Research methods

  • Research needs to be designed properly so the type and quantity of data gathered is appropriate for answering the research questions. Research also needs to be conducted in an ethical and well-managed way. There are many methods for carrying out research and they are usually specific to the subject you are studying. However, there are some overall principles that are good to follow.  

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    Quantitative, qualitative, or mixed?

    When selecting appropriate methods, it is good to have an understanding of the broad types of research and what they measure. Quantitative research measures numerical data, and qualitative research investigates social phenomena and people’s experiences. See this resource for more on the differences between the two categories: 

    Deeper understanding

    It is likely you will need to do more reading about what research methods are, and which ones will suit your project. You may have a research methods module to introduce these concepts, and the Library also has good resources on different methodologies. See these Brookes Library reading lists for more ideas:

    Research ethics

    All research, but especially research involving people, needs to be conducted ethically, and any participants need to have full information about consent, and how their data will be stored and used. Undergraduates should have research ethics processes within their departments. Masters and PhD students usually follow the University procedures. Always check with your department or supervisor about what is required and start early as approval can take time.

    Research design

    You need to design any interviews or surveys carefully so that they gather the data you want, and so that they don’t confuse the participants. It is good to refer back to your overall research questions and also to pilot any survey or interview questions to discover any ambiguities. See these guides for tips on designing and conducting different questions: