The research methods are divided into three broad categories; quantitative, qualitative and participatory research method. These research methods have different approach, techniques and tools to conduct a research (Collis et al, 2009). Quantitative methods are the main focus in the development research while qualitative and participatory research methods based on desirable outcomes. These traditional methods are now considered as outdated ones. New tools and solutions are continuously developed and integrated to mix these research methods (Creswell, 2003).

Mayoux (2005) suggested that quantitative methods are derived from experimental and statistical methods of research. They measure the objectivity of the data to find out the truth or falsehood of a developed hypothesis. This method is based on the measurement of what is happening to how many people. The tools used in these methods are large scale surveys and analysis of the same with statistical techniques. The hypothesis is formed before conducting the surveys and the questionnaires are developed in the basis of those questionnaires.

The qualitative research methods originated from sociology, anthropology, history, and geography. These methods widely differ from the quantitative research methods. The qualitative research techniques focuses on developing understandings about the real time environment and processes involved. The questions and hypothesis is developed on the basis of these understandings. The qualitative research methodologies focus on the selection of small scale cases that are investigated by using a combination of

formal and informal methods like interviews, observations, and the newly introduced tools like photography and video footages (Grunow, 1995). The questions developed in this research are open ended in nature and are subject to change over time to fill the needs of research due to the variability of reality. Different sampling methods like purposive sampling techniques are used in this type of research. This research needs long term involvement of the researcher based on his skill to collect data and analyze it (Porter & Desai, 2005).

Johnson and Mayoux (1998) indicated that the participatory methods originated from the development activism like NGO’s and social movements in the various fields of life. This research is conducted not to find out the knowledge base about the particular subject but to investigate social change and empowerment in the society and culture. The participatory research methods emphasizes on the investigation of a subject and voicing over the issues of the social groups who lacks the abilities and opportunities to speak up in the development and implementation of decisions. They further identified that this type of research involves small focus groups, participatory workshops and individual diaries that are used in their discussions.

The larger groups are further divided into small homogeneous groups. This type of research uses the diagram tools from farmer-led research, system analysis as well as oral and visual tools. These tools help in the efficient discussion among the ill-literate group participants and cross language groups. Sharing allows the participants to discuss their issues more efficiently in this research method. The understanding is developed

from their discussion and the decisions are then formulated and implemented (Johnson & Mayoux, 1998).

Various organizations use research especially market research to stay fine tuned in the markets. The market research helps the organizations to identify the potential markets to penetrate, the needs and wants of the customers and the methods of how to meet those needs and want more efficiently and effectively. The market research also allows the organizations to find out new ideas of marketing their products and services to make them more accessible to the customers. Another most important advantage or focus of market research is to find out who your competitors are and how to position yourself in order to remain competitive in the markets. The market research can be conducted by the organizations without having advanced skills.

The organizations employ questionnaires, survey and checklist methods in their market research when they need to quickly find out lots of related information from the people and interpreting that information in the best interest of the company. These methods are usually inexpensive to administer, easy to analyze and interpret, the organization can reach large number of people in a small time frame and there are number of tools available in the market which are ready to use by these organizations. But these tools have drawbacks as well. Among them are the lack of interest by the participants, biased answers of the participants and these research tools might not convey the full story to the researcher (McNamara, 2011).

The companies also use interviews for direct interactions with the participants. This research tool is used when the organization wants to develop full understanding about the perceptions, experiences and impressions of someone about a particular subject or to learn about their experiences and answers to questionnaires. Interviews are beneficial when the researching organization or a researcher wants to obtain full range and in depth information on the subject of interest. Interviews allow the researchers to develop a relationship with the participants to soothe their expressions to give moral support to them. Interviews are no doubt very effective way of collecting information but it can take too much time to get the data and then interpret it. The answers are sometime hard to interpret and costly. Moreover the interviewer can add the personal biasness to the responses received from the clients (Bryman, 2004). Another method adopted by the organizations is the review of documentation. The documentation reviews are used when the organization wants to figure out the impact of program operating in the organization without interrupting the program and its functions. This involves the review of applications, finances, memos etc. this method is used when one wants to develop understanding about the history of a particular subject or things. This method is highly feasible when the organization don’t want to engage into the client’s daily routine matters. In this type of research, the researcher don’t have to collect the data, the data already exists in the databases with fewer biases of the people. But it too have some limitations, among them is the irrelevancy of data or incomplete information present to the researcher (Duane, 1996). Focus groups are useful when the researcher wants to explore the topic of concern via group discussions. This method allows the researcher to explore the topic in depth

and find reactions, experiences, suggestions, understanding and complaints of people about the particular topic. This method is highly useful in the evaluation of a problem and marketing of a particular subject. This method is highly reliable and quick in nature which provides the large amount of information in a short period of time. The responses may be hard to interpret sometimes (Abrams, 2001).

