How To Choose Your Research Methodology
There’s no doubt in saying that choosing the right research design is crucial for academic success, especially if you’re a student of a Ph.D.
A research design is basically a strategy you choose to answer your research queries by utilizing empirical data. It has been broadly divided into three categories: qualitative approach, quantitative approach, and mixed method. But choosing the one for your thesis project is no less than a challenge.
If you’ve also chosen the research topic and still juggling between which research design option you should choose to extract the data, this blog post is for you.
Learn more about research design and its types in detail in our blog: https://www.phddissertation.co.uk/blog/types-of-research-design-a-complete-guide/
Understanding the options
Before we understand the answer to the question “how to choose a research methodology,” it is helpful to take a step back and understand the three main types of research: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research. Each of these options follows a different methodological approach.
Qualitative research uses data that cannot be quantified numerically. In simpler terms, qualitative research focuses on words, descriptions, concepts, beliefs, ideas, and other intangible aspects.
Quantitative research, on the other hand, uses numerical and statistical data. It measures variables and validates existing theories or hypotheses.
Mixed methods research aims to incorporate both qualitative and quantitative research. It employs qualitative research to investigate a situation and develop a potential model of understanding, which is often called a conceptual framework. Subsequently, it employs quantitative methods to test that model empirically.
|Focuses on non-numeric data, such as textual information, interviews, observations, and narratives.
|Deals with numeric data involving measurements, statistics, and numerical analysis.
|Aims to explore and understand complex phenomena, uncovering underlying meanings, patterns, and contexts.
|Seeks to measure, quantify, and analyse relationships between variables, often to test hypotheses or predict outcomes.
|Typically uses purposive or non-random sampling to select participants based on specific characteristics or criteria.
|Employs random or systematic sampling techniques to ensure statistical representation of a population.
|Common methods include interviews, focus groups, observations, and content analysis.
|Relies on surveys, experiments, structured observations, and statistical analysis of numerical data.
|Involves thematic analysis, content analysis, and interpretation of qualitative data through coding and pattern recognition.
|Entails statistical analysis, hypothesis testing, and numerical comparisons to draw conclusions.
|Typically produces findings that are context-specific and not easily generalizable to a broader population.
|Aims for generalizability by using large, representative samples and statistical techniques.
|Often employs flexible and emergent research designs, allowing for adaptation during the study.
|Uses structured and predefined research designs with clear hypotheses and data collection methods.
How to Choose the Right Research Methodology?
To select the appropriate research methodology for your dissertation or thesis, you must consider three important factors. Based on these factors, you can better determine your overarching approach, which may be qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of both.
The three essential factors to consider are:
- The Nature of Your Research Objectives, Aims, and Research Questions.
- The Methodological Approaches Utilized in Existing Literature.
- Practical Considerations and Limitations.
Understanding the Nature of Your Research
Every research endeavour, whether qualitative, quantitative, or a mix of both, serves a distinct purpose and follows a unique approach to address its research questions. Therefore, the primary factor in choosing a research methodology depends on the nature of your research aims, objectives, and research questions.
Research can generally fall into one of three categories:
- Exploratory Research: Aims to gain a deeper understanding of an issue and potentially formulate a theory about it.
- Confirmatory Research: Seeks to empirically validate a potential theory or hypothesis through testing.
- A Hybrid Approach: Involves both theory development and empirical testing.
As a general guideline, in exploratory research, it has been advised to employ a qualitative approach, while in confirmatory research, quantitative methods can best support your arguments.
While this is not an absolute rule, it can be quite helpful. Therefore, research that incorporates elements of both approaches or aims to construct a theory from scratch and then test it should opt for a mixed-methods approach.
Norms Within Your Research Area
Choosing an appropriate research methodology also involves examining the methodologies used by other researchers in your field or studies with similar objectives. Scholars within the same discipline often follow common methodological practices or a set of approaches. While it is not obligatory to adhere to prevailing practices, it is advisable to evaluate these approaches and assess their suitability for your research objectives.
Practical Considerations of the Methodology
While most methodological approaches may seem theoretically sound for in-depth research, it is crucial to acknowledge the practical constraints that may arise during the research process. Therefore, our experts suggest evaluating your chosen research methodology with respect to its feasibility under real-world conditions.
Key practical constraints to consider include:
- Accessibility to data.
- Time limitations.
- Budgetary constraints.
- Availability of necessary equipment and software.
- Your personal knowledge and skill set.
By carefully weighing these defined factors, you can make an informed decision when choosing the most appropriate research methodology for your project.
Things To Pay Attention To When Choosing the Best Research Methodology?
Define Goals, Objectives, and Research Questions
Before choosing the research methods, it is crucial to establish a clear path toward obtaining conclusive results. Therefore, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of your research goals and objectives before determining the research approach for your dissertation. Identify the variables that require investigation to answer your research question, as this will guide you toward reaching your final research outcome.
Review Relevant Research and Methodologies
Given the multitude of research methods available, not all may be suitable for your study. Moreover, selecting the most appropriate research methodology can be challenging if you are not familiar with the approaches used by other researchers in your field. Hence, it is vital to examine relevant literature within your research area and then assess the methodology employed, considering factors such as feasibility and limitations.
Develop a Research Plan and Allocate Resources
While the research topic may be consistent, the methods of data collection can vary significantly. Some methods may be time-consuming, while others may rely on Internet resources, and some may require field studies or substantial financial investments. Therefore, it is essential to make an informed decision by considering these constraints and limitations associated with data collection.
In conclusion, it is important to understand the different research methods available, their suitability, advantages, and disadvantages to make a well-informed decision about the best methodology for your project. If you need further guidance on choosing a research methodology, you can talk to our experts, who will assist you throughout the process and help you select the most appropriate methodology for your research goals.