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What Is Research Methodology? A Plain-Language Explanation & Definition (With Examples)

By Derek Jansen (MBA)  and Kerryn Warren (PhD) | June 2020 (Last updated April 2023)

If you’re new to formal academic research, it’s quite likely that you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the technical lingo that gets thrown around. And who could blame you – “research methodology”, “research methods”, “sampling strategies”… it all seems never-ending!

In this post, we’ll demystify the landscape with plain-language explanations and loads of examples (including easy-to-follow videos), so that you can approach your dissertation, thesis or research project with confidence. Let’s get started.

Research Methodology 101

  • What exactly research methodology means
  • What qualitative , quantitative and mixed methods are
  • What sampling strategy is
  • What data collection methods are
  • What data analysis methods are
  • How to choose your research methodology
  • Example of a research methodology

Free Webinar: Research Methodology 101

What is research methodology?

Research methodology simply refers to the practical “how” of a research study. More specifically, it’s about how  a researcher  systematically designs a study  to ensure valid and reliable results that address the research aims, objectives and research questions . Specifically, how the researcher went about deciding:

  • What type of data to collect (e.g., qualitative or quantitative data )
  • Who  to collect it from (i.e., the sampling strategy )
  • How to  collect  it (i.e., the data collection method )
  • How to  analyse  it (i.e., the data analysis methods )

Within any formal piece of academic research (be it a dissertation, thesis or journal article), you’ll find a research methodology chapter or section which covers the aspects mentioned above. Importantly, a good methodology chapter explains not just   what methodological choices were made, but also explains  why they were made. In other words, the methodology chapter should justify  the design choices, by showing that the chosen methods and techniques are the best fit for the research aims, objectives and research questions. 

So, it’s the same as research design?

Not quite. As we mentioned, research methodology refers to the collection of practical decisions regarding what data you’ll collect, from who, how you’ll collect it and how you’ll analyse it. Research design, on the other hand, is more about the overall strategy you’ll adopt in your study. For example, whether you’ll use an experimental design in which you manipulate one variable while controlling others. You can learn more about research design and the various design types here .

Need a helping hand?

make a research method

What are qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods?

Qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods are different types of methodological approaches, distinguished by their focus on words , numbers or both . This is a bit of an oversimplification, but its a good starting point for understanding.

Let’s take a closer look.

Qualitative research refers to research which focuses on collecting and analysing words (written or spoken) and textual or visual data, whereas quantitative research focuses on measurement and testing using numerical data . Qualitative analysis can also focus on other “softer” data points, such as body language or visual elements.

It’s quite common for a qualitative methodology to be used when the research aims and research questions are exploratory  in nature. For example, a qualitative methodology might be used to understand peoples’ perceptions about an event that took place, or a political candidate running for president. 

Contrasted to this, a quantitative methodology is typically used when the research aims and research questions are confirmatory  in nature. For example, a quantitative methodology might be used to measure the relationship between two variables (e.g. personality type and likelihood to commit a crime) or to test a set of hypotheses .

As you’ve probably guessed, the mixed-method methodology attempts to combine the best of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to integrate perspectives and create a rich picture. If you’d like to learn more about these three methodological approaches, be sure to watch our explainer video below.

What is sampling strategy?

Simply put, sampling is about deciding who (or where) you’re going to collect your data from . Why does this matter? Well, generally it’s not possible to collect data from every single person in your group of interest (this is called the “population”), so you’ll need to engage a smaller portion of that group that’s accessible and manageable (this is called the “sample”).

How you go about selecting the sample (i.e., your sampling strategy) will have a major impact on your study.  There are many different sampling methods  you can choose from, but the two overarching categories are probability   sampling and  non-probability   sampling .

Probability sampling  involves using a completely random sample from the group of people you’re interested in. This is comparable to throwing the names all potential participants into a hat, shaking it up, and picking out the “winners”. By using a completely random sample, you’ll minimise the risk of selection bias and the results of your study will be more generalisable  to the entire population. 

Non-probability sampling , on the other hand,  doesn’t use a random sample . For example, it might involve using a convenience sample, which means you’d only interview or survey people that you have access to (perhaps your friends, family or work colleagues), rather than a truly random sample. With non-probability sampling, the results are typically not generalisable .

To learn more about sampling methods, be sure to check out the video below.

What are data collection methods?

As the name suggests, data collection methods simply refers to the way in which you go about collecting the data for your study. Some of the most common data collection methods include:

  • Interviews (which can be unstructured, semi-structured or structured)
  • Focus groups and group interviews
  • Surveys (online or physical surveys)
  • Observations (watching and recording activities)
  • Biophysical measurements (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, etc.)
  • Documents and records (e.g., financial reports, court records, etc.)

The choice of which data collection method to use depends on your overall research aims and research questions , as well as practicalities and resource constraints. For example, if your research is exploratory in nature, qualitative methods such as interviews and focus groups would likely be a good fit. Conversely, if your research aims to measure specific variables or test hypotheses, large-scale surveys that produce large volumes of numerical data would likely be a better fit.

What are data analysis methods?

Data analysis methods refer to the methods and techniques that you’ll use to make sense of your data. These can be grouped according to whether the research is qualitative  (words-based) or quantitative (numbers-based).

Popular data analysis methods in qualitative research include:

  • Qualitative content analysis
  • Thematic analysis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Narrative analysis
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)
  • Visual analysis (of photographs, videos, art, etc.)

Qualitative data analysis all begins with data coding , after which an analysis method is applied. In some cases, more than one analysis method is used, depending on the research aims and research questions . In the video below, we explore some  common qualitative analysis methods, along with practical examples.  

Moving on to the quantitative side of things, popular data analysis methods in this type of research include:

  • Descriptive statistics (e.g. means, medians, modes )
  • Inferential statistics (e.g. correlation, regression, structural equation modelling)

Again, the choice of which data collection method to use depends on your overall research aims and objectives , as well as practicalities and resource constraints. In the video below, we explain some core concepts central to quantitative analysis.

How do I choose a research methodology?

As you’ve probably picked up by now, your research aims and objectives have a major influence on the research methodology . So, the starting point for developing your research methodology is to take a step back and look at the big picture of your research, before you make methodology decisions. The first question you need to ask yourself is whether your research is exploratory or confirmatory in nature.

If your research aims and objectives are primarily exploratory in nature, your research will likely be qualitative and therefore you might consider qualitative data collection methods (e.g. interviews) and analysis methods (e.g. qualitative content analysis). 

Conversely, if your research aims and objective are looking to measure or test something (i.e. they’re confirmatory), then your research will quite likely be quantitative in nature, and you might consider quantitative data collection methods (e.g. surveys) and analyses (e.g. statistical analysis).

Designing your research and working out your methodology is a large topic, which we cover extensively on the blog . For now, however, the key takeaway is that you should always start with your research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread). Every methodological choice you make needs align with those three components. 

Example of a research methodology chapter

In the video below, we provide a detailed walkthrough of a research methodology from an actual dissertation, as well as an overview of our free methodology template .

make a research method

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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199 Comments

Leo Balanlay

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Derek Jansen

You’re most welcome, Leo. Best of luck with your research!

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Pondris Patrick

I am writing a APA Format paper . I using questionnaire with 120 STDs teacher for my participant. Can you write me mthology for this research. Send it through email sent. Just need a sample as an example please. My topic is ” impacts of overcrowding on students learning

Thanks for your comment.

We can’t write your methodology for you. If you’re looking for samples, you should be able to find some sample methodologies on Google. Alternatively, you can download some previous dissertations from a dissertation directory and have a look at the methodology chapters therein.

All the best with your research.

Anon

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Sophy

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zahid t ahmad

Very interesting and informative yet I would like to know about examples of Research Questions as well, if possible.

Maisnam loyalakla

I’m about to submit a research presentation, I have come to understand from your simplification on understanding research methodology. My research will be mixed methodology, qualitative as well as quantitative. So aim and objective of mixed method would be both exploratory and confirmatory. Thanks you very much for your guidance.

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Ainembabazi Rose

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Hyacinth Chebe Ukwuani

Thanks Derek. Kerryn was just fantastic!

Great to hear that, Hyacinth. Best of luck with your research!

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Thanks for the feedback, Matobela. Good luck with your research methodology.

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Thank you. This is really helpful.

You’re very welcome, Elie. Good luck with your research methodology.

Sakina Dalal

Well explained thanks

Edward

This is a very helpful site especially for young researchers at college. It provides sufficient information to guide students and equip them with the necessary foundation to ask any other questions aimed at deepening their understanding.

Thanks for the kind words, Edward. Good luck with your research!

Ngwisa Marie-claire NJOTU

Thank you. I have learned a lot.

Great to hear that, Ngwisa. Good luck with your research methodology!

Claudine

Thank you for keeping your presentation simples and short and covering key information for research methodology. My key takeaway: Start with defining your research objective the other will depend on the aims of your research question.

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Gabriel mugangavari

Thank you Dr

Dina Haj Ibrahim

I was given an assignment to research 2 publications and describe their research methodology? I don’t know how to start this task can someone help me?

Sure. You’re welcome to book an initial consultation with one of our Research Coaches to discuss how we can assist – https://gradcoach.com/book/new/ .

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Thanks a lot I am relieved of a heavy burden.keep up with the good work

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Asanka

Short but sweet.Thank you

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Badr Alharbi

I’m currently working on my Ph.D. thesis. Thanks a lot, Derek and Kerryn, Well-organized sequences, facilitate the readers’ following.

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great article for someone who does not have any background can even understand

Hasan Chowdhury

I am a bit confused about research design and methodology. Are they the same? If not, what are the differences and how are they related?

Thanks in advance.

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concise and informative.

Sureka Batagoda

Thank you very much

More Smith

How can we site this article is Harvard style?

Anne

Very well written piece that afforded better understanding of the concept. Thank you!

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Am a new researcher trying to learn how best to write a research proposal. I find your article spot on and want to download the free template but finding difficulties. Can u kindly send it to my email, the free download entitled, “Free Download: Research Proposal Template (with Examples)”.

fatima sani

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orebotswe morokane

how do i reference this?

Roy

MLA Jansen, Derek, and Kerryn Warren. “What (Exactly) Is Research Methodology?” Grad Coach, June 2021, gradcoach.com/what-is-research-methodology/.

APA Jansen, D., & Warren, K. (2021, June). What (Exactly) Is Research Methodology? Grad Coach. https://gradcoach.com/what-is-research-methodology/

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Research methods--quantitative, qualitative, and more: overview.

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About Research Methods

This guide provides an overview of research methods, how to choose and use them, and supports and resources at UC Berkeley. 

As Patten and Newhart note in the book Understanding Research Methods , "Research methods are the building blocks of the scientific enterprise. They are the "how" for building systematic knowledge. The accumulation of knowledge through research is by its nature a collective endeavor. Each well-designed study provides evidence that may support, amend, refute, or deepen the understanding of existing knowledge...Decisions are important throughout the practice of research and are designed to help researchers collect evidence that includes the full spectrum of the phenomenon under study, to maintain logical rules, and to mitigate or account for possible sources of bias. In many ways, learning research methods is learning how to see and make these decisions."

The choice of methods varies by discipline, by the kind of phenomenon being studied and the data being used to study it, by the technology available, and more.  This guide is an introduction, but if you don't see what you need here, always contact your subject librarian, and/or take a look to see if there's a library research guide that will answer your question. 

Suggestions for changes and additions to this guide are welcome! 

START HERE: SAGE Research Methods

Without question, the most comprehensive resource available from the library is SAGE Research Methods.  HERE IS THE ONLINE GUIDE  to this one-stop shopping collection, and some helpful links are below:

  • SAGE Research Methods
  • Little Green Books  (Quantitative Methods)
  • Little Blue Books  (Qualitative Methods)
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias  
  • Case studies of real research projects
  • Sample datasets for hands-on practice
  • Streaming video--see methods come to life
  • Methodspace- -a community for researchers
  • SAGE Research Methods Course Mapping

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Library Data Services Program and Digital Scholarship Services

The LDSP offers a variety of services and tools !  From this link, check out pages for each of the following topics:  discovering data, managing data, collecting data, GIS data, text data mining, publishing data, digital scholarship, open science, and the Research Data Management Program.

Be sure also to check out the visual guide to where to seek assistance on campus with any research question you may have!

Library GIS Services

Other Data Services at Berkeley

D-Lab Supports Berkeley faculty, staff, and graduate students with research in data intensive social science, including a wide range of training and workshop offerings Dryad Dryad is a simple self-service tool for researchers to use in publishing their datasets. It provides tools for the effective publication of and access to research data. Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) Provides leadership and training across a broad array of integrated mapping technologies on campu Research Data Management A UC Berkeley guide and consulting service for research data management issues

General Research Methods Resources

Here are some general resources for assistance:

  • Assistance from ICPSR (must create an account to access): Getting Help with Data , and Resources for Students
  • Wiley Stats Ref for background information on statistics topics
  • Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) .  Program for easy web-based analysis of survey data.

