Note: this post is aimed as a memory mnemonic for me not you (I’m studying an MSc in Digital Marketing )
This week is all about Methodology and how you plan to gather your data:
- Research Design
- Data Collection Methods Sampling
- Questionnaire Design
The research methodology chapter is a balance between the awareness of the various methods available and the justification for using certain methods
Generally there are 9 sections to a Methodology chapter:
1/ Research Philosophy e.g. positivist/interpretive
2/ Research Design – outlines whether your research will be exploratory or conclusive in nature
3/ Research Strategy – Outlies whether qualitative, quantitative or multi-methods will be used in the research. Explains issues relating to secondary research.
4/ Data collection Methods – outlines the use of Research Instrument. Ethical Considerations.
5/ Measurement and scaling procedures – outlines the use of measurement and scaling used within the questionnaire.
6/ The pilot survey – outlines issues relating to the testing of the research instrument
7/ The Sampling Process – Outlines the sampling process, sampling population; sample size; whether probability or non-probability sampling methods have been employed
8/ Methods of Analysis – Outlines the methods of analysis employed within the study
9/ Research Limitations – The various limitations of your research; size, time, sampling, etc
Research philosophy is an over-arching term relating to the development of knowledge and the nature of that knowledge
Ontology – Ontology describes our view (whether claims or assumptions) on the nature of reality, and especially, is this an objective reality that really exists, or only a subjective reality, created in our minds. Hatch and Cunliffe
This leads us to questions of Epistemology.
Epistemology considers views about the most appropriate ways of enquiring into the nature of the world (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2008)
There are 2 main Research Philosophies used in Business Research = Positivism and Interpretive
…lies in the main assumption that behaviour is predictable, rational and understandable and that people are much alike
Postulates a “real” and apprehendable reality, driven by laws.
“If you can measure it you can understand it”
Scientists look for general patterns to turn into theories or laws.
They want to identify general principles of behaviour.
Often about testing theory and about analysing data and often uses a deductive design.
Based on understanding and interpretation.
Proponents of this perspective argue that there is too much emphasis on science and technology in our society, and that this ordered, rational view of behaviour denies the complex social and cultural world that we live in.
The assumption is that reality is not objective, single but rather socially constructed, multiple and holistic (Ozanne and Hudson, 1989).
Very often the data is focused on less than the quality.
Normally uses an inductive research design.
3/ There is somewhere in the middle that is called Realism though
Born from a frustration that positivism was over-deterministic (in that there is little room for choice due to the casual nature of universal laws) and that Interpretivism was so totally relativist (and hence highly contextual). So sometimes you can mix both together or use at different times.
Induction Vs Deduction
Deductive Reasoning = Theory – Hypotheses – Test – Confirmation. Basically where you start with a theory of A = B and then test that from a positivist philosophy.
Inductive Reasoning = Observation – Patterns – Tentative Hypothesis – Theory
You need to state which research design your research will use (Exploratory, Descriptive, Causal).
Then you need to show awareness of the different research approaches (secondary/primary).
The finally primary research strategies (Qualitative/Quantitative) need to be discussed, showing an awareness of each paradigm and your choice and justification.
Basically helps you generate the hypotheses. E.g. Why?
Exploratory research is a type of research conducted because a problem has not been clearly defined
Exploratory research helps determine the best research design, data collection methods and selection of subjects
Exploratory research often relies on secondary data such as reviewing available literature and/or data, or qualitative approaches such as informal discussions and more formal approaches through in-depth interviews, focus groups and projective methods.
Basically helps you test the hypotheses. E.g How Large?
Descriptive research, also known as statistical research, describes data and characteristics about the population being studied
Descriptive research answers the questions who, what, where, when and how
Although the data description is factual, accurate and systematic, the research cannot describe what caused a situation
Basically helps you test the hypotheses and establish statistical relationships between variables. E.g Degree of impact?
The basic point of an experiment is to change the levels of one or more X variables and examine the resulting impact on Y variables
Normally conducted after exploratory and descriptive research studies
Causation is often tested through experimentation
Difficult to use in business research
Best to stay with exploratory or descriptive or both
Choice of Research Strategy
Basically divides down into Secondary (published data) and primary (Quant and Qual) research
About how many / quantifying and often about numeric analysis and gathering data
About facts and causes and not so much about being subjective
Main methods: surveys and experiments
Very exploratory and about providing insight and understanding (exploring beneath the surface)
Often with a small sample size
Why do people think in certain ways?
Main Methods: Group discussions and depth interviews
Using Qualitative research only:
Using Quantitative research only:
Using a Mixed Method Approach:
Remember that the research design should directly relate to your research objectives.