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- What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
Published on August 25, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on June 22, 2023.
Your research methodology discusses and explains the data collection and analysis methods you used in your research. A key part of your thesis, dissertation , or research paper , the methodology chapter explains what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of your research and your dissertation topic .
It should include:
- The type of research you conducted
- How you collected and analyzed your data
- Any tools or materials you used in the research
- How you mitigated or avoided research biases
- Why you chose these methods
- Your methodology section should generally be written in the past tense .
- Academic style guides in your field may provide detailed guidelines on what to include for different types of studies.
- Your citation style might provide guidelines for your methodology section (e.g., an APA Style methods section ).
Table of contents
How to write a research methodology, why is a methods section important, step 1: explain your methodological approach, step 2: describe your data collection methods, step 3: describe your analysis method, step 4: evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made, tips for writing a strong methodology chapter, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about methodology.
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Your methods section is your opportunity to share how you conducted your research and why you chose the methods you chose. It’s also the place to show that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated .
It gives your research legitimacy and situates it within your field, and also gives your readers a place to refer to if they have any questions or critiques in other sections.
You can start by introducing your overall approach to your research. You have two options here.
Option 1: Start with your “what”
What research problem or question did you investigate?
- Aim to describe the characteristics of something?
- Explore an under-researched topic?
- Establish a causal relationship?
And what type of data did you need to achieve this aim?
- Quantitative data , qualitative data , or a mix of both?
- Primary data collected yourself, or secondary data collected by someone else?
- Experimental data gathered by controlling and manipulating variables, or descriptive data gathered via observations?
Option 2: Start with your “why”
Depending on your discipline, you can also start with a discussion of the rationale and assumptions underpinning your methodology. In other words, why did you choose these methods for your study?
- Why is this the best way to answer your research question?
- Is this a standard methodology in your field, or does it require justification?
- Were there any ethical considerations involved in your choices?
- What are the criteria for validity and reliability in this type of research ? How did you prevent bias from affecting your data?
Once you have introduced your reader to your methodological approach, you should share full details about your data collection methods .
In order to be considered generalizable, you should describe quantitative research methods in enough detail for another researcher to replicate your study.
Here, explain how you operationalized your concepts and measured your variables. Discuss your sampling method or inclusion and exclusion criteria , as well as any tools, procedures, and materials you used to gather your data.
Surveys Describe where, when, and how the survey was conducted.
- How did you design the questionnaire?
- What form did your questions take (e.g., multiple choice, Likert scale )?
- Were your surveys conducted in-person or virtually?
- What sampling method did you use to select participants?
- What was your sample size and response rate?
Experiments Share full details of the tools, techniques, and procedures you used to conduct your experiment.
- How did you design the experiment ?
- How did you recruit participants?
- How did you manipulate and measure the variables ?
- What tools did you use?
Existing data Explain how you gathered and selected the material (such as datasets or archival data) that you used 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)?
The survey consisted of 5 multiple-choice questions and 10 questions measured on a 7-point Likert scale.
The goal was to collect survey responses from 350 customers visiting the fitness apparel company’s brick-and-mortar location in Boston on July 4–8, 2022, between 11:00 and 15:00.
Here, a customer was defined as a person who had purchased a product from the company on the day they took the survey. Participants were given 5 minutes to fill in the survey anonymously. In total, 408 customers responded, but not all surveys were fully completed. Due to this, 371 survey results were included in the analysis.
- Information bias
- Omitted variable bias
- Regression to the mean
- Survivorship bias
- Undercoverage bias
- Sampling bias
In qualitative research , methods are often more flexible and subjective. For this reason, it’s crucial to robustly explain the methodology choices you made.
Be sure to discuss the criteria you used to select your data, the context in which your research was conducted, and the role you played in collecting your data (e.g., were you an active participant, or a passive observer?)
Interviews or focus groups Describe where, when, and how the interviews were conducted.
- How did you find and select participants?
- How many participants took part?
- What form did the interviews take ( structured , semi-structured , or unstructured )?
- How long were the interviews?
- How were they recorded?
Participant observation Describe where, when, and how you conducted the observation or ethnography .
- What group or community did you observe? How long did you spend there?
- How did you gain access to this group? What role did you play in the community?
- How long did you spend conducting the research? Where was it located?
- How did you record your data (e.g., audiovisual recordings, note-taking)?
