A person who wishes to travel to a particular destination would have to ply through a given route to arrive at the destination in the best possible time. While several routes lead to the destination, the utility to be derived from each of the routes is usually not the same.
As there are routes that are most preferred to reach the desired destination. In the same vein, research methodology is likened as a route through which the researcher arrives at his destination. The destination usually likened to the research objectives and questions.
It simply follows that the research methodology to be applied in any given research will determine if the set-out objectives of the research study will be attained or not. This is because it is not every methodology of research that can be applied in every study.
The type of methodology to be applied will be greatly dependent on the discipline being researched into, the topic, and the objectives outlined in the study. Thus, the purpose here is to make a simplistic overview of what research methodology entails as it would aid any researcher to understand which to apply.
What is the research methodology?
Research methodology may be seen as the means for collecting data and its analysis, and any means chosen must be compatible and consistent with research objectives and problems to attain accurate and realistic output. Research methodology clarifies and delineates the study aims; it identifies the requirements to fit the research objectives and overall aims or purpose of the research.
Generally, research methodology refers to how to apply specific techniques and procedures in the research design. Without research methodology; it is nearly impossible to achieve and clarify the main key of the research aims. The main purpose of research methodology is to give a clear idea of what methods or processes which are going to be used, as well as discuss the research problems to be addressed.
Therefore, the research methodology is an important element to the research studies to clarify all the needed steps to achieve the objectives of the research.
Types of Research Methodology
There are various types of research methodology; but just as already stated, the type to be applied in a given depends to a larger extent, the discipline, the topic and the objectives of the study.
- Empirical Research methodology:
This simply illustrates a kind of research where the use of empirical evidence is wholly applied. By use of empirical evidence, it shows that knowledge and information expressed in such research are purely based on direct and indirect observation or experience. Empirical research can be done in three different ways:
This approach includes the interpretation of numeric data such as percentages, interval or ratio and using items of analysis such as graphs or diagrams to get a specific result or output. The quantitative approach can be described as extreme empiricism, which depends on control and explanation of the phenomenon. The quantitative researchers are more interested to measure “how many?”, “How often?”, or “to what extent?”
Basic things to consider here are:
- Explain how you operationalized concepts and measured your variables; your sampling method or inclusion/exclusion criteria; and any tools, procedures and materials you used to gather data.
- Describe where, when and how the survey was conducted.
- How did you design the questions and what form did they take (e.g. multiple-choice, Likert scale)?
- What sampling method did you use to select participants?
- Did you conduct surveys by phone, mail, online or in person, and how long did participants have to respond?
- What was the sample size and response rate? You might want to include the full questionnaire as an appendix so that your reader can see exactly what data was collected.
- Give full details of the tools, techniques and procedures you used to experiment.
- How did you design the experiment?
- How did you recruit participants?
- How did you manipulate and measure the variables?
- What tools or technologies did you use in the experiment?
- Where observations and information are given from existing data; explain how you gathered and selected material (such as publications or archival data) for inclusion in your analysis.
- Where did you source the material?
- How was the data originally produced?
- What criteria did you use to select material (e.g. date range)?
This approach depends extensively on the application of interpretive or critical paradigm within social sciences to help researchers to study social and cultural phenomena. Here, data collected depends on the field or life situation such as experiences, values, and behaviours of other people.
It can be said that the data in qualitative research come in the form as words, phrases, sentences and narrations rather than in numbers; it follows that they are non-numerical data, e.g. explanation, conversation, interviews and discussion.
For qualitative, things to consider are:
- Discuss the criteria you used to select participants or sources, the context in which the research was conducted, and the role you played in collecting the data (e.g. were you an active participant or a passive observer?)
- Where interviews or focus groups apply, describe where, when and how the interviews were conducted.
- How did you find and select participants?
- How many people took part?
- What form did the interviews take (structured, semi-structured, unstructured)?
- How long were the interviews and how were they recorded?
- Where Participant observation applies; describe where, when and how you conducted the observation or ethnography.
- What group or community did you observe and how did you gain access to them?
- How long did you spend conducting the research and where was it located?
- What role did you play in the community?
- How did you record your data (e.g. audiovisual recordings, note-taking)?
- Where existing data are used, explain how you selected case study materials (such as texts or images) for the focus of your analysis.
- What type of materials did you analyze?
- How did you collect and select them?
- Mixed methodology
Many researchers combine qualitative and quantitative forms of analysis to better answer questions which cannot be studied in laboratory settings, particularly in the social sciences and in education. It implies the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods.
- Non-empirical Research methodology: This is just the direct opposite of empirical research methodology. It does not have to do with empirical evidence or direct and indirect observation and experience. It is a form of research that mainly concentrate on reviews of statutes (provisions of laws), cases, etc. It does not involve the use of surveys, interviews or numerical data collections which are required in empirical research. Non-empirical which is also referred by some scholars as doctrinal research is mostly applicable in law and legal researches.