Research Methods: Ways to Build a Paper

Before you can write any credible research paper, you need to plan it out and do your research. Without the proper research to back it up, your paper will not be able to stand up to scrutiny. There are a few different methods to researching information for your paper and this blog post will cover just a few ways. Before you can decide how to research, you must decide what to research.

The first category of research is called Quantitative Research. This research method is a more scientific approach to your research. Quantitative research leaves little room for bias as it deals more with number statistics than anything else. Things like surveys (without open-ended questions) and instrument based questions (which you can directly measure) are the basis for most Quantitative research. According to South Alabama, Quantitative research sticks to a strict structure and is centered around the variables that you are observing. Your findings should be presented in a statistical report, again, in a specifically structured format.

Quantitative is the more scientific approach to your research and should be used when researching something that is…well, quantifiable. Something measurable. If you were researching the relation between jump scares in horror movies and the increasing of viewer’s heart-rates, you would use this research method because that is measurable.

The second category of research is called Qualitative Research. This is used when there is interpretation involved in your findings, whether it’s your interpretation or interpretation through participants. Anytime that you are working with people and having them respond to variables, this is Qualitative because it is not measurable. This research method is more for a narrative paper.

Qualitative Research is often used in instances when you are making a report on something. Such as entering yourself into a new situation and making a study based off of your experience. This is another example of the narrative report. This type of research is called an Ethnography. There are some famous examples of this type of research used in different environments. The book “Gang Leader for a Day” follows a sociologist who immerses himself in the gang culture. Another famous example is the reality show “Undercover Boss”  in which the CEO of a company disguises themselves and enters one of their locations at an entry level position. In both of these cases, one person is immersing themselves in a culture to understand better how it works. These are just some instances that you might have heard of. In a research paper, the conditions of an ethnography are much more strict.

It is possible to combine these research techniques, it is called Mixed Methods. This is sort of like having the best of both worlds! Combining the two methods creates the strongest research. A purely statistical paper, using Quantitative Research, might seem to lack an element of interpretation by the researcher or by participants who might be involved. A purely narrative paper, using  Qualitative Research, might seem to lack the hard evidence that is found in a statistical paper. Combining the two provides a nice balance.

It seems that most people choose Mixed Methods because of the balance. Also, you don’t have to worry about sticking strictly to one side of the spectrum. Mixed Methods provide a little wiggle room and many more options.

Hopefully, explaining these methods of research have helped you understand what research is which!