Research Writing

What is research methodology and research methods

What is the research methodology? 

Research methodology refers simply to how a researcher systematically designs a study to ensure valid and reliable results that respond to the goals and objectives of the research. What is research methodology and research methods?

Research methodology is the method you will use to solve a research problem by collecting data using various techniques, providing an interpretation of the collected data, and drawing conclusions from the research data. In essence, the research methodology is the project of a research or study.

To comply with the above, you must take into consideration factors such as:

  • What data to collect (and what data to ignore)
  • Who are you going to go to to collect the information (in research, this is called “ sampling design ”)
  • How to collect them (called “ data collection methods ”)
  • How to analyze them (called “ data analysis methods ”) 

In a formal investigation, you will find a chapter (or section) of the investigation methodology that covers the aspects mentioned above. It is important that a good methodology explains not only what methodological choices were made, but also why they were made.

In other words, by knowing what methodology you carried out, you will be able to justify the research design by showing that the chosen methods and techniques meet the goals and objectives of the research, and in the same way mention that they will provide results and because they will be valid and reliable. What is research methodology and research methods?

Good research methodology provides scientifically sound results, while poor methodology does not. 

How to choose the research methodology that we should follow?

The objectives of your research have a great influence on the research methodology. Therefore, the starting point for developing the research methodology is to step back and look at the big picture of the research, before making methodological decisions. The first question to ask is whether the investigation is exploratory or confirmatory.

If your research aims and objectives are primarily exploratory in nature, you will likely need to do qualitative research and, therefore, you might consider qualitative data collection methods, such as interviews, and qualitative content analysis methods. 

On the contrary, if the goals and objective of your research seek to measure or prove something (that is, they are confirmatory), then you should decide on quantitative research , and you could consider quantitative data collection methods, for example, surveys and analysis. statistical.

The most important thing is that you always start with the goals and objectives of the investigation. All methodological decisions will follow from it. 

What are qualitative, quantitative and mixed methodologies?

The methodology of qualitative research , quantitative and mixed methods are different types, which are distinguished by focusing on words, numbers or both. This is an oversimplification, but it is a good starting point for understanding. What is research methodology and research methods?

The qualitative research refers to research that focuses on the collection and analysis of words (written or spoken) and textual data, while the quantitative research focuses on measuring and checking using numerical data. Qualitative analysis can also focus on other “softer” data, such as body language or visuals.

It is quite common to use a qualitative methodology when the research objectives are exploratory in nature. For example, a qualitative methodology can be used to find out people’s perceptions of an event that has happened, or of a candidate for president. 

On the contrary, the quantitative methodology is normally used when the objectives of the investigation are of a confirmatory nature. For example, a quantitative methodology can be used to measure the relationship between two variables (for example, personality type and the probability of committing a crime) or to test a series of hypotheses.

As you probably guessed, mixed methods methodology tries to combine the best of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to integrate insights and create a rich picture of the data.

How to write the methodology of a research paper

This guide will help you organize what your research methodology will be:

  • Present your methods . Present the methodological approach you will use, be it quantitative, qualitative or mixed.
  • Establish the methodological connection . This means saying why your methodology is appropriate to achieve the objective of your research work. Remember that the connection between your methods and your research problem must be clear.
  • Present your research instruments. Indicate what you are going to use to collect your data and explain how you are going to use it. These instruments can be your surveys, questionnaires for interviews, observation, etc. If your methods include archival research or analysis of existing data, provide background information on the documents.
  • Share your analysis . Explain how you will analyze the data from an investigation to support your explanation of the results obtained. What is research methodology and research methods?
  • Share the sampling process . Explain why you selected a sample type. For example, if you are conducting interviews, describe how you will select the participants and how the interviews will be conducted.
  • Address the limitations of the research . Make sure your research report addresses any potential limitations you may encounter in your research, as well as limitations that may affect your data collection process. 

These were some recommendations when sharing the research methodology that you are going to use. But there are some factors that you should avoid:

  • Don’t include irrelevant details.
  • Details that do not contribute to readers’ understanding of the chosen methods should not be included in the methodology section.
  • Irrelevant information includes unnecessary explanations of basic procedures. Basic procedures should only be explained if they are unconventional and unfamiliar to readers.
  • Don’t ignore the problems you may encounter during the data collection process. 

What are research methods?

We call research methods the steps that we must follow in a study, so that its results are recognized as valid. The methods include tools to get the information, such as interviews, questionnaires, samplings, experiments, etc.

Let us remember that an investigation is a study that is carried out to clarify a problem or confirm a theory, applying a set of techniques and tools to obtain results that provide reliable information that can be analyzed. What is research methodology and research methods?

The research method is chosen according to the topic or issue you are going to study and the results you hope to obtain. Taking into account the type of data to be studied and the type of object of study, the research methods can be classified into quantitative, qualitative and mixed.

Quantitative research methods

They are methods used to analyze the object of study from a numerical or statistical point of view. This method can work with surveys, questionnaires, interviews, laboratory analysis, research plots, etc.

Quantitative methods generate information that can be translated into comparative charts and tables. For example: an evaluation of a drug for covid-19 applying it to a thousand volunteers and recording its effects.

The results can be taken to numbers and percentages, according to the numbers that the tests give.

Qualitative research methods

These methods are based more on observation and contact with the object of study, than on the collection of numerical data. They are more frequent in the field of science and social studies (sociology, anthropology, marketing, psychology, etc.).

