Research methods

The importance of research

A variety of research methods have 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. Visit our Research Jobs page for current Research vacancies in the UK.

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:

Books to help improve your Research Methods

There are many books to help improve your research skills. Some of these are written for novice researchers and some for more advanced students. We’ve picked a number out that are popular and have a good number of positive reviews.

Doing Your Research Project: A Guide For First-Time Researchers by Judith Bell and Stephen Waters. Published 1 Aug 2014. This is a very easy to read book, especially for those embarking on their university journey. The sort of book that will give you confidence as you begin your research studies.

The following book is for more advanced students – very popular and with great reviews – read some of them yourself. Research Methods for Business Students by Mark Saunders, Philip Lewis, Adrian Thornhill. Published 23 Jul 2015. This a leading text-book for business students looking to hone their research skills.

So you’re ready to commence a research project – this book has proved immensely popular and has a lot of very good reviews. How to Do Your Research Project: A Guide for Students by Gary Thomas. Published 9 Jun 2017. This is an up to date version of the very popular book, of the same title, which was published in 13 March 2013. It is very easy to read and suitable for all levels of higher education.