Consultants

  • D-Lab/Data Science Discovery Consultants Request help with your research project from peer consultants.
  • Research data (RDM) consulting Meet with RDM consultants before designing the data security, storage, and sharing aspects of your qualitative project.
  • Statistics Department Consulting Services A service in which advanced graduate students, under faculty supervision, are available to consult during specified hours in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Related Resourcex

  • IRB / CPHS Qualitative research projects with human subjects often require that you go through an ethics review.
  • OURS (Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships) OURS supports undergraduates who want to embark on research projects and assistantships. In particular, check out their "Getting Started in Research" workshops
  • Sponsored Projects Sponsored projects works with researchers applying for major external grants.
  • Next: Quantitative Research >>
  • Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024 11:09 AM
  • URL: https://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/researchmethods
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Published by Nicolas at March 21st, 2024 , Revised On March 12, 2024

The Ultimate Guide To Research Methodology

Research methodology is a crucial aspect of any investigative process, serving as the blueprint for the entire research journey. If you are stuck in the methodology section of your research paper , then this blog will guide you on what is a research methodology, its types and how to successfully conduct one. 

Table of Contents

What Is Research Methodology?

Research methodology can be defined as the systematic framework that guides researchers in designing, conducting, and analyzing their investigations. It encompasses a structured set of processes, techniques, and tools employed to gather and interpret data, ensuring the reliability and validity of the research findings. 

Research methodology is not confined to a singular approach; rather, it encapsulates a diverse range of methods tailored to the specific requirements of the research objectives.

Here is why Research methodology is important in academic and professional settings.

Facilitating Rigorous Inquiry

Research methodology forms the backbone of rigorous inquiry. It provides a structured approach that aids researchers in formulating precise thesis statements , selecting appropriate methodologies, and executing systematic investigations. This, in turn, enhances the quality and credibility of the research outcomes.

Ensuring Reproducibility And Reliability

In both academic and professional contexts, the ability to reproduce research outcomes is paramount. A well-defined research methodology establishes clear procedures, making it possible for others to replicate the study. This not only validates the findings but also contributes to the cumulative nature of knowledge.

Guiding Decision-Making Processes

In professional settings, decisions often hinge on reliable data and insights. Research methodology equips professionals with the tools to gather pertinent information, analyze it rigorously, and derive meaningful conclusions.

This informed decision-making is instrumental in achieving organizational goals and staying ahead in competitive environments.

Contributing To Academic Excellence

For academic researchers, adherence to robust research methodology is a hallmark of excellence. Institutions value research that adheres to high standards of methodology, fostering a culture of academic rigour and intellectual integrity. Furthermore, it prepares students with critical skills applicable beyond academia.

Enhancing Problem-Solving Abilities

Research methodology instills a problem-solving mindset by encouraging researchers to approach challenges systematically. It equips individuals with the skills to dissect complex issues, formulate hypotheses , and devise effective strategies for investigation.

Understanding Research Methodology

In the pursuit of knowledge and discovery, understanding the fundamentals of research methodology is paramount. 

Basics Of Research

Research, in its essence, is a systematic and organized process of inquiry aimed at expanding our understanding of a particular subject or phenomenon. It involves the exploration of existing knowledge, the formulation of hypotheses, and the collection and analysis of data to draw meaningful conclusions. 

Research is a dynamic and iterative process that contributes to the continuous evolution of knowledge in various disciplines.

Types of Research

Research takes on various forms, each tailored to the nature of the inquiry. Broadly classified, research can be categorized into two main types:

  • Quantitative Research: This type involves the collection and analysis of numerical data to identify patterns, relationships, and statistical significance. It is particularly useful for testing hypotheses and making predictions.
  • Qualitative Research: Qualitative research focuses on understanding the depth and details of a phenomenon through non-numerical data. It often involves methods such as interviews, focus groups, and content analysis, providing rich insights into complex issues.

Components Of Research Methodology

To conduct effective research, one must go through the different components of research methodology. These components form the scaffolding that supports the entire research process, ensuring its coherence and validity.

Research Design

Research design serves as the blueprint for the entire research project. It outlines the overall structure and strategy for conducting the study. The three primary types of research design are:

  • Exploratory Research: Aimed at gaining insights and familiarity with the topic, often used in the early stages of research.
  • Descriptive Research: Involves portraying an accurate profile of a situation or phenomenon, answering the ‘what,’ ‘who,’ ‘where,’ and ‘when’ questions.
  • Explanatory Research: Seeks to identify the causes and effects of a phenomenon, explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how.’

Data Collection Methods

Choosing the right data collection methods is crucial for obtaining reliable and relevant information. Common methods include:

  • Surveys and Questionnaires: Employed to gather information from a large number of respondents through standardized questions.
  • Interviews: In-depth conversations with participants, offering qualitative insights.
  • Observation: Systematic watching and recording of behaviour, events, or processes in their natural setting.

Data Analysis Techniques

Once data is collected, analysis becomes imperative to derive meaningful conclusions. Different methodologies exist for quantitative and qualitative data:

  • Quantitative Data Analysis: Involves statistical techniques such as descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, and regression analysis to interpret numerical data.
  • Qualitative Data Analysis: Methods like content analysis, thematic analysis, and grounded theory are employed to extract patterns, themes, and meanings from non-numerical data.

The research paper we write have:

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Choosing a Research Method

Selecting an appropriate research method is a critical decision in the research process. It determines the approach, tools, and techniques that will be used to answer the research questions. 

Quantitative Research Methods

Quantitative research involves the collection and analysis of numerical data, providing a structured and objective approach to understanding and explaining phenomena.

Experimental Research

Experimental research involves manipulating variables to observe the effect on another variable under controlled conditions. It aims to establish cause-and-effect relationships.

Key Characteristics:

  • Controlled Environment: Experiments are conducted in a controlled setting to minimize external influences.
  • Random Assignment: Participants are randomly assigned to different experimental conditions.
  • Quantitative Data: Data collected is numerical, allowing for statistical analysis.

Applications: Commonly used in scientific studies and psychology to test hypotheses and identify causal relationships.

Survey Research

Survey research gathers information from a sample of individuals through standardized questionnaires or interviews. It aims to collect data on opinions, attitudes, and behaviours.

  • Structured Instruments: Surveys use structured instruments, such as questionnaires, to collect data.
  • Large Sample Size: Surveys often target a large and diverse group of participants.
  • Quantitative Data Analysis: Responses are quantified for statistical analysis.

Applications: Widely employed in social sciences, marketing, and public opinion research to understand trends and preferences.

Descriptive Research

Descriptive research seeks to portray an accurate profile of a situation or phenomenon. It focuses on answering the ‘what,’ ‘who,’ ‘where,’ and ‘when’ questions.

  • Observation and Data Collection: This involves observing and documenting without manipulating variables.
  • Objective Description: Aim to provide an unbiased and factual account of the subject.
  • Quantitative or Qualitative Data: T his can include both types of data, depending on the research focus.

Applications: Useful in situations where researchers want to understand and describe a phenomenon without altering it, common in social sciences and education.

Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative research emphasizes exploring and understanding the depth and complexity of phenomena through non-numerical data.

A case study is an in-depth exploration of a particular person, group, event, or situation. It involves detailed, context-rich analysis.

  • Rich Data Collection: Uses various data sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents.
  • Contextual Understanding: Aims to understand the context and unique characteristics of the case.
  • Holistic Approach: Examines the case in its entirety.

Applications: Common in social sciences, psychology, and business to investigate complex and specific instances.

Ethnography

Ethnography involves immersing the researcher in the culture or community being studied to gain a deep understanding of their behaviours, beliefs, and practices.

  • Participant Observation: Researchers actively participate in the community or setting.
  • Holistic Perspective: Focuses on the interconnectedness of cultural elements.
  • Qualitative Data: In-depth narratives and descriptions are central to ethnographic studies.

Applications: Widely used in anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies to explore and document cultural practices.

Grounded Theory

Grounded theory aims to develop theories grounded in the data itself. It involves systematic data collection and analysis to construct theories from the ground up.

  • Constant Comparison: Data is continually compared and analyzed during the research process.
  • Inductive Reasoning: Theories emerge from the data rather than being imposed on it.
  • Iterative Process: The research design evolves as the study progresses.

Applications: Commonly applied in sociology, nursing, and management studies to generate theories from empirical data.

Research design is the structural framework that outlines the systematic process and plan for conducting a study. It serves as the blueprint, guiding researchers on how to collect, analyze, and interpret data.

Exploratory, Descriptive, And Explanatory Designs

Exploratory design.

Exploratory research design is employed when a researcher aims to explore a relatively unknown subject or gain insights into a complex phenomenon.

  • Flexibility: Allows for flexibility in data collection and analysis.
  • Open-Ended Questions: Uses open-ended questions to gather a broad range of information.
  • Preliminary Nature: Often used in the initial stages of research to formulate hypotheses.

Applications: Valuable in the early stages of investigation, especially when the researcher seeks a deeper understanding of a subject before formalizing research questions.

Descriptive Design

Descriptive research design focuses on portraying an accurate profile of a situation, group, or phenomenon.

  • Structured Data Collection: Involves systematic and structured data collection methods.
  • Objective Presentation: Aims to provide an unbiased and factual account of the subject.
  • Quantitative or Qualitative Data: Can incorporate both types of data, depending on the research objectives.

Applications: Widely used in social sciences, marketing, and educational research to provide detailed and objective descriptions.

Explanatory Design

Explanatory research design aims to identify the causes and effects of a phenomenon, explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind observed relationships.

  • Causal Relationships: Seeks to establish causal relationships between variables.
  • Controlled Variables : Often involves controlling certain variables to isolate causal factors.
  • Quantitative Analysis: Primarily relies on quantitative data analysis techniques.

Applications: Commonly employed in scientific studies and social sciences to delve into the underlying reasons behind observed patterns.

Cross-Sectional Vs. Longitudinal Designs

Cross-sectional design.

Cross-sectional designs collect data from participants at a single point in time.

  • Snapshot View: Provides a snapshot of a population at a specific moment.
  • Efficiency: More efficient in terms of time and resources.
  • Limited Temporal Insights: Offers limited insights into changes over time.

Applications: Suitable for studying characteristics or behaviours that are stable or not expected to change rapidly.

Longitudinal Design

Longitudinal designs involve the collection of data from the same participants over an extended period.

  • Temporal Sequence: Allows for the examination of changes over time.
  • Causality Assessment: Facilitates the assessment of cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Resource-Intensive: Requires more time and resources compared to cross-sectional designs.

Applications: Ideal for studying developmental processes, trends, or the impact of interventions over time.

Experimental Vs Non-experimental Designs

Experimental design.

Experimental designs involve manipulating variables under controlled conditions to observe the effect on another variable.

  • Causality Inference: Enables the inference of cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Quantitative Data: Primarily involves the collection and analysis of numerical data.

Applications: Commonly used in scientific studies, psychology, and medical research to establish causal relationships.

Non-Experimental Design

Non-experimental designs observe and describe phenomena without manipulating variables.

  • Natural Settings: Data is often collected in natural settings without intervention.
  • Descriptive or Correlational: Focuses on describing relationships or correlations between variables.
  • Quantitative or Qualitative Data: This can involve either type of data, depending on the research approach.

Applications: Suitable for studying complex phenomena in real-world settings where manipulation may not be ethical or feasible.

Effective data collection is fundamental to the success of any research endeavour. 

Designing Effective Surveys

Objective Design:

  • Clearly define the research objectives to guide the survey design.
  • Craft questions that align with the study’s goals and avoid ambiguity.

Structured Format:

  • Use a structured format with standardized questions for consistency.
  • Include a mix of closed-ended and open-ended questions for detailed insights.

Pilot Testing:

  • Conduct pilot tests to identify and rectify potential issues with survey design.
  • Ensure clarity, relevance, and appropriateness of questions.

Sampling Strategy:

  • Develop a robust sampling strategy to ensure a representative participant group.
  • Consider random sampling or stratified sampling based on the research goals.

Conducting Interviews

Establishing Rapport:

  • Build rapport with participants to create a comfortable and open environment.
  • Clearly communicate the purpose of the interview and the value of participants’ input.

Open-Ended Questions:

  • Frame open-ended questions to encourage detailed responses.
  • Allow participants to express their thoughts and perspectives freely.

Active Listening:

  • Practice active listening to understand areas and gather rich data.
  • Avoid interrupting and maintain a non-judgmental stance during the interview.

Ethical Considerations:

  • Obtain informed consent and assure participants of confidentiality.
  • Be transparent about the study’s purpose and potential implications.

Observation

1. participant observation.

Immersive Participation:

  • Actively immerse yourself in the setting or group being observed.
  • Develop a deep understanding of behaviours, interactions, and context.

Field Notes:

  • Maintain detailed and reflective field notes during observations.
  • Document observed patterns, unexpected events, and participant reactions.

Ethical Awareness:

  • Be conscious of ethical considerations, ensuring respect for participants.
  • Balance the role of observer and participant to minimize bias.

2. Non-participant Observation

Objective Observation:

  • Maintain a more detached and objective stance during non-participant observation.
  • Focus on recording behaviours, events, and patterns without direct involvement.

Data Reliability:

  • Enhance the reliability of data by reducing observer bias.
  • Develop clear observation protocols and guidelines.

Contextual Understanding:

  • Strive for a thorough understanding of the observed context.
  • Consider combining non-participant observation with other methods for triangulation.

Archival Research

1. using existing data.

Identifying Relevant Archives:

  • Locate and access archives relevant to the research topic.
  • Collaborate with institutions or repositories holding valuable data.

