Understanding the Different Types of Research Methodologies

Research has long been associated with academic purposes. Students, scholars, and professionals from all backgrounds know that in order to reach solid and unbiased answers, research is their only way to have access to this knowledge. However, research isn’t only limited to academics, as there are also many instances in which practical life depends on the findings of research to solve uprising issues. So, if you’re wondering how you can get any valid answers, the answer is simple. 

Whether you’re looking for existing information that you’re unaware of, trying to come up with new discoveries, doubtful about something you’ve come upon, or you’re just looking for answers in life, There’s only one sure way to get what you’re looking for: Research. 

The Importance Of Research

We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded with new information everywhere we go. Thanks to the internet, we have access to this information whether we ask for it or not. Sometimes, it may even seem that this ease of access has made all of us more informed, aware, and sophisticated, but that’s not always the case. 

Just as the internet has made it easy to look up information and find whatever you’re looking for, it’s made it easier for everyone as well. It’s also made easy for anyone, regardless of their background or credibility, to create and share information that isn’t very objective or credible. As a result of this accessibility, this blog post explains how you’ll come across many blogs, posts, and content on social media that influences you in one way or another to adopt the personal opinion of the creator unconsciously. This is due to the fact that journalism and political writing has always depended on personal experience and compelling storytelling, which can take hold of your emotions even without presenting any scientifically backed up evidence. 

This is where the important role of research comes to play. When you’re able to differentiate between subjective posts and objective facts, you’ll be able to filter the information you get to accept the facts and further scrutinize the opinions. You’ll know how to look for credible references when there aren’t any given and build your own viable opinion. When this mindset is acquired by all of us, we’ll truly become more informed, aware, and sophisticated.

Research Design And Research Methodologies

However, you may wonder how to use the correct research methodologies to acquire the answers you’re looking for. It’s true that whenever “research” is mentioned, we all start thinking of scientists and scholars and their complicated journals. While they’re the ones who benefit the most from implementing academic research owing to their field of work, anyone can benefit from it as well. Before getting into details about research methodologies though, it’s worthwhile to explain how it intersects with the research design process to give you the full picture. 

Here’s how the research design process works:

The Research Goals

The first step in designing a research plan is to set your goals. Here are some questions to get you started:

Basic V.s Applied Research: Do you want to build a better understanding of a subject or find a practical solution to an issue?

If you want to research a specific topic to build a better understanding of its subject, then you’re about to do basic research. This will enable you to build knowledge and uncover theories and predictions created by those who’ve come before you. However, if you’re looking for a solution to a current problem, then applied research will help you develop new techniques, procedures, and processes to create a solution.

Exploratory Vs. Explanatory Research: Do you want to explore an issue or explain something that’s been well-studied and researched? 

Another question you’ll need to ask is how you’ll approach your research. Do you want to approach it from an exploratory point; uncovering information about an under-researched issue? Or do you want to explain the dimensions of an issue that’s already been well-researched and studied?

Inductive Vs. Deductive Research: Do you want to create a theory or test an existing one? 

You might have been doing research already, through which you’ve reached some conclusions. Based on your findings, you may want to create a new theory or use the information you have to test a current and proposed one. 

Type Of Data Required

Before collecting data, you should also identify the kind of data you need to gather. Here are different kinds of data that can be acquired:

Primary Vs. Secondary Research: Do you want to gather new data or analyze an existing one? 

Primary research is when you do the research and come up with the answers yourself: your research is the primary source of information. If your research depends on gathering information from other credible sources, such as government surveys or public journals, then it’s referred to as secondary research. 

Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Research: Do you want to focus on measuring something or interpreting its meaning? 

Qualitative research focuses on interpreting meanings through analyzing words and facts, while quantitative research measures numbers and statistics to come up with variable conclusions. Depending on your goals, you may want to choose a mixed approach to use both methods. 

Descriptive Vs. Experimental Research: Do you want to identify the current state of things or determine the relationship between variables? 

If you’re looking to identify a current issue and describe its parameters, then you’ll be using a descriptive approach in your research that depends more on storytelling. If you have a current situation that you want to experiment with and come up with the relationship between variable factors and how they affect the current state of things, then your approach will be experimental. 

Data Collection Methods

Any kind of research revolves around one main point: the data you’ll gather. This data and the degree of its credibility is the main factor that shapes the credibility of your whole research. While the previous points were aimed at narrowing your focus in your research, this point identifies the research methodologies you can use. Here are some of these methods:

Probability Vs. Non-Probability Sampling: Do you want to come up with a general or a specific hypothesis? 

