An Overview of Research Methods and Methodologies

Rupesh Tiwari

What’s the Difference Between “Method” and “Methodology”?
Method: • Techniques for gathering evidence • The various ways of proceeding in gathering information
Methodology: • The underlying theory and analysis of how research does or should proceed, often influenced by discipline

Methodology and Method
“A research method is a technique for (or way of proceeding in) gathering evidence“ while "methodology is a theory and analysis of how research does or should proceed“

Approaches to Research
• Basic Research • Applied Research

Basic Research
+ Basic Research refers to a focused, systematic study or investigation undertaken to discover new knowledge or interpretation and establish facts or principles in a particular field. + In other words, it is a research aimed primarily at gaining knowledge rather than solving a pragmatic problem. + The underlying motive is to increase knowledge about particular phenomena by testing, refining, and elaborating theory without concern for practical application.

Basic Research
Examples of basic research include: 1. Understanding the consumer buying process. 2. Examining the consumer learning process.

Applied Research
+ Applied research refers to investigation undertaken to discover the application and uses of theories, knowledge, and principles in actual work or in solving problem. In other words , it is any research which is used to answer any specific question, determine why something failed or succeeded, solve a specific problem.

Applied Research
Examples: 1. Evaluating the impact of a training on employee performance. 2. Examining consumer response to direct marketing program.

Steps in the Research Process
+ + + + + + + + + + Identifying and Defining the Problem/Opportunity Preparing the statement of research objectives Developing the hypothesis Planning the research design Selecting the research method Analyzing research design Selecting the sampling procedure Data Collection Evaluating the data Preparing and presenting the research report

Identifying and Defining the Problem/Opportunity
• As business today operate in a highly volatile environment, they need to constantly assess their relative position and identify the various problem area or opportunities they need to work upon in order to sustain themselves competitively in the market. Managers need to analyze the changing dynamics of business , and to evolve a strategy to adopt to changes taking place in the business environment. Whether these are potential problem areas or opportunities. Problem identification precedes the problem definition phase. For instance a company producing cell phones wave protector, may realize that its new product is not selling but it may not be known the reason for this at the outset. Although it has identified the problem in a broader perspective, it needs to define the problem in terms of what is to be researched.

Identifying and Defining the Problem/Opportunity
• It is important to define the problem in a precise manner. A well defined problem gives the researcher a proper direction for carrying out investigation. • It also helps in utilizing the resources provided for research effectively. • A researcher can focus his efforts on collecting information, if the problem is defined properly.

Exploratory Research
• Exploratory aims at understanding the topic being researched. Exploratory research is undertaken in the initial stages of the research process. It is the process that helps in defining the identified problem. • This process involves evaluating the existing studies on related topics, discussing the problems with experts. At the end of this process the researcher should be clear about what type of information needs to be gathered and how the research process should proceed.

Exploratory Research
• Secondary data are the most popular tools used in exploratory research. • Secondary data is the data that has already been collected previously for some other research purpose. It can be obtained from magazines, journals, online articles, company literature. • For our problem of low sales, since it is a new product in the market, it may be difficult to obtain information. Pilot studies involve collecting data from the actual respondent in order to gain insight into the topic.

Preparing the statement of research objectives
• Once the problem is clearly defined, it becomes absolutely essential to determine the objectives of the research. • The objectives of the research should be stated in a formal research statement. • The statement of objectives should be as precise as possible. • Objectives act as a guide lines for various steps in research process and therefore they have to be developed by analyzing the purpose of the research thoroughly. • The objectives of the research must be brief and specific; also, it is preferable to limit the number of objectives.

Preparing the statement of research objectives
• The research objective comprise the research questions and the hypothesis. • If the objective of the research is to study the perceptions of the customer a typical research question could be: “Do the customer perceive the radiation from their cell phones to be hazardous to health” • Once the research questions are identified, a researcher has to develop a hypothesis statement that reflects research objectives.

