Skip Nav

Guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences

How to... guides for researchers

❶This was particularly useful for one of our respondents:

What is Research Methodology?

Choosing qualitative or quantitative research methodologies
Important Tips for a Good Methodology Section
Qualitative research

A series of questions that the respondent answers on their own. Self-completion questionnaires are good for collecting data on relatively simple topics, and for gaining a general overview of an issue. Questionnaires need to have clear questions, an easy to follow design, and not be too long. Similar to a self-completion questionnaire, except that the questions that are asked by an interviewer to the interviewee.

The same questions are read out in the same way to all respondents. There will typically be a fixed choice of answers for the respondents. Watching people and recording systematically their behaviour. Prior to the observation, an observation schedule will be produced which details what exactly the researcher should look for and how those observations should be recorded.

If you are conducting a qualitative analysis you are likely to wish to use at least some original material. This may be collected through in-depth interviews, participant observation recordings and fieldnotes, non-participant observation, or some combination of these. Below are some data collection methods that you might want to use for your dissertation:.

A way of asking questions which allows the interviewee to have more control of the interview. A form of interviewing where there are several participants; there is an emphasis in the questioning on a tightly defined topic; the accent is on interaction within the group and the joint construction of meaning.

The moderator tries to provide a relatively free rein to the discussion. This involves studying people in naturally occurring settings.

The researcher participates directly in the setting and collects data in a systematic manner. The researcher will observe behaviour, listen to conversations, and ask questions.

Spend some time looking at general books about research - they will give you an overview of the data collection methods available and help you to make the best choice for your project.

Bryman would be a useful starting point. For any piece of research you conduct, be it empirically based quantitative or qualitative or library based, its methods must be justified. You need to show in the final dissertation how you have given consideration to different methods, and why you have chosen and eliminated these. Often in early supervision meetings they ask students to justify their reasons for choosing a library-based or an empirical study.

Todd, Smith and Bannister , p This was particularly useful for one of our respondents:. With other essays you can rush them if you have to Todd, Bannister and Clegg, , p …. My reasons for data collection is literature based as my research question involved sensitive subjects which would have been unsuitable for primary data collection.

Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University I chose primary data because it would enable me to build skills that would be useful for postgraduate study. Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University It will involve primary data, secondary data, quantitative and qualitative research methods, lit reviews, theory and policy studies and an exploration of alternatives. My dissertation is to be based around the experience of 'poverty', as poverty is the experience.

Theories and policies are not. However, to do justice to the subject, theories and policies will be included so Iam able to demonstrate where failures in the system may exist.

Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University. Research must be conducted in a sensible and ethical manner; data must be analysed and presented in a rational manner. It is important that students do not expose themselves or others to dangers or risks when conducting research. Students need the approval of their dissertation supervisor before embarking on any type of fieldwork see the section on Research Ethics for more information.

In general, deductive research is theory-testing and inductive research is theory-generating. Often people link deductive research with quantitative experiments or surveys, and inductive research with qualitative interviews or ethnographic work. These links are not hard and fast — for instance, experimental research, designed to test a particular theory through developing a hypothesis and creating an experimental design, may use quantitative or qualitative data or a combination.

If your research starts with a theory and is driven by hypotheses that you are testing e. However much research combines deductive and inductive elements. Research design is vital to conducting a good piece of work. At the start of your research you need to set down clearly:. You and your supervisor will discuss your design and decide whether the research is 'do-able'. Your university may require you to produce a report e. Other people may have to look at the design to ascertain whether there are ethical issues that affect your research.

Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Researching society and culture. London, Sage Here are some references for specific methods: Interviewing for social scientists: Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement. Identifying a research topic: A template for structured observation: Guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences.

Content About this site What is a Dissertation? How to start your dissertation Help with finding literature and research Formulating the research question Methodologies. Introduction What approach should I take - qualitative or quantitative?

Can my dissertation be entirely literature-based? What is case study research? What's an empirical study? What is secondary analysis? Where do I find existing research data? Collecting you own data - primary research Will my research be inductive or deductive?

What about research design? Resources Further reading Research papers. Methodologies 1 Introduction The way you approach your question will have a profound effect upon the way you construct your dissertation, so this section discusses the types of research you might undertake for your dissertation.

This video clip contains comments from the following academics: What if I want to find out about social trends, or the measurable effects of particular policies? What if I want to record people's views on an issue, and give them a 'voice'?

Whether you choose qualitative or quantitative analysis will depend on several things: Your preferred philosophical approach realist, phenomenologist or constructionist. Your skills and abilities with methods of data collection if needed and analysis.

The topic or issue you are interested in. How you frame your research question. Can I combine qualitative and quantitative methods? You may be interested in doing an analysis that is primarily quantitative, looking at social trends, or policy implications. However you also want to introduce a 'human touch' by conducting one or several interviews asking what these trends mean to people or how particular individuals experience events.

After doing your quantitative analysis, you should include a chapter or section on the qualitative data you have collected. In your discussion of findings you can use the qualitative data to help you understand the patterns in the quantitative analysis.

You may be interested in doing an evaluative case study of a process or policy. You will have a particular focus — a 'case' that you are looking at. You will triangulate methods — i.