Existing data Explain how you selected case study materials for your analysis.
- What type of materials did you analyze?
- How did you select them?
In order to gain better insight into possibilities for future improvement of the fitness store’s product range, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 returning customers.
Here, a returning customer was defined as someone who usually bought products at least twice a week from the store.
Surveys were used to select participants. Interviews were conducted in a small office next to the cash register and lasted approximately 20 minutes each. Answers were recorded by note-taking, and seven interviews were also filmed with consent. One interviewee preferred not to be filmed.
- The Hawthorne effect
- Observer bias
- The placebo effect
- Response bias and Nonresponse bias
- The Pygmalion effect
- Recall bias
- Social desirability bias
- Self-selection bias
Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches. If a standalone quantitative or qualitative study is insufficient to answer your research question, mixed methods may be a good fit for you.
Mixed methods are less common than standalone analyses, largely because they require a great deal of effort to pull off successfully. If you choose to pursue mixed methods, it’s especially important to robustly justify your methods.
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Next, you should indicate how you processed and analyzed your data. Avoid going into too much detail: you should not start introducing or discussing any of your results at this stage.
In quantitative research , your analysis will be based on numbers. In your methods section, you can include:
- How you prepared the data before analyzing it (e.g., checking for missing data , removing outliers , transforming variables)
- Which software you used (e.g., SPSS, Stata or R)
- Which statistical tests you used (e.g., two-tailed t test , simple linear regression )
In qualitative research, your analysis will be based on language, images, and observations (often involving some form of textual analysis ).
Specific methods might include:
- Content analysis : Categorizing and discussing the meaning of words, phrases and sentences
- Thematic analysis : Coding and closely examining the data to identify broad themes and patterns
- Discourse analysis : Studying communication and meaning in relation to their social context
Mixed methods combine the above two research methods, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process.
Above all, your methodology section should clearly make the case for why you chose the methods you did. This is especially true if you did not take the most standard approach to your topic. In this case, discuss why other methods were not suitable for your objectives, and show how this approach contributes new knowledge or understanding.
In any case, it should be overwhelmingly clear to your reader that you set yourself up for success in terms of your methodology’s design. Show how your methods should lead to results that are valid and reliable, while leaving the analysis of the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results for your discussion section .
- Quantitative: Lab-based experiments cannot always accurately simulate real-life situations and behaviors, but they are effective for testing causal relationships between variables .
- Qualitative: Unstructured interviews usually produce results that cannot be generalized beyond the sample group , but they provide a more in-depth understanding of participants’ perceptions, motivations, and emotions.
- Mixed methods: Despite issues systematically comparing differing types of data, a solely quantitative study would not sufficiently incorporate the lived experience of each participant, while a solely qualitative study would be insufficiently generalizable.
Remember that your aim is not just to describe your methods, but to show how and why you applied them. Again, it’s critical to demonstrate that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated.
1. Focus on your objectives and research questions
The methodology section should clearly show why your methods suit your objectives and convince the reader that you chose the best possible approach to answering your problem statement and research questions .
2. Cite relevant sources
Your methodology can be strengthened by referencing existing research in your field. This can help you to:
- Show that you followed established practice for your type of research
- Discuss how you decided on your approach by evaluating existing research
- Present a novel methodological approach to address a gap in the literature
3. Write for your audience
Consider how much information you need to give, and avoid getting too lengthy. If you are using methods that are standard for your discipline, you probably don’t need to give a lot of background or justification.
Regardless, your methodology should be a clear, well-structured text that makes an argument for your approach, not just a list of technical details and procedures.
If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Normal distribution
- Measures of central tendency
- Chi square tests
- Confidence interval
- Quartiles & Quantiles
- Cluster sampling
- Stratified sampling
- Thematic analysis
- Cohort study
- Peer review
- Implicit bias
- Cognitive bias
- Conformity bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Availability heuristic
- Attrition bias
Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.
Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).
In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .
In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.
In a scientific paper, the methodology always comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion . The same basic structure also applies to a thesis, dissertation , or research proposal .
Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.
Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.
Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.
Reliability and validity are both about how well a method measures something:
- Reliability refers to the consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).
- Validity refers to the accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent what they are supposed to measure).
If you are doing experimental research, you also have to consider the internal and external validity of your experiment.
A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.
In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.
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How To Write The Methodology Chapter
The what, why & how explained simply (with examples).
