Research methods refer to the systematic procedures, techniques, and strategies researchers employ to gather, analyze, and interpret information to answer research questions or test hypotheses. The choice of research methods depends on the nature of the research, the questions being addressed, and the type of data required.
Some standard research methods are:
- Surveys: Surveys involve collecting data from a sample of individuals through interviews or structured questionnaires. This method is commonly used in social sciences and market research to gather information on attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.
- Experiments: Experimental research involves the manipulation of one or more variables to observe the effect on another variable while controlling for other factors. This method is often used in the natural and social sciences to establish cause-and-effect relationships.
- Observation: Researchers observe and systematically record behaviors, events, or phenomena in their natural setting without interference.
- Case Studies: Case studies involve in-depth, detailed examinations of a single individual, group, or situation. Researchers gather comprehensive data to gain a deep understanding of a specific phenomenon.
- Ethnography: Ethnographic research involves immersing the researcher in the culture or community being studied. Researchers participate in the daily activities, observe, and interact with participants to gain a deep understanding of the social context. This method is common in anthropology and sociology.
- Action Research: Action research involves researchers and practitioners collaborating to address real-world problems. It often focuses on making improvements in a specific context and involves a cyclical process of planning, acting, observing, and reflecting.
Researchers often use a combination of these methods, depending on the research questions and objectives. The choice of method should align with the research goals and ethical considerations, and researchers should carefully design and conduct their studies to ensure the validity and reliability of their findings.
List of recommended resources #
For a broad overview #
This short guide to research methods by the Academic Skills Centre of the University of Sheffield provides an overview of research design along with some commonly used methods of research.
This Scribbr blog gives an overview of the different types of research methods, their pros and cons along with their comparative analysis.
For in depth understanding #
This book by Bora Pajo covers both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, laying out their differences in clear and simple prose, making it easier for the readers to understand when and how to use each research design.
Written by Mildred L. Patten, this book is for those who are getting lost in the details of research methods and not getting the big picture. It provides an overview of the essential concepts traditionally covered in a research methods class.
Case study #
This study by Kshitij Awasthi and K. V. Gopakumar focuses on the use of the case study research method approach using only secondary data. The paper discusses challenges of using secondary data in case study research and provides solutions on dealing with them.
This manual by the World Bank presents objectives and procedures for application of a research framework using a mixed-methods approach from the Education Resilience Approaches (ERA) Program for collecting evidence on the opportunities, support, and process that help children and youth succeed in school in spite of overwhelmingly difficult contexts.