Research Methods: Developing your research design

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Overview of methodologies

The two basic research approaches exist in social science research, termed qualitative and quantitative approaches and these differ in the way in which the research is carried out:

  • Qualitative research is based on identifying a central phenomenon which could take the form of a concept area or a process. The research is centred on a research question which is often open in nature, at least at the start of the research. Information is then collected by the researcher using qualitative approaches to explore this further. The nature of qualitative research is to explore a research theme to develop understanding of factors influencing this issue.

  • Quantitative research is centred on ‘explaining or predicting relations among variables’ (Cresswell 2011: 63). As the name implies, qualitative research involves the collection and analysis of numerical data. Also a hypothesis may be used, particularly in an experimental approach which is tested using statistical procedures.

Sources of further information:

See links on the University of Warwick website that will provide insights into the nature of qualitative and quantitative research:

Qualitative and Quantitative approaches

An Introduction to Qualitative research