By: Jenna Crossley (PhD) | Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | September 2021 (Updated April 2023)
So, you’ve pinned down your research topic and undertaken a review of the literature – now it’s time to write up the methodology section of your dissertation, thesis or research paper. But what exactly is the methodology chapter all about – and how do you go about writing one? In this post, we’ll unpack the topic, step by step .
Overview: The Methodology Chapter
- The purpose of the methodology chapter
- Why you need to craft this chapter (really) well
- How to write and structure the chapter
- Methodology chapter example
- Essential takeaways
What (exactly) is the methodology chapter?
The methodology chapter is where you outline the philosophical underpinnings of your research and outline the specific methodological choices you’ve made. The point of the methodology chapter is to tell the reader exactly how you designed your study and, just as importantly, why you did it this way.
Importantly, this chapter should comprehensively describe and justify all the methodological choices you made in your study. For example, the approach you took to your research (i.e., qualitative, quantitative or mixed), who you collected data from (i.e., your sampling strategy), how you collected your data and, of course, how you analysed it. If that sounds a little intimidating, don’t worry – we’ll explain all these methodological choices in this post .
Why is the methodology chapter important?
The methodology chapter plays two important roles in your dissertation or thesis:
Firstly, it demonstrates your understanding of research theory, which is what earns you marks. A flawed research design or methodology would mean flawed results. So, this chapter is vital as it allows you to show the marker that you know what you’re doing and that your results are credible .
Secondly, the methodology chapter is what helps to make your study replicable. In other words, it allows other researchers to undertake your study using the same methodological approach, and compare their findings to yours. This is very important within academic research, as each study builds on previous studies.
The methodology chapter is also important in that it allows you to identify and discuss any methodological issues or problems you encountered (i.e., research limitations ), and to explain how you mitigated the impacts of these. Every research project has its limitations , so it’s important to acknowledge these openly and highlight your study’s value despite its limitations . Doing so demonstrates your understanding of research design, which will earn you marks. We’ll discuss limitations in a bit more detail later in this post, so stay tuned!
Need a helping hand?
How to write up the methodology chapter
First off, it’s worth noting that the exact structure and contents of the methodology chapter will vary depending on the field of research (e.g., humanities, chemistry or engineering) as well as the university . So, be sure to always check the guidelines provided by your institution for clarity and, if possible, review past dissertations from your university. Here we’re going to discuss a generic structure for a methodology chapter typically found in the sciences.
Before you start writing, it’s always a good idea to draw up a rough outline to guide your writing. Don’t just start writing without knowing what you’ll discuss where. If you do, you’ll likely end up with a disjointed, ill-flowing narrative . You’ll then waste a lot of time rewriting in an attempt to try to stitch all the pieces together. Do yourself a favour and start with the end in mind .
Section 1 – Introduction
As with all chapters in your dissertation or thesis, the methodology chapter should have a brief introduction. In this section, you should remind your readers what the focus of your study is, especially the research aims . As we’ve discussed many times on the blog, your methodology needs to align with your research aims, objectives and research questions. Therefore, it’s useful to frontload this component to remind the reader (and yourself!) what you’re trying to achieve.
In this section, you can also briefly mention how you’ll structure the chapter. This will help orient the reader and provide a bit of a roadmap so that they know what to expect. You don’t need a lot of detail here – just a brief outline will do.
Section 2 – The Methodology
The next section of your chapter is where you’ll present the actual methodology. In this section, you need to detail and justify the key methodological choices you’ve made in a logical, intuitive fashion. Importantly, this is the heart of your methodology chapter, so you need to get specific – don’t hold back on the details here. This is not one of those “less is more” situations.
Let’s take a look at the most common components you’ll likely need to cover.
Methodological Choice #1 – Research Philosophy
Research philosophy refers to the underlying beliefs (i.e., the worldview) regarding how data about a phenomenon should be gathered , analysed and used . The research philosophy will serve as the core of your study and underpin all of the other research design choices, so it’s critically important that you understand which philosophy you’ll adopt and why you made that choice. If you’re not clear on this, take the time to get clarity before you make any further methodological choices.
While several research philosophies exist, two commonly adopted ones are positivism and interpretivism . These two sit roughly on opposite sides of the research philosophy spectrum.