The historical research method aims to provide the useful insights about the background and growth of the chosen field of study. These insights may include the organizational structure, culture, current trends and the future implications of the subject or process. This method is applicable to all the fields of study as it contains the origin, theories, growth, maturity, development of theories, personalities etc. For the collection of data for this type of research can be done either through qualitative research methods or by quantitative research methods. Busha and Harter explain that once the researcher decides to conduct historical research then he or she will follow a pattern of steps to conduct the research efficiently and effectively. These steps may include the following:    

Problem identification which requires the use of historical knowledge Collection of relevant information about the problem or topic. Formation of hypothesis to discuss the relationship between the historical factors. The collection of evidence, its verification, authenticity of resources from the organization

The arrangement of the collected evidence and the analysis of information.

The historical information about the subject or the organization can be collected through primary and secondary data sources. The primary sources are said to be the first hand collection of data. It involves detecting the historical data by the researcher himself. It includes perception, logic, intuition, persistence (Tuchman, 1998). The primary sources may include personal memos, eye witnesses, databases of events and oral histories. The secondary sources of information is said to be the information that is not primary; the information is collected, analyzed and interpreted by someone else who observed the events or occasions and their occurrence. These resources are very useful for the researcher to grasp the in depth information about the subject and are not very costly as compared to the primary sources of information (Tuchman, 1998).

A very important methodology used in the organizations these days is the use of Appreciative inquiry. Appreciative inquiry provides useful leads to the organizational development, training and the development of employees and processes within the organization to solve the problem at hand. Appreciative inquiry asserts that the problems are the products of our own perceptions and perspectives about something. It consists of variety of models, tools and techniques that are derived from philosophy. For instance, if Appreciative Inquiry is used in the strategic planning, it will include the identification of the successful decisions took in the past and their outcomes. It will also include the vision of the company; where it wants to head and implementing from what has been considered to be the best solution in a particular situation. This approach has a significant impact on the organizational planning and development in the organizations (McNamara, 2011).

The research technique which is used for the objective, systematic and quantitative description of manifest content of communications is called Content Analysis (Berelson, 1952). It is a type of research tool that focuses on the actual content and internal features of the problem or situation. It determines the presences of concepts, themes, phrases, texts etc. to quantify their presence in the objective manner. The sources may involve books, essays, interviews, discussions, articles, historical documents, formal and informal conversations etc.

The content analysis involves coding or breaking down the required information into small manageable categories on the basis of their occurrence and importance. The results obtain from these categories are used to make inferences about the messages within the texts, writers, the culture, time etc. content analysis is the product of computer age. It dates back to 1940 when it became very credible and frequent research method. The researchers started to focus the concepts rather than the words or the relationships between them. (de Sola Pool, 1959). Since this research method can be applied on various recorded communications in writing, content analysis can be used in the large number of fields that ranges from marketing, media, literature, cultural studies, gender and age issues, social environment, political sciences, psychology, cognitive science, and many other fields. The following list (adapted from Berelson, 1952) offers more possibilities for the uses of content analysis:  

Reveal international differences in communication content Detect the existence of propaganda

Identify the intentions, focus or communication trends of an individual, group or institution

 

Describe attitudinal and behavioral responses to communications Determine psychological or emotional state of persons or groups

The content analysis is further categorized into two broad categories; conceptual analysis and relational analysis. The conceptual analysis is used to establish the existence and the frequency of concepts in a written text where as relational analysis examines the relationships between the concepts in the text.

In conceptual analysis, one concept is chosen for the examination and the frequency of occurrences in the writings. Like other research methods, it starts with identifying the questions related to research and choosing the samples. Then the text is coded into small bits and pieces to reduce the data amount. The certain characteristics of message is then analyzed and interpreted. The relational analysis involves investigating the relationship between the characteristics and concepts in the written communications. Relational analysis starts with identifying the required concept and comparing its occurrences with respect to the others (Berelson, 1952).