You will analyse each type of data and describe this, and then write a discussion that shows how each piece of analysis contributes to the overall picture of what is going on. Download Case Study 6 Media research If you are interested, for example, in doing historical research, you may need to visit archives.

This has the following advantages: They allow you to discuss trends and social changes. The data are often collected through a random sample, which allows you to generalise to the population under consideration. They may also allow you to make comparisons over time, as some datasets are products of longitudinal studies.

Smaller, more targeted datasets may also be available. Secondary analysis has disadvantages also: You have to find out something about that purpose, as well as the methods of collection, in order to justify your use of a secondary dataset. Collecting you own data - primary research Quantitative data may also result from non-participant observations or other measurements e.

Your research methods tutor can give you further information on these types of data, but here are some common quantitative data collection methods and their definitions: Self-completion questionnaires A series of questions that the respondent answers on their own. Structured interviews Similar to a self-completion questionnaire, except that the questions that are asked by an interviewer to the interviewee.

Structured observation Watching people and recording systematically their behaviour. Below are some data collection methods that you might want to use for your dissertation: In-depth interviews A way of asking questions which allows the interviewee to have more control of the interview. Focus groups A form of interviewing where there are several participants; there is an emphasis in the questioning on a tightly defined topic; the accent is on interaction within the group and the joint construction of meaning.

Participant observation This involves studying people in naturally occurring settings. This was particularly useful for one of our respondents: Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University Note: Will my research be inductive or deductive?

What's all this about research design? At the start of your research you need to set down clearly: Your research focus and research question. How you propose to examine the topic: How you will access these sources of information be they people, existing datasets, biographical accounts, media articles or websites, official records.

The proposed outcome of this research in your case, a dissertation and the form it will take. A time-frame for all this. The problem with closed questions is that they limit the response the interviewee can give and do not enable them to think deeply or test their real feelings or values.

This would give you a very good idea of the variety of ideas and feelings people have, it would enable them to think and talk for longer and so show their feelings and views more fully. But it is very difficult to quantify these results. You will find that you will need to read all the comments through and to categorise them after you have received them, or merely report them in their diversity and make general statements, or pick out particular comments if they seem to fit your purpose.

If you decide to use interviews:. Questionnaires often seem a logical and easy option as a way of collecting information from people. They are actually rather difficult to design and because of the frequency of their use in all contexts in the modern world, the response rate is nearly always going to be a problem low unless you have ways of making people complete them and hand them in on the spot and this of course limits your sample, how long the questionnaire can be and the kinds of questions asked.

As with interviews, you can decide to use closed or open questions, and can also offer respondents multiple choice questions from which to choose the statement which most nearly describes their response to a statement or item. Their layout is an art form in itself because in poorly laid out questionnaires respondents tend, for example, to repeat their ticking of boxes in the same pattern. If given a choice of response on a scale , they will usually opt for the middle point, and often tend to miss out subsections to questions.

You need to take expert advice in setting up a questionnaire, ensure that all the information about the respondents which you need is included and filled in, and ensure that you actually get them returned.

Expecting people to pay to return postal questionnaires is sheer folly, and drawing up a really lengthy questionnaire will also inhibit response rates. You will need to ensure that questions are clear, and that you have reliable ways of collecting and managing the data.

Setting up a questionnaire that can be read by an optical mark reader is an excellent idea if you wish to collect large numbers of responses and analyse them statistically rather than reading each questionnaire and entering data manually. You would find it useful to consult the range of full and excellent research books available.

These will deal in much greater depth with the reasons for, processes of holding, and processes of analysing data from the variety of research methods available to you. Home Research methods Choosing appropriate research methodologies Choosing appropriate research methodologies Choosing qualitative or quantitative research methodologies Your research will dictate the kinds of research methodologies you use to underpin your work and methods you use in order to collect data.

Interviews Interviews enable face to face discussion with human subjects. If you decide to use interviews: Draw up a set of questions that seem appropriate to what you need to find out. Do start with some basic closed questions name etc. Don't ask leading questions.

Try them out with a colleague. Pilot them, then refine the questions so that they are genuinely engaged with your research object. Contact your interviewees and ask permission, explain the interview and its use. Thematically analyse results and relate these findings to others from your other research methods.

Research Methods and Research Methodology

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

The research question, ethics, budget and time are all major considerations in any design.. This is before looking at the statistics required, and studying the preferred methods for the individual scientific discipline.. Every experimental design must make compromises and generalizations, so the researcher must try to minimize these, whilst remaining realistic.

Privacy FAQs

The methods section describes actions to be taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability.

About Our Ads

Research Methodology refers the discussion regarding the specific methods chosen and used in a research paper. This discussion also encompasses the theoretical concepts that further provide information about the methods selection and application. Methodology, theory, paradigm, algorithm, and method. The methodology is the general research strategy that outlines the way in which research is to be undertaken and, among other things, identifies the methods to be used in it. These methods, described in the methodology, define the means or modes of data collection or, sometimes, how a specific result is to be calculated.

Cookie Info

Research Methods tutors on your course will be able to advise on the availability and accessibility of such data sets. There are some advantages of doing secondary analysis, particularly if you are doing a quantitative study. Research Methodology Defined. A research method is a systematic plan for conducting research. Sociologists draw on a variety of both qualitative and quantitative research methods, including.