Positivism states that the researcher can observe reality objectively and that there is only one reality, which exists independently of the observer. As a consequence, it is quite commonly the underlying research philosophy in quantitative studies and is oftentimes the assumed philosophy in the physical sciences.
Contrasted with this, interpretivism , which is often the underlying research philosophy in qualitative studies, assumes that the researcher performs a role in observing the world around them and that reality is unique to each observer . In other words, reality is observed subjectively .
These are just two philosophies (there are many more), but they demonstrate significantly different approaches to research and have a significant impact on all the methodological choices. Therefore, it’s vital that you clearly outline and justify your research philosophy at the beginning of your methodology chapter, as it sets the scene for everything that follows.
Methodological Choice #2 – Research Type
The next thing you would typically discuss in your methodology section is the research type. The starting point for this is to indicate whether the research you conducted is inductive or deductive .
Inductive research takes a bottom-up approach , where the researcher begins with specific observations or data and then draws general conclusions or theories from those observations. Therefore these studies tend to be exploratory in terms of approach.
Conversely , d eductive research takes a top-down approach , where the researcher starts with a theory or hypothesis and then tests it using specific observations or data. Therefore these studies tend to be confirmatory in approach.
Related to this, you’ll need to indicate whether your study adopts a qualitative, quantitative or mixed approach. As we’ve mentioned, there’s a strong link between this choice and your research philosophy, so make sure that your choices are tightly aligned . When you write this section up, remember to clearly justify your choices, as they form the foundation of your study.
Methodological Choice #3 – Research Strategy
Next, you’ll need to discuss your research strategy (also referred to as a research design ). This methodological choice refers to the broader strategy in terms of how you’ll conduct your research, based on the aims of your study.
Several research strategies exist, including experimental , case studies , ethnography , grounded theory, action research , and phenomenology . Let’s take a look at two of these, experimental and ethnographic, to see how they contrast.
Experimental research makes use of the scientific method , where one group is the control group (in which no variables are manipulated ) and another is the experimental group (in which a specific variable is manipulated). This type of research is undertaken under strict conditions in a controlled, artificial environment (e.g., a laboratory). By having firm control over the environment, experimental research typically allows the researcher to establish causation between variables. Therefore, it can be a good choice if you have research aims that involve identifying causal relationships.
Ethnographic research , on the other hand, involves observing and capturing the experiences and perceptions of participants in their natural environment (for example, at home or in the office). In other words, in an uncontrolled environment. Naturally, this means that this research strategy would be far less suitable if your research aims involve identifying causation, but it would be very valuable if you’re looking to explore and examine a group culture, for example.
As you can see, the right research strategy will depend largely on your research aims and research questions – in other words, what you’re trying to figure out. Therefore, as with every other methodological choice, it’s essential to justify why you chose the research strategy you did.
Methodological Choice #4 – Time Horizon
The next thing you’ll need to detail in your methodology chapter is the time horizon. There are two options here: cross-sectional and longitudinal . In other words, whether the data for your study were all collected at one point in time (cross-sectional) or at multiple points in time (longitudinal).
The choice you make here depends again on your research aims, objectives and research questions. If, for example, you aim to assess how a specific group of people’s perspectives regarding a topic change over time , you’d likely adopt a longitudinal time horizon.
Another important factor to consider is simply whether you have the time necessary to adopt a longitudinal approach (which could involve collecting data over multiple months or even years). Oftentimes, the time pressures of your degree program will force your hand into adopting a cross-sectional time horizon, so keep this in mind.
Methodological Choice #5 – Sampling Strategy
Next, you’ll need to discuss your sampling strategy . There are two main categories of sampling, probability and non-probability sampling.
Probability sampling involves a random (and therefore representative) selection of participants from a population, whereas non-probability sampling entails selecting participants in a non-random (and therefore non-representative) manner. For example, selecting participants based on ease of access (this is called a convenience sample).
The right sampling approach depends largely on what you’re trying to achieve in your study. Specifically, whether you trying to develop findings that are generalisable to a population or not. Practicalities and resource constraints also play a large role here, as it can oftentimes be challenging to gain access to a truly random sample. In the video below, we explore some of the most common sampling strategies.
Methodological Choice #6 – Data Collection Method
Next up, you’ll need to explain how you’ll go about collecting the necessary data for your study. Your data collection method (or methods) will depend on the type of data that you plan to collect – in other words, qualitative or quantitative data.
