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Choosing an optimal research methodology is crucial for the success of any research project. The methodology you select will determine the type of data you collect, how you collect it, and how you analyse it. Understanding the different types of research methods available along with their strengths and weaknesses, is thus imperative to make an informed decision.
Understanding different research methods:
There are several research methods available depending on the type of study you are conducting, i.e., whether it is laboratory-based, clinical, epidemiological, or survey based. Some common methodologies include qualitative research, quantitative research, experimental research, survey-based research, and action research. Each method can be opted for and modified, depending on the type of research hypotheses and objectives.
Qualitative vs quantitative research:
When deciding on a research methodology, one of the key factors to consider is whether your research will be qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative research is used to understand people’s experiences, concepts, thoughts, or behaviours. Quantitative research, on the contrary, deals with numbers, graphs, and charts, and is used to test or confirm hypotheses, assumptions, and theories.
Qualitative research methodology:
Qualitative research is often used to examine issues that are not well understood, and to gather additional insights on these topics. Qualitative research methods include open-ended survey questions, observations of behaviours described through words, and reviews of literature that has explored similar theories and ideas. These methods are used to understand how language is used in real-world situations, identify common themes or overarching ideas, and describe and interpret various texts. Data analysis for qualitative research typically includes discourse analysis, thematic analysis, and textual analysis.
Quantitative research methodology:
The goal of quantitative research is to test hypotheses, confirm assumptions and theories, and determine cause-and-effect relationships. Quantitative research methods include experiments, close-ended survey questions, and countable and numbered observations. Data analysis for quantitative research relies heavily on statistical methods.
Analysing qualitative vs quantitative data:
The methods used for data analysis also differ for qualitative and quantitative research. As mentioned earlier, quantitative data is generally analysed using statistical methods and does not leave much room for speculation. It is more structured and follows a predetermined plan. In quantitative research, the researcher starts with a hypothesis and uses statistical methods to test it. Contrarily, methods used for qualitative data analysis can identify patterns and themes within the data, rather than provide statistical measures of the data. It is an iterative process, where the researcher goes back and forth trying to gauge the larger implications of the data through different perspectives and revising the analysis if required.
When to use qualitative vs quantitative research:
The choice between qualitative and quantitative research will depend on the gap that the research project aims to address, and specific objectives of the study. If the goal is to establish facts about a subject or topic, quantitative research is an appropriate choice. However, if the goal is to understand people’s experiences or perspectives, qualitative research may be more suitable.
In conclusion, an understanding of the different research methods available, their applicability, advantages, and disadvantages is essential for making an informed decision on the best methodology for your project. If you need any additional guidance on which research methodology to opt for, you can head over to Elsevier Author Services (EAS). EAS experts will guide you throughout the process and help you choose the perfect methodology for your research goals.