Imagine a world without research. Could the human race move forward? How would we make new discoveries and breakthroughs?
There was a time when it was widely believed that the Earth is the center of the universe. It wasn’t until the discovery of telescopes that this idea was finally put to rest. And in this day and age, research is no less important.
Many universities put a major emphasis on research. Your student experience will simply not be complete without it. At every step of the way, research will be part of your collegiate experience.
What Are Research Methods?
Research encompasses many fields, not just science. Universities focus on research as a way to encourage students to start their own investigations, and some amount of research skills are usually required to earn a degree. Research is simply a part of student life.
To conduct research, you must be familiar with the correct methods to use for your study. Research methods will vary depending on the type of study, but the main goal is to collect and analyze data.
If you follow the wrong procedures in your study, the outcomes of your research project will not be accurate. The goal of any research is to make sure that your study has integrity.
What Are Research Methods Used For?
Research methods are the tools used in all kinds of studies. In high school, college, and postgraduate master’s degree studies, you will use research methods as a guide. These methods will shape the way that you analyze results and form conclusions.
Essentially, there are many ways that research methods can shape the direction your study takes. Here are a few of the tasks that research methods can be used for.
- Gathering data. To start a research project, you must gather data correctly. There are a variety of methods for data collection, so you must choose the one that is necessary.
- Checking whether data is valid. Research methods will give you the data you need to support your analysis and conclusion. Research methods filter out unnecessary information from your study.
- Answering hypotheses. The right research method will help you answer your initial research question. Any data or information that you gather will help shape your conclusion.
Types of Research Methods
There are many different types of methods that you can choose to follow. They are divided into primary versus secondary, quantitative versus qualitative, and descriptive vs experimental. Picking the right research method takes serious consideration.
- Primary data. Primary data is information that you have collected directly yourself. Secondary data is information that you obtained from other sources.
- Quantitative data. Quantitative data means you are using numbers that can be subjected to statistical processes. Qualitative data are more like the opinions and feelings of a subject and are therefore more difficult to standardize.
- Descriptive data. Descriptive data is data gathered with no trace of influence.
- Experimental data. This kind of data is data that you have gathered by intervening to create a control to check for a certain outcome.
After conducting research, you can then begin data analysis to make sense of your results. There are four major types of research methods that we will review below.
An experiment falls under the primary and quantitative research categories. This method is used to study the cause-and-effect relationship between variables. Here, there is an existing hypothesis that you are testing to prove or disprove.
In an experiment, a group of participants is chosen based on the parameters of a selected population or sample. For instance, some studies might call for a specific age group or economic status.
The key thing about an experiment is that this is an opportunity for researchers to compare data from different individuals. Researchers will try to find a pattern to see whether the hypothesis is significant or not.
A survey falls under the primary and quantitative categories of research. In this method, you are trying to find a common preference among a specific population. Compared to an experiment, a survey is more straightforward and does not contain a hypothesis.
In a survey, information is collected by asking a group of people to answer a set of questions. A survey also targets specific sectors of the population depending on the category set by the party that is conducting it.
Usually, a survey must be administered to a large group of people in order to yield accurate results. The questions are often answerable in quantities and scales. The opinions of the target group answering the survey are then measured numerically.
Focus Group or Interview
A focus group or interview is a primary and qualitative research method. The information is still collected first-hand, but the scale is measured in terms of quality. This method is suitable when trying to find a result that can’t be conveyed numerically.
Focus groups are usually conducted face-to-face. However, communication developments have paved the way for phone and video interviews.
Data collection in focus groups or interviews can be tricky, especially when deciding which information should be considered. Nonetheless, focus groups are effective in determining a consensus.
A literature review is a secondary method of data collection and can be either qualitative or quantitative. In a literature review, data are collected from various secondary sources like books, newspapers, and search engines.
This research method can either be qualitative or quantitative depending on the information you are looking for. Aside from written texts, you can also look at audio and visual recordings.
Learning Research Methods
After your research proposal is approved, you will begin working on your study. To do this, you must have the skills to collect qualitative data and quantitative information. You should be familiar with the concepts and with the ethics of how to conduct research.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Research Methods?
Research methods take time to perfect. As you proceed, you will discover better ways to conduct it. Research methods are taught as early as grade school, and after you study it for many years, it will become second nature.
How to Learn Research Methods: Step-by-Step
To learn research methods, you must know how best to handle the information and data you’ve been collecting. Whether your research is quantitative or qualitative, you should make sure it is organized in a comprehensive way.
- Make sure you are applying the correct research method to your study.
- Always remember to organize your data, especially when you are transcribing it from a recording or summarizing results.
- Make sure to properly review your data to check for patterns.
- You can establish categories or codes depending on the topic you are researching.
- Continuously practice how to identify themes among a set of data.
The Best Research Methods Courses and Training
There are many online courses that can help you learn research methods. These courses and training will equip you with the necessary tools to make sure your study will go smoothly.
This course taught by the University of London aims to make research methods more easily accessible. In it, you will learn the fundamentals of conducting research.
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As this course is targeted toward postgraduates, familiarity with research methods is a prerequisite. The course takes six hours to complete, and a certificate will be provided at the end. The certificate is also shareable on your LinkedIn profile for recruiters to see.
Certificate: Available for $49
Offered by the University of Edinburgh, this course covers the research methods used in social studies. It is aimed at helping you develop your skills to better understand humans and cultures.
You will learn how researchers adapt methods for certain types of studies. There is also a section describing how to apply the methods, and one on research ethics. To complete this course, you must commit two to five hours per week for eight weeks.
Certificate: Available, $59
Educational research is the focus of this course. It will equip you with the tools to create successful research designs.
The course covers both qualitative and quantitative methods and focuses on education. The course is designed for teachers or anyone planning to go into education. The four-week course is offered via the University of Birmingham.
Research goes hand-in-hand with statistics. This Udemy course will teach you the relationship between research methods and statistical processes.
In the class, you will learn about ANOVA and other statistical procedures that are used in studies. The course is specifically curated for undergraduates, postgraduates, and professionals.
By the end, you will be familiar with all of the programs used for statistical analysis. The course takes seven hours to complete, and a certificate is issued at the end.
Part of Udemy for Business, this online course is for college students who are studying for business degrees and who need help improving their academic research paper writing.
It will teach you how to outline your paper, starting with establishing objectives and forming a research problem. It will also cover research methods to help you organize data in a way that is best suited to your research.
The course consists of four hours of video, quizzes to test your knowledge, and other downloadable articles and resources. Upon completion of the course, you will receive a certificate.
Should You Study Research Methods?
Research is an integral part of our lives and is not just confined to academia. The main purpose of research methods is to produce studies that will change society for the better.
Learning research methods will help you further the reach of knowledge and open up new dialogue.
Start learning research methods by taking one of the courses listed above and exploring other resources. While conducting research, remember to keep your integrity intact by ensuring the quality and consistency in your data collection and interpretation.
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