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Research Methods Information : Methods/Methodologies

Research Methods Information

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RSS: National Centre for Research Methods

NCRM logo

The National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) forms part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) strategy to improve the standards of research methods across the UK social science community.

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RSS: Organizational Research Methods

Cover of Organizational Research Methods journal

Organizational Research Methods (ORM), peer-reviewed and published quarterly, brings relevant methodological developments to a wide range of researchers in organizational and management studies and promotes a more effective understanding of current and new methodologies and their application in organizational settings.

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Flow Charts for Research Methods

flow chart

A flow chart is a "diagram that shows step-by-step progression through a procedure or system especially using connecting lines and a set of conventional symbols." [from

Some people find using a flow chart a very good way of visualizing the research method process.

Conferences | New Researchers

group of people

Publishing | New Researchers


Something to keep in mind is that it can be very difficult for students to publish in scholarly journals. Expectations are high.  Most journals are looking for articles with a clear scientific hypothesis supported by original research that substantively adds to the scholarly literature in the field.

You might want to consider giving a paper or poster session at a scholarly conference about your study.  Many of these may have special sessions like these for student engagement.

The following links may provide guidance. 

The Research Cycle - Illustrated

The research cycle is rarely linear and often some (or all) stages will need to be revisited. Remember too that different disciplines and research topics may employ different approaches to research, which will impact on the process.

Circular chart of research cycle


Image & intro text credit: The Research CycleCurtin Library of Curtin University, Perth, West Australia

Basic Definitions

two scientists conducting observations



      Systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise
facts, theories, applications.

     Sometimes referred to as research methodology.

      Purposes of Research

  • Review or synthesize existing knowledge
  • Investigate existing situations or problems
  • Provide solutions to problems
  • Explore and analyse more general issues
  • Construct or create new procedures or systems
  • Explain new phenomenon
  • Generate new knowledge
  • or combination of any of the above

Research Types

     "The ways of categorizing research studies."


     "Research conducted for a problem that has not been clearly defined."

  • Looks for patterns, hypotheses or ideas that can be tested
  • Can help determine the best research design, data collection method, and selection of subjects
  • Used when few or no previous studies exist
  • Will often form the basis for further research


      "Research that looks to test (confirm) a prespecified relationship
       (i.e, causal research that tests prior hypotheses)."

  • Can be quantitative
  • Can be qualitative
  • or both (mixed method)


      "Research that identifies and classifies the elements or
       characteristics of the subject."

  • Explains what occured
  • Does not answer questions about how, when, or why the characteristics occurred


      "Research that attempts to suggest or explain why or how
       something is happening."

  • Often extends descriptive research
  • Is a type of confirmatory research


      "Research that attempts to forecast the likelihood
       of something happening

  • Speculates intelligently on future possibilities
  • Based on close analysis of currently available evidence of cause & effect.

Research Method

      "The various specific tools or ways data can be collected & analyzed."
       NOTE: A research method is part of research methodology.

  • Some examples of data collection methods: questionnaires; interviews, experiments, clinical trials
  • Some examples of data analysis methods: coding, content analysis, univariate analysis, multivariate analysis

Research Approach

      The general nature of a work of research that includes: the specific analytical
      objectives, the
types of questions posed,  the data collection methods used,  the
        types of data produced, and the degree of flexibility in design of the study.

  • Quantitative
    • Systematic, empirical* investigation of social phenomena using statistical, mathematical or computational techniques.
  • Qualitative
    • Planned, empirical investigations that aim to gain a deep understanding of a specific organization or event, rather a than to compile a surface description of a large sample of a population via measurement.
  • Mixed Methods
    • Planned investigation for collecting, analyzing, and “mixing” both quantitative and qualitative research and methods in a single study in order to understand a research problem from multiple perspectives.
  • Applied
    • Studies for which the aim from the start is to apply findings to a particular situation.
  • Basic
    • Studies for which the aim is to improve knowledge generally (i.e., no particular applied purpose in mind at the outset).
  • Deductive
    • Research that begins with a body of general information (such as theories, laws or a principle) and tries to draw a conclusion directly from that by testing a specific hypothesis (referred to as top-down research).
  • Inductive
    • Research that moves from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories (referred to as bottom-up research).

 * Empirical =  Empirical research applies observation and experience as the main modes of gathering data. Data collected is referred to as empirical evidence (which is then subjected to qualitative or quantitative analysis techniques in order to answer empirical questions).


Adapted from: Neville, Colin. Introduction to Research and Research Methods. (University of Bradford (UK), School of Managment, 2007); From the Online Glossary of Nath, Christine Nielsen's Dental Publish Health: Contemporary Practice for the Dental Hygienist. 2nd edition. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2004); and from Straub, Detmar, David Gefen, and Marie-Claude Boudreau (2004). "The ISWorld Quantitative, Positivist Research Methods Website," (Ed) Dennis Galletta, Last updated: January 7, 2005." Section 3: General Research Approaches;  Chapter 3: Research Methods.

VIDEO: What is Research?

This promotional video from the University College Dublin nicely captures the wonder and excitement of  why we do research.

Published February 20, 2013 | Runtime: 1:45 min.

General Reference Books: Research Methods

OPEN ACCESS: Research Methods eBooks

open book on computer m onitor screen

VIDEOS: Advice for New Researchers

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