Data Verification:

  • Verify the accuracy and reliability of archived data.
  • Cross-reference with other sources to ensure data integrity.

Ethical Use:

  • Adhere to ethical guidelines when using existing data.
  • Respect copyright and intellectual property rights.

2. Challenges and Considerations

Incomplete or Inaccurate Archives:

  • Address the possibility of incomplete or inaccurate archival records.
  • Acknowledge limitations and uncertainties in the data.

Temporal Bias:

  • Recognize potential temporal biases in archived data.
  • Consider the historical context and changes that may impact interpretation.

Access Limitations:

  • Address potential limitations in accessing certain archives.
  • Seek alternative sources or collaborate with institutions to overcome barriers.

Common Challenges in Research Methodology

Conducting research is a complex and dynamic process, often accompanied by a myriad of challenges. Addressing these challenges is crucial to ensure the reliability and validity of research findings.

Sampling Issues

Sampling bias:.

  • The presence of sampling bias can lead to an unrepresentative sample, affecting the generalizability of findings.
  • Employ random sampling methods and ensure the inclusion of diverse participants to reduce bias.

Sample Size Determination:

  • Determining an appropriate sample size is a delicate balance. Too small a sample may lack statistical power, while an excessively large sample may strain resources.
  • Conduct a power analysis to determine the optimal sample size based on the research objectives and expected effect size.

Data Quality And Validity

Measurement error:.

  • Inaccuracies in measurement tools or data collection methods can introduce measurement errors, impacting the validity of results.
  • Pilot test instruments, calibrate equipment, and use standardized measures to enhance the reliability of data.

Construct Validity:

  • Ensuring that the chosen measures accurately capture the intended constructs is a persistent challenge.
  • Use established measurement instruments and employ multiple measures to assess the same construct for triangulation.

Time And Resource Constraints

Timeline pressures:.

  • Limited timeframes can compromise the depth and thoroughness of the research process.
  • Develop a realistic timeline, prioritize tasks, and communicate expectations with stakeholders to manage time constraints effectively.

Resource Availability:

  • Inadequate resources, whether financial or human, can impede the execution of research activities.
  • Seek external funding, collaborate with other researchers, and explore alternative methods that require fewer resources.

Managing Bias in Research

Selection bias:.

  • Selecting participants in a way that systematically skews the sample can introduce selection bias.
  • Employ randomization techniques, use stratified sampling, and transparently report participant recruitment methods.

Confirmation Bias:

  • Researchers may unintentionally favour information that confirms their preconceived beliefs or hypotheses.
  • Adopt a systematic and open-minded approach, use blinded study designs, and engage in peer review to mitigate confirmation bias.

Tips On How To Write A Research Methodology

Conducting successful research relies not only on the application of sound methodologies but also on strategic planning and effective collaboration. Here are some tips to enhance the success of your research methodology:

Tip 1. Clear Research Objectives

Well-defined research objectives guide the entire research process. Clearly articulate the purpose of your study, outlining specific research questions or hypotheses.

Tip 2. Comprehensive Literature Review

A thorough literature review provides a foundation for understanding existing knowledge and identifying gaps. Invest time in reviewing relevant literature to inform your research design and methodology.

Tip 3. Detailed Research Plan

A detailed plan serves as a roadmap, ensuring all aspects of the research are systematically addressed. Develop a detailed research plan outlining timelines, milestones, and tasks.

Tip 4. Ethical Considerations

Ethical practices are fundamental to maintaining the integrity of research. Address ethical considerations early, obtain necessary approvals, and ensure participant rights are safeguarded.

Tip 5. Stay Updated On Methodologies

Research methodologies evolve, and staying updated is essential for employing the most effective techniques. Engage in continuous learning by attending workshops, conferences, and reading recent publications.

Tip 6. Adaptability In Methods

Unforeseen challenges may arise during research, necessitating adaptability in methods. Be flexible and willing to modify your approach when needed, ensuring the integrity of the study.

Tip 7. Iterative Approach

Research is often an iterative process, and refining methods based on ongoing findings enhance the study’s robustness. Regularly review and refine your research design and methods as the study progresses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the research methodology.

Research methodology is the systematic process of planning, executing, and evaluating scientific investigation. It encompasses the techniques, tools, and procedures used to collect, analyze, and interpret data, ensuring the reliability and validity of research findings.

What are the methodologies in research?

Research methodologies include qualitative and quantitative approaches. Qualitative methods involve in-depth exploration of non-numerical data, while quantitative methods use statistical analysis to examine numerical data. Mixed methods combine both approaches for a comprehensive understanding of research questions.

How to write research methodology?

To write a research methodology, clearly outline the study’s design, data collection, and analysis procedures. Specify research tools, participants, and sampling methods. Justify choices and discuss limitations. Ensure clarity, coherence, and alignment with research objectives for a robust methodology section.

How to write the methodology section of a research paper?

In the methodology section of a research paper, describe the study’s design, data collection, and analysis methods. Detail procedures, tools, participants, and sampling. Justify choices, address ethical considerations, and explain how the methodology aligns with research objectives, ensuring clarity and rigour.

What is mixed research methodology?

Mixed research methodology combines both qualitative and quantitative research approaches within a single study. This approach aims to enhance the details and depth of research findings by providing a more comprehensive understanding of the research problem or question.

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Research Design | Step-by-Step Guide with Examples

Published on 5 May 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 20 March 2023.

A research design is a strategy for answering your research question  using empirical data. Creating a research design means making decisions about:

  • Your overall aims and approach
  • The type of research design you’ll use
  • Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects
  • Your data collection methods
  • The procedures you’ll follow to collect data
  • Your data analysis methods

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research aims and that you use the right kind of analysis for your data.

Table of contents

Step 1: consider your aims and approach, step 2: choose a type of research design, step 3: identify your population and sampling method, step 4: choose your data collection methods, step 5: plan your data collection procedures, step 6: decide on your data analysis strategies, frequently asked questions.

  • Introduction

Before you can start designing your research, you should already have a clear idea of the research question you want to investigate.

There are many different ways you could go about answering this question. Your research design choices should be driven by your aims and priorities – start by thinking carefully about what you want to achieve.

The first choice you need to make is whether you’ll take a qualitative or quantitative approach.

Qualitative research designs tend to be more flexible and inductive , allowing you to adjust your approach based on what you find throughout the research process.

Quantitative research designs tend to be more fixed and deductive , with variables and hypotheses clearly defined in advance of data collection.

It’s also possible to use a mixed methods design that integrates aspects of both approaches. By combining qualitative and quantitative insights, you can gain a more complete picture of the problem you’re studying and strengthen the credibility of your conclusions.

Practical and ethical considerations when designing research

As well as scientific considerations, you need to think practically when designing your research. If your research involves people or animals, you also need to consider research ethics .

  • How much time do you have to collect data and write up the research?
  • Will you be able to gain access to the data you need (e.g., by travelling to a specific location or contacting specific people)?
  • Do you have the necessary research skills (e.g., statistical analysis or interview techniques)?
  • Will you need ethical approval ?

At each stage of the research design process, make sure that your choices are practically feasible.

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Within both qualitative and quantitative approaches, there are several types of research design to choose from. Each type provides a framework for the overall shape of your research.

Types of quantitative research designs

Quantitative designs can be split into four main types. Experimental and   quasi-experimental designs allow you to test cause-and-effect relationships, while descriptive and correlational designs allow you to measure variables and describe relationships between them.

With descriptive and correlational designs, you can get a clear picture of characteristics, trends, and relationships as they exist in the real world. However, you can’t draw conclusions about cause and effect (because correlation doesn’t imply causation ).

Experiments are the strongest way to test cause-and-effect relationships without the risk of other variables influencing the results. However, their controlled conditions may not always reflect how things work in the real world. They’re often also more difficult and expensive to implement.

Types of qualitative research designs

Qualitative designs are less strictly defined. This approach is about gaining a rich, detailed understanding of a specific context or phenomenon, and you can often be more creative and flexible in designing your research.

The table below shows some common types of qualitative design. They often have similar approaches in terms of data collection, but focus on different aspects when analysing the data.

Your research design should clearly define who or what your research will focus on, and how you’ll go about choosing your participants or subjects.

In research, a population is the entire group that you want to draw conclusions about, while a sample is the smaller group of individuals you’ll actually collect data from.

Defining the population

A population can be made up of anything you want to study – plants, animals, organisations, texts, countries, etc. In the social sciences, it most often refers to a group of people.

For example, will you focus on people from a specific demographic, region, or background? Are you interested in people with a certain job or medical condition, or users of a particular product?

The more precisely you define your population, the easier it will be to gather a representative sample.

Sampling methods

Even with a narrowly defined population, it’s rarely possible to collect data from every individual. Instead, you’ll collect data from a sample.

To select a sample, there are two main approaches: probability sampling and non-probability sampling . The sampling method you use affects how confidently you can generalise your results to the population as a whole.

Probability sampling is the most statistically valid option, but it’s often difficult to achieve unless you’re dealing with a very small and accessible population.

For practical reasons, many studies use non-probability sampling, but it’s important to be aware of the limitations and carefully consider potential biases. You should always make an effort to gather a sample that’s as representative as possible of the population.

Case selection in qualitative research

In some types of qualitative designs, sampling may not be relevant.

For example, in an ethnography or a case study, your aim is to deeply understand a specific context, not to generalise to a population. Instead of sampling, you may simply aim to collect as much data as possible about the context you are studying.

In these types of design, you still have to carefully consider your choice of case or community. You should have a clear rationale for why this particular case is suitable for answering your research question.

For example, you might choose a case study that reveals an unusual or neglected aspect of your research problem, or you might choose several very similar or very different cases in order to compare them.

Data collection methods are ways of directly measuring variables and gathering information. They allow you to gain first-hand knowledge and original insights into your research problem.

You can choose just one data collection method, or use several methods in the same study.

Survey methods

Surveys allow you to collect data about opinions, behaviours, experiences, and characteristics by asking people directly. There are two main survey methods to choose from: questionnaires and interviews.

Observation methods

Observations allow you to collect data unobtrusively, observing characteristics, behaviours, or social interactions without relying on self-reporting.

Observations may be conducted in real time, taking notes as you observe, or you might make audiovisual recordings for later analysis. They can be qualitative or quantitative.

Other methods of data collection

There are many other ways you might collect data depending on your field and topic.

If you’re not sure which methods will work best for your research design, try reading some papers in your field to see what data collection methods they used.

Secondary data

If you don’t have the time or resources to collect data from the population you’re interested in, you can also choose to use secondary data that other researchers already collected – for example, datasets from government surveys or previous studies on your topic.

With this raw data, you can do your own analysis to answer new research questions that weren’t addressed by the original study.

Using secondary data can expand the scope of your research, as you may be able to access much larger and more varied samples than you could collect yourself.

However, it also means you don’t have any control over which variables to measure or how to measure them, so the conclusions you can draw may be limited.

As well as deciding on your methods, you need to plan exactly how you’ll use these methods to collect data that’s consistent, accurate, and unbiased.

Planning systematic procedures is especially important in quantitative research, where you need to precisely define your variables and ensure your measurements are reliable and valid.

Operationalisation

Some variables, like height or age, are easily measured. But often you’ll be dealing with more abstract concepts, like satisfaction, anxiety, or competence. Operationalisation means turning these fuzzy ideas into measurable indicators.

If you’re using observations , which events or actions will you count?

If you’re using surveys , which questions will you ask and what range of responses will be offered?

You may also choose to use or adapt existing materials designed to measure the concept you’re interested in – for example, questionnaires or inventories whose reliability and validity has already been established.

Reliability and validity

Reliability means your results can be consistently reproduced , while validity means that you’re actually measuring the concept you’re interested in.

For valid and reliable results, your measurement materials should be thoroughly researched and carefully designed. Plan your procedures to make sure you carry out the same steps in the same way for each participant.

If you’re developing a new questionnaire or other instrument to measure a specific concept, running a pilot study allows you to check its validity and reliability in advance.

Sampling procedures

As well as choosing an appropriate sampling method, you need a concrete plan for how you’ll actually contact and recruit your selected sample.

That means making decisions about things like:

  • How many participants do you need for an adequate sample size?
  • What inclusion and exclusion criteria will you use to identify eligible participants?
  • How will you contact your sample – by mail, online, by phone, or in person?

If you’re using a probability sampling method, it’s important that everyone who is randomly selected actually participates in the study. How will you ensure a high response rate?

If you’re using a non-probability method, how will you avoid bias and ensure a representative sample?

Data management

It’s also important to create a data management plan for organising and storing your data.

Will you need to transcribe interviews or perform data entry for observations? You should anonymise and safeguard any sensitive data, and make sure it’s backed up regularly.

Keeping your data well organised will save time when it comes to analysing them. It can also help other researchers validate and add to your findings.

On their own, raw data can’t answer your research question. The last step of designing your research is planning how you’ll analyse the data.

Quantitative data analysis

In quantitative research, you’ll most likely use some form of statistical analysis . With statistics, you can summarise your sample data, make estimates, and test hypotheses.

Using descriptive statistics , you can summarise your sample data in terms of:

  • The distribution of the data (e.g., the frequency of each score on a test)
  • The central tendency of the data (e.g., the mean to describe the average score)
  • The variability of the data (e.g., the standard deviation to describe how spread out the scores are)

The specific calculations you can do depend on the level of measurement of your variables.

