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Research Methods

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What are Research Methods?

Research methods are a set of standardized processes on how to conduct research. Though more common within the sciences, research methods are also utilized within other fields such as business, healthcare services, and education. The type of research method chosen is typically dependent on a number of factors, such as:

  • The nature of the problem being addressed
  • The theoretical stance and preferred methods of the researcher or research team
  • The time and money available
  • The type of research and evidence that most likely meets the preferences of and make the most impact with the research's sponsors or audience

In turn, the type of method chosen will determine whether the research will have an inductive or deductive approach. An inductive approach to research focuses on observing phenomena and then arriving at a theoretical explanation for that behavior. A deductive approach works in reverse, beginning first with a theory and then working to find evidence that either supports or refutes it. That said, some research methods can make use of both approaches.

There are two major types of empirical research study (i.e. research based on data of an observed or measured phenomena): qualitative and quantitative. Within each methodologies are a number of design types:

Qualitative Quantitative
Ethnography Descriptive
Narrative Correlational
Phenomenological Quasi-Experimental
Grounded Theory Experimental
Case Study

Additionally, there are a number of more recent paradigms gaining traction within academic fields such as mixed methods, action research, and art based.

Each type is discussed in the corresponding tab on the left sidebar.

Cahoy, E. (2018). Empirical research in education and the Behavioral/Social Sciences. Penn State University Libraries. Retrieved from
Research methods. (2001). In J. M. Palmisano (Ed.), World of sociology, Gale. Farmington, MI: Gale. Retrieved from
research methods. (2006). In D. Jary, & J. Jary (Eds.), Collins dictionary of sociology (4th ed.). London, UK: Collins. Retrieved from

Additional Readings

100 Questions (and Answers) about Research Methods
by Neil J. Salkind

Research Methods: The Key Concepts
by Michael Hammond; Jerry Wellington

Research Methods: The Basics
by Nicholas Walliman