The way to which problem is approached or understood is characterized as critical Analysis or Discourse analysis. It is difficult to give the hard and fast definition to this research method. It is neither qualitative nor quantitative research method. It uses such a manner of questioning whose basic assumptions are the mixture of qualitative and

quantitative research methods. It do not provide an absolute answer to the problems on the basis of scientific research but it tends to provide access to the ontological and epistemological assumptions for the project, the problem statement, and method of research. It unveils the hidden motives behind the particular problem or the method of research to interpret the topic. This research method is merely a deconstructive reading and interpretation of the problem (Bernd, 1992).

Discourse Analysis enables the researcher to identify the problem and the causes of problem. The researcher makes several assumptions about the problem that then serve as a guideline for the resolution of the problem. Discourse Analysis is the like the old wine in a new bottle that employs the critical thinking which is an ancient philosophy and involves no theory or methods. This analysis does not provide the particular views about the problem or situation (Bernd, 1992).

The research methods such as content analysis and discourse analysis employ the use of texts or written communications for the identification of the problem and their analysis to reach the conclusions. There are other methods available to the researchers where the problem is reconstructed to find out its functionality to analyze it and reach the conclusions.

The Structural Analysis due to the limited literature on this method, according to the dictionary of concepts in Literary Criticism and Theory, is provides definition about the structural analysis to develop understanding of what Structural Analysyis is about. Barthes (1963) defines structural analysis as:

"The goal of all structuralist activity, whether reflexive or poetic, is to reconstruct an 'object,' in such a way as to manifest thereby the rules of functioning (the 'functions') of this object. The structure is therefore actually a simulacrum of the object, but it is a directed, interested simulacrum, since the imitated object makes something appear which remained invisible or, if one prefers, unintelligible in the natural object"

For Jean-Marie Benoist (1978);

"An analysis is structural if, and only if, it displays the content as a model, i.e., if it can isolate a formal set of elements and relations in terms of which it is possible to argue without entering upon the significance of the given content"

The structural analysis is not related to the text or content of anything or system. It explores and analyzes the structures of a problem to make the inferences after analysis. It enables the researcher to analyze the structure of a text or system to determine the nature of the message they carry and information is retrieved from them. It analyzes how the communication took place and how it was transferred to the others. Structural Analysis can be used to study any kind of system, text, or material. It applies equally to the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as to the "hard" Sciences, though with different connotations. The methods of Structural Analysis might be different in each discipline.

The use of Interviews is of great importance to get the in depth knowledge about the situation and experiences of the participants regarding a problem or situation. The interviews are useful further investigate the responses of participant via other techniques like questionnaires. Interviews contain open ended questions to let the participants speak their views, stories and experiences to the interviewer. Before designing the interview questions and the entire interview process, it is necessary to understand the what the problem is and the extent to which it is necessary to address the problem by using the information gathered through interviews. (Joseph et al, 2006).

The interviewer prior to the interview must prepare for the interview session which involves certain steps that must be followed. These steps starts at identifying the objectives of the meeting, developing the relative questions, planning how to conduct the interview and sending follow up invitations to the members. The most important step in the interviewing method is to remind the members of the upcoming interview (Joseph et al, 2006). Once the preparation for interview is done the researcher develops the relative questions that are to be asked during the interview to the members. ( Cavana, Delahaye, Sekaran, 2001). The interviews are further planned as with the reference to their scheduling, settings and rules are developed.

Abrams (2001) explained the use of case studies her book. According to her, in the small and medium businesses or SME’s case studies methodology is applied to develop full understanding or to depict the experiences of the client in a program and examine the processes and procedures through cross comparison of various other cases.

This method is widely used in the organizations now a days due to its ability to fully depict the organization’s internal processes, functions, employee engagements, experiences etc.

Zonabend (1992) explained that the case study requires special attention to the observations, reconstruction of situation and the analysis of cases under the present study. The case study uses the views of people in the study.

The case study research is associated to the field of sociology and it took rise in the period of 1935. Many researchers give rise to criticisms against this method of research. They argued to provide quantitative measurement to the research design and analysis. This resulted in the dis-engaging of this research as methodology. In 1935 a dispute comes between the opponents and the proponents of the study. The outcome was in the favor of opponents which resulted in the decline in the use of case study.

Hamel et al. (1993) rejected the criticism against the case study methodology as it the criticism was poorly backed by the opponents. He asserted that instead of explaining the drawbacks of the case study techniques, the opponents were trying to veil the limited and immature concepts of sociology. In 1960, there was a renewed interest in this methodology. The concept of grounded theory (Strauss & Glaser, 1967) along with other studies gave rise to the renewed use of this methodology.