Developing the hypothesis
• A hypothesis is a statement based on some presumption about the existence of a relationship between two or more variables that can be tested. For instance the exploratory research for the problem may have resulted in a hypothesis that consumers perceive that the radiations emanating from the cell phones are harmful. • When a researcher is developing hypothesis , he will try to assume an answer for a particular research question and then test it for its validity. • A hypothesis normally makes the research question clearer to the researcher. For instance, if the research question is- “Why are the sells of refrigerator going up in winter” In this case hypothesis could be- ‘The sales of refrigerator are going up due to off-season discount.

Planning the research design
• A research design is the actual framework of research that provides specific details regarding the process to be followed in conducting the research. • The research design is based on the objectives formulated during the initial phases of research. The research design includes all the details regarding the research such as where the information should be obtained from, the time and budget allotted for conducting the research, the appropriate measurement techniques and sampling process. • Research design is essential because it facilitates the smooth flow of various research processes. • A good design means that good results can be obtained with minimum utilization of time, money and effort.

Research Design Concepts
• • • • Dependent Variable Independent Variable Extraneous Variable Control

Dependent /Independent Variable
• A variable is a concept that can take on different quantitative values like height, weight, age and so on. • If the variable is dependent on the result of some other variable, it is then called dependent variable. • An independent variable is one that is not dependent on any other variable with reference to particular study. • For instance, height and weight are dependent on age but age is not dependent on height and weight. Therefore, age is an independent variable while weight height are dependent variable.

Extraneous Variable
• Extraneous Variables are independent variables those are not directly linked with the study but may influence the dependent variable. • For instance, assume that a hypothesis was framed which stated a relationship between children’s age and weight existed. Here weight is a dependent variable and age is an independent variable. • Apart from age, height may also affect weight. But height is not related to the study’s purpose or objective. Therefore we can say that height is an extraneous variable. • If there is an effect on the dependent variable from the extraneous variable, it is called an experimental error.

Control
• Control is essentially devised to minimize the effect of extraneous variable.

Characteristics of Research
• Systematic Approach Each step must of your investigation be so planned that it leads to the next step. Planning and organization are part of this approach. A planned and organized research saves your time and money. • Objectivity It implies that True Research should attempt to find an unbiased answer to the decision-making problem.

Characteristics of Research
• Reproducible A reproducible research procedure is one, which an equally competent researcher could duplicate, and from it deduces approximately the same results. Relevancy It furnishes three important tasks: It avoids collection of irrelevant information and saves time and money It compares the information to be collected with researcher’s criteria for action It enables to see whether the research is proceeding in the right direction

• · · ·

Characteristics of Research
• Control: Research is not only affected by the factors, which one is investigating but some other extraneous factors also. It is impossible to control all the factors. All the factors that we think may affect the study have to be controlled and accounted for. For Example Suppose we are studying the relationship between incomes and shopping behaviour, without controlling for education and age, it will be a height of folly, since our findings may reflect the effect of education and age rather than income. Control Must Consider All the factors, which are under control, must be varied as per the study demands All those variables beyond the control should be recorded

What Makes Research Good?
• • • • Validity Reliability Replicability “Trustworthiness”

Validity in Research
• Refers to whether the research actually measures what it says it’ll measure. Validity is the strength of our conclusions, inferences or propositions.
– Internal Validity: the difference in the dependent variable is actually a result of the independent variable – External Validity: the results of the study are generalizable to other groups and environments outside the experimental setting – Conclusion Validity: we can identify a relationship between treatment and observed outcome – Construct Validity: we can generalize our conceptualized treatment and outcomes to broader constructs of the same concepts

Reliability in Research
The consistency of a measurement, or the degree to which an instrument measures the same way each time it is used under the same condition with the same subjects. In short, it is the repeatability of your measurement.

Validity and Reliability
The relationship between reliability and validity is a fairly simple one to understand: a measurement can be reliable, but not valid. However, a measurement must first be reliable before it can be valid. Thus reliability is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition of validity. In other words, a measurement may consistently assess a phenomena (or outcome), but unless that measurement tests what you want it to, it is not valid.

