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Guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences

What is Research Methodology?

❶This is before looking at the statistics required, and studying the preferred methods for the individual scientific discipline. What approach should I take - qualitative or quantitative?

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Experimental Research Methods

Research comprises " creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge , including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.

A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field. Research projects can be used to develop further knowledge on a topic, or in the example of a school research project, they can be used to further a student's research prowess to prepare them for future jobs or reports.

To test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects or the project as a whole. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies , which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences.

There are several forms of research: Research has been defined in a number of different ways, and while there are similarities, there does not appear to be a single, all-encompassing definition that is embraced by all who engage in it. One definition of research is used by the OECD, "Any creative systematic activity undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications.

Another definition of research is given by John W. Creswell , who states that "[r]esearch is a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue". It consists of three steps: The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines research in more detail as "studious inquiry or examination; especially: Original research is research that is not exclusively based on a summary, review or synthesis of earlier publications on the subject of research.

This material is of a primary source character. The purpose of the original research is to produce new knowledge , rather than to present the existing knowledge in a new form e.

Original research can take a number of forms, depending on the discipline it pertains to. In experimental work, it typically involves direct or indirect observation of the researched subject s , e. In analytical work, there are typically some new for example mathematical results produced, or a new way of approaching an existing problem.

In some subjects which do not typically carry out experimentation or analysis of this kind, the originality is in the particular way existing understanding is changed or re-interpreted based on the outcome of the work of the researcher.

The degree of originality of the research is among major criteria for articles to be published in academic journals and usually established by means of peer review. Scientific research is a systematic way of gathering data and harnessing curiosity. This research provides scientific information and theories for the explanation of the nature and the properties of the world.

It makes practical applications possible. Scientific research is funded by public authorities, by charitable organizations and by private groups, including many companies. Scientific research can be subdivided into different classifications according to their academic and application disciplines. Scientific research is a widely used criterion for judging the standing of an academic institution, but some argue that such is an inaccurate assessment of the institution, because the quality of research does not tell about the quality of teaching these do not necessarily correlate.

Research in the humanities involves different methods such as for example hermeneutics and semiotics. Humanities scholars usually do not search for the ultimate correct answer to a question, but instead, explore the issues and details that surround it.

Context is always important, and context can be social, historical, political, cultural, or ethnic. An example of research in the humanities is historical research, which is embodied in historical method. Historians use primary sources and other evidence to systematically investigate a topic, and then to write histories in the form of accounts of the past. Other studies aim to merely examine the occurrence of behaviours in societies and communities, without particularly looking for reasons or motivations to explain these.

These studies may be qualitative or quantitative, and can use a variety of approaches, such as queer theory or feminist theory.

Artistic research , also seen as 'practice-based research', can take form when creative works are considered both the research and the object of research itself. It is the debatable body of thought which offers an alternative to purely scientific methods in research in its search for knowledge and truth.

Generally, research is understood to follow a certain structural process. Though step order may vary depending on the subject matter and researcher, the following steps are usually part of most formal research, both basic and applied:. A common misconception is that a hypothesis will be proven see, rather, null hypothesis. Generally, a hypothesis is used to make predictions that can be tested by observing the outcome of an experiment.

If the outcome is inconsistent with the hypothesis, then the hypothesis is rejected see falsifiability. However, if the outcome is consistent with the hypothesis, the experiment is said to support the hypothesis. This careful language is used because researchers recognize that alternative hypotheses may also be consistent with the observations.

In this sense, a hypothesis can never be proven, but rather only supported by surviving rounds of scientific testing and, eventually, becoming widely thought of as true. A useful hypothesis allows prediction and within the accuracy of observation of the time, the prediction will be verified.

As the accuracy of observation improves with time, the hypothesis may no longer provide an accurate prediction. In this case, a new hypothesis will arise to challenge the old, and to the extent that the new hypothesis makes more accurate predictions than the old, the new will supplant it.

Researchers can also use a null hypothesis, which states no relationship or difference between the independent or dependent variables. The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which historians use historical sources and other evidence to research and then to write history.

There are various history guidelines that are commonly used by historians in their work, under the headings of external criticism, internal criticism, and synthesis. This includes lower criticism and sensual criticism. Though items may vary depending on the subject matter and researcher, the following concepts are part of most formal historical research: The controversial trend of artistic teaching becoming more academics-oriented is leading to artistic research being accepted as the primary mode of enquiry in art as in the case of other disciplines.

As such, it is similar to the social sciences in using qualitative research and intersubjectivity as tools to apply measurement and critical analysis. It is based on artistic practices, methods, and criticality. Through presented documentation, the insights gained shall be placed in a context. According to artist Hakan Topal , in artistic research, "perhaps more so than other disciplines, intuition is utilized as a method to identify a wide range of new and unexpected productive modalities".