Much has been written in the literature which gives examples of the case study applications. Those examples started from the fields of law and medicine where cases were presented to give proper understanding of a problem and draw inferences according

to them. Another application of case study methodology is in the government to find out about the effectiveness and efficiency of a particular project or program and in the situations where evaluation of a problem or subject is required; it was usually carried out to find out the educational evaluation of the students.

Yin (1994) explained that the case study research tends to be limited and primitive in nature. The case studies may be of single or multiple designs. He further explained that the analysis of those single or multiple design case studies is made through theory not from the populations. The literature lists down various examples about the use of case studies. Yin (1993) gave several working examples along with the research design in each case. He suggested about the general case design and the use of exploratory, explanatory and descriptive case studies. These approaches can follow both single and multiple case study designs.

In exploratory case studies, the important data is collected prior to the formulation of research questions and hypothesis. The exploratory cases are used in case when the researcher wants to conduct research on social issues or perspectives. The pilot study is conducted to determine the final protocols. The questions are formulated on the basis of the results achieved from the pilot study. The selection of cases is a bit difficult process (Yin, 1989) but the selection gives opportunities to maximum learning and knowledge in a limited period of time (Stake, 1995).

When the researcher aims to conduct causal studies then explanatory cases come handy. Explanatory cases help to develop a pattern of matching techniques in the complex cases. The descriptive cases investigate the descriptive theory or draw

probability to face the problems. Pyecha (1988) used this type of study to conduct special education research using pattern matching procedure. Several objects were studied and their results were compared to the other objects this helped to reach the final inferences by the formation of hypothesis of cause and effect relationships. Case studies help to develop critical thinking (Alvarez et al, 1990)

Case study is one of the valuable methods available to the researcher which offers distinctive characteristics to the researcher to investigate an issue or problem. It uses the combination of various methods to draw inferences. Its use and reliability should make it a more widely used methodology, once its features are better understood by potential researchers. Another method that can help the researchers is the survey method which involves surveying the people to find out the answers to the questions of research.

Duane (1996) suggested that the most common method employed by the organizations and researchers for the collection of data is the observations method. This method is used when the organization or a researcher seeks to obtain the accurate information about something, program and the process. This method calculates how the program, process or subject actually operates. This method is beneficial for varying reasons. The prime one is that this method allows the researcher to investigate the operations as they are occurring. The interpretations of this method can be difficult as the behavior of particular operations vary to the people and situations. This method is desirable when the factual information is required.

There are many types of studies that employ the observational research methods for the analysis and interpretation of the problem. The studies that employ observational research methods may include case studies, ethnographic studies, etc. The main focus of this research methodology is to observe the situation or a problem and record the inferences with reference to the behaviors of the participants. Often these studies are of qualitative nature. For instance, a case study of the psychological behavior of people requires the observations of the participants and recording the results in order to draw conclusions. Another example of ethological study is given where the behavior of wild animals is observed with respect to the time and occurrence. The surveys are often categorized in the observational research methods (Webster, 2011).

Surveys are the non experimental and descriptive research methods employed by the researchers when they want to collect the data on something that cannot be directly observed. This method of data collection is used extensively to assess the attitudes and characteristics of wide range of subjects. When conducting the surveys, researchers sample a population. According to Basha and Harter (1980) population is a group of people or objects that form, possess or have a common characteristic. Since the size of population is usually quite large therefore the researchers collect sample from the population to question them directly. Sample is a small representative part of the population.

The data collected in the surveys is done by the questionnaires method. The surveys can employ qualitative measures such as asking open ended questions or it can use quantitative measures like using forced choice questions in the questionnaires. The

surveys are divided into two main categories; cross sectional surveys and longitudinal surveys. (Babbie,1973). The cross sectional surveys include collection of data from the population at a single point in time. These surveys usually employed when the researcher wants to explain the relationship between two factors while the longitudinal surveys are used to gather data over a period of time. These surveys provide the researcher with the useful information about the changes occurred in the population and attempts to explain the reasons of changes. These surveys are further categorized into trend studies, cohort studies and panel studies respectively.

