Being a scholar or researcher, you must have faced this scenario several times when you have to write a thesis, dissertation, or research paper, but the process never takes off because you simply don’t know where to begin. However, there are some straightforward steps that you can follow so that you move past this obstacle very easily.
The research topic usually exists as a very broad idea in your mind that you’d like to dig deep into and draft your research around it. As a first step, you need to identify a problem through some preliminary research. Once done, you should proceed with filtering and subsequent refining of the obtained research questions. Moreover, based upon the refined results, you should architect your research design, hauling the overall process to a research proposal that clearly states your ideas and plans.
While working on something as big as writing a dissertation, getting engulfed in the process itself is quite possible. Especially if you are a newcomer or writing your first paper, you may get easily overwhelmed.
Now, if it is the first time you have to put together a research proposal or if you are at a stage where you need to provide a detailed explanation about the choices you made in the research process, then there are a few aspects you should be aware of.
Once you untangle the intricacies of this loop, undertaking and writing research will be far less intimidating for you. We break down the entire research methodology process below.
What is the definition of a research methodology?
Precisely, the definition of research methodology is the process or the way you intend to execute your entire research. A research methodology inscribes all the aspects where you plan to tackle different steps like collection procedures, data & statistical analysis, participant examinations & observations, etc.
You can assume your research methodology as being a mathematical equation or a formula. The first part of the equation shows how you intend to execute your research into actual practice. While the other part focuses on why your chosen way of execution is the best approach. Therefore, you should wield your research methodology as the most coherent and structured weapon to counter your research problems.
Simply and short, a research methodology provides a description of the process you will undertake to convert your idea into a study. Additionally, the outcomes of your undertaken process must provide valid and reliable results resonant with the aims and objectives of your research. This thumb rule holds complete validity no matter whether your paper has inclinations for qualitative or quantitative usage.
What is the need for a research methodology?
While deciding on your approach towards your research, the reason or factors you weighed in, need to be validated and explained. A research methodology helps you in doing exactly that. Moreover, a research methodology lets you build your argument to validate your research work performed through various collection procedures, analytical methods, and other essential points.
Just imagine it as a strategy documented to provide an overview of what you intend to do.
While undertaking any research writing or performing the research itself, you may get drifted in not something of much importance. In such a case, a research methodology helps you to get back to your outlined work methodology.
A research methodology helps in keeping you accountable for your work. Additionally, it can help you evaluate whether your work is in sync with your original aims and objectives or not. Besides, a research methodology enables you to navigate your research process smoothly and swiftly while providing effective planning to achieve your desired results.
What is the basic structure of a research methodology?
With all being stated, how exactly are you supposed to draft down your standard approach to a research methodology?
Usually, you must ensure to include the following stated aspects while deciding over the basic structure of your research methodology:
1. Your Research Procedure
Whether you are intend to proceed with quantitative or qualitative or a composite of both the approaches, you need to state that explicitly. The option among quantitative, qualitative, or the composite of two depends on your research’s aim, objectives, and scope.
2. Provide the Rationality Behind your Chosen Approach
You will be required to explain with rationality and, based on logic, the reason behind choosing either of the aforementioned research methodologies. Additionally, you have to build strong arguments supporting your approach method showing your chosen method is the best way to achieve the desired outcome.
3. Explain Your Mechanism
The mechanism is the details that encompass the methods or instruments you will use to develop your research methodology. It usually refers to your collection methods. You can use interviews, surveys, physical questionnaires, etc., of the many available mechanisms that can be leveraged as research methodology instruments. Moreover, you need to put logical reasoning behind choosing a particular instrument.
4. Significance of Outcomes
Once you are done playing with tools or the instruments, the results will be out. However, you must state how you will utilize the obtained results in interpreting the desired outcomes in pair with the aims and objectives of your research question.
5. Reader’s Advice
Anything that you feel must be explained towards spreading more awareness among the readers must be explained and described in detail. You should not just specify your research methodology on the assumption that a reader must be aware of the topic. All the information, from the background information to anything that sounds relevant towards explaining and simplifying facts for better, must be included. If you are doing your research in something not so traditional manner, you must provide the reasoning, logical explanation, and advantages of that particular methodology.
6. Explain Your Sample Space
How you are going to distinguish between relevant and non-relevant while executing must be explained. How you figured out how to select those exact numbers to back your research methodology, i.e. the sample spacing of instruments must be discussed thoroughly.
For example, if you are going to conduct a survey or say interviews only, then by what procedure will you select the interviewees (or sample size in case of surveys), and how exactly will the interview or survey be conducted?
7. Challenges and Limitations
Often presumed as not so necessary, but this part carries importance in itself. You must specify the challenges and the limitations that your chosen way of approach possesses in itself.
Why is Research Methodology Important?
You must have observed that all research papers, dissertations, or thesis carry a chapter entirely dedicated to the research methodology. This is often referred to as research methodology sections. A section on research methodology will help maintain your credibility as a better interpreter of results rather than a manipulator.
A good research methodology always explains the procedure, aim, and scope of the research question. This leads to a well-organized rationality-based approach, while the paper lacking it is often observed as a messy or disorganized approach.
You should pay special attention to justifying and validating your chosen way of approach towards the research methodology. This becomes extremely important in case you select a non-conventional or some distinct method of executing your research.
Curating and crafting a robust research methodology can help you in tackling many scenarios like:
- Just imagine some years later, somebody tries to replicate or work further on your research.
