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Published by at May 12th, 2023 , Revised On December 8, 2023

How to Choose the Right Academic Research Methodology?

Research methodology is an important aspect of any research project as it guides the process of data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Here, we will explore how to choose the right research methodology. 

What is Research Methodology?

Research methodology is/ are the procedure(s) conducted to collect and analyse the data for your research. There are two major things to consider when choosing the right research methodology. 

  1. Data Collection Methods – Data collection, as the name suggests, is the process of gathering data. The data is collected from multiple sources to find the results for your research. It is used for forecasting trends. A few methods of data collection include the following:
  • Surveys 
  • Questionnaires 
  • Focus groups 
  • Online and physical forms 
  • Interviews 
  • Social media monitoring 
  1. Data Analysis Methods – The process of applying statistical or logical techniques to convert raw data into useful information. The various data analysis methods can come primarily under two categories. 

Qualitative Data Analysis – In qualitative research, data is gathered through observations and survey methods, e.g. questionnaires, focus groups, etc. Some of the qualitative data analysis methods are:

  • Text analysis 
  • Thematic analysis 
  • Content analysis 
  • Discourse analysis 
  • Grounded theory analysis 

Quantitative Data Analysis – numerical data that can be converted into numbers. 

The different types of quantitative data analysis methods include:

  • Cluster analysis 
  • Cohort analysis 
  • Regression analysis 
  • Neural networks 
  • Data mining

What are the Different Types of Research Methodology?

If you are looking to learn about how to choose the right research methodology, you should first know the different research methodologies. The most commonly used types of research methodology are discussed below. 

Descriptive Research 

Descriptive research describes and analyses a phenomenon, situation, or population. This research method includes collecting data through observation, surveys, interviews, or existing records and organising and summarising the information to allow researchers to understand and communicate the characteristics of the subject being studied. 

For example, describing the demographic characteristics, lifestyle habits, and health status of a particular population, such as college students.

Analytical Research 

In analytical research, you analyse and understand the underlying factors and relationships between variables. This involves examining existing data or gathering new data through experiments, surveys, or other means and using statistical or other analytical techniques to identify patterns, test hypotheses, and conclude. 

Analytical research typically seeks to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables and often uses complex statistical models to explain and predict phenomena. The results of analytical research can be used to inform decision-making, develop theories, and advance scientific understanding.

For example, A study to analyse the relationship between physical activity and cardiovascular health in adults.

Fundamental Research 

Fundamental research is conducted to advance scientific knowledge and understanding without necessarily having a specific practical application in mind. In this type of research method, you explore fundamental principles and theories underlying a particular phenomenon and the development of new knowledge that may be useful in the future. 

Fundamental research is typically carried out in academic or research institutions, and its findings can be used to inform applied research, technological development, and other practical applications.

For example, investigating the structure and properties of a newly discovered molecule without necessarily having a specific application in mind.  

Applied Research 

Applied research is performed to address a specific problem or question, with the goal of finding practical solutions or applications. You apply existing scientific knowledge and techniques to real-world problems and the development of new knowledge that can be used to improve products, processes, or services. 

Applied research is often carried out in industry or government settings, and its findings can be used to inform decision-making, policy development, and technological innovation.

For example, developing a new drug for a particular medical condition, such as cancer. 

Quantitative Research 

In the Quantitative research method, you use numerical data and statistical analysis to examine and explain social phenomena. It involves collecting data through structured methods such as surveys, experiments, or secondary data sources and analysing it using statistical techniques to identify patterns and relationships. The results of quantitative research are used to make generalisations about a larger population and to test hypotheses.

For example, a survey that asks people about their attitudes towards a particular social issue.

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Qualitative Research 

In qualitative research methodology, the focus is on exploring and understanding social phenomena in-depth. It includes collecting and analysing non-numerical data, such as interviews, observations, or texts, to identify themes, patterns, and meanings. 

Qualitative research often uses an iterative approach to data collection and analysis, where new insights are used to refine subsequent data collection and analysis. The results of qualitative research are often presented in narrative form and are intended to provide a detailed understanding of the social phenomena being studied.

For example, An ethnographic study of a particular community or social group. 

Empirical Research 

Empirical research relies on direct observation or experimentation to collect data. It is a systematic and structured approach to studying social phenomena, using evidence that can be observed or measured. 

Empirical research is based on the scientific method, which involves formulating hypotheses, designing studies to test those hypotheses, and collecting and analysing data to either support or refute the hypotheses. Empirical research aims to produce reliable and objective knowledge about the world.

For example, studying the effects of a particular drug on a particular medical condition. 

Conceptual Research 

Conceptual research explores abstract or theoretical ideas, concepts, or relationships. In this type of research methodology, you analyse existing theories, models, and concepts and seek to identify and develop new frameworks for understanding a particular topic or problem. 

Conceptual research can involve a review of literature, the development of new theoretical models, or the exploration of new ideas or perspectives. Conceptual research generates new knowledge and insights into a particular topic or problem.

For example, an exploration of the concept of emotional intelligence.

Other related articles: What is Academic Research? | What are the Limitations of Academic Research | Research Topics | Research Bias | What is a Systematic Review

Importance of Choosing the Right Research Methodology 

Now that you are familiar with the different types of research methodology, let’s explore the importance of knowing how to choose the right research methodology. 

  1. Validity and Reliability: When choosing the right research methodology, ensure that it suits the research question and that the data collected is valid and reliable, meaning that it should be accurate and consistent. 
  1. Generalisability: In your choice of research methodology, the research findings should apply to a wider population and not just be limited to the sample studied.
  1. Efficiency: Choosing the right research methodology can help you save time and resources. 
  1. Relevance: Your choice of research methodology should be relevant and enable you to answer the research question best.

How to Choose the Right Research Methodology?

The right choice of research methodology can lead your research to success. We have thoroughly explained the types of research methodology and the importance of choosing the right one. The main problem is knowing which is the right choice for you. Here are some of the ways that can help answer how to choose the right research methodology. 

  1. Start by clearly defining your research question or problem statement. This will help you narrow down your focus and determine what type of research methodology is most appropriate.
  2. Conduct a literature review to see what research has already been done on your topic. By doing this, you will be able to find the types of research methodologies that have been successful in the past for your topic. 
  3. Consider the type of data you will be collecting and the methods best suited for collecting that data. For example, if you are collecting qualitative data, you may use interviews or focus groups, while quantitative data may require surveys or experiments.
  4. Think about your available resources, including time, budget, and access to participants, to determine what methods are feasible for your project.
  5. Seek advice from experts in your field or other researchers with experience with the methodology you are considering. They can offer valuable insights and guidance.

Before committing to a specific methodology, perform pilot testing to see if it works well for your project. This will identify potential problems, and you can make adjustments as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Research methodology means the systematic and scientific approach used to collect and analyse data with the purpose of answering a research question or testing a hypothesis.

Define your research question. Conduct a literature review. Consider the data type. Consider available resources Take expert advice Perform pilot testing.

There is no one research method that is universally considered the most powerful, as each method carries its own strengths and weaknesses depending on the research question and context.

Qualitative methods such as interviews and observations may provide rich, detailed insights, while quantitative methods such as experiments and surveys can provide statistical rigour and generalisability.

Descriptive research Analytical research Fundamental research Applied research Quantitative research Qualitative research Conceptual research Empirical research.

About Owen Ingram

Avatar for Owen IngramIngram is a dissertation specialist. He has a master's degree in data sciences. His research work aims to compare the various types of research methods used among academicians and researchers.