problem with closed questions is that they limit the response the interviewee can give and do not enable them to think deeply or test their real feelings or values. This would give you a very good idea of the variety of ideas and feelings people have, it would enable them to think and talk for longer and so show their feelings and views more fully.
But it is very difficult to quantify these results. You will find that you will need to read all the comments through and to categorise them after you have received them, or merely report them in their diversity and make general statements, or pick out particular comments if they seem to fit your purpose. If you decide to use interviews:.
Questionnaires often seem a logical and easy option as a way of collecting information from people. They are actually rather difficult to design and because of the frequency of their use in all contexts in the modern world, the response rate is nearly always going to be a problem low unless you have ways of making people complete them and hand them in on the spot and this of course limits your sample, how long the questionnaire can be and the kinds of questions asked.
As with interviews, you can decide to use closed or open questions, and can also offer respondents multiple choice questions from which to choose the statement which most nearly describes their response to a statement or item. Their layout is an art form in itself because in poorly laid out questionnaires respondents tend, for example, to repeat their ticking of boxes in the same pattern. If given a choice of response on a scale , they will usually opt for the middle point, and often tend to miss out subsections to questions.
You need to take expert advice in setting up a questionnaire, ensure that all the information about the respondents which you need is included and filled in, and ensure that you actually get them returned.
Expecting people to pay to return postal questionnaires is sheer folly, and drawing up a really lengthy questionnaire will also inhibit response rates. You will need to ensure that questions are clear, and that you have reliable ways of collecting and managing the data.
A research method is a systematic plan for doing research. In this lesson, we'll look at the definition for a research method and examine the four.
Lesson A Assessing the Methodology of the Study: There are four main aspects of the research methodology: design, sampling, data collection, the data analysis.
The methods section describes actions to be taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. Observational research is a group of different research methods where researchers try to observe a phenomenon without interfering too much. Observational research methods, such as the case study, are probably the furthest removed from the established scientific method.
This article is part of an ongoing series on academic writing help of scholarly articles. Previous parts explored how to write an introduction for a research paper and a literature review outline and format.. The Methodology section portrays the reasoning for the application of certain techniques and methods in the context of the study.. For your . The study of research methods is not only an essential requirement for social scientists, it is also vital for anyone looking to succeed in business and management. Stay informed on the basics, and familiarize yourself with recent developments and trends in research .