The focus of trend studies lies on a particular population which is sampled and changed repeatedly. These studies can be conducted over a long period of time. The researcher can use the combination of various studies conducted on the same population in order to show the trend. The Cohort studies also focus on the particular population but with the different perspective. The sample selected will be used repeatedly by the researcher. This study uses same sample over the time to conduct the analysis. The Panel studies too use the same sample of people every time. This study helps the researcher to find out why the changes occur in the population. The sample selected is called panel. The panel studies can be difficult to conduct because they are usually expensive to conduct and needs lot of time (Babbie, 1973).

The observational research is divided into three main categories; participatory and non participatory research. In participatory research, the researcher take part in the given process or situation to observe the situation or problem and the reason of its occurrence.

The non participatory research is the opposite of participatory research. The researcher does not take part in the observation actively. The researcher may stay out of the process or situation to observe the occurrence of situation. The researcher can also hire some external observer to observe the given situation (Gay, 2005).

The participatory research is further divided into two main techniques; formal and informal observations. The formal observational techniques involve the usual techniques employed by the researcher which might include checklists, evaluations, etc. on the basis of which the researcher draws his or her observations about the given situation or problem and draws inferences while the informal observational techniques involve methods like hidden observations, video recording, picturing, cameras etc. (Best, 2002)

In the non participatory research, the observer does not take part in the active observations. He or she remains outside the observational situation and does not intentionally interfere or take part in the situation, scenario or object. The non participatory research is further classified into naturalistic and simulation observations.

Agnew and Pyke (1990) reported that the certain types of behaviors can only be best observed if they occur naturally. In the situations where the natural behaviors are prime focus to the observer then the observer do not forcefully try to manipulate the behaviors of the people and let them behave in a way they feel natural. The naturalistic observations aim to record and study the behavior as it normally occurs. The insights

obtained from these observations helps to formulate the more control over the research area. In the simulations observations method, the researcher creates a situation that is to be observed and tells the objects to perform their roles by participating in the situation. This method allows the researcher to develop understanding about the behavior of people that are not naturally occurred in the situation. This type of observation is further divided into individual role playing and team role playing. In individual role playing, single unit performs the activities in the situations while in team role playing; a group of actors performs different activities in the situation created by the researcher.

The steps involved in conducting observational research are no different than any other research. It starts with the selection and definition of the problem, then defining the research variables and then recording of the observations. The reliability of observatory is then assessed, training is given to the researcher, and after the training is given the observatory is then monitored to remove any observations related biases involved (Gay, 2005). The researcher must clearly define the variables to be observed. These variables derive the behaviors of the participants. If these variables are clearly defined then the observation process would easy to conduct. The time limitation is defined. The number of times when the observation is to be conducted is then defined in order to find out the actual behavior of the people. The observations process requires high level of expertise in order to effectively and efficiently conducts the observations.

Once the variables are defined and time duration is set, the researcher will then record the observations based on the behaviors of the participants. The again and again observations will help the observer to identify and differentiate between the actual and record behaviors. Single behavior can be recorded at one time. Once the behavior is observed, the observer must change the pattern of observing the behavior of participants to develop the clear understanding.

The use of checklist is common for recording the observations of the participants. The literature has indicated that the use of rating scale is also common for recording the observations. The check lists help the observer to check the particular behavior on set norms and variables.

The reliability of observation is of great importance in the observational research. The observations will only be reliable if the observer has undergone the observations various times to develop the understanding about the behaviors of the participants. The reliability is used to check the biasness of the observers and the observations in a particular situation. Another way to access the reliability of observation is to cut down the time period to observe the behaviors in shorter time period and to calculate the reliability of the observations on the basis of agreements and disagreements on occurrence and non occurrence of behavior.

The training of observers is very important in order to have assurance that all the observers are observing and recording the behaviors at the same time. They must be

instructed as to what behaviors are required to be observed. The training of observers may be finished on the successful achievement of reliability. To ensure the continuous level of reliability it is desirable to monitor the observers and their recording activities. More the monitoring of the activities is done the better will be the performance of observers (Best, 2002). The biases in the observations occur when the observers made invalid observations that are product of the observer’s perceptions. Its best to make observer aware of the problems that are to be observed in the most neutral method.

The main advantage of observational research is the provision of exact facts and figures. Since this research involves the observations of the researcher, which are mostly non participatory in nature, the researcher will have little or no impact or involvement in the behavior of the participants. The participants will tend to show their natural behavior to the particular situation or objects. The observational research is often treated as the most reliable research technique but this research has to face criticism of various people. According to the opponents of this research type, observational research is based on the observations of the researcher and these observations may get biased in order to get the desired recordings of the participant’s behavior (Gay, 2005).


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