Using inferential statistics , you can:

  • Make estimates about the population based on your sample data.
  • Test hypotheses about a relationship between variables.

Regression and correlation tests look for associations between two or more variables, while comparison tests (such as t tests and ANOVAs ) look for differences in the outcomes of different groups.

Your choice of statistical test depends on various aspects of your research design, including the types of variables you’re dealing with and the distribution of your data.

Qualitative data analysis

In qualitative research, your data will usually be very dense with information and ideas. Instead of summing it up in numbers, you’ll need to comb through the data in detail, interpret its meanings, identify patterns, and extract the parts that are most relevant to your research question.

Two of the most common approaches to doing this are thematic analysis and discourse analysis .

There are many other ways of analysing qualitative data depending on the aims of your research. To get a sense of potential approaches, try reading some qualitative research papers in your field.

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population. Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research.

For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

Statistical sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population. There are various sampling methods you can use to ensure that your sample is representative of the population as a whole.

Operationalisation means turning abstract conceptual ideas into measurable observations.

For example, the concept of social anxiety isn’t directly observable, but it can be operationally defined in terms of self-rating scores, behavioural avoidance of crowded places, or physical anxiety symptoms in social situations.

Before collecting data , it’s important to consider how you will operationalise the variables that you want to measure.

The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts, and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyse a large amount of readily available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how they are generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

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  • How to Write Your Methods

make a research method

Ensure understanding, reproducibility and replicability

What should you include in your methods section, and how much detail is appropriate?

Why Methods Matter

The methods section was once the most likely part of a paper to be unfairly abbreviated, overly summarized, or even relegated to hard-to-find sections of a publisher’s website. While some journals may responsibly include more detailed elements of methods in supplementary sections, the movement for increased reproducibility and rigor in science has reinstated the importance of the methods section. Methods are now viewed as a key element in establishing the credibility of the research being reported, alongside the open availability of data and results.

A clear methods section impacts editorial evaluation and readers’ understanding, and is also the backbone of transparency and replicability.

For example, the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology project set out in 2013 to replicate experiments from 50 high profile cancer papers, but revised their target to 18 papers once they understood how much methodological detail was not contained in the original papers.

make a research method

What to include in your methods section

What you include in your methods sections depends on what field you are in and what experiments you are performing. However, the general principle in place at the majority of journals is summarized well by the guidelines at PLOS ONE : “The Materials and Methods section should provide enough detail to allow suitably skilled investigators to fully replicate your study. ” The emphases here are deliberate: the methods should enable readers to understand your paper, and replicate your study. However, there is no need to go into the level of detail that a lay-person would require—the focus is on the reader who is also trained in your field, with the suitable skills and knowledge to attempt a replication.

A constant principle of rigorous science

A methods section that enables other researchers to understand and replicate your results is a constant principle of rigorous, transparent, and Open Science. Aim to be thorough, even if a particular journal doesn’t require the same level of detail . Reproducibility is all of our responsibility. You cannot create any problems by exceeding a minimum standard of information. If a journal still has word-limits—either for the overall article or specific sections—and requires some methodological details to be in a supplemental section, that is OK as long as the extra details are searchable and findable .

Imagine replicating your own work, years in the future

As part of PLOS’ presentation on Reproducibility and Open Publishing (part of UCSF’s Reproducibility Series ) we recommend planning the level of detail in your methods section by imagining you are writing for your future self, replicating your own work. When you consider that you might be at a different institution, with different account logins, applications, resources, and access levels—you can help yourself imagine the level of specificity that you yourself would require to redo the exact experiment. Consider:

  • Which details would you need to be reminded of? 
  • Which cell line, or antibody, or software, or reagent did you use, and does it have a Research Resource ID (RRID) that you can cite?
  • Which version of a questionnaire did you use in your survey? 
  • Exactly which visual stimulus did you show participants, and is it publicly available? 
  • What participants did you decide to exclude? 
  • What process did you adjust, during your work? 

Tip: Be sure to capture any changes to your protocols

You yourself would want to know about any adjustments, if you ever replicate the work, so you can surmise that anyone else would want to as well. Even if a necessary adjustment you made was not ideal, transparency is the key to ensuring this is not regarded as an issue in the future. It is far better to transparently convey any non-optimal methods, or methodological constraints, than to conceal them, which could result in reproducibility or ethical issues downstream.

Visual aids for methods help when reading the whole paper

Consider whether a visual representation of your methods could be appropriate or aid understanding your process. A visual reference readers can easily return to, like a flow-diagram, decision-tree, or checklist, can help readers to better understand the complete article, not just the methods section.

Ethical Considerations

In addition to describing what you did, it is just as important to assure readers that you also followed all relevant ethical guidelines when conducting your research. While ethical standards and reporting guidelines are often presented in a separate section of a paper, ensure that your methods and protocols actually follow these guidelines. Read more about ethics .

Existing standards, checklists, guidelines, partners

While the level of detail contained in a methods section should be guided by the universal principles of rigorous science outlined above, various disciplines, fields, and projects have worked hard to design and develop consistent standards, guidelines, and tools to help with reporting all types of experiment. Below, you’ll find some of the key initiatives. Ensure you read the submission guidelines for the specific journal you are submitting to, in order to discover any further journal- or field-specific policies to follow, or initiatives/tools to utilize.

Tip: Keep your paper moving forward by providing the proper paperwork up front

Be sure to check the journal guidelines and provide the necessary documents with your manuscript submission. Collecting the necessary documentation can greatly slow the first round of peer review, or cause delays when you submit your revision.

Randomized Controlled Trials – CONSORT The Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) project covers various initiatives intended to prevent the problems of  inadequate reporting of randomized controlled trials. The primary initiative is an evidence-based minimum set of recommendations for reporting randomized trials known as the CONSORT Statement . 

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses – PRISMA The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses ( PRISMA ) is an evidence-based minimum set of items focusing  on the reporting of  reviews evaluating randomized trials and other types of research.

Research using Animals – ARRIVE The Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments ( ARRIVE ) guidelines encourage maximizing the information reported in research using animals thereby minimizing unnecessary studies. (Original study and proposal , and updated guidelines , in PLOS Biology .) 

Laboratory Protocols Protocols.io has developed a platform specifically for the sharing and updating of laboratory protocols , which are assigned their own DOI and can be linked from methods sections of papers to enhance reproducibility. Contextualize your protocol and improve discovery with an accompanying Lab Protocol article in PLOS ONE .

Consistent reporting of Materials, Design, and Analysis – the MDAR checklist A cross-publisher group of editors and experts have developed, tested, and rolled out a checklist to help establish and harmonize reporting standards in the Life Sciences . The checklist , which is available for use by authors to compile their methods, and editors/reviewers to check methods, establishes a minimum set of requirements in transparent reporting and is adaptable to any discipline within the Life Sciences, by covering a breadth of potentially relevant methodological items and considerations. If you are in the Life Sciences and writing up your methods section, try working through the MDAR checklist and see whether it helps you include all relevant details into your methods, and whether it reminded you of anything you might have missed otherwise.

Summary Writing tips

The main challenge you may find when writing your methods is keeping it readable AND covering all the details needed for reproducibility and replicability. While this is difficult, do not compromise on rigorous standards for credibility!

make a research method

  • Keep in mind future replicability, alongside understanding and readability.
  • Follow checklists, and field- and journal-specific guidelines.
  • Consider a commitment to rigorous and transparent science a personal responsibility, and not just adhering to journal guidelines.
  • Establish whether there are persistent identifiers for any research resources you use that can be specifically cited in your methods section.
  • Deposit your laboratory protocols in Protocols.io, establishing a permanent link to them. You can update your protocols later if you improve on them, as can future scientists who follow your protocols.
  • Consider visual aids like flow-diagrams, lists, to help with reading other sections of the paper.
  • Be specific about all decisions made during the experiments that someone reproducing your work would need to know.

make a research method

Don’t

  • Summarize or abbreviate methods without giving full details in a discoverable supplemental section.
  • Presume you will always be able to remember how you performed the experiments, or have access to private or institutional notebooks and resources.
  • Attempt to hide constraints or non-optimal decisions you had to make–transparency is the key to ensuring the credibility of your research.
  • How to Write a Great Title
  • How to Write an Abstract
  • How to Report Statistics
  • How to Write Discussions and Conclusions
  • How to Edit Your Work

The contents of the Peer Review Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

The contents of the Writing Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher…

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • 6. The Methodology
  • Purpose of Guide
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  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
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  • The Research Problem/Question
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  • Primary Sources
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  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
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  • Common Grammar Mistakes
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  • Bibliography

The methods section describes actions taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analyzed? The writing should be direct and precise and always written in the past tense.

Kallet, Richard H. "How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper." Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004): 1229-1232.

Importance of a Good Methodology Section

You must explain how you obtained and analyzed your results for the following reasons:

  • Readers need to know how the data was obtained because the method you chose affects the results and, by extension, how you interpreted their significance in the discussion section of your paper.
  • Methodology is crucial for any branch of scholarship because an unreliable method produces unreliable results and, as a consequence, undermines the value of your analysis of the findings.
  • In most cases, there are a variety of different methods you can choose to investigate a research problem. The methodology section of your paper should clearly articulate the reasons why you have chosen a particular procedure or technique.
  • The reader wants to know that the data was collected or generated in a way that is consistent with accepted practice in the field of study. For example, if you are using a multiple choice questionnaire, readers need to know that it offered your respondents a reasonable range of answers to choose from.
  • The method must be appropriate to fulfilling the overall aims of the study. For example, you need to ensure that you have a large enough sample size to be able to generalize and make recommendations based upon the findings.
  • The methodology should discuss the problems that were anticipated and the steps you took to prevent them from occurring. For any problems that do arise, you must describe the ways in which they were minimized or why these problems do not impact in any meaningful way your interpretation of the findings.
  • In the social and behavioral sciences, it is important to always provide sufficient information to allow other researchers to adopt or replicate your methodology. This information is particularly important when a new method has been developed or an innovative use of an existing method is utilized.

Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Psychology Writing Center. University of Washington; Denscombe, Martyn. The Good Research Guide: For Small-Scale Social Research Projects . 5th edition. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 2014; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2008.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Groups of Research Methods

There are two main groups of research methods in the social sciences:

  • The e mpirical-analytical group approaches the study of social sciences in a similar manner that researchers study the natural sciences . This type of research focuses on objective knowledge, research questions that can be answered yes or no, and operational definitions of variables to be measured. The empirical-analytical group employs deductive reasoning that uses existing theory as a foundation for formulating hypotheses that need to be tested. This approach is focused on explanation.
  • The i nterpretative group of methods is focused on understanding phenomenon in a comprehensive, holistic way . Interpretive methods focus on analytically disclosing the meaning-making practices of human subjects [the why, how, or by what means people do what they do], while showing how those practices arrange so that it can be used to generate observable outcomes. Interpretive methods allow you to recognize your connection to the phenomena under investigation. However, the interpretative group requires careful examination of variables because it focuses more on subjective knowledge.

II.  Content

The introduction to your methodology section should begin by restating the research problem and underlying assumptions underpinning your study. This is followed by situating the methods you used to gather, analyze, and process information within the overall “tradition” of your field of study and within the particular research design you have chosen to study the problem. If the method you choose lies outside of the tradition of your field [i.e., your review of the literature demonstrates that the method is not commonly used], provide a justification for how your choice of methods specifically addresses the research problem in ways that have not been utilized in prior studies.

The remainder of your methodology section should describe the following:

  • Decisions made in selecting the data you have analyzed or, in the case of qualitative research, the subjects and research setting you have examined,
  • Tools and methods used to identify and collect information, and how you identified relevant variables,
  • The ways in which you processed the data and the procedures you used to analyze that data, and
  • The specific research tools or strategies that you utilized to study the underlying hypothesis and research questions.

In addition, an effectively written methodology section should:

  • Introduce the overall methodological approach for investigating your research problem . Is your study qualitative or quantitative or a combination of both (mixed method)? Are you going to take a special approach, such as action research, or a more neutral stance?
  • Indicate how the approach fits the overall research design . Your methods for gathering data should have a clear connection to your research problem. In other words, make sure that your methods will actually address the problem. One of the most common deficiencies found in research papers is that the proposed methodology is not suitable to achieving the stated objective of your paper.
  • Describe the specific methods of data collection you are going to use , such as, surveys, interviews, questionnaires, observation, archival research. If you are analyzing existing data, such as a data set or archival documents, describe how it was originally created or gathered and by whom. Also be sure to explain how older data is still relevant to investigating the current research problem.
  • Explain how you intend to analyze your results . Will you use statistical analysis? Will you use specific theoretical perspectives to help you analyze a text or explain observed behaviors? Describe how you plan to obtain an accurate assessment of relationships, patterns, trends, distributions, and possible contradictions found in the data.
  • Provide background and a rationale for methodologies that are unfamiliar for your readers . Very often in the social sciences, research problems and the methods for investigating them require more explanation/rationale than widely accepted rules governing the natural and physical sciences. Be clear and concise in your explanation.
  • Provide a justification for subject selection and sampling procedure . For instance, if you propose to conduct interviews, how do you intend to select the sample population? If you are analyzing texts, which texts have you chosen, and why? If you are using statistics, why is this set of data being used? If other data sources exist, explain why the data you chose is most appropriate to addressing the research problem.
  • Provide a justification for case study selection . A common method of analyzing research problems in the social sciences is to analyze specific cases. These can be a person, place, event, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis that are either examined as a singular topic of in-depth investigation or multiple topics of investigation studied for the purpose of comparing or contrasting findings. In either method, you should explain why a case or cases were chosen and how they specifically relate to the research problem.
  • Describe potential limitations . Are there any practical limitations that could affect your data collection? How will you attempt to control for potential confounding variables and errors? If your methodology may lead to problems you can anticipate, state this openly and show why pursuing this methodology outweighs the risk of these problems cropping up.

