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What Are the Different Research Methods for Dissertation

What are the different methods of research for dissertation and which one should I use for my dissertation?

Choosing the right research method for dissertation is a grinding and perplexing aspect of the dissertation research process. A well defined research methodology helps you to conduct your research in the right direction, validates the results of your research and also makes sure that the study you’re conducting answers the set research questions. The research title, research questions, hypothesis, objectives and the area of study generally determine what the best method of research in dissertation would be.

If the primary aim of your research is to test a hypothesis, validate an existing theory or perhaps measure some variables then quantitative research model will be the more appropriate choice. Because itt might be easier for you to convince your supervisor or members of the dissertation committee with the use of statistics and numbers. On the other hand, often times, statistics and a collection of numbers are simply not the answer especially where there is a need to understand meanings, experiences and beliefs. If your research questions or hypothesis can be better addressed through observations and experiences of people then you should consider using qualitative data for the same.

If you select an inappropriate research method, you will not be able to prove the accuracy of your findings and your dissertation will be pretty much meaningless. To prove that your research is authentic and reliable, choose a research method that best suits the requirements of your study. In the sections that follow, we explain the most commonly employed methods of research for dissertation including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods of research.

The primary purpose of this post is to highlight what these different types of research involve and how you should decide which type of research fits the bill. As you read through this article, think about which one of these methods of research will be the most appropriate for your own dissertation. The practical, personal and academic reasons for choosing any particular method of research are also analysed. You will find our explanation of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods of research to be useful regardless of your field of study.

So here we answer the question – What Are the Different Research Methods for Dissertation.


Quantitative Research

Quantitative research isn’t simply based on statistical analysis or quantitative techniques but rather use a certain approach to theory to address research hypothesis or research questions, establish an appropriate research methodology and draw findings & conclusions. Some most commonly employed quantitative research strategies include data driven dissertations, theory driven studies and reflection driven research. Regardless of the chosen approach, there are some common quantitative research features as listed below.

  • Quantitative research is based on testing or building on existing theories proposed by other researchers whilst taking a route that is reflective or extensive in nature.
  • Quantitative research aims to test research hypothesis or answer established research questions.
  • It is primarily justified by positivist or post-positivist research paradigms.
  • The research design can be relationship based, quasi experimental, experimental or descriptive.
  • It draws on a small sample to make generalisations to a wider population using the probability sampling techniques.
  • Quantitative data is gathered according to the established research questions and using research vehicles such as structured observation, structured interviews, surveys, questionnaires and laboratory results.
  • Researcher uses statistical analysis tools and techniques to measure variables and gather inferential or descriptive data. In some cases, your tutor or members of dissertation committee might find it easier to verify results of your study with numbers and statistical analysis.
  • The accuracy of the results of the study are based on external and internal validity and authenticity of the data used.
  • Quantitative research answers research questions or test the hypothesis with the use of charts, graphs, tables, data and statements.
  • It underpins research questions or hypothesis and findings to make conclusions.
  • The researcher is able to provide recommendations for future research and expand or test existing theories.

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Qualitative Research

As the term suggests qualitative research is based qualitative methods of research which include participants’ observations, focus groups and unstructured interviews. Qualitative research is very different in nature when compared to quantitative research. It takes an established path towards the research process, how research questions are set up, how existing theories are built upon, what methods of research are employed, and how the findings are unveiled to the readers. Conventional methods that you may adopt include phenomenological research, narrative based research, grounded theory research, ethnographies, case studies and auto-ethnographies. Again, regardless of the chosen approach to qualitative research, your dissertation will have unique key features as listed below.

  • The research questions that you aim to answer will expand or even change as the dissertation writing process goes on. This aspect of the research is typically known as an emergent design where the objectives of the research evolve with time.
  • Qualitative research may use existing theories to cultivate new theoretical understandings or fall back on existing theories to support the research process. However, the original goal of testing a certain theoretical understanding remains the same.
  • It can be based on one of various research models such as critical theory, constructivism and interpretivism.
  • Analysis and discussions of results as well as the choices you make are largely influenced by the chosen research design. Research design itself depends on the adopted research path that can be phenomenological research, narrative based research, grounded theory based research, ethnography, case study based research or auto-ethnography.
  • Qualitative research answers research questions with the help of theoretical sampling where data gathered from organization or people is studied.
  • It involves various research methods to gather qualitative data from participants belonging to the field of study. As indicated previously, some of the most notable qualitative research methods include participant observation, focus groups and unstructured interviews.
  • It incorporates an inductive process where the researcher analyses and understands the data through his own eyes and judgments to identify concepts and themes which paints a comprehensive depiction of the material being researched.
  • The key quality characteristics of qualitative research are transferability, conformity, confirmability and reliability.
  • Results and discussions are largely based on narratives, case study and personal experiences which help to detect inconsistencies, observations, processes and ideas.
  • Qualitative research discuss theoretical concepts as obtained from the results whilst taking research questions and/or hypothesis into consideration to draw general conclusions.

Now that you know the unique differences between quantitative and qualitative methods of research, you may want to learn a bit about primary and secondary methods of research. Here is an article that will help you distinguish primary and secondary research and to decide whether or not you need to use quantitative and/or qualitative methods of primary research in your dissertation. Alternatively, you can simply base your dissertation on secondary research which is descriptive and explanatory in essence.

Methods of research for dissertation project

Mixed Methods of Research

When you combine quantitative and qualitative methods of research, the resulting approach becomes mixed methods of research. Over the last few decades, much of the research in the world of academia has been conducted using mixed methods because of the greater legitimacy this particular technique has gained for a number of reasons including the feeling that combining the two types of research can provide holistic and more dependable results. Here is what mix methods of research involves.

  • Interpreting and investigating the information gathered through quantitative and qualitative techniques.
  • There could be more than one stages of research. Depending on the topic of research, occasionally it would be more appropriate to perform qualitative research in the first stage to figure out and investigate a problem to unveil key themes; and conduct quantitative research in stage two of the process for measuring relationships between the themes.

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However, this method has a one prominent limitation which is, as previously mentioned, combining qualitative and quantitative research can be difficult because they both are different in terms of design and approach. In many ways, they are contrasting styles of research, and so care must be exercised when basing your dissertation on mixed methods of research. When choosing method of research for your own dissertation, it would make sense to carefully think about your research topic, research questions and research objectives to make an intelligent decision in terms of philosophy of research design.


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“At Research Prospect, our expert writers can help you with your qualitative dissertation no matter how complex and urgent your requirements might be. We can help you produce a first class dissertation paper whether you are a student of sports science, medical or biological science, education or business, psychology, social sciences, engineering, project management or any other science based degree.

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