Frequent tools of these methods are field work (such as that of anthropologists), interviews (as in psychology), surveys, review of documentary material, etc.

Historians also use qualitative research methods, reviewing documents, testimonies, images and, when possible, conducting interviews with witnesses or survivors. What is research methodology and research methods?

Mixed research methods

They are those studies that combine qualitative and quantitative techniques. An example is population censuses, which combine statistical information (number of children, income, number of rooms, ages, etc.) with interview data (opinion on public services, on the quality of education, etc. ).

Large-scale studies, such as those carried out around world hunger, global warming or the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, are carried out with mixed research methods.

Types of research methods

The qualitative research and quantitative can be approached in different ways, depending on the purpose of the study, its depth, the data you want to collect and analyze, etc.

Here we show you some approaches or types of research methods.

Randomized controlled trial

This method is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry when new drugs or medications are being tested. Its use was in the news during the development of vaccines for Covid-19.

A group of volunteers is taken, divided into two, one is given the medicine and the other is given a placebo (a harmless substance), without informing him, and then the results are evaluated.

Experimental method

It is the most used method in all branches of science, and the first that comes to mind when talking about the scientific method . It involves taking a situation where you can control all the factors and modify one, the one you are interested in studying. What is research methodology and research methods?

For example, if the objective is to know what type of food increases the weight of a certain animal, several individuals with the same characteristics are taken and in a controlled situation (a laboratory, for example), they are given rations of different foods, and they are weighed periodically.

The experimental method has been the fundamental tool of science to confirm or discard theories.

Ethnographic method

It is the method used mainly by ethnologists and anthropologists, destined to the study of culturally defined groups, such as the American indigenous peoples, although these techniques are also used to analyze urban or regional groups.

The ethnographic method includes direct observation (the so-called field work), interviews, questionnaires, community workshops (which include participatory diagnoses, mind maps, among other activities), etc.

Deductive method

From observations or general principles, individual behaviors or processes are deduced. For example, resembling the behavior and structure of an atom with that of the solar system .

Inductive method

It is when from an experiment or a particular observation, it is generalized or considered valid for an entire group or species. In anthropology, for example, take the behavior of a small community as that of its entire ethnic group. Generalize a specific behavior. What is research methodology and research methods?

Focus groups

It is a social science method of addressing issues where you can share information with affected or interested groups, who may be more open speaking in groups, than individually.

In focus groups, the researcher interacts with a group of individuals to address various issues, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, access to housing, unemployment, loneliness, etc.

Focus groups can also be helpful when trying to reconstruct the history of a community, or resolve conflict situations.

Convergent mixed method

We speak of a mixed convergent method when qualitative data (interviews, observations) and quantitative data (statistics, censuses or inventories) are processed separately, and the information is crossed to confirm the results.

For example, the data and conclusions of a community census (quantitative) are contrasted with interviews and field inspections (qualitative method).

Explanatory sequential mixed method

In this approach, the quantitative analysis precedes and conditions the qualitative approach. Returning to the previous example of the census: the census figures indicate in which areas to investigate (conduct interviews, or document). What is research methodology and research methods?

Exploratory sequential mixed method

It works in reverse of the explanatory sequential method; In the exploratory, qualitative analysis (visits to the community, field work) serves to prepare the questions to be asked in quantitative research (the census, data collection).

Embedded mixed method

We speak of an embedded mixed method when a qualitative analysis arises from the quantitative data, or vice versa, when quantitative conclusions can be drawn from a qualitative study.

For example: a qualitative study on people over 65 years of age in a sector, who could be affected by the coronavirus, makes it possible to extract quantitative data on older people in need of special attention in that sector.

Test, surveys and questionnaires

They provide quantitative and qualitative data and are used in the social sciences, advertising, and marketing. They are useful tools to collect statistical data first hand, and also to have a deeper knowledge of the research subjects. What is research methodology and research methods?

It is very important to be clear about the object of the research to design the questions of the surveys and questionnaires, and thus obtain the information sought.

Case studies

This approach is common in areas such as medicine, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, and consists of taking a particular individual or community and studying it from different perspectives, then extrapolating the results to larger groups.

The case study involves field work, diagnosis, interviews and surveys. It can be considered as an inductive method (from the individual to the general).

Documentation and information gathering

It is an essential phase in both qualitative and quantitative research, and consists of collecting and processing all the prior information about the object of study, present in libraries, documentation centers and other institutions.

Currently, digital knowledge networks, through the internet, facilitate this task, although they do not completely exclude the search for physical information (books, newspapers and magazines).

Interview

It is an essential tool when working with social groups or communities, and consists of structuring a conversation with the subjects of interest, focusing on the aspects that interest us.

Interviews can be rigid or structured (like questionnaires), semi-structured (general questions that allow dialogue) or individualized (directed to each individual, specifically).

Observation and field work

In disciplines such as biology or sociology, observation, trying not to interfere or go unnoticed, is a very useful tool. What is research methodology and research methods?

A global example of what observation and field work can do has been provided by chimpanzee specialist Jane Goodall, who has observed this species for more than 60 years.

Meta-analysis

It is a research method based on the review and analysis of a set of studies that have been carried out using the same parameters (remember that you do not have to compare pears with apples).

An example of meta-analysis could be the study of the different evaluations carried out by researchers to an experimental vaccine in different countries, comparing results and observations.

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