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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds These are the streets where a world famous star was born. Everyday busloads of tourists from all over the world come to Madryn Street in Liverpool to see the very home where Ringo Starr from The Beatles grew up. Madryn is just one from a block of sixteen streets in Toxteth. Built for Welsh immigrant workers in the 1800s, comprising 300 small terrace houses. During the planning of the Welsh Streets developers asked questions such as; how many people are to be housed? How many houses will we need? On how many streets? Right down to how many bricks do we need to construct these buildings? This quantifiable inquiry is known as quantitative research and is an integral part of any building project.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds Unfortunately, along with the fall in the fortunes of cities in northern England, the Welsh Streets fell into decline. Some people were moved into other settlements, others refused to leave. Communities were being broken up in the name of development. The government plan was to sell the land to a private developer to create brand new houses for sale. This then led to an outcry by the community and local charities. Residents challenged the official line that the houses were substandard, outdated and expensive to repair. They put up a sustained campaign arguing why perfectly solid homes, steeped in history, where being demolished to make way for new homes? Why not simply refurbish them and breathe Life back into the community they asked?

Skip to 1 minute and 58 seconds The government finally revoked the order to demolish and sell the real estate. The local council went into partnership with a company that specialised in restoration projects. The developers began in qualitative research, exercise, moving past the quantifiable questioning and asking the people who saved the streets how they want to live, and how the development should be shaped? Combining this anthropic insight with quantitative research enabled, the developers to work out ways of recombining the traditional houses to make homes with two, three, and four bedrooms. Provided more space for larger families. They made communal gardens and social spaces. Places where families wanted their kids to play and people can really get to know each other.

Skip to 2 minutes and 54 seconds And behold, after refurbishment, the houses were snapped up immediately by the remaining residents. Many of those who had left even returned to the neighborhood. Ringo Starr’s childhood home, and the Welsh Streets, were saved. So, using a mixed methods approach, embracing both qualitative and quantitative research methods, the Welsh Streets of Liverpool have proved that the past has value to the present. And you don’t have to destroy it all and start again to rehouse a community.

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