Research methodology involves the researcher providing an alternative hypothesis, a research hypothesis , as an alternate way to explain the phenomenon. The research hypothesis is often based on observations that evoke suspicion that the null hypothesis is not always correct. In the Stanley Milgram Experiment , the null hypothesis was that the personality determined whether a person would hurt another person, while the research hypothesis was that the role, instructions and orders were much more important in determining whether people would hurt others.
A variable is something that changes. It changes according to different factors. Some variables change easily, like the stock-exchange value, while other variables are almost constant, like the name of someone.
Researchers are often seeking to measure variables. The variable can be a number, a name, or anything where the value can change. An example of a variable is temperature. The temperature varies according to other variable and factors.
You can measure different temperature inside and outside. If it is a sunny day, chances are that the temperature will be higher than if it's cloudy. Another thing that can make the temperature change is whether something has been done to manipulate the temperature, like lighting a fire in the chimney. In research, you typically define variables according to what you're measuring.
The independent variable is the variable which the researcher would like to measure the cause , while the dependent variable is the effect or assumed effect , dependent on the independent variable. These variables are often stated in experimental research , in a hypothesis , e.
In explorative research methodology, e. They might not be stated because the researcher does not have a clear idea yet on what is really going on. Confounding variables are variables with a significant effect on the dependent variable that the researcher failed to control or eliminate - sometimes because the researcher is not aware of the effect of the confounding variable.
The key is to identify possible confounding variables and somehow try to eliminate or control them. Operationalization is to take a fuzzy concept conceptual variables , such as ' helping behavior ', and try to measure it by specific observations, e. The selection of the research method is crucial for what conclusions you can make about a phenomenon. It affects what you can say about the cause and factors influencing the phenomenon. It is also important to choose a research method which is within the limits of what the researcher can do.
Time, money, feasibility, ethics and availability to measure the phenomenon correctly are examples of issues constraining the research. Choosing the scientific measurements are also crucial for getting the correct conclusion. Some measurements might not reflect the real world, because they do not measure the phenomenon as it should.
To test a hypothesis , quantitative research uses significance tests to determine which hypothesis is right. The significance test can show whether the null hypothesis is more likely correct than the research hypothesis.
Research methodology in a number of areas like social sciences depends heavily on significance tests. A significance test may even drive the research process in a whole new direction, based on the findings. The t-test also called the Student's T-Test is one of many statistical significance tests, which compares two supposedly equal sets of data to see if they really are alike or not. The t-test helps the researcher conclude whether a hypothesis is supported or not. Drawing a conclusion is based on several factors of the research process, not just because the researcher got the expected result.
It has to be based on the validity and reliability of the measurement, how good the measurement was to reflect the real world and what more could have affected the results. Anyone should be able to check the observation and logic, to see if they also reach the same conclusions. Errors of the observations may stem from measurement-problems, misinterpretations, unlikely random events etc. A common error is to think that correlation implies a causal relationship. This is not necessarily true.
Generalization is to which extent the research and the conclusions of the research apply to the real world. It is not always so that good research will reflect the real world, since we can only measure a small portion of the population at a time. You will probably want to use in-depth qualitative data, and you may wish to adopt a realist, a phenomenologist, or a constructionist approach to the topic.
Qualitative dissertations will include descriptive material, usually extracts from interviews, conversations, documents or field notes, and are therefore likely to be nearer to the upper limit of your word range e. The types of method suitable for a dissertation could include content analysis, a small scale ethnographic study, small scale in-depth qualitative interviewing.
There are many ways in which qualitative and quantitative data and analysis can be combined. Here are two examples.
Your supervisor or research methods tutor may be able to give you detailed examples of these or other ways to combine methods. If you decide to do a primarily theoretical dissertation, it is almost certain that your dissertation will be entirely literature-based. This is likely to be the methodology of theoretical analysis: You might ask how useful certain concepts or theories are for understanding particular patterns of behaviour.
How useful is the concept of institutional racism? Is objectivity in the media possible? How useful is subcultural theory for understanding virtual communities? Here, the focus of attention is not so much to discover something about the social world, for example virtual communities, as to reach a judgement about the value of key concepts or theories in understanding that world. How the study is approached and how contrasting approaches are drawn upon needs to be stated very clearly.
A library-based or theoretical study is not necessarily 'easier' than an empirical study, indeed, it may well be harder.
Remember that theoretical studies, like data-based studies, need to have their research design spelled out from the start. But even if your dissertation is more empirically focused, it could still be entirely literature-based.
You might choose to conduct a review of a field of work. What does the research literature in this field tell us about x? While all dissertations will include a literature review, it is possible to produce a dissertation that is entirely based on a review of the literature.
If you do this, it is important to review the literature from an explicit angle and identify some themes to make the review distinctive. You might, for example, explore empirical debates in your chosen field across different countries or time periods. Whilst it is possible for dissertations to be entirely literature-based, the most common form of dissertation takes the form of a case study. Here the focus of attention is on a particular community, organisation or set of documents.
The attraction of this kind of dissertation is that it stems from empirical curiosity but is at the same time practical. You may be interested in a wider question but a case study enables you to focus on a specific example.
A major challenge in case study dissertations is connecting your own primary research or re-analysis with the broader theoretical themes and empirical concerns of the existing literature. Most dissertations demand either primary or secondary research. In other words, you usually have to analyse data that you have either collected yourself or data that is already available. The reason for this is that the questions dissertations usually address take the following form: Why is x happening?