NOTE:   Once you have written all of the elements of the methods section, subsequent revisions should focus on how to present those elements as clearly and as logically as possibly. The description of how you prepared to study the research problem, how you gathered the data, and the protocol for analyzing the data should be organized chronologically. For clarity, when a large amount of detail must be presented, information should be presented in sub-sections according to topic. If necessary, consider using appendices for raw data.

ANOTHER NOTE: If you are conducting a qualitative analysis of a research problem , the methodology section generally requires a more elaborate description of the methods used as well as an explanation of the processes applied to gathering and analyzing of data than is generally required for studies using quantitative methods. Because you are the primary instrument for generating the data [e.g., through interviews or observations], the process for collecting that data has a significantly greater impact on producing the findings. Therefore, qualitative research requires a more detailed description of the methods used.

YET ANOTHER NOTE:   If your study involves interviews, observations, or other qualitative techniques involving human subjects , you may be required to obtain approval from the university's Office for the Protection of Research Subjects before beginning your research. This is not a common procedure for most undergraduate level student research assignments. However, i f your professor states you need approval, you must include a statement in your methods section that you received official endorsement and adequate informed consent from the office and that there was a clear assessment and minimization of risks to participants and to the university. This statement informs the reader that your study was conducted in an ethical and responsible manner. In some cases, the approval notice is included as an appendix to your paper.

III.  Problems to Avoid

Irrelevant Detail The methodology section of your paper should be thorough but concise. Do not provide any background information that does not directly help the reader understand why a particular method was chosen, how the data was gathered or obtained, and how the data was analyzed in relation to the research problem [note: analyzed, not interpreted! Save how you interpreted the findings for the discussion section]. With this in mind, the page length of your methods section will generally be less than any other section of your paper except the conclusion.

Unnecessary Explanation of Basic Procedures Remember that you are not writing a how-to guide about a particular method. You should make the assumption that readers possess a basic understanding of how to investigate the research problem on their own and, therefore, you do not have to go into great detail about specific methodological procedures. The focus should be on how you applied a method , not on the mechanics of doing a method. An exception to this rule is if you select an unconventional methodological approach; if this is the case, be sure to explain why this approach was chosen and how it enhances the overall process of discovery.

Problem Blindness It is almost a given that you will encounter problems when collecting or generating your data, or, gaps will exist in existing data or archival materials. Do not ignore these problems or pretend they did not occur. Often, documenting how you overcame obstacles can form an interesting part of the methodology. It demonstrates to the reader that you can provide a cogent rationale for the decisions you made to minimize the impact of any problems that arose.

Literature Review Just as the literature review section of your paper provides an overview of sources you have examined while researching a particular topic, the methodology section should cite any sources that informed your choice and application of a particular method [i.e., the choice of a survey should include any citations to the works you used to help construct the survey].

It’s More than Sources of Information! A description of a research study's method should not be confused with a description of the sources of information. Such a list of sources is useful in and of itself, especially if it is accompanied by an explanation about the selection and use of the sources. The description of the project's methodology complements a list of sources in that it sets forth the organization and interpretation of information emanating from those sources.

Azevedo, L.F. et al. "How to Write a Scientific Paper: Writing the Methods Section." Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia 17 (2011): 232-238; Blair Lorrie. “Choosing a Methodology.” In Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation , Teaching Writing Series. (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers 2016), pp. 49-72; Butin, Dan W. The Education Dissertation A Guide for Practitioner Scholars . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2010; Carter, Susan. Structuring Your Research Thesis . New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012; Kallet, Richard H. “How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper.” Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004):1229-1232; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2008. Methods Section. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Rudestam, Kjell Erik and Rae R. Newton. “The Method Chapter: Describing Your Research Plan.” In Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process . (Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 2015), pp. 87-115; What is Interpretive Research. Institute of Public and International Affairs, University of Utah; Writing the Experimental Report: Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Methods and Materials. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College.

Writing Tip

Statistical Designs and Tests? Do Not Fear Them!

Don't avoid using a quantitative approach to analyzing your research problem just because you fear the idea of applying statistical designs and tests. A qualitative approach, such as conducting interviews or content analysis of archival texts, can yield exciting new insights about a research problem, but it should not be undertaken simply because you have a disdain for running a simple regression. A well designed quantitative research study can often be accomplished in very clear and direct ways, whereas, a similar study of a qualitative nature usually requires considerable time to analyze large volumes of data and a tremendous burden to create new paths for analysis where previously no path associated with your research problem had existed.

To locate data and statistics, GO HERE .

Another Writing Tip

Knowing the Relationship Between Theories and Methods

There can be multiple meaning associated with the term "theories" and the term "methods" in social sciences research. A helpful way to delineate between them is to understand "theories" as representing different ways of characterizing the social world when you research it and "methods" as representing different ways of generating and analyzing data about that social world. Framed in this way, all empirical social sciences research involves theories and methods, whether they are stated explicitly or not. However, while theories and methods are often related, it is important that, as a researcher, you deliberately separate them in order to avoid your theories playing a disproportionate role in shaping what outcomes your chosen methods produce.

Introspectively engage in an ongoing dialectic between the application of theories and methods to help enable you to use the outcomes from your methods to interrogate and develop new theories, or ways of framing conceptually the research problem. This is how scholarship grows and branches out into new intellectual territory.

Reynolds, R. Larry. Ways of Knowing. Alternative Microeconomics . Part 1, Chapter 3. Boise State University; The Theory-Method Relationship. S-Cool Revision. United Kingdom.

Yet Another Writing Tip

Methods and the Methodology

Do not confuse the terms "methods" and "methodology." As Schneider notes, a method refers to the technical steps taken to do research . Descriptions of methods usually include defining and stating why you have chosen specific techniques to investigate a research problem, followed by an outline of the procedures you used to systematically select, gather, and process the data [remember to always save the interpretation of data for the discussion section of your paper].

The methodology refers to a discussion of the underlying reasoning why particular methods were used . This discussion includes describing the theoretical concepts that inform the choice of methods to be applied, placing the choice of methods within the more general nature of academic work, and reviewing its relevance to examining the research problem. The methodology section also includes a thorough review of the methods other scholars have used to study the topic.

Bryman, Alan. "Of Methods and Methodology." Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal 3 (2008): 159-168; Schneider, Florian. “What's in a Methodology: The Difference between Method, Methodology, and Theory…and How to Get the Balance Right?” PoliticsEastAsia.com. Chinese Department, University of Leiden, Netherlands.

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How to Write Research Methodology

Last Updated: May 27, 2024 Approved

This article was co-authored by Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Alexander Ruiz is an Educational Consultant and the Educational Director of Link Educational Institute, a tutoring business based in Claremont, California that provides customizable educational plans, subject and test prep tutoring, and college application consulting. With over a decade and a half of experience in the education industry, Alexander coaches students to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence while achieving skills and the goal of achieving skills and higher education. He holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MA in Education from Georgia Southern University. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 523,132 times.

The research methodology section of any academic research paper gives you the opportunity to convince your readers that your research is useful and will contribute to your field of study. An effective research methodology is grounded in your overall approach – whether qualitative or quantitative – and adequately describes the methods you used. Justify why you chose those methods over others, then explain how those methods will provide answers to your research questions. [1] X Research source

Describing Your Methods

Step 1 Restate your research problem.

  • In your restatement, include any underlying assumptions that you're making or conditions that you're taking for granted. These assumptions will also inform the research methods you've chosen.
  • Generally, state the variables you'll test and the other conditions you're controlling or assuming are equal.

Step 2 Establish your overall methodological approach.

  • If you want to research and document measurable social trends, or evaluate the impact of a particular policy on various variables, use a quantitative approach focused on data collection and statistical analysis.
  • If you want to evaluate people's views or understanding of a particular issue, choose a more qualitative approach.
  • You can also combine the two. For example, you might look primarily at a measurable social trend, but also interview people and get their opinions on how that trend is affecting their lives.

Step 3 Define how you collected or generated data.

  • For example, if you conducted a survey, you would describe the questions included in the survey, where and how the survey was conducted (such as in person, online, over the phone), how many surveys were distributed, and how long your respondents had to complete the survey.
  • Include enough detail that your study can be replicated by others in your field, even if they may not get the same results you did. [4] X Research source

Step 4 Provide background for uncommon methods.

  • Qualitative research methods typically require more detailed explanation than quantitative methods.
  • Basic investigative procedures don't need to be explained in detail. Generally, you can assume that your readers have a general understanding of common research methods that social scientists use, such as surveys or focus groups.

Step 5 Cite any sources that contributed to your choice of methodology.

  • For example, suppose you conducted a survey and used a couple of other research papers to help construct the questions on your survey. You would mention those as contributing sources.

Justifying Your Choice of Methods

Step 1 Explain your selection criteria for data collection.

  • Describe study participants specifically, and list any inclusion or exclusion criteria you used when forming your group of participants.
  • Justify the size of your sample, if applicable, and describe how this affects whether your study can be generalized to larger populations. For example, if you conducted a survey of 30 percent of the student population of a university, you could potentially apply those results to the student body as a whole, but maybe not to students at other universities.

Step 2 Distinguish your research from any weaknesses in your methods.

  • Reading other research papers is a good way to identify potential problems that commonly arise with various methods. State whether you actually encountered any of these common problems during your research.

Step 3 Describe how you overcame obstacles.

  • If you encountered any problems as you collected data, explain clearly the steps you took to minimize the effect that problem would have on your results.

Step 4 Evaluate other methods you could have used.

  • In some cases, this may be as simple as stating that while there were numerous studies using one method, there weren't any using your method, which caused a gap in understanding of the issue.
  • For example, there may be multiple papers providing quantitative analysis of a particular social trend. However, none of these papers looked closely at how this trend was affecting the lives of people.

Connecting Your Methods to Your Research Goals

Step 1 Describe how you analyzed your results.

  • Depending on your research questions, you may be mixing quantitative and qualitative analysis – just as you could potentially use both approaches. For example, you might do a statistical analysis, and then interpret those statistics through a particular theoretical lens.

Step 2 Explain how your analysis suits your research goals.

  • For example, suppose you're researching the effect of college education on family farms in rural America. While you could do interviews of college-educated people who grew up on a family farm, that would not give you a picture of the overall effect. A quantitative approach and statistical analysis would give you a bigger picture.

Step 3 Identify how your analysis answers your research questions.

  • If in answering your research questions, your findings have raised other questions that may require further research, state these briefly.
  • You can also include here any limitations to your methods, or questions that weren't answered through your research.

Step 4 Assess whether your findings can be transferred or generalized.

  • Generalization is more typically used in quantitative research. If you have a well-designed sample, you can statistically apply your results to the larger population your sample belongs to.

Template to Write Research Methodology

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Community Q&A

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  • Organize your methodology section chronologically, starting with how you prepared to conduct your research methods, how you gathered data, and how you analyzed that data. [13] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Write your research methodology section in past tense, unless you're submitting the methodology section before the research described has been carried out. [14] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Discuss your plans in detail with your advisor or supervisor before committing to a particular methodology. They can help identify possible flaws in your study. [15] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ http://expertjournals.com/how-to-write-a-research-methodology-for-your-academic-article/
  • ↑ http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/methodology
  • ↑ https://www.skillsyouneed.com/learn/dissertation-methodology.html
  • ↑ https://uir.unisa.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10500/4245/05Chap%204_Research%20methodology%20and%20design.pdf
  • ↑ https://elc.polyu.edu.hk/FYP/html/method.htm

About This Article

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

To write a research methodology, start with a section that outlines the problems or questions you'll be studying, including your hypotheses or whatever it is you're setting out to prove. Then, briefly explain why you chose to use either a qualitative or quantitative approach for your study. Next, go over when and where you conducted your research and what parameters you used to ensure you were objective. Finally, cite any sources you used to decide on the methodology for your research. To learn how to justify your choice of methods in your research methodology, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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What is Research Methodology? Definition, Types, and Examples

make a research method

Research methodology 1,2 is a structured and scientific approach used to collect, analyze, and interpret quantitative or qualitative data to answer research questions or test hypotheses. A research methodology is like a plan for carrying out research and helps keep researchers on track by limiting the scope of the research. Several aspects must be considered before selecting an appropriate research methodology, such as research limitations and ethical concerns that may affect your research.

The research methodology section in a scientific paper describes the different methodological choices made, such as the data collection and analysis methods, and why these choices were selected. The reasons should explain why the methods chosen are the most appropriate to answer the research question. A good research methodology also helps ensure the reliability and validity of the research findings. There are three types of research methodology—quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method, which can be chosen based on the research objectives.

