What is Research Methodology ?

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY-A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE!

What is that?

Research methodology means the methods or processes through which you collect information or data for your research. It is very important to ponder upon which research methodologies or methods you want to go for before you begin your research work properly because the whole research essay or thesis will depend upon it. Of course, the vice versa is true as well, i.e., what kind of methodology you will opt for to some extent depends upon your research work.

Which one to choose?

There are two main methods you can choose while researching- Quantitative or Qualitative. If you prefer working with charts or numbers or statistics then Quantitative method is better. While Qualitative methods usually rely on human behaviour or what compels the human beings to react in a particular way and are more effective when it comes to meanings or experiences or even beliefs. However, both the methods are effective in their own way it is no harm to mix and match sometimes. For instance, if your research work demands it then you can always use one method to triangulate or to back the other.

Quantitative method- an overview

The Quantitative method mostly uses statistics, numerical data, maths or even computational techniques. The purpose is to take opinions in a structured way, come up with numbers that yield unbiased results, which can be generalized or used for a larger population. This method is particularly used in psychology, political science, economics, marketing, sociology, etc. Quantitative research uses the following scientific methods:

  • Models, hypotheses or theories
  • Measurements
  • Manipulation and control of variables for experiment
  • Collecting empirical data
  • Data modelling and analysis

Though very simple and easy to analyse, the collection of data in this case is often tedious and it is therefore very convenient and logical to collect information from people via questionnaires, polls or surveys. Whatever method you choose the main point is to get the questions right because correct questions will give you correct answers which will only help you get the proper data.

The Quantitative method has a number of features, which must be kept in mind:

  • Structured research instruments are used to gather the information.
  • Data is based on sample population which represents the society.
  • The research questions have to be well defined and to-the-point.
  • The data you get is in the form of numbers or statistics.
  • The data can be used to make generalized statements.
  • The researcher can use various tools to get the data.

Qualitative methods-an overview

Qualitative methods seek to gain a deeper understanding of an event or behaviour rather than a surface description of a huge population. The data this process generates is based on human groups and not some numbers and statistics. The aim is to get a better understanding through first-hand experience and real life experience rather than some dry numbers on a sheet of paper.

The features of Qualitative method are:

  • It completely focuses on the natural setting.
  • It is interested in meanings, understanding things, situations or perspectives.
  • A huge emphasis is given on the process.
  • It is largely concerned with grounded theory or inductive analysis.

A research based on Qualitative method can use the following procedures:

  • Observation

o   Participant observation: This method allows the dissertation writer to become a part of the environment, which helps the researcher for a better understanding of the situation. Participant observation is very demanding since the observer is becoming the part of the environment observed. The whole process is very intensive and requires a lot of time and patience. Also the researcher must make sure he or she remains as unobtrusive as possible for better and more accurate results.

o   Direct observation: In this method, the researcher does not need to be a part of the environment. This involves a more detached point of view or perspective. It is more focused and takes a lot less time and hence is not as taxing or demanding.

  • Interviews: A lot of information can be obtained this way. You can always go for formal interviews or simple casual conversations. One must be very friendly and welcoming while interviewing at the same time one must make sure he or she is not imposing his views on the interviewee.

o   Unstructured interview: The best way to go about interviews is to try Unstructured interviews. If you want to go for a broader perspective then this is a very effective means. Since there are no strict rules or questions to be followed the conversation can proceed in any way that the academic essay writer deems fit. But in this process every interview is different and has different answer therefore, it is difficult to come with a comprehensive conclusion.

o   Structured interview: If the researcher has a focused study and needs opinions on some particular topics then this is a very good way to go about. The questions of the interview are predetermined and therefore, yield very exact and accurate results.

  • Sampling: If you want to generalise about something then sampling is a very nice method. In this case, you need to pay attention to different persons in different places and in different times. The whole method is very comprehensive and takes a lot of time, which makes it very difficult to follow.
  • Written materials: In case of research, a huge amount of data can be gathered from documents or written materials. These documents can always be used to reconstruct events or give specific information.

o   Official documents: It includes timetables, lesson plans or registers, etc. They do give useful information but not enough objective truth.

o   Personal documents: It includes diaries or letters or even notes. A lot can be known from these since they are a part of the natural situation.

  • Questionnaires: They are not used very extensively because sometimes they give unnatural results. But in a situation where one needs to get information from a huge demographic interviewing each and every person is not possible and that is where questionnaires come in handy. However, a little limited questionnaires can be very useful.