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Research Methodology

By Dr. Sonali Agarwal

Introduction to Research
• Research Refers to search for knowledge.
• Can also be defined as scientific and systematic search for pertinent information.
• Some people consider research as a movement, a movement from the known to the
• It is actually a voyage of discovery.
• The inquisitiveness is the mother of all knowledge and the method, which man
employs for obtaining the knowledge of whatever the unknown, can be termed as
• According to Clifford Woody research comprises defining and redefining
problems, formulating hypothesis or suggested solutions; collecting,
organizing and evaluating data; making deductions and reaching conclusions;
and at last carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the
formulated hypothesis.
• Research is thus, an original contribution to the existing stock of knowledge
making for its advancement.
Objectives of Research
• Though each research study has its own specific purpose, we may think of research
objectives as falling into a number of following broad groupings:
1) To gain familiarity with a phenomenon or to achieve new insights into it. (studies
with this objective are called exploratory or formulative research studies)
2) To portray accurately the characteristics of a particular individual, situation or a
group (Such studies are called descriptive research studies)
3) To test a hypothesis of a causal relationship between variables ( called hypothesis
testing studies or causal research)
Motivation in research
• Possible motives may be either one or more of the following:
Desire to get a research degree along with its consequential benefits
Desire to face the challenge in solving the unsolved problems i.e. concern over practical
problems initiates research
Desire to get intellectual joy of doing some creative work
Desire to be of service to society
Desire to get respect and recognition
This is not the exhaustive list of factors motivating people. Many more factors like directives
of government, employment conditions, curiosity about new things, awakening etc. can also
compel people to perform research.
Types of research

I. Quantitative vs. qualitative

II. Descriptive vs. analytical
III. Applied vs. fundamental
IV. Exploratory vs. conclusive
V. Cross-sectional vs. longitudinal
General Classification of Types of Research
Methods---Quantitative vs. Qualitative
• 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”.
• 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”
Types of the research methods according to the
nature of research ---Descriptive vs. 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”, and there is no control over variables in descriptive research.
• He can only report what has happened or what is happening.
• In social science we use the term “Ex post Facto research” for descriptive research studies.
• Eg. If a researcher seeks to measure the frequency of shopping, preferences of people etc.
• In analytical methods, the researcher has to use facts or information available, and analyse
these to make a critical evaluation of the material.
Types of Research Methods According to the Purpose of
the Study---Applied vs. fundamental
• Applied(or action) research or fundamental (to basic or pure) research.
• Gathering knowledge for knowledge’s sake is termed ‘pure’ or ‘basic’ research.
• Eg. Research concerning some natural phenomenon or relating to pure mathematics are
fundamental researches.
• Applied research aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a society or
• Eg. Research studies concerning human behavior carried on with a view to make
generalisations about human behavior-----fundamental research
• But research to identify social, economic or political trends that may affect a particular
institution or marketing research or evaluation research-----applied research
Types of Research Methods according to
Research Design---Exploratory vs. 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.
Exploratory research Conclusive research
Structure Loosely structured in design Well structured and systemative in design

Methodology Are flexible and investigative in Have a formal and definitive methodology that
methodology needs to be followed and tested
Hypothesis Do not involve testing of hypotheses Most conclusive researches are carried out to test
the formulated hypotheses
Types of Research Methods according to time required to accomplish
the research----cross sectional (one time) vs. longitudinal

• In cross sectional (one time) research, the research is confined to a single time
• Eg. Exit poll
• whereas in longitudinal, research is carried over several time periods.
• Eg. Doctor researching on diabetic patients.
Cross Sectional vs. Longitudinal research

Cross Sectional
Surveyed at T1

Same Sample
Longitudinal Sample also Surveyed at
Surveyed at T1 T2

Time T1 T2
Other types of research…..
• Field setting research vs.
• laboratory research vs.
• simulation research

• Time series study vs.

