Types of research methods

When you decide to pursue a PhD, your first step is scientific research. This research is then presented in a thesis. An important part of this is your research justification. This is where you describe the way you collected data to answer your research question. In other words: the types of research methods used.

Before you start your research, it is wise to decide which scientific research methods you want to apply. This makes it easier for you to describe and justify them in your thesis. But what types of research methods are there? There are quite a few, making it difficult to decide which is best for your research. This blog looks at several different research methods you can use.

A Good Research Method is Important

The way of conducting research and describing this research depends on your field and discipline. Generally speaking, the framework of your research design is determined by your research objective, the data you want to gather and analyse, the setting and the sampling method for your research.

The choices you make can be used to decide on the right research methods. A good research method is important because you want to obtain valid and reliable results. Describing the different methods in a detailed and transparent manner means other researchers can follow your steps to examine the validity and reliability. After all, if they use the same research methods, they should arrive at more or less the same results.

Types of Research Methods

Now you are aware of why research methods are so important and how to choose the right method for your research. But, from which research methods can you choose? Below are some methods you can use for your research and thesis. 

Desk Research

Desk research is the use of secondary data already collected by others, such as data from CBS (Statistics Netherlands). This research method is often used to form a picture of the issue and the element you can test, as the problem statement often consults sources for the purpose of substantiating the issue in an external context. When doing desk research, it is important that you incorporate the secondary data used in a reference list. This is mandatory and prevents you from being guilty of plagiarism.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is a good option if you want to answer ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions in your research. In this research method, you measure variables and take a more interpretive approach. You could test how people react to a certain product, for example, and ask follow-up questions on the responses you receive. Examples of qualitative research are group discussions, interviews and panel research.

Quantitative Research

Are you looking to test an idea or thesis with a large audience? If yes, you could opt for quantitative research. This research method uses numbers to gain insight into people. This means the results are expressed in quantities. This type of research is good for finding patterns and averages and for making predictions.

Survey Research

This research method is used to try to gain insight into economic, sociological or psychological variables within your target group. This is often done by way of a questionnaire or survey. This research method often uses a small group of respondents that represent the population.

Observational Research

This scientific research method is about gathering data through the observation of factual behaviour. This consists of watching, listening and evaluating. Observational research can answer a ‘how’ or ‘why’ question. In addition, it can be used to study an as yet little-known topic. As such, this research method is very suitable for a PhD project.

Experimental Research

Experimental research is a good method for establishing causality. This type of research manipulates an independent variable and then looks at the effect of this manipulation. You can examine whether the manipulated independent variable causes a difference in the measured dependent variable.

Laboratory Research

Laboratory research is a method whereby you, as the researcher, create a research situation. This situation could be a laboratory or another artificial setting. You should try to exclude as many external factors as possible so that they do not influence the research results.

Fundamental Research

This scientific research method is mainly aimed at gathering knowledge rather than applying this knowledge in practice. Fundamental research is actually the opposite of applied research in which you make practical recommendations. However, the distinction is not usually very rigid, as fundamental research often results in practical applications.

Inferential Research

This research method is only appropriate if you have a theory. What’s more, you need sufficient knowledge to make predictions. This is because inferential research gives rise to a hypothesis based on theory. This hypothesis can then be tested in which it is either confirmed or rejected using research.

Choose the Right Research Method for Your Thesis

The right research method is fundamental to your PhD project. It will allow you to know exactly how to conduct your research. What’s more, it ensures your research is reliable and valid. We hope you are able to make a good choice regarding the different research methods. We wish you the best of luck, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask Magnificus via our website!

Team Proefschriften.nl

Is your thesis (almost) ready for printing? Let us know your wishes!

Request a quote