Research methods are an essential part of conducting any kind of research, but what works and what doesn’t?
As much as it’s important to conduct solid research, it’s also important to make sure that you’re doing things the right way.
Otherwise, your findings could be flawed and incomplete.
Here are some tips on how to do research the right way so that you can draw reliable conclusions from your study findings.
1)There are many ways to conduct research
There are many ways to conduct research.
For example, there is qualitative research that is more exploratory than quantitative research, focuses on human meanings, seeks understanding from a participant’s perspective, and does not try to generalize its findings.
On the other hand, quantitative research seeks patterns in data for the purpose of drawing conclusions about groups or population averages.
Qualitative research studies provide insight into the perspectives of individual members of society, but cannot be generalized as easily as quantitative studies. Quantitative studies do not provide as much detail into how individuals think and feel but can be used to draw broader conclusions about larger populations.
2)Different types of research methods can be applied in different circumstances
As you plan your research remember that each research method has its strengths and weaknesses.
In some cases, you may need to use a combination of research methodologies to obtain a complete picture of your target audience, stakeholders, or competitors.
Whether you’re conducting research on individuals or groups, it’s important to remember that each type of research has unique advantages over others in different situations.
For example, depending on your goals or circumstances you may choose qualitative research because it allows for in-depth exploration of a subject with just one participant. Or, if you’re interested in gaining insights into a broad population, then survey research might be the best way to go.
What works best will depend on your specific needs.
Remember that even within the same methodology, different research tools can produce very different results. To make the most out of your time and money, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of research methods.
3)Consider when you want to start collecting data
Different research methods require different lengths of time to collect data.
For example, ethnographic fieldwork requires several months (or years) of in-depth observation and analysis. But, surveys usually take less than 15 minutes to administer.
Depending on your timeline, budget, or expectations for the length of the project; these factors will determine what kind of research method would work best for you.
Similarly, consider when you want to start collecting data.
Sometimes, researchers must wait until certain events happen before they can begin researching. For example, if you’re studying trends in shopping behavior and want to know the impact of changes in marketing strategies on sales numbers, then you’ll need to wait until the new marketing strategy goes into effect before evaluating its effectiveness.
However, this doesn’t mean that all research has to wait for external events to happen first – sometimes researchers simply select participants and gather data before changing anything about their behavior.
This is called pre-experimental research. It’s possible to use pre-experimental research in order to identify potential causes, long before the experiment actually begins.
Once again, you’ll need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each type of research before deciding what approach would work best for your situation.
4)Evaluate your research methods for reliability and validity
Be sure to evaluate your research methods for reliability and validity. For example, if you ask someone a question on the street and they say yes or no, how can you be sure that what they said was true? You can’t.
So instead of using interviews or surveys to measure public opinion, it’s better to use online polls or door-to-door interviews.
Additionally, you should always be skeptical of your own research.
One easy way to do this is to have a colleague read through your research report and tell you what they found confusing or problematic.
Alternatively, other researchers in your discipline may be able to provide valuable feedback on your methodology. Ask them questions like What are some reasons my conclusions might not be valid? or How could I improve my study design?
Researchers can also consult journals and books on research methods to learn more about the process.
5)Know the limitations of your research methods
It’s important to be aware of the limitations of your research methods. For example, the qualitative research method is a great way to explore an issue in depth, but it can be difficult to generalize the findings from a small sample size.
This means that you may need to combine quantitative and qualitative data in order to reach a larger and more diverse group of people.
When designing your research methods, think carefully about whether or not you want to include quantitative or qualitative data or both.
Also, keep in mind that a single study cannot definitively answer every question. Instead, you should look at your results as one piece of evidence among many others. Remember to make clear distinctions between primary and secondary sources so that readers can understand where your information comes from.
Finally, remember that there are many types of biases that affect our perceptions–you don’t want to end up drawing inaccurate conclusions because you didn’t account for these biases!
6)Pay attention to your study’s design
The other thing to consider when selecting a research method is the study’s design.
For example, experimental studies typically involve manipulating one variable and observing the outcome, while correlational studies look for relationships or associations between two variables.
There are pros and cons to each type of research.
Ethnography takes a lot of time and is expensive, but the data can be very rich.
On the other hand, surveys are fast and cheap, but they are often short on detail. In the end, you need to choose a research method that is right for your specific needs.
Asking yourself the following questions will help you select the best research method:
- What am I trying to find out?
- How much time and money do I have available?
- What are my strengths as a researcher?
- What are my weaknesses?
- Do I have any ethical dilemmas with the topics or participants of my research?
- Will I be using participants who lack the capacity to consent (e.g., children)?
7)Include a power analysis in your research plan
A power analysis estimates the number of participants needed to detect a statistically significant effect or difference. This calculation requires knowledge of the effect size, alpha level, and desired statistical power.
Oftentimes, graduate students and professors overestimate their required sample sizes by a factor of three to five.
This leads to a waste of resources and participant time.
To avoid this, perform a power analysis before you start your research to estimate the appropriate sample size. You can use existing published data or your intuition to guesstimate what the appropriate sample size would be.
8)Consider incorporating ethics into your research process
Ethics provide a set of guidelines for minimizing harm and maximizing benefits to participants.
Two main ethics frameworks include utilitarianism, which prioritizes the greater good over individual interests, and deontology, which prioritizes individual rights above all else.
If you are conducting qualitative research, then your responsibility extends beyond just satisfying these frameworks; you also need to take care in collecting data in order to preserve anonymity and confidentiality.
Finally, make sure that you get permission to conduct your research and that you abide by local laws.
9)Make your study replicable and transparent
This is a huge component of the scientific method. For example, in order to reproduce your study, another scientist must be able to replicate your methods and results.
If you follow all of the steps outlined in this article, then you are well on your way to writing a high-quality research paper that adheres to scientific standards.
Your chosen research methods should meet your goals without compromising quality or feasibility.
However, it is important to remember that research methods change over time and there may come a point where your old techniques don’t cut it.
Therefore, stay up to date with new developments in the field.