If your research aims to come up with a generalized hypothesis that can be used in a wide area of application, then your sampling will be based on probability sampling. Non-probability sampling will be applied to a narrower area, but the findings you get will be more specific and analyzed. 

Cross-Sectional Vs. Longitudinal Research: Do you want to focus on a specific point in place and time or measure changes over an extended period?

Cross-sectional research takes a broad view across subjects at a certain point in time, location, and circumstances, which will give you a good understanding of the current situation. If your focus is to come up with a definitive understanding of the subjects across a prolonged period of time and through different circumstances, then you should consider longitudinal research.

Field Vs. Laboratory Experiments: Do you want to understand how things work in real life or test the relationship between cause in effect?

Field research entails going out to the real-life and building your research upon the data you collect from interacting out there. While field research will give you a good idea about the current state of things, laboratory experiments will give you a more exploratory idea about how changing factors can affect the results you get. However, laboratory experiments occur under controlled environments, making the findings you get not completely accurate when exposed to the external environment. 

Fixed Vs. Flexible Research: Do you seek to establish generalized facts by testing hypotheses or build a better understanding by exploring concepts? 

Fixed research is built upon previously-established factors through which you control your research and collect your data. It allows for a more accurate and viable conclusion than flexible research, in which the factors are decided along the way. 

Different Research Methodologies

When it comes to the tools you’ll use to collect the data you’re looking forward to analyzing, there are many methods to accomplish that. Here are some of the most commonly-used data collection methods in academic research:

Surveys

Surveys are perhaps the easiest method of collecting data from a large group of people. It’s even easier today thanks to the internet; you can reach millions of people through social media platforms or websites. A survey is usually short and to the point, which makes it easy to fill out but lacking depth and data. Surveys can be used to find specific information following or preceding certain events and experiences, giving you a general idea about how different people react to the same incident.

Questionnaires

A questionnaire is another kind of survey, albeit longer and more comprehensive. Questionnaires are used for the same purpose as those on surveys, but they’re usually used to get a more in-depth account of the personal experience of the subjects. Both surveys and questionnaires can give the comfort of anonymity, where participants aren’t required to give their personal information. This can result in more honest answers free of any social inclination.

Interviews

Interviews are usually considered to be more effective than surveys and questionnaires, as they allow for a personal connection with the participants. However, not everyone will be as comfortable speaking their minds and hearts with another person as they would be filling out an anonymous survey. In this lack of anonymity, participants may be hesitant to give their full encounters. 

The Delphi Method

The Delphi method is a more comprehensive form of communication that’s built on research basics. It’s become very popular among decision-makers and managers in businesses, due to its ability to provide accurate, systemic, and interactive forecastings and solutions. There are many ways to carry out the Delphi method, usually through rounds in which the participants generate ideas, comment on questionnaires, and come to objective conclusions about the current state of things. 

Experiments

Experiments remain one of the best methods in coming up with factual answers based on trial and error. By changing variables over certain constants and experimenting with your hypotheses under different circumstances, you can observe different results. This gives you enough data to analyze and come up with scientifically backed up conclusions. 

Case Studies

Case studies focus on a particular case, or a specific set of cases, to scrutinize and gather certain information. For instance, case studies are most popular in clinical settings, where they’re used to evaluate the state of patients of similar conditions and conclude expected behaviors or reactions given in a specific situation. 

Observation

While case studies give very high focus to individuals under highly specified circumstances, observation takes a wider view over the correlation of two or more aspects. For instance, an observation trial may be made to find the correlation between mental health and physical activity as the participants age, in which case a longitudinal study will be carried out. 

Focus Groups

Focus groups make it possible to gather information from multiple experienced and knowledgeable individuals. Certain individuals are gathered together in a meeting in which they brainstorm ideas, debate possibilities and causes, and come up with conclusions regarding their decisions. It can be carried out to get better access to the market conditions and consumer behaviors, where each specialized individual shares their own insights based on their background. The resulting information allows for a more effective and efficient course of action. 

Archival Study

We’re all familiar with internet browsing; it’s where most of us get our information after all. An archival study is a form of research through which you search through documents and sources to find answers as well, with the difference that these sources of primary origin. They’re usually government documents, manuscripts, or data kept in archives. 

There’s no doubt that we all perform research at one point or another in our lives. No matter what we’re looking for, an objective approach is bound to give us factual evidence upon which we can build more sophisticated opinions. This can be possible by setting our research goals, identifying our approach, and using the right data collection methodologies.

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