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Research Guide: Research Methods

This Guide provides post graduate students with the tips and tools necessary to successfully complete their research.


Research methodology can be understood as a way to systemically solve or answer the research problem. Thus essentially, it can be understood as the process of studying how research is done in a scientific manner. Through the methodology, we study the various steps that are generally adopted by a researcher in studying his/her research problem and the underlying logic behind them. 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.

Research methods

Research methods refers to the tools that one uses to do research. These can either be qualitative or quantitative or mixed. Quantitative methods examines numerical data and often requires the use of statistical tools to analyse data collected. This allows for the measurement of variables and relationships between them can then be established. This type of data can be represented using graphs and tables. Qualitative data is non-numerical and focuses on establishing patterns. Mixed methods are composed of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Mixed methods allow for explanation of unexpected results.


  • Determine what kind of knowledge you are trying to uncover (is it subjective or objective? experimental or interpretive?).
  • Let the literature be your guide: A thorough literature review is the best starting point for choosing your methods. Due to the fact that evaluating previous researchers' efforts can suggest a direction to answer your own research question.
  • Align your chosen methodology with research questions, aims and objectives (in other words, make sure your research questions and objectives can be answered through your chosen methodology).
  • The authenticity of your research depends upon the validity of the research data, the reliability of measures taken to amass the data, as well as the time taken to conduct the analysis, so it is essential to ensure that there is continuity throughout the research process.
  • 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.
  • When confused, ask! Do not be afraid to lean on the expertise of your supervisor, departmental research specialists etc. They are all there to help you.

Recommended Quantitative Methods books

Recommended Qualitative Methods books

Recommended Mixed Methods research sources