Why is x changing? These questions demand primary or secondary analysis of data. Case Study 9 Think hard before you decide to undertake empirical research: Secondary analysis is when you analyse data which was collected by another researcher. It allows the researcher to explore areas of interest without having to go through the process of collecting data themselves in the field.
The problem with using fieldwork methods in an undergraduate dissertation, however, is that they are costly in terms of time which is relatively scarce in your final year! You may choose, therefore, to undertake secondary research, analysing existing data. There are a range of documents that already contain research data that you can analyse. You may, for example, be interested in exploring whether gender stereotypes in the media are changing.
This might entail content analysis of newspapers, magazines, video or other media over different time periods. Here you would not be collecting your own data but instead would be analysing existing documents. Download Case Study 6 Media research. If you are interested, for example, in doing historical research, you may need to visit archives. Government reports and autobiographies may also be used as data. Other documents include official statistics, datasets statistical data , and banks of interview transcripts which are all freely available to the academic community.
Increasingly, documents, databases and archives are readily accessible online. Research Methods tutors on your course will be able to advise on the availability and accessibility of such data sets. There are some advantages of doing secondary analysis, particularly if you are doing a quantitative study. You will be able to work with much larger datasets than you could have collected yourself. This has the following advantages:. Quantitative data may also result from non-participant observations or other measurements e.
Also, sometimes data that are collected through qualitative processes participant observation, interviews are coded and quantified. 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:. A series of questions that the respondent answers on their own.
Self-completion questionnaires are good for collecting data on relatively simple topics, and for gaining a general overview of an issue. Questionnaires need to have clear questions, an easy to follow design, and not be too long. Similar to a self-completion questionnaire, except that the questions that are asked by an interviewer to the interviewee. The same questions are read out in the same way to all respondents. There will typically be a fixed choice of answers for the respondents.
Watching people and recording systematically their behaviour. Prior to the observation, an observation schedule will be produced which details what exactly the researcher should look for and how those observations should be recorded.
If you are conducting a qualitative analysis you are likely to wish to use at least some original material. This may be collected through in-depth interviews, participant observation recordings and fieldnotes, non-participant observation, or some combination of these.
Below are some data collection methods that you might want to use for your dissertation:. A way of asking questions which allows the interviewee to have more control of the interview.
A form of interviewing where there are several participants; there is an emphasis in the questioning on a tightly defined topic; the accent is on interaction within the group and the joint construction of meaning. The moderator tries to provide a relatively free rein to the discussion. This involves studying people in naturally occurring settings. The researcher participates directly in the setting and collects data in a systematic manner. The researcher will observe behaviour, listen to conversations, and ask questions.
Spend some time looking at general books about research - they will give you an overview of the data collection methods available and help you to make the best choice for your project. Bryman would be a useful starting point. For any piece of research you conduct, be it empirically based quantitative or qualitative or library based, its methods must be justified.
You need to show in the final dissertation how you have given consideration to different methods, and why you have chosen and eliminated these. Often in early supervision meetings they ask students to justify their reasons for choosing a library-based or an empirical study.
Todd, Smith and Bannister , p This was particularly useful for one of our respondents:. With other essays you can rush them if you have to Todd, Bannister and Clegg, , p ….
My reasons for data collection is literature based as my research question involved sensitive subjects which would have been unsuitable for primary data collection.
Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University I chose primary data because it would enable me to build skills that would be useful for postgraduate study. Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University It will involve primary data, secondary data, quantitative and qualitative research methods, lit reviews, theory and policy studies and an exploration of alternatives. My dissertation is to be based around the experience of 'poverty', as poverty is the experience.
Theories and policies are not. However, to do justice to the subject, theories and policies will be included so Iam able to demonstrate where failures in the system may exist. Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University. Research must be conducted in a sensible and ethical manner; data must be analysed and presented in a rational manner.
It is important that students do not expose themselves or others to dangers or risks when conducting research. Students need the approval of their dissertation supervisor before embarking on any type of fieldwork see the section on Research Ethics for more information. In general, deductive research is theory-testing and inductive research is theory-generating. Often people link deductive research with quantitative experiments or surveys, and inductive research with qualitative interviews or ethnographic work.
These links are not hard and fast — for instance, experimental research, designed to test a particular theory through developing a hypothesis and creating an experimental design, may use quantitative or qualitative data or a combination. If your research starts with a theory and is driven by hypotheses that you are testing e.
However much research combines deductive and inductive elements. Research design is vital to conducting a good piece of work. At the start of your research you need to set down clearly:. You and your supervisor will discuss your design and decide whether the research is 'do-able'. Your university may require you to produce a report e.
Other people may have to look at the design to ascertain whether there are ethical issues that affect your research. Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Researching society and culture. London, Sage Here are some references for specific methods: Interviewing for social scientists: Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement. Identifying a research topic: A template for structured observation: Guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences.
Content About this site What is a Dissertation? How to start your dissertation Help with finding literature and research Formulating the research question Methodologies.
The methods section describes actions to be taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability.
Difference Between Research Methods and Research Methodology - Research methods are the means of conducting a research. Research methodology is the science.
Research Methodology Defined. A research method is a systematic plan for conducting research. Sociologists draw on a variety of both qualitative and quantitative research methods, including. Research methods can be used alone to solve a problem, or explore a question as part of a piece of work. They can also be a key part of writing a thesis or dissertation. For more about this, see our section on Writing a Dissertation, and particularly Writing Your Methodology.
Experimental Research Methods. 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. When we talk about ‘scientific research methods’, this is what . There are several important aspects to research methodology. This is a summary of the key concepts in scientific research and an attempt to erase some common misconceptions in science. This article is a part of the guide.