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Research methods

You have explored some of the philosophies that can be adopted to guide your research, but what methods of data collection are best suited to these research principles?

A research method is simply a technique for data collection which involves specific instruments such as a self-completion questionnaire, a structured interview schedule or participant observation whereby the researcher listens and watches others (Bryman 2015).

The different philosophical traditions (or paradigms) have implications on the choice of research method adopted.

In this video, Dr Daisy Nwaozuzu uses the analogy of the regeneration of the birthplace of Beatle Ringo Starr in Liverpool to illustrate the different approaches to research methods.

Research philosophy Research method
Positivism Quantitative
Interpretivism/constructivism Qualitative
Pragmatism Mixed

The quantitative research approach tests objective theories through the examination of variables. These variables can be measured with instruments that can collect and analyse data statistically. Quantitative research methods address a problem by the adoption of ‘scientific method’. Initial analysis of a topic produces defined questions that can be answered using an inductive approach, or that can then be used to formulate hypotheses which can be tested using a deductive approach.

Qualitative research considers a topic in a much more exploratory fashion without the constraints imposed by the more rigid scientific approach. The aim of such an approach is to gain an understanding of underlying reasons and motivations, developing new theories during the exploratory exercise. In this type of research, data is collected in the participant’s setting, analysed and interpreted to make meaning of the complexity of a situation.

Mixed methods involve collecting data both qualitatively and quantitatively; combining the strength of both the philosophical assumption and theoretical framework to provide a rich understanding of a research problem.

Your task

Which method do you think will best suit your research question? What is your justification?

Don’t forget to capture your thinking in your learning log or portfolio.


Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2015) Business Research Methods 4th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press

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This video is from the free online course:

Global Issues in the Construction Industry

Coventry University