Types Of Methodology For Research Papers

For academic writing help, focus on these criteria and tips on how to write a great research methodology for your academic article

This article is part of an ongoing series on academic writing help of scholarly articles. Previous parts explored how to write an introduction for a research paper and a literature review outline and format.

The Methodology section portrays the reasoning for the application of certain techniques and methods in the context of the study.

For your academic article, when you describe and explain your chosen methods it is very important to correlate them to your research questions and/or hypotheses. The description of the methods used should include enough details so that the study can be replicated by other Researchers, or at least repeated in a similar situation or framework.

Every stage of your research needs to be explained and justified with clear information on why you chose those particular methods, and how they help you answer your research question or purpose.

As the Authors, in this section you get to explain the rationale of your article for other Researchers. You should focus on answering the following questions:

  • How did you collect the data or how did you generate the data?
  • Which research methods did you use?
  • Why did you choose these methods and techniques?
  • How did you use these methods for analyzing the research question or problem?

The responses to these questions should be clear and precise, and the answers should be written in past tense.

First off, let’s establish the differences between research methods and research methodology.

Research Methods and Research Methodology

As an Academic and Author of valuable research papers, it’s important not to confuse these two terms.

Research Methodology Definition

Research Methodology refers the discussion regarding the specific methods chosen and used in a research paper. This discussion also encompasses the theoretical concepts that further provide information about the methods selection and application.

In other words, you should highlight how these theoretical concepts are connected with these methods in a larger knowledge framework and explain their relevance in examining the purpose, problem and questions of your study. Thus, the discussion that forms your academic article’s research methodology also incorporates an extensive literature review about similar methods, used by other Authors to examine a certain research subject.

Research Method Definition

A Research Method represents the technical steps involved in conducting the research. Details about the methods focus on characterizing and defining them, but also explaining your chosen techniques, and providing a full account on the procedures used for selecting, collecting and analyzing the data.

Important Tips for a Good Methodology Section

The methodology section is very important for the credibility of your article and for a professional academic writing style.

Data Collection or Generation for Your Academic Article

Readers, academics and other researchers need to know how the information used in your academic article was collected. The research methods used for collecting or generating data will influence the discoveries and, by extension, how you will interpret them and explain their contribution to general knowledge.

The most basic methods for data collection are:

Secondary data

Secondary data are data that have been previously collected or gathered for other purposes than the aim of the academic article’s study. This type of data is already available, in different forms, from a variety of sources.

Secondary data collection could lead to Internal or External secondary data research.

  • Internal secondary data research

    – particularly related to a company or organization, internal sources (such as sales data, financial data, operations-related data, etc.) can be easily attained and re-purposed to explore research questions about different aspects.

  • External secondary data research

    – represents a study that uses existing data on a certain research subject from government statistics, published market research reports from different organizations, international agencies (such as IMF, World Bank, etc.), and so on.

Primary data

Primary data represent data originated for the specific purpose of the study, with its research questions. The methods vary on how Authors and Researchers conduct an experiment, survey or study, but, in general, it uses a particular scientific method.

Primary data collection could lead to Quantitative and Qualitative research.

  • Quantitative research

    or empirical-analytical research focuses on a certain research purpose, with its complementary research questions and operational definitions of the variables to be measured. This type of study uses deductive reasoning and established theories as a foundation for the hypotheses that will be tested and explained.

  • Qualitative research

    or interpretative research focuses on analytically disclosing certain practices or behaviors, and then showing how these behaviors or practices can be grouped or clustered to lead to observable outcomes. This type of research is more subjective in nature, and requires careful interpretation of the variables.

Readers need to understand how the information was gathered or generated in a way that is consistent with research practices in a field of study. For instance, if you are using a multiple choice survey, the readers need to know which questionnaire items you have examined in your primary quantitative research. Similarly, if your academic article involves secondary data from FED or Eurostat it is important to mention the variables used in your study, their values, and their time-frame.

For primary research, that involve surveys, experiments or observations, for a valuable academic article, Authors should provide information about:

  • Study participants or group participants,
  • Inclusion or exclusion criteria

Selecting and Applying Research Methods

Establishing the main premises of methodology is pivotal for any research because a method or technique that is not reliable for a certain study context will lead to unreliable results, and the outcomes’ interpretation (and overall academic article) will not be valuable.

In most cases, there is a wide variety of methods and procedures that you can use to explore a research topic in your academic article. The methods section should fully explain the reasons for choosing a specific methodology or technique.

Also, it’s essential that you describe the specific research methods of data collection you are going to use, whether they are primary or secondary data collection.

For primary research methods, describe the surveys, interviews, observation methods, etc.

For secondary research methods, describe how the data was originally created, gathered and which institution created and published it.

Reasons for Choosing Specific Research Methods

For this aspect that characterizes a good research methodology, indicate how the research approach fits with the general study, considering the literature review outline and format, and the following sections.

The methods you choose should have a clear connection with the overall research approach and you need to explain the reasons for choosing the research techniques in your study, and how they help you towards understanding your study’s purpose.

A common limitation of academic articles found in research papers is that the premises of the methodology are not backed by reasons on how they help achieve the aims of the article.

Data Analysis Methods

This section should also focus on information on how you intend to analyze your results.

Describe how you plan and intend to achieve an accurate assessment of the hypotheses, relationships, patterns, trends, distributions associated with your data and research purpose.

The data type, how it was measured, and which statistical tests were conducted and performed, should be detailed and reported in an accurate manner.