Conclusive Research
• Exploratory research gives rise to several hypotheses, which you will have to tested for drawing definite conclusions. These conclusions when tested for validity lay the structure for your decision-making. Conclusive research is used for this purpose of testing the hypotheses generated by exploratory research. Conclusive research can further be classified as: A· Descriptive B· Experimental.

Descriptive Research
• Descriptive research as the name suggests is designed to describe something- for example, the characteristics of users of a given product; the degree to which product use varies with income, age, sex or other characteristics; or the number who saw a specific television commercial. • To be of maximum benefit, a descriptive study must only collect, data for a definite purpose. Your objective and understanding should be clear and specific.

Descriptive Research
• For Example: A cereal company may find its sales declining. On the basis of market feedback the company may hypothesise that teenage children do not eat its cereal for breakfast. A descriptive study can then be designed to test this hypothesis.

Experimental Research
• Experimentation will refer to that process of research in which one or more variables are manipulated under conditions, which permit the collection of data, which show the effects. • Experiments will create situation so that you as a researcher can obtain the particular data needed and can measure the data accurately. Experiments are artificial in the sense that the situations are usually created for testing purposes.

Experimental Research
• This artificiality is the essence of the experimental method, since it gives you more control over the factors you are studying. If you can control the factors, which are present in a given situation, you can obtain more conclusive evidence of cause and effect relationships between any two of them.

Experimental Research
• Thus, the ability to set up a situation for the purpose of observing and recording accurately the effect on one factor when another is deliberately changed permits you to accept or reject hypothesis beyond reasonable doubt. • If the objective is to validate in a resounding manner the cause and effect relationship among variables, then undoubtedly experiments are much more effective than descriptive technique.

Experimental Research
• In experimental research, the researcher manipulates or varies an Independent variable and measures its effects on one or more dependent variable.

Measurement Concepts
• Once the research problem has been clearly established, the most important part of the research, namely data collection begins. • A proper measurement system has to be developed before actually venture into data collection. Different measurement scales that have to be used for measuring the characteristics that are relevant to the research study. • Measurement thus can be understood as a means to denote the amount of particular attribute that a particular object possesses

Measurement Scale
• The design of measurement scale depends upon the objective of the research study, and mathematical or statistical calculations that a researcher expects to perform on the data collected using the scales. Different types of measurement scale are given below:
1. 2. 3. 4. Nominal Scale Ordinal Scale Interval Scale Ratio Scale

Nominal Scale
• The scale helps segregate data into categories that are mutually exhaustive. This scale assigns numbers to each of these categories and these numbers do not stand for any quantitative value, and hence they cannot be added, subtracted or divided.

Nominal Scale
• For Example, a nominal scale designed to measure the nature of occupation (Employment status) may be given as below: [1] Public sector [2] Private sector [3] Self employed [4] Unemployed [5] Others. In the above example, the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 only serve as labels to the various categories of employment status, and hence a researcher cannot use those number to perform any type of mathematical operation on those numbers.

Ordinal Scale
• An ordinal scale is used to arrange objects according to some particular order. Thus, the variable in the ordinal scale can be ranked. • For example, an ordinal scale used to measure the preference of customers (In C.G) for various mobile telephone service provider would ask a question like --

Ordinal Scale
• Please rank the following mobile phone service provider from 1 to 5 with 1 representing the most preferred and 5 the least preferred. Airtel [1] Hutch [2] Idea [3] BSNL [4] Reliance [5]

Ordinal Scale
• A respondent may rank these players depending on his experience/perception of them. • If a respondent rank Airtel as 1 and Idea as 2, a researcher can know that respondent prefers Airtel. However, the limitation is that the researcher cannot be sure as to how strong the respondent’s liking is for Airtel.

Interval Scale
• Interval scales are similar to ordinal scales to the extent that they also arranged objects in particular order. However, in an interval scale the intervals between the points on the scale are equal. This is the scale where there is equal distance between the two points on the scale. • Ask the respondent to place the mobile service provider on the scale of 10 to 1. If the idea is assigned 8 and BSNL 4 we can say that the value of difference I preference is 4. But we cannot say that the liking for idea is twice that for BSNL because we did not define a point of no liking i.e. 0.