Typically, quantitative research relies on surveys , data generated by lab equipment, analytics software or existing datasets. Qualitative research, on the other hand, often makes use of collection methods such as interviews , focus groups , participant observations, and ethnography.
So, as you can see, there is a tight link between this section and the design choices you outlined in earlier sections. Strong alignment between these sections, as well as your research aims and questions is therefore very important.
Methodological Choice #7 – Data Analysis Methods/Techniques
The final major methodological choice that you need to address is that of analysis techniques . In other words, how you’ll go about analysing your date once you’ve collected it. Here it’s important to be very specific about your analysis methods and/or techniques – don’t leave any room for interpretation. Also, as with all choices in this chapter, you need to justify each choice you make.
What exactly you discuss here will depend largely on the type of study you’re conducting (i.e., qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods). For qualitative studies, common analysis methods include content analysis , thematic analysis and discourse analysis . In the video below, we explain each of these in plain language.
For quantitative studies, you’ll almost always make use of descriptive statistics , and in many cases, you’ll also use inferential statistical techniques (e.g., correlation and regression analysis). In the video below, we unpack some of the core concepts involved in descriptive and inferential statistics.
In this section of your methodology chapter, it’s also important to discuss how you prepared your data for analysis, and what software you used (if any). For example, quantitative data will often require some initial preparation such as removing duplicates or incomplete responses . Similarly, qualitative data will often require transcription and perhaps even translation. As always, remember to state both what you did and why you did it.
Section 3 – The Methodological Limitations
With the key methodological choices outlined and justified, the next step is to discuss the limitations of your design. No research methodology is perfect – there will always be trade-offs between the “ideal” methodology and what’s practical and viable, given your constraints. Therefore, this section of your methodology chapter is where you’ll discuss the trade-offs you had to make, and why these were justified given the context.
Methodological limitations can vary greatly from study to study, ranging from common issues such as time and budget constraints to issues of sample or selection bias . For example, you may find that you didn’t manage to draw in enough respondents to achieve the desired sample size (and therefore, statistically significant results), or your sample may be skewed heavily towards a certain demographic, thereby negatively impacting representativeness .
In this section, it’s important to be critical of the shortcomings of your study. There’s no use trying to hide them (your marker will be aware of them regardless). By being critical, you’ll demonstrate to your marker that you have a strong understanding of research theory, so don’t be shy here. At the same time, don’t beat your study to death . State the limitations, why these were justified, how you mitigated their impacts to the best degree possible, and how your study still provides value despite these limitations .
Section 4 – Concluding Summary
Finally, it’s time to wrap up the methodology chapter with a brief concluding summary. In this section, you’ll want to concisely summarise what you’ve presented in the chapter. Here, it can be a good idea to use a figure to summarise the key decisions, especially if your university recommends using a specific model (for example, Saunders’ Research Onion ).
Importantly, this section needs to be brief – a paragraph or two maximum (it’s a summary, after all). Also, make sure that when you write up your concluding summary, you include only what you’ve already discussed in your chapter; don’t add any new information.
Methodology Chapter Example
In the video below, we walk you through an example of a high-quality research methodology chapter from a dissertation. We also unpack our free methodology chapter template so that you can see how best to structure your chapter.
And there you have it – the methodology chapter in a nutshell. As we’ve mentioned, the exact contents and structure of this chapter can vary between universities , so be sure to check in with your institution before you start writing. If possible, try to find dissertations or theses from former students of your specific degree program – this will give you a strong indication of the expectations and norms when it comes to the methodology chapter (and all the other chapters!).
Also, remember the golden rule of the methodology chapter – justify every choice ! Make sure that you clearly explain the “why” for every “what”, and reference credible methodology textbooks or academic sources to back up your justifications.
If you need a helping hand with your research methodology (or any other component of your research), be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through every step of the research journey. Until next time, good luck!
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Quantitative research methodologies.
- Qualitative Research Methodologies
- Systematic Reviews
- Finding Articles by Methodology
- Design Your Research Project
What is quantitative research.
Quantitative methodologies use statistics to analyze numerical data gathered by researchers to answer their research questions. Quantitative methods can be used to answer questions such as:
- What are the relationships between two or more variables?
- What factors are at play in an environment that might affect the behavior or development of the organisms in that environment?
Quantitative methods can also be used to test hypotheses by conducting quasi-experimental studies or designing experiments.
