This guide is intended to help familiarize you with different research methods that are most commonly used across multiple academic disciplines. Here you'll find tips for planning research, different types data collection, how to design your research effectively, resources across the web and campus, and writing help and tutortials.
Research methods are usually divided into two categories: quantitative or qualitative research. Mixed method research is, as the name implies, a mixture of the two approaches.
Quantitative research involves wanting to quantify or describe numerically some aspect of a research problem. Typically, this kind of data is gathered using research methods that gather data in way that can be expressed numerically. For example, you might ask a group of people to rank if they like pop music on a scale of 1-10, and you might look at that data to draw your conclusions. Examples of research design methods used quantitatively include questionnaires, surveys, interviews, or observational research using obviously measurable factors like temperature.
Qualitative research seeks to describe the nature of something you're researching. If quantitative research answers "which" or "how many," qualitative research answer the question "what kind." Because much of qualitative research is not numerically quantifiable, it can be difficult to measure and analyze in the same was as quantitative research. Nevertheless, proponents of these research methods argue that they can tell a fuller story by describing multiple aspects of a question. Examples of research design methods used qualitatively include ethnographies, interviews, narrative research, and the coding process which follows to interpret.
Mixed methods are quite common in research design. You may be interested in describing something that may be numerically measured in your research, but you may also be interested in talking about the way subjects perceive this quantifiable thing--and this can only be done qualitatively.