Ratio Scale
• Ratio scale have a fixed zero point and also have equal intervals. • Unlike the ordinal scale the ratio scale allows for the comparison of two variables measured on the scale. • A very good example of ratio scale is distance; for instance the difference between four miles and six miles is the same as the difference between six miles and eight miles but we can also say that eight miles is twice as long as four miles.

Reliability and Validity
• Reliability Research means that the findings would be consistently the same if the study were done over again. It is considered than, when the outcome of a research process is reproducible.

Focus Groups
+ Aid in understanding audience, group, users + Small group interaction more than individual response + Helps identify and fill gaps in current knowledge re: perceptions, attitudes, feelings, etc. - Does not give statistics - Marketing tools seen as “suspect” - Analysis subjective

What is Research?
“Research comprises of defining and redefining problems, formulating hypothesis or suggested solutions; making deductions and reaching conclusions; and at last carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulating hypothesis” • On evaluating these definitions we can conclude that Research refers to the systematic method consisting of • Enunciating the problem, • Formulating a hypothesis, • Collecting the fact or data, • Analyzing the facts and • Reaching certain conclusions either in the form of solutions towards the concerned problem or in certain generals for some theoretical formulation.

Discourse/Text Analysis
+ Examines actual discourse produced for a particular purpose (job, school) + Helps in understanding of context, production, audience, and text + Schedule for analysis not demanding - Labor intensive - Categories often fluid, making analysis difficult

Quantitative Descriptive Studies
+ Isolates systematically the most important variables (often from case studies) and to quantify and interrelate them (often via survey or questionnaire) + Possible to collect large amounts of data + Not as disruptive + Biases not as likely - Data restricted to information available

Prediction and Classification Studies
Goal is to predict behaviors: • Prediction forecasts and interval variable (Diagnostic/TAAS scores) • Classification forecasts a nominal variable (Major selection after taking 2311)

+ Important in industry, education to predict behaviors - Need substantial population - Restricted range of variables can cause misinterpretation - Variables cannot be added together; must be weighted and looked at in context of other variables

Positive Aspects of Descriptive/Qualitative Research
• Naturalistic; allows for subjects to interact with environment • Can use statistical analysis • Seeks to further develop theory (not to influence action); Prescientific • Coding schemes often arise from interplay between data and researcher’s knowledge of theory

Problems with Descriptive/Qualitative Research
• Impossible to overlay structure • Impossible to impose control • Subject pool often limited, not representative • Seen as more “subjective,” less rigorous • Beneficial only in terms of initial investigation to form hypothesis

Experimental Research: True Experiment
+ Random sampling, or selection, of subjects (which are also stratified) + Introduction of a treatment + Use of a control group for comparing subjects who don’t receive treatment with those who do - Adherence to scientific method (seen as positive, too) - Must have both internal and external validity - Treatment and control might seem artificial

Experimental Research: QuasiExperiment
+ Similar to Experiment, except that the subjects are not randomized. Intact groups are often used (for example, students in a classroom). + To draw more fully on the power of the experimental method, a pretest may be employed. + Employ treatment, control, and scientific method - Act of control and treatment makes situation artificial - Small subject pools

Meta-Analysis
+ Takes the results of true and quasi-experiments and identifies interrelationships of conclusions + Systematic + Replicable + Summarizes overall results - C/C apples and oranges? - Quality of studies used?

Positive Aspects of Experimental Research
• • • • • Tests the validity of generalizations Seen as rigorous Identifies a cause-and-effect relationship Seen as more objective, less subjective Can be predictive

Problems with Experimental Research
• Generalizations need to be qualified according to limitation of research methods employed • Controlled settings don’t mirror actual conditions; unnatural • Difficult to isolate a single variable • Doesn’t allow for self-reflection (built-in)

Testing the Waters
• How do you come up with a good research question? • How do you determine if the method you plan to use will answer your question? • What epistemology should you use to analyze data?

