Research Methodology

The scientific method—i.e., the method used in dissertations—is based, in part, on the ability of others to replicate your study.  Specifically, in order to faithfully replicate your study, other researchers must know the Who, What, Where, When, and How of your study.  While there are nuanced difference in the details between qualitative and quantitative studies, the methodologies to both are similar.  In short, a methodology provides a blueprint for other researchers to follow, allowing them to conduct their own study while using your method to arrive at similar findings.  The following excerpts provide a brief overview of how the two approaches to methodology formation differ.

Free Help Session: Quantitative Methodology

During these sessions, students can ask questions about research design, population and sampling, instrumentation, data collection, operationalizing variables, building research questions, planning data analysis, calculating sample size, study limitations, and validity.


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Quantitative Research Methodology

While the design and rationale of a quantitative study requires a written section, the nuts and bolts of the quantitative method consists of describing the participants in the study, the instruments used, the procedure used to administer the instruments to the participants, and the treatment of the data, or the data analysis plan.  In the sampling procedure, the researcher must describe the process used to select participants from the population.   In the instrument section, the researcher must cite the reliability and validity of the instrument used, typically from previous research studies that have used the instrument.  Of course, the researcher must also base their sample size—typically much larger than in qualitative studies—on the statistical tests selected in the data analysis plan.  Furthermore, the researcher details in the data analysis plan any pre-analysis data screening, reliability of the scales, and the assumptions that will be tested for based upon the specific statistical analyses chosen.  Lastly, ethical procedures include informed consent, data storage, and other safeguards.

Qualitative Research Methodology

Research design and rationale is the how and why of data collection and analysis in qualitative approaches (Yin, 2009).   Typically students use a phenomenological, grounded theory, or case study, for their research.  As such, the researcher plays an integral part when it comes to qualitative research methodology design.  Specifically, how the samples are selected, including final selection of sample sizes used, and how the data are collected are all parts of the methodology.  On a related note, the data plan needs to explain everything in a step-by-step process— from defining units of meaning to the extracting of themes and summarizing of interviews.  Issues of trustworthiness (i.e., credibility, dependability, and transferability) are also described and can be facilitated by looking at Creswell (2014) or Merriam (2009).  Ethical procedures, ramifications for choices that are made, the well-being of participants, and any risks to participants are described here, too.

Free Qualitative Help Session: Chapters 3 and 4

During these sessions, students can get answers to questions about the research design and rationale, the role of the researcher, the selection of participants, instrumentation, procedure, data analysis plan, issues of trustworthiness, data analysis and results.

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Now, if you’d like personalized help with developing your methodology—because the above descriptions outline a rather generic approach—feel free to fill out the contact request form and one of our dissertation specialists will be in touch for a Free 30-minute consultation.  We love nothing more than using our decades of experience to help dissertation students get the results we know they are capable of!