- In case a contradiction or conflict of facts arises at some later point, you can always refer to your work. This keeps you secured enough in dealing with such contradictions as you stay prepared to explain the why and how aspects of your chosen approach method.
- A research methodology is like a tactical approach in getting your research completed in time. You must ensure that you are using the right approach while drafting your research methodology, and it can help you achieve your desired outcomes. Additionally, it provides a better explanation and understanding of the research question itself.
- Building a research methodology makes you well versed in documenting the results so that the final outcome of the research stays as you intended it to be while starting.
Instruments that you must use to write a research methodology
Tools or mechanisms that will help you gather, evaluate and analyze the data that you intend to put in use while conducting your research are often referred to as research methodology instruments.
As a researcher, you must choose which tools fit best in terms of the relevance of your research, and you must decide wisely over this selection.
There exists many research equipment or tools that you can use to carry out your research process. These are classified as:
a. Interviews (One-on-One or a Group)
An interview aimed to get your desired research outcomes can be undertaken in many different ways. For example, you can design your interview as structured, semi-structured, or unstructured. The fact that sets them apart is what the degree of formality in the questions is. On the other hand, in a group interview, your aim should be to collect more opinions and group perceptions on a certain topic rather than looking out for some formal answers.
In surveys, you are in better control if you specifically draft the questions you seek the response for. For example, you may choose to include free-style questions that can be answered descriptively, or you may provide a multiple-choice type response for questions. Besides, you can also opt to choose both ways, deciding what suits your research purpose better.
c. Sample Groups
Similar to the group interviews, here, you can select a group of individuals and assign them a topic to discuss or freely express their opinions over that. You can simultaneously note down the answers and later draft them appropriately, deciding on the relevance of every response.
If you are into something as humanities or sociology, observations are the best-proven method to draw your research methodology. Of course, you can always include studying the spontaneous response of the participants towards a situation or conducting the same but in a more structured manner. A structured observation means putting the participants in a situation at a previously decided time and then studying their responses.
Of all the ways or tools described above, it is you who should wisely choose the instruments and decide over what appears as best fit towards achieving the aims and goals of the research. You must not restrict yourself from multiple methods or a combination of a few instruments if appropriate in drafting a good research methodology.
Types of Research Methodology
A research methodology exists in various forms.
Depending upon their approach, whether centered around words, numbers, or both, methodologies are distinguished as Qualitative, Quantitative, or an amalgamation of both.
1. Qualitative Research Methodology
When the research methodology primarily focuses on the words and textual data, then such kind of methodology is generally referred to as qualitative research methodology. This type is usually preferred among researchers when the aim and scope of the research are mainly theoretical and explanatory.
The instruments used are observations, interviews, and sample groups. You can use this methodology if you are trying to study human behavior or response in some situations. Generally, qualitative research methodology is widely used in sociology, psychology, and other related domains.
2. Quantitative Research Methodology
If your research question is majorly centered on the data, figures, and stats, then analyzing all these numerical data is often referred to as Quantitative research methodology. You can use quantitative research methodology if your research requires you to validate or justify the obtained results.
Surveys, tests, experiments, and evaluations of current databases can be advantageously used as instruments while undertaking the quantitative research methodology approach. If your research involves testing some hypothesis, then you must use quantitative research methodology.
3. Amalgam Methodology (Combination of Qualitative & Quantitative Research Methodology)
As the name suggests, you would’ve figured out by now that the amalgam methodology uses both qualitative and quantitative approaches. This methodology is used when a part of research requires you to verify the facts and figures whereas, the other part demands you to discover the theoretical and explanatory nature of the research question.
The instruments for the amalgam methodology require you to conduct interviews, surveys, including tests and experiments. The outcome of this methodology can be insightful and valuable as it provides precise test results in line with theoretical explanations and reasoning.
The amalgam method, i.e., the combination of qualitative and quantitative research methodology hence makes your work both factual and rational at the same time.
Final Words: How to decide which is the best research methodology?
If you have kept your sincerity and awareness intact with the aims and scope of research well enough, you must have got the idea of which research methodology suits your work best.
Before deciding which research methodology answers your research question, you must invest significant time in reading and doing your homework for that. Taking references that yield relevant results should be your first approach towards establishing a research methodology.
Moreover, you should never refrain from exploring other options. Before setting your work in stone (just a metaphor), you must try all the available options as it explains why the choice of research methodology that you finally make is more appropriate than the other available options.
You should always go for a quantitative research methodology if your research requires gathering large amounts of data, figures, and statistics. A quantitative research methodology will provide you results if your research paper involves the validation of some hypothesis.
Whereas, if instead, you are looking for more explanations, reasons, opinions, and public perceptions around a theory, you must use qualitative research methodology.
The choice for an appropriate research methodology ultimately depends on what you want to achieve through your research?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Research Methodology
1. How to write a research methodology?
You can always provide a separate section for research methodology where you should specify details about the methods and instruments used during the research, discussions on result analysis, including insights into the background information, and conveying the research limitations.
2. What are the types of research methodology?
There generally exists four types of research methodology i.e.
3. What is the true meaning of research methodology?
The set of techniques or procedures followed to discover and analyze the information gathered to validate or justify a research outcome is generally called Research Methodology.
4. Where lies the importance of research methodology?
Your research methodology directly reflects the validity of your research outcomes and how well-informed your research work is. Moreover, it can help future researchers cite or refer to your research if they plan to use a similar research methodology.