Longitudinal studies
• Panel study
Good Research characteristics…..
 Objectivity of Investigator
 Unbiased
 Procedural integrity
 Accurate reporting
 Accuracy of Measurement
 Valid and Reliable
 Meaningful and useful
 Appropriate design (sample, execution)
 Open-minded to Findings
 Willing to refute expectations
 Acknowledge limitations
Research Process
• It consists of series of actions or steps necessary to effectively carry out research. Steps in
research process:
1) Formulating the research problem
2) Extensive literature review
3) Development of working hypotheses
4) Preparing the research design
5) Determining sample design
6) Collecting the data
7) Analysis of data
8) Hypothesis testing
9) Interpretation and generalisations
10) Preparation of report or the thesis
Research problem identification…
• A research problem is a statement about an area of concern, a condition to be
improved, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in
scholarly literature, in theory, or in practice that points to the need for meaningful
understanding and deliberate investigation. In some social science disciplines the
research problem is typically posed in the form of a question. A research
problem does not state how to do something, offer a vague or broad proposition,
or present a value question.
• NOTE: Do not confuse a research problem with a research topic. A topic is
something to read and obtain information about whereas a problem is something to
solve or framed as a question that must be answered.
The purpose of a problem statement is to…
• Introduce the reader to the importance of the topic being studied. The reader is
oriented to the significance of the study and the research questions or hypotheses to
• Places the problem into a particular context that defines the parameters of what is to
be investigated.
• Provides the framework for reporting the results and indicates what is probably
necessary to conduct the study and explain how the findings will present this information.
• the research problem establishes the means by which you must answer the "So What?"
question. The "So What?" question refers to a research problem surviving the relevancy
test [the quality of a measurement procedure that provides repeatability and accuracy].
• Note that answering the "So What" question requires a commitment on your part to not
only show that you have researched the material, but that you have thought about its
To survive the "So What" question, problem statements
should possess the following attributes:
• Clarity and precision [a well-written statement does not make sweeping generalizations and
irresponsible statements],
• Identification of what would be studied,
• Identification of questions and key factors or variables,
• Identification of key concepts and terms,
• Articulation of the study's boundaries or parameters,
• Some generalizability in regards to applicability and bringing results into general use,
• Conveyance of the study's importance, benefits, and justification [regardless of the type of
research, it is important to address “relevance” question by demonstrating that the research is
not trivial],
• Conveyance of more than the mere gathering of descriptive data providing only a snapshot of
the issue or phenomenon under investigation.
Sources of Investigation for identifying research
Identifying a problem to study can be challenging, not because there is a lack of issues that
could be investigated, but due to pursuing a goal of formulating a socially relevant and
researchable problem statement that is unique and does not simply duplicate the work of
others. To facilitate how you might select a problem from which to build a research study,
consider these broad sources of inspiration:
Relevant Literature
Deductions from Theory
Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Interviewing Practitioners
Personal Experience
Relevant Literature
The selection of a research problem can often be derived from an extensive and thorough
review of pertinent research associated with your overall area of interest. This may reveal
where gaps remain in our understanding of a topic. Research may be conducted to: 1) fill such
gaps in knowledge; 2) evaluate if the methodologies employed in prior studies can be adapted
to solve other problems; or, 3) determine if a similar study could be conducted in a different
subject area or applied to different study sample [i.e., different groups of people]. Also,
authors frequently conclude their studies by noting implications for further research; this can
also be a valuable source of problems to investigate.
Deductions from Theory
This relates to deductions made from generalizations. The research asks the question: “What
relationship between variables will be observed if theory aptly summarizes the state of
affairs?” One can then design and carry out a systematic investigation to assess whether
empirical data confirm or reject the hypothesis and hence the theory.
Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Examining research from related disciplines, which can expose you to new avenues of exploration and
analysis. An interdisciplinary approach to selecting a research problem offers an opportunity to construct
a more comprehensive understanding of a very complex issue than any single discipline might provide.
Interviewing Practitioners
Formal or informal discussions with practitioners who provide insight into new directions for future
research and how to make research findings increasingly relevant to practice. Discussions with experts in
the field, such as, teachers, social workers, health care providers, etc., offers the chance to identify
practical, “real world” problems that may be understudied or ignored within academic circles.
Personal Experience
Think critically about your own experiences and/or frustrations with an issue facing society, your
community, or in your neighborhood. This can be derived, for example, from deliberate observations of
certain relationships for which there is no clear explanation or witnessing an event that appears harmful
to a person or group or that is out of the ordinary.