Independent and Dependent Variables
In quantitative research, a variable is something (an intervention technique, a pharmaceutical, a temperature, etc.) that changes. There are two kinds of variables: independent variables and dependent variables . In the simplest terms, the independent variable is whatever the researchers are using to attempt to make a change in their dependent variable.
* This is a real, repeatable experiment you can try on your plants.
Researchers will compare two sets of numbers to try and identify a relationship (if any) between two things.
- Köse S., & Murat, M. (2021). Examination of the relationship between smartphone addiction and cyberchondria in adolescents. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 35(6): 563-570.
- Pilger et al. (2021). Spiritual well-being, religious/spiritual coping and quality of life among the elderly undergoing hemodialysis: a correlational study. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, 33(1): 2-15.
Researchers will attempt to quantify a variety of factors at play as they study a particular type of phenomenon or action. For example, researchers might use a descriptive methodology to understand the effects of climate change on the life cycle of a plant or animal.
- Lakshmi, E. (2021). Food consumption pattern and body mass index of adolescents: A descriptive study. International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases, 11(4), 293–297.
- Lin, J., Singh, S., Sha, L., Tan, W., Lang, D., Gašević, D., & Chen, G. (2022). Is it a good move? Mining effective tutoring strategies from human–human tutorial dialogues. Future Generation Computer Systems, 127, 194–207.
To understand the effects of a variable, researchers will design an experiment where they can control as many factors as possible. This can involve creating control and experimental groups. The experimental group will be exposed to the variable to study its effects. The control group provides data about what happens when the variable is absent. For example, in a study about online teaching, the control group might receive traditional face-to-face instruction while the experimental group would receive their instruction virtually.
- Jinzhang Jia, Yinuo Chen, Guangbo Che, Jinchao Zhu, Fengxiao Wang, & Peng Jia. (2021). Experimental study on the explosion characteristics of hydrogen-methane premixed gas in complex pipe networks. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 1–11.
- Sasaki, R. et al. (2021). Effects of cryotherapy applied at different temperatures on inflammatory pain during the acute phase of arthritis in rats. Physical Therapy, 101(2), 1–9.
Researchers will attempt to determine what (if any) effect a variable can have. These studies may have multiple independent variables (causes) and multiple dependent variables (effects), but this can complicate researchers' efforts to find out if A can cause B or if X, Y, and Z are also playing a role.
- Jafari, A., Alami, A., Charoghchian, E., Delshad Noghabi, A., & Nejatian, M. (2021). The impact of effective communication skills training on the status of marital burnout among married women. BMC Women’s Health, 21(1), 1-10.
- Phillips, S. W., Kim, D.-Y., Sobol, J. J., & Gayadeen, S. M. (2021). Total recall?: A quasi-experimental study of officer’s recollection in shoot - don’t shoot simulators. Police Practice and Research, 22(3), 1229–1240.
Surveys can be considered a quantitative methodology if the researchers require their respondents to choose from pre-determined responses.
- Harries et al. (2021). Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical students: A multicenter quantitative study. BMC Medical Education, 21(14), 1-8.