What is research methodology ?

A research methodology describes the techniques and procedures used to identify and analyze information regarding a specific research topic. It is a process by which researchers design their study so that they can achieve their objectives using the selected research instruments. It includes all the important aspects of research, including research design, data collection methods, data analysis methods, and the overall framework within which the research is conducted. While these points can help you understand what is research methodology, you also need to know why it is important to pick the right methodology.

Why is research methodology important?

Having a good research methodology in place has the following advantages: 3

  • Helps other researchers who may want to replicate your research; the explanations will be of benefit to them.
  • You can easily answer any questions about your research if they arise at a later stage.
  • A research methodology provides a framework and guidelines for researchers to clearly define research questions, hypotheses, and objectives.
  • It helps researchers identify the most appropriate research design, sampling technique, and data collection and analysis methods.
  • A sound research methodology helps researchers ensure that their findings are valid and reliable and free from biases and errors.
  • It also helps ensure that ethical guidelines are followed while conducting research.
  • A good research methodology helps researchers in planning their research efficiently, by ensuring optimum usage of their time and resources.

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Types of research methodology.

There are three types of research methodology based on the type of research and the data required. 1

  • Quantitative research methodology focuses on measuring and testing numerical data. This approach is good for reaching a large number of people in a short amount of time. This type of research helps in testing the causal relationships between variables, making predictions, and generalizing results to wider populations.
  • Qualitative research methodology examines the opinions, behaviors, and experiences of people. It collects and analyzes words and textual data. This research methodology requires fewer participants but is still more time consuming because the time spent per participant is quite large. This method is used in exploratory research where the research problem being investigated is not clearly defined.
  • Mixed-method research methodology uses the characteristics of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in the same study. This method allows researchers to validate their findings, verify if the results observed using both methods are complementary, and explain any unexpected results obtained from one method by using the other method.

What are the types of sampling designs in research methodology?

Sampling 4 is an important part of a research methodology and involves selecting a representative sample of the population to conduct the study, making statistical inferences about them, and estimating the characteristics of the whole population based on these inferences. There are two types of sampling designs in research methodology—probability and nonprobability.

  • Probability sampling

In this type of sampling design, a sample is chosen from a larger population using some form of random selection, that is, every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected. The different types of probability sampling are:

  • Systematic —sample members are chosen at regular intervals. It requires selecting a starting point for the sample and sample size determination that can be repeated at regular intervals. This type of sampling method has a predefined range; hence, it is the least time consuming.
  • Stratified —researchers divide the population into smaller groups that don’t overlap but represent the entire population. While sampling, these groups can be organized, and then a sample can be drawn from each group separately.
  • Cluster —the population is divided into clusters based on demographic parameters like age, sex, location, etc.
  • Convenience —selects participants who are most easily accessible to researchers due to geographical proximity, availability at a particular time, etc.
  • Purposive —participants are selected at the researcher’s discretion. Researchers consider the purpose of the study and the understanding of the target audience.
  • Snowball —already selected participants use their social networks to refer the researcher to other potential participants.
  • Quota —while designing the study, the researchers decide how many people with which characteristics to include as participants. The characteristics help in choosing people most likely to provide insights into the subject.

What are data collection methods?

During research, data are collected using various methods depending on the research methodology being followed and the research methods being undertaken. Both qualitative and quantitative research have different data collection methods, as listed below.

Qualitative research 5

  • One-on-one interviews: Helps the interviewers understand a respondent’s subjective opinion and experience pertaining to a specific topic or event
  • Document study/literature review/record keeping: Researchers’ review of already existing written materials such as archives, annual reports, research articles, guidelines, policy documents, etc.
  • Focus groups: Constructive discussions that usually include a small sample of about 6-10 people and a moderator, to understand the participants’ opinion on a given topic.
  • Qualitative observation : Researchers collect data using their five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing).

Quantitative research 6

  • Sampling: The most common type is probability sampling.
  • Interviews: Commonly telephonic or done in-person.
  • Observations: Structured observations are most commonly used in quantitative research. In this method, researchers make observations about specific behaviors of individuals in a structured setting.
  • Document review: Reviewing existing research or documents to collect evidence for supporting the research.
  • Surveys and questionnaires. Surveys can be administered both online and offline depending on the requirement and sample size.

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What are data analysis methods.

The data collected using the various methods for qualitative and quantitative research need to be analyzed to generate meaningful conclusions. These data analysis methods 7 also differ between quantitative and qualitative research.

Quantitative research involves a deductive method for data analysis where hypotheses are developed at the beginning of the research and precise measurement is required. The methods include statistical analysis applications to analyze numerical data and are grouped into two categories—descriptive and inferential.

Descriptive analysis is used to describe the basic features of different types of data to present it in a way that ensures the patterns become meaningful. The different types of descriptive analysis methods are:

  • Measures of frequency (count, percent, frequency)
  • Measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode)
  • Measures of dispersion or variation (range, variance, standard deviation)
  • Measure of position (percentile ranks, quartile ranks)

Inferential analysis is used to make predictions about a larger population based on the analysis of the data collected from a smaller population. This analysis is used to study the relationships between different variables. Some commonly used inferential data analysis methods are:

  • Correlation: To understand the relationship between two or more variables.
  • Cross-tabulation: Analyze the relationship between multiple variables.
  • Regression analysis: Study the impact of independent variables on the dependent variable.
  • Frequency tables: To understand the frequency of data.
  • Analysis of variance: To test the degree to which two or more variables differ in an experiment.

Qualitative research involves an inductive method for data analysis where hypotheses are developed after data collection. The methods include:

  • Content analysis: For analyzing documented information from text and images by determining the presence of certain words or concepts in texts.
  • Narrative analysis: For analyzing content obtained from sources such as interviews, field observations, and surveys. The stories and opinions shared by people are used to answer research questions.
  • Discourse analysis: For analyzing interactions with people considering the social context, that is, the lifestyle and environment, under which the interaction occurs.
  • Grounded theory: Involves hypothesis creation by data collection and analysis to explain why a phenomenon occurred.
  • Thematic analysis: To identify important themes or patterns in data and use these to address an issue.

How to choose a research methodology?

Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a research methodology: 8

  • Research objectives, aims, and questions —these would help structure the research design.
  • Review existing literature to identify any gaps in knowledge.
  • Check the statistical requirements —if data-driven or statistical results are needed then quantitative research is the best. If the research questions can be answered based on people’s opinions and perceptions, then qualitative research is most suitable.
  • Sample size —sample size can often determine the feasibility of a research methodology. For a large sample, less effort- and time-intensive methods are appropriate.
  • Constraints —constraints of time, geography, and resources can help define the appropriate methodology.

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How to write a research methodology .

A research methodology should include the following components: 3,9

  • Research design —should be selected based on the research question and the data required. Common research designs include experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, descriptive, and exploratory.
  • Research method —this can be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method.
  • Reason for selecting a specific methodology —explain why this methodology is the most suitable to answer your research problem.
  • Research instruments —explain the research instruments you plan to use, mainly referring to the data collection methods such as interviews, surveys, etc. Here as well, a reason should be mentioned for selecting the particular instrument.
  • Sampling —this involves selecting a representative subset of the population being studied.
  • Data collection —involves gathering data using several data collection methods, such as surveys, interviews, etc.
  • Data analysis —describe the data analysis methods you will use once you’ve collected the data.
  • Research limitations —mention any limitations you foresee while conducting your research.
  • Validity and reliability —validity helps identify the accuracy and truthfulness of the findings; reliability refers to the consistency and stability of the results over time and across different conditions.
  • Ethical considerations —research should be conducted ethically. The considerations include obtaining consent from participants, maintaining confidentiality, and addressing conflicts of interest.

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With Paperpal you can get research advice, write and refine your work, rephrase and verify the writing, and ensure submission readiness, all in one place. Here’s how you can use Paperpal to develop the first draft of your methods section.  

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  • Check and verify text : Make sure the generated text showcases your methods correctly, has all the right citations, and is original and authentic. .   

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the key components of research methodology?

A1. A good research methodology has the following key components:

  • Research design
  • Data collection procedures
  • Data analysis methods
  • Ethical considerations

Q2. Why is ethical consideration important in research methodology?

A2. Ethical consideration is important in research methodology to ensure the readers of the reliability and validity of the study. Researchers must clearly mention the ethical norms and standards followed during the conduct of the research and also mention if the research has been cleared by any institutional board. The following 10 points are the important principles related to ethical considerations: 10

  • Participants should not be subjected to harm.
  • Respect for the dignity of participants should be prioritized.
  • Full consent should be obtained from participants before the study.
  • Participants’ privacy should be ensured.
  • Confidentiality of the research data should be ensured.
  • Anonymity of individuals and organizations participating in the research should be maintained.
  • The aims and objectives of the research should not be exaggerated.
  • Affiliations, sources of funding, and any possible conflicts of interest should be declared.
  • Communication in relation to the research should be honest and transparent.
  • Misleading information and biased representation of primary data findings should be avoided.

Q3. What is the difference between methodology and method?

A3. Research methodology is different from a research method, although both terms are often confused. Research methods are the tools used to gather data, while the research methodology provides a framework for how research is planned, conducted, and analyzed. The latter guides researchers in making decisions about the most appropriate methods for their research. Research methods refer to the specific techniques, procedures, and tools used by researchers to collect, analyze, and interpret data, for instance surveys, questionnaires, interviews, etc.

Research methodology is, thus, an integral part of a research study. It helps ensure that you stay on track to meet your research objectives and answer your research questions using the most appropriate data collection and analysis tools based on your research design.

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  • Research methodologies. Pfeiffer Library website. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://library.tiffin.edu/researchmethodologies/whatareresearchmethodologies
  • Types of research methodology. Eduvoice website. Accessed August 16, 2023. https://eduvoice.in/types-research-methodology/
  • The basics of research methodology: A key to quality research. Voxco. Accessed August 16, 2023. https://www.voxco.com/blog/what-is-research-methodology/
  • Sampling methods: Types with examples. QuestionPro website. Accessed August 16, 2023. https://www.questionpro.com/blog/types-of-sampling-for-social-research/
  • What is qualitative research? Methods, types, approaches, examples. Researcher.Life blog. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://researcher.life/blog/article/what-is-qualitative-research-methods-types-examples/
  • What is quantitative research? Definition, methods, types, and examples. Researcher.Life blog. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://researcher.life/blog/article/what-is-quantitative-research-types-and-examples/
  • Data analysis in research: Types & methods. QuestionPro website. Accessed August 16, 2023. https://www.questionpro.com/blog/data-analysis-in-research/#Data_analysis_in_qualitative_research
  • Factors to consider while choosing the right research methodology. PhD Monster website. Accessed August 17, 2023. https://www.phdmonster.com/factors-to-consider-while-choosing-the-right-research-methodology/
  • What is research methodology? Research and writing guides. Accessed August 14, 2023. https://paperpile.com/g/what-is-research-methodology/
  • Ethical considerations. Business research methodology website. Accessed August 17, 2023. https://research-methodology.net/research-methodology/ethical-considerations/

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FAQ: Research Design & Method

What is the difference between Research Design and Research Method?

Research design is a plan to answer your research question.  A research method is a strategy used to implement that plan.  Research design and methods are different but closely related, because good research design ensures that the data you obtain will help you answer your research question more effectively.

Which research method should I choose ?

It depends on your research goal.  It depends on what subjects (and who) you want to study.  Let's say you are interested in studying what makes people happy, or why some students are more conscious about recycling on campus.  To answer these questions, you need to make a decision about how to collect your data.  Most frequently used methods include:

  • Observation / Participant Observation
  • Focus Groups
  • Experiments
  • Secondary Data Analysis / Archival Study
  • Mixed Methods (combination of some of the above)

One particular method could be better suited to your research goal than others, because the data you collect from different methods will be different in quality and quantity.   For instance, surveys are usually designed to produce relatively short answers, rather than the extensive responses expected in qualitative interviews.

What other factors should I consider when choosing one method over another?

Time for data collection and analysis is something you want to consider.  An observation or interview method, so-called qualitative approach, helps you collect richer information, but it takes time.  Using a survey helps you collect more data quickly, yet it may lack details.  So, you will need to consider the time you have for research and the balance between strengths and weaknesses associated with each method (e.g., qualitative vs. quantitative).

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METHODS article

The role of frames in shaping the representation of local knowledge and concerns in scientific texts provisionally accepted.

  • 1 Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Netherlands

The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

Research teams working with indigenous people or local communities in the field of global environmental change represent local knowledge and concerns related to climate or environmental issues in the resulting scientific texts. However, by highlighting some aspects in particular ways and fading others to the background, every representation simultaneously reveals, conceals, and distorts aspects of what is represented. This paper aims to analytically highlight how frames in scientific texts are at work in emphasizing some aspects of local knowledge and concerns while fading other aspects into the background, which inevitably has micro and macro consequences through how local knowledge is incorporated, represented, and added to the body of knowledge of a given field. I have adapted a widely used frame concept from media studies to make it suitable for the analysis of scientific texts. The proposed method identifies main frames of a paper, maps how devices for achieving selective emphases, such as repetitive formulations and strong words, are at work in the text, and elicits how the frame's key functions occur in papers: (1) identify problems, (2) diagnose causes, (3) make moral judgments, (4) suggest solutions or offer a path toward solutions, and (5) attribute roles. Points (4) and ( 5) are specifically designed for the analysis of scientific texts. In addition, I have added a step that shows how frames shape representations of local knowledge and concerns in scientific texts. This method is meant to develop reflexive awareness among the scholarly community about their writing practices and promote critical thinking about the unintended impacts that uncritical reproduction of taken-for-granted frames may have through their shaping of representations of local and indigenous knowledge and concerns. To illustrate the potential of the frame concept for analyzing scientific texts, I applied the new method to two papers. Further, the paper discusses the potential of frame analysis as a tool for reflexivity among research teams that work with and within local communities.

