Research has been used since earliest times. Research is normally undertaken so that we can make informed decisions on actions to be taken in the future. No major institution would issue new products without first carrying out thorough research into likely customer demand. Most large companies or organisations will have a dedicated Research Department with highly skilled Research staff. Research is used extensively in Financial Markets, Retail, Healthcare, Politics and Hospitality. Researchers are in high demand and Research jobs can be rewarding and highly fulfilling.
Research methods will vary depending on the type of product or service being researched. The Research Methodology used will usually be Qualiltative Research Methods or Quantitative Research Methods. We are using this ResearchMethods website to focus on these two methods of Research and we will provide useful information and links.
Qualitative Research Methods
This will involve taking surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and observations. It aims at getting reasons for consumer or social behaviour, and to try to ascertain likely future behaviour. It isn’t an exact science. It may involve small focus groups with participants chosen from certain sectors of society.
Quantitative Research Methods
This will use numerical and statistical data to produce calculations on possible future behaviour patterns. It can often use much larger survey samples than qualitative research. Data can more easily be displayed in graphs and can be analysed using mathematical methods to detect patterns or trends. Research methods may involve questionnaires, polls, face to face interviewing, abstracting data from known events, and website data.
Research Methods used in Business Start-ups
Too often businesses fail because they haven’t researched properly. A good idea means nothing if there is inadequate demand when the product or service is launched, thus meaning the business idea is not commercially viable. The British Library runs a Business and IP Centre with regular workshops to help new Business Start-ups. They have specifically looked at Research Methods and the application of Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods to the Business Start-up model to help prospective new businesses see if their business plan is viable.
Useful Research Methodology Information
In this section we are going to provide some useful links to Research Methods online, many of these links are from educational resource websites and should prove useful if you are researching methods of research and which research methods to use:
- National Foundation for Educational Research How to choose your research methods.
- British Library Qualitative and quantitative research for small businesses.
- University of Birmingham Methodologies – a guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences. This website has excellent resources for undergraduates exploring methodologies and the way to apply the information to a dissertation in the final year. However the material is very useful for anyone looking to develop research skills, particularly in relation to use of qualitative and quantitative research methods. There is a must see video from lecturers at the university which really helps budding researchers understand the subject, and the way in which to approach a dissertation (or any written work) on research methodology. Primary research methods (i.e. the researcher gathers own material and data) are discussed, as are Secondary research methods (i.e. using existing data but using new ways to analyse it), and also theoretical research methods.