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Three Examples of Quantitative Research Methods for Academic Writing
Three Examples of Quantitative Research Methods for Academic Writing All quantitative research aims to collect and analyse meaningful numerical data, but quantitative research methods vary widely. In fact, as the examples in this article show, types of primary quantitative research differ specifically in their methods and the objectives those methods enable. The use of a shopping survey or questionnaire as a research tool is demonstrated in the first of these examples. The second example uses an experimental research approach to test an unconventional therapy for seniors. The third shows how purely observational research might be conducted in a public setting. In order to offer brief examples of primary quantitative research methods for a variety of readers working in a range of fields, I have kept details of procedures and materials as well as specialised terminology to a minimum and presented each example as a simple bullet outline of research plans –the kind of outline a researcher might make in the initial stages of a project. Information should therefore be considered general and representational rather than precise and thorough. The information should also be read as the fiction it is. All three examples present imaginary projects designed to highlight the research possibilities and key methodological concerns and procedures characteristic of specific quantitative methods. Such studies might certainly be undertaken given real circumstances of a similar nature, but further definition and refinement and in some cases the appropriate permissions and ethical approvals would be necessary. PhD Thesis Editing Services Three Basic Examples of Primary Quantitative Research Methods
Example 1: Research into Shopping Habits Using an Email Survey
• In this study a survey will be used to investigate the grocery-shopping habits of low-income families residing on the east side of Civitas. In particular, the degree to which the price and availability of unhealthy high-fat foods versus healthy low-fat foods determine consumer decisions will be measured and examined. The working hypothesis is that the low prices and ready accessibility of unhealthy foods encourage low-income shoppers to buy them. • The survey will contain thirty closed-ended questions designed to quantify participant responses. Some questions will require simple yes or no answers (for example, ‘Do you read nutritional labels while shopping for food?’). Others will ask a question such as ‘Which answer below best describes your behaviour while shopping for lunch box foods?’ and then offer a number of choices. Still others will present a Likert style scale for recording responses to questions (for instance, ‘How likely is the price of low-fat food to affect whether you buy it or not?’) or measuring agreement or disagreement with specific statements (such as ‘I always check labels for fat content before purchasing processed food’). • The survey will also request personal information important to the study such as the age and gender of the respondent, marital status, family income, number and age of children and so on. • The study is planned in conjunction with East Side Social Services, who will be assisting in the design of the survey, which we plan to administer to a sample of 1000 representative families chosen at random from Social Services, Food Bank and publicly accessible community mailing lists. • To increase response rate, a small incentive of a $10 gift card (generously provided by the East Side Grocers Association) for use at one of nearly 31 grocery stores selling healthy, low-fat foods in the East Side will be offered to each respondent who returns a completed questionnaire within the allotted time of two weeks. • Survey responses will be summarised in percentages, displayed in tables and graphs, and analysed to discover dominant patterns and trends in food-shopping habits and decisions that may help with developing strategies to ensure that healthier low-fat foods reach the mouths of low-income families. A section at the end of the survey will request further comments on the topic of the research or the survey itself in order to contextualise, explain and enrich the quantitative data. • The research project will be briefly described for participants and consent requested in the documentation accompanying the survey. Only the responses of participants aged 17 and over will be included in the study, and the identity and other personal information of all respondents will be protected.
Example 2: Experimental Research among Elderly Patients in Long-Term Care
• This study is designed to test the impact of animal-assisted therapy on elderly patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease who are in long-term care at two different homes for seniors: Shady Grove Retirement Villa and Sunny Shores Care Home. • The therapy animals to be used are a young pair of bred-in-captivity galahs or roseate cockatoos named Harry and Hermione and owned by a local breeder and trainer. • The goal is to answer some basic research questions about the use of cockatoos in animal-assisted therapy. For instance, Does contact with therapy cockatoos measurably improve the social, emotional or cognitive function of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients? Is the impact similar to that of therapy dogs? Is it more or less significant? PhD Thesis Editing Services If the impact of therapy cockatoos is measurable, does it last beyond the moment? • Patients for the study will include groups from both Shady Grove and Sunny Shores. At Shady Grove participants will be a group of 13 dementia and Alzheimer’s patients who already gather for an hour of animal-assisted therapy on Thursday mornings. One morning the birds will simply replace the dogs. At Sunny Shores dementia and Alzheimer’s patients able to make their way to the recreation room (usually about 12) gather for an hour of games and puzzles on Wednesday mornings. The patients will be greeted by the cockatoos instead on the morning of the experiment. • The day before each experiment the patients who will be participating the next day will be asked a few basic questions such as ‘What is your name?’, ‘How old are you?’, ‘What year is it?’, ‘Do you have children?’ and ‘How do you feel?’ Answers will be recorded. • During the experiment the cockatoo breeder and one of my research assistants will be handling and monitoring the birds while I and a second research assistant will observe and record patient responses to the cockatoos according to specific, predetermined definitions and criteria. In particular we will be watching for evidence of improvements in emotional response, social interaction and cognitive function, so we will be recording smiles, laughs, cries, speech and conversation, hugs, caresses, gestures, memories, singing, approaching people or birds, offering food and other relevant human activities. • One day and then again three days after each experiment the patients who participated will be asked the same simple questions they were asked before the trial (‘What is your name?’, ‘How old are you?’, ‘What year is it?’ etc.). • A control group will be provided by the 11 dementia and Alzheimer’s patients at Sunny Shores who gather in the recreation room on Thursday (instead of Wednesday) mornings for an hour of games and puzzles. These residents will not receive animal therapy, but they will be asked those simple questions the day before, one day after and again three days after their recreation time. • The responses we observe while patients are interacting with the cockatoos will be counted and analysed, as will any changes in the answers to the questions asked before and after the experimental interaction. Ideally, we will be able to make video recordings of the two hours the cockatoos and residents spend together so that we can return to them when necessary to examine and reconsider responses. • Patient participation is entirely voluntary and informed consent will be obtained from those who are able to give it. For patients in more advanced stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, which includes many of the participants in this study, consent will be obtained from their next of kin. If any of the individuals granting consent object to a video recording of the animal-assisted therapy, a video will not be made. PhD Thesis Editing Services • Ethical approval for the study and its use of both human and animal subjects will be sought from the Regional Medical Board and the Research Ethics Committee at the University of the Southern Coast. Staff and administrators at both the care homes are enthusiastic about the research and have given their permission as long as the residents and their families are in agreement and comfortable with the experimental procedures. Example 3: Research via Naturalistic Observation in a Public Place
• This study will take place in Pudgy’s Burgers, a local restaurant that serves fast, mostly high-fat food. The franchise is planning to close the restaurant next spring, but some residents have objected to the closure on the grounds that the establishment is the only restaurant in Quaintville where, to quote the Quaintville Times, ‘a working family can still get a decent meal for a fair buck, and a comfortable place to eat it too, out of the winter wind where the kids can run about and play a bit.’ • The majority of the published scholarship on the topic of fast food and family health suggests that families may not be the most frequent patrons of many fast-food establishments. When families do eat at such restaurants, however, the evidence indicates that the food they eat is far from healthy and the impact is usually a negative one. • The questions guiding this research have been developed using the claim in the Quaintville Times as well as the published scholarship: Does Pudgy’s restaurant offer a decent (i.e. healthy) family meal for a fair price? Do families constitute the majority of the restaurant’s clientele? Do families linger in the restaurant’s comfort and warmth? Do children use the indoor play area provided by the restaurant? The restaurant manager and other long-term residents assure me that the answer to all four questions is ‘Yes,’ so my main working hypothesis is that Pudgy’s is an exception to the trend reported in other studies and that families do indeed constitute the majority of the restaurant’s clientele. The healthy menu options and indoor play area no doubt increase the appeal of the low prices and informal atmosphere. • To answer my research questions I plan to spend many four-hour periods at different times of the day on different days of the week nursing a coffee as I observe the arrival, departure, purchases, activities and behaviours of the restaurant’s regular round of customers. My visits will be planned to ensure that at least two observation sessions occur at every time of day that Pudgy’s Burgers is open across every day of the week for a representative sampling of clients over two winter months – January and February. • To prevent customers from noticing my observation and altering their normal behaviour in response I have arranged with the manager to sit at the staff table in a dark and quiet corner of the restaurant where the customers never go, but from where they, the service counters for both eat-in and take-out orders and the children’s play area can be clearly seen. The manager has also agreed to provide me with impersonal receipt information regarding items purchased. PhD Thesis Editing Services • To ensure that I record thorough and equivalent information about every client, I am preparing a Customer Fact Sheet to be completed for each individual, couple or group that purchases food. Information to be listed will include date, weather conditions, time of arrival, eat in or take out order, number in party, approximate age of individuals, food purchased, food consumed, healthy choices, amount spent, who paid, dessert or extra beverage, children playing, interaction with other children and families, time of departure and further details. These sheets will not contain personal or identifying information about individuals or families. • I hope to complete Customer Fact Sheets on at least 500 individual customers and customer groups over two months before analysing the evidence I have gathered, assessing the validity of the claim published in the Quaintville Times in relation to my observations and measuring the value of the restaurant to those members of the community who may benefit most from its presence or absence.
Remember as you devise your own primary research methods that mathematical analysis and logical interpretation are essential aspects of excellent quantitative research. Whether you simply determine and discuss the percentage of respondents who said ‘No’ to Question 7 and ‘Yes’ to Question 8, design complex tables to display and compare observed experimental data or use computer software to perform modern statistical tests, synthesis and analysis are necessary, and so too is a discussion of what your results mean. Sound research methods such as using control groups and avoiding detection when observing natural behaviour increase the value of quantitative research and enable a more persuasive and empirically grounded discussion, but all methods have their limitations, including even the best of primary quantitative methods, and a discussion of results should always acknowledge that fact.
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