Keywords: Local knowledge, indigenous knowledge, frame analysis, textual reflexivity, representation

Received: 19 Dec 2023; Accepted: 03 Jun 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 Roos. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Roxana Roos, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands

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Nanoscale engineering brings light-twisting materials to more extreme settings

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New manufacturing method builds tougher materials that were previously considered useless for twisting light into more robust optical devices

 A thin sheet of material is sandwiched between two black, donut-shaped clamps. Through the hole, the sheet's shimmering color shifts from blue to red.

Imaging the hot turbulence of aircraft propulsion systems may now be possible with sturdy sheets of composite materials that twist light beams, according to research led by the University of Michigan and Air Force Research Laboratory.

The sheets were produced with a new manufacturing method that opens possibilities beyond aircraft design, as it enables new classes of materials to be used in polarization optics. While the team demonstrated high temperature tolerance, new mechanical, electrical and physical properties are expected to emerge as well—with potential applications in energy, sensors for vehicles and robots, and space exploration.

“Combining multiple functionalities into 2D materials opens up a world of possibilities,” said Dhriti Nepal , senior research materials engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory and a co-corresponding author of the study published recently in Nature.

“Think of a butterfly’s wings, which allow it to fly, regulate temperature, and reflect light to produce specific colors for attracting mates and avoiding predators. This technique provides new design opportunities for creating multifunctional devices capable of anything one can imagine.”

A man leans over a lab bench as he positions a thin, transparent film into a donut-shaped clamp. The camp is positioned so that the hole faces a flame dancing atop a small oil burner.

The key is arranging nanomaterials that don’t twist light on their own onto layers that turn light waves into either left- or right-handed spirals, known as circular polarizations. In the aircraft example, turbulence created by the engine spins the light, which is then filtered through the material for imaging. Today, devices like LCD screens and thermochromic paints already control the twist and orientation of light waves using liquid crystals , but they melt not far above ambient temperatures.

“There could be situations in which you want to twist light outside the normal operating temperatures of liquid crystals. Now, we can make light-polarizing devices for those kinds of settings,” said Nicholas Kotov , the Irving Langmuir Distinguished University Professor of Chemical Sciences and Engineering at U-M and lead author of the study.

The new material can twist light at 250 degrees Celsius, and through the imaging of turbulence in aircraft engines and other applications, it could enable aerospace engineers to improve designs for better aircraft flight performance.

Two donut shaped clamps hold a thin, transparent film inside a dimly lit lab. One donut is pointed toward a tiny, orange flame burning on a small, candle-like object.

“Future aerospace systems continue to push the edge of technical feasibility. These low-cost optical materials afford modularity, which is crucial for optimizing solutions for a broad range of future technologies,” said Richard Vaia , materials and manufacturing chief scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory and a corresponding author of the study.

To make the materials, the researchers put microscopic grooves into a plastic sheet and covered it with several layers of tiny, flat particles with a diameter 10,000 times smaller than a millimeter. These particles were held in place with alternating layers of a molecular adhesive, and they could be made from any material that can be made into flat nanoparticles. For their heat-tolerant materials, the researchers used ceramic-like materials called MXenes.

As light moves through the material, it divides into two beams, one with horizontally oscillating waves and another with vertically oscillating waves. The vertical waves pass through faster than the horizontal waves. As a result, the waves exit out of phase and appear as a spiral of light. The angle of the grooves determines the direction in which the light spirals, and layers of silver nanowires can help ensure the light spirals solely to the left or right.

A man in a light-blue shirt and dark blue tie stands next to another man in a dark blue graphic T-shirt. Both are holding a thin, transparent film cut into a small square.

“Our calculations suggest that the optical properties didn’t come from the nanoplates themselves, but from their orientation on the grooves caused by our fabrication process,” said André Farias de Moura, associate professor of chemistry at the Federal University of São Carlos and a co-corresponding author of the study.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Complex Particle Systems , U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Office of Naval Research, U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, as well as the São Paulo Research Foundation. The materials were studied at the Michigan Center for Materials Characterization .

Felippe Colombari from the Brazilian Biorenewables National Laboratory also contributed to the study. Nicholas Kotov is also the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering and a professor of macromolecular science and engineering.

Kotov filed a patent with the help of Innovation Partnerships at U-M, and his company Photon Semantics LLC, a U-M startup, is planning to license the technology. Kotov and the University of Michigan have a financial interest in Photon Semantics LLC.

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Research Techniques – Methods, Types and Examples

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Research Techniques

Research Techniques

Definition:

Research techniques refer to the various methods, processes, and tools used to collect, analyze, and interpret data for the purpose of answering research questions or testing hypotheses.

Methods of Research Techniques

The methods of research techniques refer to the overall approaches or frameworks that guide a research study, including the theoretical perspective, research design, sampling strategy, data collection and analysis techniques, and ethical considerations. Some common methods of research techniques are:

  • Quantitative research: This is a research method that focuses on collecting and analyzing numerical data to establish patterns, relationships, and cause-and-effect relationships. Examples of quantitative research techniques are surveys, experiments, and statistical analysis.
  • Qualitative research: This is a research method that focuses on collecting and analyzing non-numerical data, such as text, images, and videos, to gain insights into the subjective experiences and perspectives of the participants. Examples of qualitative research techniques are interviews, focus groups, and content analysis.
  • Mixed-methods research: This is a research method that combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a research question. Examples of mixed-methods research techniques are surveys with open-ended questions and case studies with statistical analysis.
  • Action research: This is a research method that focuses on solving real-world problems by collaborating with stakeholders and using a cyclical process of planning, action, and reflection. Examples of action research techniques are participatory action research and community-based participatory research.
  • Experimental research : This is a research method that involves manipulating one or more variables to observe the effect on an outcome, to establish cause-and-effect relationships. Examples of experimental research techniques are randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs.
  • Observational research: This is a research method that involves observing and recording behavior or phenomena in natural settings to gain insights into the subject of study. Examples of observational research techniques are naturalistic observation and structured observation.

Types of Research Techniques

There are several types of research techniques used in various fields. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Surveys : This is a quantitative research technique that involves collecting data through questionnaires or interviews to gather information from a large group of people.
  • Experiments : This is a scientific research technique that involves manipulating one or more variables to observe the effect on an outcome, to establish cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Case studies: This is a qualitative research technique that involves in-depth analysis of a single case, such as an individual, group, or event, to understand the complexities of the case.
  • Observational studies : This is a research technique that involves observing and recording behavior or phenomena in natural settings to gain insights into the subject of study.
  • Content analysis: This is a research technique used to analyze text or other media content to identify patterns, themes, or meanings.
  • Focus groups: This is a research technique that involves gathering a small group of people to discuss a topic or issue and provide feedback on a product or service.
  • Meta-analysis: This is a statistical research technique that involves combining data from multiple studies to assess the overall effect of a treatment or intervention.
  • Action research: This is a research technique used to solve real-world problems by collaborating with stakeholders and using a cyclical process of planning, action, and reflection.
  • Interviews : Interviews are another technique used in research, and they can be conducted in person or over the phone. They are often used to gather in-depth information about an individual’s experiences or opinions. For example, a researcher might conduct interviews with cancer patients to learn more about their experiences with treatment.

Example of Research Techniques

Here’s an example of how research techniques might be used by a student conducting a research project:

Let’s say a high school student is interested in investigating the impact of social media on mental health. They could use a variety of research techniques to gather data and analyze their findings, including:

  • Literature review : The student could conduct a literature review to gather existing research studies, articles, and books that discuss the relationship between social media and mental health. This will provide a foundation of knowledge on the topic and help the student identify gaps in the research that they could address.
  • Surveys : The student could design and distribute a survey to gather information from a sample of individuals about their social media usage and how it affects their mental health. The survey could include questions about the frequency of social media use, the types of content consumed, and how it makes them feel.
  • Interviews : The student could conduct interviews with individuals who have experienced mental health issues and ask them about their social media use, and how it has impacted their mental health. This could provide a more in-depth understanding of how social media affects people on an individual level.
  • Data analysis : The student could use statistical software to analyze the data collected from the surveys and interviews. This would allow them to identify patterns and relationships between social media usage and mental health outcomes.
  • Report writing : Based on the findings from their research, the student could write a report that summarizes their research methods, findings, and conclusions. They could present their report to their peers or their teacher to share their insights on the topic.

Overall, by using a combination of research techniques, the student can investigate their research question thoroughly and systematically, and make meaningful contributions to the field of social media and mental health research.

Purpose of Research Techniques

The Purposes of Research Techniques are as follows:

  • To investigate and gain knowledge about a particular phenomenon or topic
  • To generate new ideas and theories
  • To test existing theories and hypotheses
  • To identify and evaluate potential solutions to problems
  • To gather data and evidence to inform decision-making
  • To identify trends and patterns in data
  • To explore cause-and-effect relationships between variables
  • To develop and refine measurement tools and methodologies
  • To establish the reliability and validity of research findings
  • To communicate research findings to others in a clear and concise manner.

Applications of Research Techniques

Here are some applications of research techniques:

  • Scientific research: to explore, investigate and understand natural phenomena, and to generate new knowledge and theories.
  • Market research: to collect and analyze data about consumer behavior, preferences, and trends, and to help businesses make informed decisions about product development, pricing, and marketing strategies.
  • Medical research : to study diseases and their treatments, and to develop new medicines, therapies, and medical technologies.
  • Social research : to explore and understand human behavior, attitudes, and values, and to inform public policy decisions related to education, health care, social welfare, and other areas.
  • Educational research : to study teaching and learning processes, and to develop effective teaching methods and instructional materials.
  • Environmental research: to investigate the impact of human activities on the environment, and to develop solutions to environmental problems.
  • Engineering Research: to design, develop, and improve products, processes, and systems, and to optimize their performance and efficiency.
  • Criminal justice research : to study crime patterns, causes, and prevention strategies, and to evaluate the effectiveness of criminal justice policies and programs.
  • Psychological research : to investigate human cognition, emotion, and behavior, and to develop interventions to address mental health issues.
  • Historical research: to study past events, societies, and cultures, and to develop an understanding of how they shape our present.

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ScienceDaily

New method makes hydrogen from solar power and agricultural waste

University of Illinois Chicago engineers have helped design a new method to make hydrogen gas from water using only solar power and agricultural waste, such as manure or husks. The method reduces the energy needed to extract hydrogen from water by 600%, creating new opportunities for sustainable, climate-friendly chemical production.

Hydrogen-based fuels are one of the most promising sources of clean energy. But producing pure hydrogen gas is an energy-intensive process that often requires coal or natural gas and large amounts of electricity.

In a paper for Cell Reports Physical Science , a multi-institutional team led by UIC engineer Meenesh Singh unveils the new process for green hydrogen production.

The method uses a carbon-rich substance called biochar to decrease the amount of electricity needed to convert water to hydrogen. By using renewable energy sources such as solar power or wind and capturing byproducts for other uses, the process can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero.

"We are the first group to show that you can produce hydrogen utilizing biomass at a fraction of a volt," said Singh, associate professor in the department of chemical engineering. "This is a transformative technology."

Electrolysis, the process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, requires an electric current. At an industrial scale, fossil fuels are typically required to generate this electricity.

Recently, scientists have decreased the voltage required for water splitting by introducing a carbon source to the reaction. But this process also uses coal or expensive chemicals and releases carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

Singh and colleagues modified this process to instead use biomass from common waste products. By mixing sulfuric acid with agricultural waste, animal waste or sewage, they create a slurry-like substance called biochar, which is rich in carbon.

The team experimented with different kinds of biochar made from sugarcane husks, hemp waste, paper waste and cow manure. When added to the electrolysis chamber, all five biochar varieties reduced the power needed to convert water to hydrogen. The best performer, cow dung, decreased the electrical requirement sixfold to roughly a fifth of a volt.

The energy requirements were low enough that the researchers could power the reaction with one standard silicon solar cell generating roughly 15 milliamps of current at 0.5 volt. That's less than the amount of power produced by an AA battery.

"It's very efficient, with almost 35% conversion of the biochar and solar energy into hydrogen" said Rohit Chauhan, a co-author and postdoctoral scholar in Singh's lab. "These are world record numbers; it's the highest anyone has demonstrated."

To make the process net-zero, it must capture the carbon dioxide generated by the reaction. But Singh said this too could have environmental and economic benefits, such as producing pure carbon dioxide to carbonate beverages or converting it into ethylene and other chemicals used in plastic manufacturing.

"It not only diversifies the utilization of biowaste but enables the clean production of different chemicals beyond hydrogen," said UIC graduate Nishithan Kani, co-lead author on the paper. "This cheap way of making hydrogen could allow farmers to become self-sustainable for their energy needs or create new streams of revenue."

