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Research Methodology: Overview of Research Methodology

Research Methods Overview

If you are planning to do research - whether you are doing a student research project,  IQP,  MQP, GPS project, thesis, or dissertation, you need to use valid approaches and tools to set up your study, gather your data, and make sense of your findings. This research methods guide will help you choose a methodology and launch into your research project. 

Data collection and data analysis are research methods that can be applied to many disciplines. There is Qualitative research and Quantitative Research. The focus of this guide, includes most popular methods including: 



focus groups

case studies



Need help?

We are happy to answer questions about research methods and assist with choosing a method that is right for your research in person or online. below is a video on how to book a research consultation

"How-To": Booking a Research Consultation

"Research Data Management" by Peter Neish is marked with CC0 1.0.

Research Design vs Research Method

What is the difference between Research Design and Research Method?

Research design is a plan to answer your research question.  A research method is a strategy used to implement that plan.  Research design and methods are different but closely related, because good research design ensures that the data you obtain will help you answer your research question more effectively.

Which research method should I choose?

It depends on your research goal.  It depends on what subjects (and who) you want to study.  Let's say you are interested in studying what makes people happy, or why some students are more conscious about recycling on campus.  To answer these questions, you need to make a decision about how to collect your data.  Most frequently used methods include:

  1. Observation / Participant Observation
  2. Surveys
  3. Interviews
  4. Focus Groups
  5. Experiments
  6. Secondary Data Analysis / Archival Study
  7. Mixed Methods (combination of some of the above)

One particular method could be better suited to your research goal than others, because the data you collect from different methods will be different in quality and quantity.   For instance, surveys are usually designed to produce relatively short answers, rather than the extensive responses expected in qualitative interviews.

What other factors should I consider when choosing one method over another?


Time for data collection and analysis is something you want to consider.  An observation or interview method, so-called qualitative approach, helps you collect richer information, but it takes time.  Using a survey helps you collect more data quickly, yet it may lack details.  So, you will need to consider the time you have for research and the balance between strengths and weaknesses associated with each method (e.g., qualitative vs. quantitative).

Research Data Management

Research Data Management (RDM) refers to how you are going to keep and share your data over longer time frame - like after you graduate. It is defined as the organization, documentation, storage, and preservation of the data resulting from the research process, where data can be broadly defined as the outcome of experiments or observations that validate research findings, and can take a variety of forms including numerical output (quantitative data), qualitative data, documentation, images, audio, and video.


"Research Design" by George C Gordon Library is licensed under CC BY 4.0 / A derivative from the original work