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Learning Portal - Research : Research Methodologies

Research Methodologies 

Research methods are the strategies, processes or techniques utilized in the collection of data or evidence for analysis in order to uncover new information or create a better understanding of a topic.

There are different types of research methods that use different tools for data collection.

Empirical vs. Theoretical 

Empirical: Based on data gathered by original experiments or observations. 

Theoretical: Analyzes and makes connections between empirical studies to define or advance a theoretical position. 

Charles L. Tutt Library Guides

Research Methods

Qualitative Research gathers data about lived experiences, emotions or behaviours, and the meanings individuals attach to them. It assists in enabling researchers to gain a better understanding of complex concepts, social interactions or cultural phenomena. This type of research is useful in the exploration of how or why things have occurred, interpreting events and describing actions.

Quantitative Research gathers numerical data which can be ranked, measured or categorized through statistical analysis. It assists with uncovering patterns or relationships, and for making generalizations. This type of research is useful for finding out how many, how much, how often, or to what extent.

Mixed Methods Research integrates both Qualitative and Quantitative Research. It provides a holistic approach combining and analyzing the statistical data with deeper contextualized insights. Using Mixed Methods also enables Triangulation, or verification, of the data from two or more sources.

Data collection tools 

Qualitative Techniques or Tools Quantitative Techniques or Tools
Interviews: these can be structured, semi-structured or unstructured in-depth sessions with the researcher and a participant. Surveys or questionnaires: which ask the same questions to large numbers of participants or use Likert scales which measure opinions as numerical data
Focus groups: with several participants discussing a particular topic or a set of questions. Researchers can be facilitators or observers. Observation: which can either involve counting the number of times a specific phenomenon occurs, or the coding of observational data in order to translate it into numbers.
Observations: On-site, in-context or role-play options. Document screening: sourcing numerical data from financial reports or counting word occurrences.
Document analysis: Interrogation of correspondence (letters, diaries, emails etc) or reports. Experiments: testing hypotheses in laboratories, testing cause and effect relationships, through field experiments, or via quasi- or natural experiments.

Unless otherwise stated, the material in this guide is created by University of Newcastle Library Guides. Content has been adapted for the GPRC Learning Commons in October 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0 International License.

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