Orochem Technologies Inc., who sponsored the research, has filed for patents on their processes for producing biochar and hydrogen, and the UIC team plans to test the methods on a large scale.

In addition to Singh, Kani and Chauhan, the paper was co-authored by UIC graduate student Rajan Bhawnani. Other co-authors come from Stanford University, Texas Tech University, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Korea University and Orochem Technologies Inc.

  • Energy and Resources
  • Alternative Fuels
  • Energy Technology
  • Solar Energy
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Renewable Energy
  • Environmental Science
  • Sustainability
  • Alternative fuel vehicle
  • Hydrogen vehicle
  • Hydroelectricity
  • Water resources
  • Renewable energy

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Illinois Chicago . Original written by Rob Mitchum. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference :

  • Nishithan C. Kani, Rohit Chauhan, Samuel A. Olusegun, Ishwar Sharan, Anag Katiyar, David W. House, Sang-Won Lee, Alena Jairamsingh, Rajan R. Bhawnani, Dongjin Choi, Adam C. Nielander, Thomas F. Jaramillo, Hae-Seok Lee, Anil Oroskar, Vimal C. Srivastava, Shishir Sinha, Joseph A. Gauthier, Meenesh R. Singh. Sub-volt conversion of activated biochar and water for H2 production near equilibrium via biochar-assisted water electrolysis . Cell Reports Physical Science , 2024; 102013 DOI: 10.1016/j.xcrp.2024.102013

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2024 Theses Doctoral

Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Coaches: A Mixed Methods Randomized Controlled Experiment on Client Experiences and Outcomes

Barger, Amber

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) challenges us to explore whether human-to-human relationships can extend to AI, potentially reshaping the future of coaching. The purpose of this study was to examine client perceptions of being coached by a simulated AI coach, who was embodied as a vocally conversational live-motion avatar, compared to client perceptions of a human coach. It explored if and how client ratings of coaching process measures and outcome measures aligned between the two coach treatments. In this mixed methods randomized controlled trial (RCT), 81 graduate students enrolled in the study and identified a personally relevant goal to pursue. The study deployed an alternative-treatments between-subjects design, with one-third of participants receiving coaching from simulated AI coaches, another third engaging with seasoned human coaches, and the rest forming the control group. Both treatment groups had one 60-minute session guided by the CLEAR (contract, listen, explore, action, review) coaching model to support each person to gain clarity about their goal and identify specific behaviors that could help each make progress towards their goal. Quantitative data were captured through three surveys and qualitative input was captured through open-ended survey questions and 27 debrief interviews. The study utilized a Wizard of Oz technique from human-computer interaction research, ingeniously designed to sidestep the rapid obsolescence of technology by simulating an advanced AI coaching experience where participants unknowingly interacted with professional human coaches, enabling the assessment of responses to AI coaching in the absence of fully developed autonomous AI systems. The aim was to glean insights into client reactions to a future, fully autonomous AI with the expert capabilities of a human coach. Contrary to expectations from previous literature, participants did not rate professional human coaches higher than simulated AI coaches in terms of working alliance, session value, or outcomes, which included self-rated competence and goal achievement. In fact, both coached groups made significant progress compared to the control group, with participants convincingly engaging with their respective coaches, as confirmed by a novel believability index. The findings challenge prevailing assumptions about human uniqueness in relation to technology. The rapid advancement of AI suggests a revolutionary shift in coaching, where AI could take on a central and surprisingly effective role, redefining what we thought only human coaches could do and reshaping their role in the age of AI.

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  • Artificial intelligence--Educational applications
  • Graduate students
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This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2029-05-14.

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Press Release

Circular economy for plastics, pyrolysis for high-quality recycled plastics.

Research News / June 03, 2024

Plastics made of polycarbonate are sought-after materials in industrial applications thanks to their versatility and high quality. However, recycling of plastic waste is still running up against limits these days, as mechanical recycling methods do not produce adequate qualities of recycled material for all applications. Together with chemical company Covestro Deutschland AG, Fraunhofer researchers have now developed a method that makes it possible to reclaim the substances originally used to make the polycarbonates. In catalytic pyrolysis, a controlled process of heating in an oxygen-free environment, plastic waste breaks down into its components. Manufacturers can then use the raw materials to produce new plastics.

Einordnung des chemischen Recyclings mittels Pyrolyse in ein ganzheitliches Recyclingkonzept. Pyrolyse-Drehrohrofen im Technikumsmaßstab mit eigens entwickelter Kondensationsanlage im Vordergrund

For anyone looking for a high-quality plastic, polycarbonate (PC) is an obvious choice. This material withstands temperature extremes, is flame retardant and resistant to scratching, abrasion, and even diluted acids. It is also highly transparent. All of these properties make plastics that contain PC a sought-after and versatile material in industrial applications. As a result, many manufacturers are looking for ways to reclaim the valuable material by recycling plastic waste. But conventional technologies such as mechanical recycling produce inadequate qualities of recycled material, which can no longer be used to manufacture high-quality products.

Pyrolysis enables chemical recycling

However, there are powerful alternatives. Together with chemical company Covestro Deutschland AG, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS have developed a method for chemical recycling of polycarbonates through catalytic pyrolysis. In pyrolysis, substances are heated in an environment free of molecular oxygen. As a result, the substances break down, so the components originally used to produce the plastic can be reclaimed.

Jörg Kleeberg, a scientist at the Fraunhofer IKTS office in Freiberg, and his team refined this method as part of the PC2Chem project. “Our goal was to recycle plastics containing polycarbonate in such a way that high-quality molecules can be reclaimed and returned to the industrial production cycle as raw materials,” explains Kleeberg, an expert on carbon cycle technologies.

To do this, the researchers harness the specific structure of polycarbonates. Polycarbonates are made up of polymers, a combination of molecular groups called monomers that are linked together. When these polymers are exposed to thermal stress as part of the pyrolysis process, the bonds with the high-quality molecules simply snap.

Industrial rotary kiln

The Fraunhofer team uses a rotary kiln for pyrolysis. Thanks to its robust structure and size, the kiln can process even relatively large volumes. The plastic waste delivered by Covestro in granulated form is fed into the kiln, which rotates as it heats the material inside it. The first product of the process is gas, which goes into a condensation unit where it ultimately ends up as an oily liquid. Project partner Covestro then processes the liquid into the various useful molecules.

Ensuring that recycling via rotary kiln would result in products with optimum composition and yield presented the team of researchers with a number of hurdles to clear in the lab. Splitting the plastics at high temperature is a highly complex, sensitive process. This meant the big challenge for the Fraunhofer IKTS team was setting the exact parameters for the pyrolysis process: temperature, heating and retention time, cooling, pressure conditions, and the addition of auxiliary and supplemental substances. To make matters worse, the plastics contain additives such as dyes, brighteners, flame retardants, substances that affect strength or elasticity, and even light stabilizers. All of these additives complicate the treatment in the rotary kiln.

“If the products of the reaction caused by pyrolysis in the rotary kiln cool too slowly, the chemical processes aren’t stopped, so the molecules that have been split form new bonds. The only way to get the desired high yield of target products is to set all the parameters correctly in concert with each other. So, we performed extensive testing, optimizing the process step by step,” Jörg Kleeberg explains.

The experts at Fraunhofer IKTS are able to harness their years of experience in the areas of high-temperature conversion and process engineering for this. The PC2Chem project is making good progress. Recycling allows up to 60 percent of the original components to be reclaimed. The system has moved out of the initial lab testing phase and is now being tested at the pilot plant scale.

A step toward the circular economy

The new recycling technology has tangible benefits for industrial applications. The pyrolysis oil extracted in the process contains platform chemicals important to the chemical industry, such as styrene, and phenol. At present, fossil raw materials from refineries still have to be used for these chemicals. Covestro also believes in the advantages of this method: “With the catalytic pyrolysis process, we can reclaim raw materials for polycarbonate production from various forms of waste containing PC. By doing this, we are lowering carbon dioxide emissions, conserving energy, and cutting costs,” explains Dr. Stefanie Eiden, global project manager pyrolysis.

Prof. Martin Gräbner, Head of the Energy and Process Engineering department at Fraunhofer IKTS at the Freiberg location, explains: “The goal isn’t for pyrolysis to replace conventional recycling methods. Instead, it’s a perfect addition when it comes to reclaiming high-quality plastic from plastic residue. The pyrolysis method is a big step toward the circular economy in the industrial sectors that process plastics.”

The team at Fraunhofer IKTS already has its eye on the next step. “We can also adapt the pyrolysis method to other plastics and mixed substances. Industrial customers can come to us with their recycling issues, and we’ll develop a customized solution,” Jörg Kleeberg says.

  • Research News June 2024 - Pyrolysis for high-quality recycled plastics [ PDF  0,22 MB ]
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS  (ikts.fraunhofer.de)

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  1. Research Methods

    Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design. When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make. First, decide how you will collect data. Your methods depend on what type of data you need to answer your research question:

  2. Research Methodology

    Experimental research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions. Survey Research Methodology. This is a research methodology that involves the collection of data from a sample of individuals using questionnaires or interviews. Survey research is often used to study attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

  3. Your Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Good Research Methodology

    Provide the rationality behind your chosen approach. Based on logic and reason, let your readers know why you have chosen said research methodologies. Additionally, you have to build strong arguments supporting why your chosen research method is the best way to achieve the desired outcome. 3. Explain your mechanism.

  4. What Is a Research Methodology?

    Mixed methods combine the above two research methods, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process. Step 4: Evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made. Above all, your methodology section should clearly make the case for why you chose the methods you did.

  5. What Is Research Methodology? Definition + Examples

    As we mentioned, research methodology refers to the collection of practical decisions regarding what data you'll collect, from who, how you'll collect it and how you'll analyse it. Research design, on the other hand, is more about the overall strategy you'll adopt in your study. For example, whether you'll use an experimental design ...

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  7. Research Methods

    Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analysing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design. When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make. First, decide how you will collect data.

  8. The Ultimate Guide To Research Methodology

    To write a research methodology, clearly outline the study's design, data collection, and analysis procedures. Specify research tools, participants, and sampling methods. Justify choices and discuss limitations. Ensure clarity, coherence, and alignment with research objectives for a robust methodology section.

  9. What Is a Research Design

    A research design is a strategy for answering your research question using empirical data. Creating a research design means making decisions about: Your overall research objectives and approach. Whether you'll rely on primary research or secondary research. Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects. Your data collection methods.

  10. Research Design

    Table of contents. Step 1: Consider your aims and approach. Step 2: Choose a type of research design. Step 3: Identify your population and sampling method. Step 4: Choose your data collection methods. Step 5: Plan your data collection procedures. Step 6: Decide on your data analysis strategies.

  11. How to Write Your Methods

    Your Methods Section contextualizes the results of your study, giving editors, reviewers and readers alike the information they need to understand and interpret your work. Your methods are key to establishing the credibility of your study, along with your data and the results themselves. A complete methods section should provide enough detail ...

  12. Research Methods

    Quantitative research methods are used to collect and analyze numerical data. This type of research is useful when the objective is to test a hypothesis, determine cause-and-effect relationships, and measure the prevalence of certain phenomena. Quantitative research methods include surveys, experiments, and secondary data analysis.

  13. 6. The Methodology

    The methods section describes actions taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study's overall validity and reliability.

  14. How to Write Research Methodology: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

    A quantitative approach and statistical analysis would give you a bigger picture. 3. Identify how your analysis answers your research questions. Relate your methodology back to your original research questions and present a proposed outcome based on your analysis.

  15. What is Research Methodology? Definition, Types, and Examples

    Definition, Types, and Examples. Research methodology 1,2 is a structured and scientific approach used to collect, analyze, and interpret quantitative or qualitative data to answer research questions or test hypotheses. A research methodology is like a plan for carrying out research and helps keep researchers on track by limiting the scope of ...

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    Methodology in research is defined as the systematic method to resolve a research problem through data gathering using various techniques, providing an interpretation of data gathered and drawing conclusions about the research data. Essentially, a research methodology is the blueprint of a research or study (Murthy & Bhojanna, 2009, p. 32).

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    Most frequently used methods include: Observation / Participant Observation. Surveys. Interviews. Focus Groups. Experiments. Secondary Data Analysis / Archival Study. Mixed Methods (combination of some of the above) One particular method could be better suited to your research goal than others, because the data you collect from different ...

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  25. Research Techniques

    Examples of quantitative research techniques are surveys, experiments, and statistical analysis. Qualitative research: This is a research method that focuses on collecting and analyzing non-numerical data, such as text, images, and videos, to gain insights into the subjective experiences and perspectives of the participants.

  26. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    Step 4: Create a research design. The research design is a practical framework for answering your research questions. It involves making decisions about the type of data you need, the methods you'll use to collect and analyze it, and the location and timescale of your research.

  27. New method makes hydrogen from solar power and agricultural waste

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  30. What Is Qualitative Research?

    Qualitative research involves collecting and analyzing non-numerical data (e.g., text, video, or audio) to understand concepts, opinions, or experiences. It can be used to gather in-depth insights into a problem or generate new ideas for research. Qualitative research is the opposite of quantitative research, which involves collecting and ...