For explaining the data analysis methods, you should aim to answer questions, such as:

  • Will your research be based on statistical analysis?
  • Will you use theoretical frameworks to help you (and your Readers) analyze a set of hypotheses or relationships?
  • Which data analysis methods will you choose?
  • Which other Authors or studies have used the same methods and should be cited in your academic article?

Issues to Avoid

There are certain aspects that you need to pay extra attention in relation to your research methodology section. The most common issues to avoid are:

  • Irrelevant details and complicated background information that provides too information and does not provide accurate understanding for Readers
  • Unnecessary description and explanations of basic or well-known procedures, for an academic audience who is already has a basin understanding of the study
  • For unconventional research approaches, it is important to provide accurate details and explain why your innovative method contributes to general knowledge (save more details for your Discussion/ Conclusion section in which you can highlight your contributions)
  • Research limitations and obstacles should be described in a separate section (Research Limitations)
  • The methodology should include sources and references that support your choice of methods and procedures, compared to the literature review that provides a general outlook and framework for your study.

Which aspects are you generally focusing on when writing your academic article’s research methodology section?

This blog series focuses on useful academic writing tips. Next, we discuss empirical analysis and results.

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Business research methods can be defined as “a systematic ad scientific procedure of data collection, compilation, analysis, interpretation, and implication pertaining to any business problem”[1]. Types of research methods can be classified into several categories according to the nature and purpose of the study and other attributes. In methodology chapter of your dissertation, you are expected to specify and discuss the type of your research according to the following classifications.

 

 

General Classification of Types of Research Methods

Types of research methods can be broadly divided into two quantitative and qualitative categories.

Quantitative research “describes, infers, and resolves problems using numbers. Emphasis is placed on the collection of numerical data, the summary of those data and the drawing of inferences from the data”[2].

Qualitative research, on the other hand, is based on words, feelings, emotions, sounds and other non-numerical and unquantifiable elements. It has been noted that “information is considered qualitative in nature if it cannot be analysed by means of mathematical techniques. This characteristic may also mean that an incident does not take place often enough to allow reliable data to be collected”[3]

 

Types of Research Methods According to Nature of the Study

Types of the research methods according to the nature of research can be divided into two groups: descriptive and analytical. Descriptive research usually involves surveys and studies that aim to identify the facts. In other words, descriptive research mainly deals with the “description of the state of affairs as it is at present”[4], and there is no control over variables in descriptive research.

Analytical research, on the other hand, is fundamentally different in a way that “the researcher has to use facts or information already available and analyse these in order to make a critical evaluation of the material”.[5]

Types of Research Methods According to the Purpose of the Study

According to the purpose of the study, types of research methods can be divided into two categories: applied research and fundamental research. Applied research is also referred to as an action research, and the fundamental research is sometimes called basic or pure research. The table below summarizes the main differences between applied research and fundamental research.[6] Similarities between applied and fundamental (basic) research relate to the adoption of a systematic and scientific procedure to conduct the study.[7]

Applied   ResearchFundamental Research
§   Tries to eliminate the theory by adding to the basics of a discipline

§   Problems are analysed from the point of one discipline

§   Generalisations are preferred

§   Forecasting approach is implemented

§   Assumes that other variables do not change

§   Reports are compiled in a language of technical language of discipline

§   Aims to solve a problem by adding to the field of application of a discipline

§   Often several disciplines work together for solving the problem

§   Often researches individual cases without the aim to generalise

§   Aims to say how things can be changed

§   Acknowledges that other variables are constant by changing

§   Reports are compiled in a common language

Differences between applied and fundamental research

Types of Research Methods according to Research Design

On the basis of research design the types of research methods can be divided into two groups – exploratory and conclusive. Exploratory studies only aim to explore the research area and they do not attempt to offer final and conclusive answers to research questions. Conclusive studies, on the contrary, aim to provide final and conclusive answers to research questions.

Table below illustrates the main differences between exploratory and conclusive research designs:

Exploratory research Conclusive research
StructureLoosely structured in desingWell structured and systematic in design
MethodologyAre flexible and investigative in methodologyHave a formal and definitive methodology that needs to be followed and tested
HypothesesDo not involve testing of hypothesesMost conclusive researches are carried out to test the formulated hypotheses
FindingsFindings might be topic specific and might not have much relevance outside of researcher’s domainFindings are significant as they have a theoretical or applied implication

Main differences between exploratory and conclusive research[8]

 

My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistancecontains discussions of research types and application of research methods in practice. The e-book also explains all stages of the research process starting from the selection of the research area to writing personal reflection. Important elements of dissertations such as research philosophyresearch approachresearch designmethods of data collection and data analysis, sampling and others are explained in this e-book in simple words.

John Dudovskiy

[1] Bajpai, N. (2011) “Business Research Methods” Pearson Education India

[2] Herbst, F. & Coldwell, D. (2004) Business Research, Juta and Co Ltd, p.15

[3] Herbst, F. & Coldwell, D. (2004) Business Research, Juta and Co Ltd, p.13

[4] Kumar, R. (2008) “Research Methodology” APH Publishing Corporation

[5] Kumar, R. (2008) “Research Methodology” APH Publishing Corporation

[6] Table adapted from Kumar, R. (2008) “Research Methodology” APH Publishing Corporation

[7] Bajpai, N. (2011) “Business Research Methods” Pearson Education India

[8] Chawla, D. & Sodhi, N. (2011) “Research Methodology: Concepts and Cases” Vikas Publishing House PVT Ltd

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