Case Scenario
• Test your research savvy with the following case. Assume that you are the Mayor of Greenwood, a small town in Illinois, and you’ve got to make a decision based on the information collected from the following research study.

Crime Reduction Program, City of Greenwood
• • The chief of police wants to experiment with increasing the number of patrol officers (X) to reduce the crime rate (Y). The chief invites all twelveprecinct captains to participate in the experiment; only the 103rd volunteers. In October, patrol officers in the 103rd are increased by 15%. Reported crime drops 5% between September & December. The chief now wants to implement the program citywide.

103rd

• •

You are the mayor. Would you support this request based upon the results of this study?
Could severe weather in November and December have caused the crime rate to decline?  Is crime seasonal, peaking in the summer and declining in the winter?

More Problems
Since the captain of the 103rd volunteered for the program, could he have already implemented other programs that account for the decline in crime? Since the officers in the 103rd knew they were involved in a priority program, is it possible that they recorded reported crime differently?

More Problems
Will the crime reduction impact last very long? Could random error in the measurement of the crime rate account for the difference? Was the crime rate in the entire city going down anyway?

What Makes Research Good?
• • • • • • Validity Reliability Replicability Consistent application/analysis “Trustworthiness” Rigor

Validity in Research
• Refers to whether the research actually measures what it says it’ll measure. Validity is the strength of our conclusions, inferences or propositions.
– Internal Validity: the difference in the dependent variable is actually a result of the independent variable – External Validity: the results of the study are generalizable to other groups and environments outside the experimental setting – Conclusion Validity: we can identify a relationship between treatment and observed outcome – Construct Validity: we can generalize our conceptualized treatment and outcomes to broader constructs of the same concepts

Reliability in Research
The consistency of a measurement, or the degree to which an instrument measures the same way each time it is used under the same condition with the same subjects. In short, it is the repeatability of your measurement. A measure is considered reliable if a person's score on the same test given twice is similar. It is important to remember that reliability is not measured, it is estimated. Measured by test/retest and internal consistency.

Validity and Reliability
The relationship between reliability and validity is a fairly simple one to understand: a measurement can be reliable, but not valid. However, a measurement must first be reliable before it can be valid. Thus reliability is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition of validity. In other words, a measurement may consistently assess a phenomena (or outcome), but unless that measurement tests what you want it to, it is not valid.

Rigor in Research
• Validity and Reliability in conducting research • Adequate presentation of findings: consistency, trustworthiness • Appropriate representation of study for a particular field: disciplinary rigor • Rhetorical Rigor: how you represent your research for a particular audience

Key Considerations to Design Your Research Approach
• What question do you want to answer? • For what purposes is the research being done? i.e., what do you want to be able to do or decide as a result of the research? • Who are the audiences for the information from the research, e.g., teachers, students, other researchers, members of a disciplinary community, corporate entities, etc.? • From what sources should the information be collected, e.g., students, teachers, targeted groups, certain documentation, etc.?

Key Considerations to Design Your Research Approach
• What kinds of information are needed to make the decisions you need to make and/or to enlighten your intended audiences, e.g., do you need information to really understand a process, the students who engage in a process, strengths and weaknesses of a curriculum or program, benefits to students or institution or agency, how aspect of a program are problematic, etc.?

Key Considerations to Design Your Research Approach
• How can that information be collected in a reasonable fashion, e.g., questionnaires, interviews, examining documentation, observing staff and/or clients in the program, conducting focus groups among staff and/or students, etc? • How accurate will this information be? • When is the information needed (so, by when must it be collected)? • What resources are available to collect the information? • How will this information be analyzed?

The Importance of Methods and Methodology
“The most common error made in reading [and conducting] research is overlooking the methodology, and concentrating on the conclusions. Yet if the methodology isn’t sound, the conclusions and subsequent recommendations won’t be sound.”
– Patricia Goubil-Gambrell, additions mine

Thank you for your kind attention
Go forth and research…. ….but be careful out there.

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