The research methodology chosen for your dissertation study is a very important component of your thesis project. Your research methodology can be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods. The best research methodology for your project depends on the specific characteristics of your study. Generally, qualitative research approaches are utilized for studies that seek to understand the personal experiences and perceptions of a study’s participants, while quantitative research approaches are more suitable for assessing the relationship(s) between measurable variables. Mixed-methods approaches, which utilize a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, are usually employed on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of your data or the specific objectives of your study. The research methodology for your dissertation is normally identified as part of the Topic Approval process and is included for discussion and synthesis in your Literature Review. ARC’s expertise runs the gamut of research methodologies – qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods alike. Let us help you to choose the research method that is right for you!
QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS
Qualitative research methodologies are customarily designed to examine the lived experiences and perceptions of individuals for the purpose of conducting in-depth analysis of one or more phenomena. The data collections process for qualitative research methods typically involves conducting interviews and focus groups to collect new data, or analyzing existing archival data for the purpose of carefully categorizing the existing research into key themes and patterns directly relevant to your study. Check out ARC’s Qualitative Research Design Guide to learn more about qualitative PhD research methods!
QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS
Quantitative research methods are most appropriate for dissertation studies that seek to demonstrate statistically significant relationships between or among a set of measurable variables. Utilizing descriptive approaches and inferential approaches to analyze survey data and secondary data, ARC’s statistical consulting team takes special care to develop a research design and hypothesis testing method that is best-suited to your specific study. For inferential methodologies, we also take care to address any bias or confounding variables that may compromise the objectivity of your data analysis. Further, we often help students to determine the minimum sample size required to yield statistically significant results – this is known as a power analysis and is normally conducted using G*Power software. Check out ARC’s Quantitative Research Design Guide to learn more about quantitative PhD research methods!
MIXED RESEARCH METHODS
Mixed-methods studies utilize a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. A mixed-methods research approach is most appropriate for dissertation studies for which the quantitative data is significantly limited in some way or for studies that would benefit from utilizing both numerical and open-ended responses for interpretation. Where the qualitative data and quantitative data will be collected and analyzed in separate phases, a sequential mixed-methods design is most appropriate; alternatively, if the qualitative data and quantitative data will be collected and analyzed together, then a concurrent mixed-methods design is the most fitting. Mixed-methods research designs are popular for Business- and Education-focused studies, which often explore the qualitative experiences and perceptions of working professionals in conjunction with relevant quantitative findings.
Regardless of which specific research methodology best suits your dissertation study, it is important to carefully select your population of focus, develop the appropriate sampling schemata, construct a feasible data collections plan, and choose the appropriate software to conduct your Data Analysis. In addition, your Literature Review must align well with your research methodology by demonstrating your motivation for selecting that particular methodology with adequate support from the existing literature. The research methodology section of your dissertation may not be as lengthy as the Literature Review, but it is extremely important nonetheless!