Research methods for dissertation

Doctoral research is the cornerstone of a PhD program. Qualitative Qualitative research focuses on examining the topic via cultural phenomena, human behavior, or belief systems. The three most routinely used include: Case Study. The research involves the use of multiple sources of data.

This might include interviews, field notes, documents, journals, and possibly some quantitative elements more information on quantitative research follows. A case study focuses on a particular problem or situation faced by a population and studies it from specific angles.

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For example, a researcher might look at violence in the workplace, focusing on when, where, or how it occurs. For example, take Hurricane Katrina. A researcher using this method will be trained during coursework and residencies in how to conduct this type of research, which involves specialized interviews and surveys with the people involved in the phenomenon. Generic Qualitative Inquiry. Also called generic qualitative, generic inquiry, or other variations.

What Are Acceptable Dissertation Research Methods?

So the researcher may be using similar methods, but will not have as thorough of a foundation of research available. The researcher could run into problems with fewer data to analyze. Quantitative Quantitative research involves the empirical investigation of observable and measurable variables. Primary Data Collection. In this approach, data are collected by the researcher. Participants are recruited for the study, informed consent is obtained, and quantitative data are obtained either electronically or in person by the researcher.


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This approach allows the researcher to decide exactly what variables he or she is interested in exploring and how they will be operationalized in the study. Variables are measured using instruments whose psychometric properties reliability and validity have been established by other authors. Data are analyzed using statistical techniques to assess the nature of the relationships between and among variables. Secondary Data Analysis. Classic routes that you can follow include replication-based studies , theory-driven research and data-driven dissertations.

However, irrespective of the particular route that you adopt when taking on a quantitative dissertation, there are a number of core characteristics to quantitative dissertations:. They are mainly underpinned by positivist or post-positivist research paradigms.

They draw on one of four broad quantitative research designs i. They try to use probability sampling techniques , with the goal of making generalisations from the sample being studied to a wider population , although often end up applying non-probability sampling techniques. They use research methods that generate quantitative data e.

They draw heavily on statistical analysis techniques to examine the data collected, whether descriptive or inferential in nature. They assess the quality of their findings in terms of their reliability , internal and external validity , and construct validity. You will learn more about the characteristics of quantitative dissertations, as well as being able to choose between the three classic routes that are pursued in quantitative research: replication-based studies , theory-driven research and data-driven dissertations.

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How to Write Research Methodology in Four Steps | With Examples

Qualitative dissertations , like qualitative research in general, are often associated with qualitative research methods such as unstructured interviews, focus groups and participant observation. Whilst they do use a set of research methods that are not used in quantitative dissertations, qualitative research is much more than a choice between research methods. Qualitative research takes a particular approach towards the research process , the setting of research questions , the development and use of theory , the choice of research strategy , the way that findings are presented and discussed, and so forth.

Overall, qualitative dissertations will be very different in approach, depending on the particular route that you adopt e.

Research Dissertation

Classic routes that you can follow include autoethnographies , case study research , ethnographies , grounded theory , narrative research and phenomenological research. However, irrespective of the route that you choose to follow, there are a number of broad characteristics to qualitative dissertations:.

They follow an emergent design , meaning that the research process , and sometimes even the qualitative research questions that you tackle, often evolve during the dissertation process. They use theory in a variety of ways - sometimes drawing on theory to help the research process; on other occasions, using theory to develop new theoretical insights ; sometimes both - but the goal is infrequently to test a particular theory from the outset. They can be underpinned by one of a number of research paradigms e. They follow research designs that heavily influence the choices you make throughout the research process, as well as the analysis and discussion of 'findings' i.

They try to use theoretical sampling - a group of non-probability sampling techniques - with the goal of studying cases i. They study people in-the-field i.

Choosing qualitative or quantitative research methodologies

They interpret the qualitative data through the eyes and biases of the researcher , going back-and-forth through the data i. They assess the quality of their findings in terms of their dependability , confirmability , conformability and transferability. They present and discuss their findings through personal accounts , case studies , narratives , and other means that identify themes or abstracts , processes , observations and contradictions , which help to address their research questions.


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  • They discuss the theoretical insights arising from the findings in light of the research questions, from which tentative conclusions are made.