This may be factual, historical, or background research. Background research could include, for example, geographical or procedural research. The Society for Artistic Research SAR publishes the triannual Journal for Artistic Research JAR , [22] [23] an international, online, open access , and peer-reviewed journal for the identification, publication, and dissemination of artistic research and its methodologies, from all arts disciplines and it runs the Research Catalogue RC , [24] [25] [26] a searchable, documentary database of artistic research, to which anyone can contribute.

Patricia Leavy addresses eight arts-based research ABR genres: Research is often conducted using the hourglass model structure of research.

The major steps in conducting research are: The steps generally represent the overall process; however, they should be viewed as an ever-changing iterative process rather than a fixed set of steps. Often, a literature review is conducted in a given subject area before a research question is identified. A gap in the current literature, as identified by a researcher, then engenders a research question. The research question may be parallel to the hypothesis.

The hypothesis is the supposition to be tested. The researcher s collects data to test the hypothesis. The researcher s then analyzes and interprets the data via a variety of statistical methods, engaging in what is known as empirical research. The results of the data analysis in rejecting or failing to reject the null hypothesis are then reported and evaluated. At the end, the researcher may discuss avenues for further research. The first method is the straightforward experiment, involving the standard practice of manipulating quantitative, independent variables to generate statistically analyzable data.

Generally, the system of scientific measurements is interval or ratio based. The researcher is accepting or refuting the null hypothesis. The results generated are analyzable and are used to test hypotheses , with statistics giving a clear and unambiguous picture.

This research method is one of the most difficult, requiring rigorous design and a great deal of expense, especially for larger experiments. The other problem, where real life organisms are used, is that taking something out of its natural environment can seriously affect its behavior. It is also the biggest drain on time and resources, and is often impossible to perform for some fields, because of ethical considerations.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a prime example of experimental research that was fixated on results, and failed to take into account moral considerations. In other fields of study, which do not always have the luxury of definable and quantifiable variables - you need to use different research methods.

These should attempt to fit all of the definitions of repeatability or falsifiability , although this is not always feasible. Opinion based research methods generally involve designing an experiment and collecting quantitative data. For this type of research, the measurements are usually arbitrary, following the ordinal or interval type.

Questionnaires are an effective way of quantifying data from a sample group, and testing emotions or preferences. This method is very cheap and easy, where budget is a problem, and gives an element of scale to opinion and emotion. These figures are arbitrary, but at least give a directional method of measuring intensity. By definition, this experiment method must be used where emotions or behaviors are measured, as there is no other way of defining the variables.

Whilst not as robust as experimental research , the methods can be replicated and the results falsified. Observational research is a group of different research methods where researchers try to observe a phenomenon without interfering too much. Observational research methods, such as the case study , are probably the furthest removed from the established scientific method.

Observational research tends to use nominal or ordinal scales of measurement. Researchers use three primary methodology types: Within these broad categories, more specific methods include an array of options, such as case studies, self-reporting and surveys. Qualitative research seeks to explore a specific phenomena, not prove a prediction, according to "Qualitative Research Methods: Often used in the social sciences and education, qualitative methodologies use interviews, focus groups and observations to collect data.

Qualitative methods provide rich, contextual explorations of the topic that are often personally or culturally meaningful. Quantitative research is is more objective than qualitative methods. In this type of methodology, the researcher crafts a hypothesis and then tests it through structured means. Instead of exploring or describing a phenomena, quantitative methods deal with facts and statistics. This type of research is often used in science or medicine. Mixed methods combine qualitative and quantitative research.

This type of methodology uses several different measures that include both contextual understanding like interviews or observations along with facts or statistics.

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Observational research methods, such as the case study, are probably the furthest removed from the established scientific method. This type is looked down upon, by many scientists, as ‘ quasi-experimental ’ research, although this is usually an unfair criticism.

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Types of research methods can be broadly divided into two quantitative and qualitative categories. Quantitative research “describes, infers, and resolves problems using numbers. Emphasis is placed on the collection of numerical data, the summary of those data and the drawing of .

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Before beginning any research project, you must decide which methodology to use. This will guide your study, help you to choose a way to collect data and aid in your analysis. Researchers use three primary methodology types: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. Your research methods tutor can give you further information on these types of data, but here are some common quantitative data collection methods and their definitions: Self-completion questionnaires.

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Research can be classified in many different ways on the basis of the methodology of research, the knowledge it creates, the user group, the research problem it investigates etc. This research is conducted largely for the enhancement of knowledge, and is research which does not have immediate. Types of Research Methods Evidence of effectiveness Research Method This is This works best for these kinds of questions This doesn’t work well for these kinds of questions Additional Things to Note Synthesis of results from Meta-analysis determine the average.