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Conceptual and source-based research

Approaches for conceptual and source-based research
© Endnote screenshot

Research does not necessarily require the creation or collection of new data. There are numerous existing sources that may be beneficially for research. This article considers some of the different research approaches you may take.

Source-based research

There is a significant range of possibilities for source-based research. This can include anything from analysis of company reports, literature, diaries, websites, letters, scripture or any other source. This can support methodologies such as critical discourse analysis, semiotics and hermeneutics. While such research doesn’t require the recruitment of participants, it can still prove challenging for data acquisition, management and analysis.

Source-based research can be completed online where sources have been digitised. While this can be used for paper-based sources, you may want to consider digitisation for easier analysis and management of data.

Literature-based research

Conceptual, philosophical and literature-based research is very easy to facilitate online. Such research is based on the synthesis of the literature to form new ideas and perspectives. Software such as EndNote combined with NVivo can be used to manage the in-depth analysis of literature.

Social media-based research

A whole range of data generated through social media is publically available and can be used as a data source for secondary analysis. Thanks to machine or script-based data extraction, this data can be very easy to collect. However, it can be challenging to address from an ethical perspective. While the data is in the public domain, quotes should never be used as it would allow people to be identified through reverse-searching. Care should be taken to ensure no data is used which would require a login as this may be data you are privileged to.

Archival research

It may be possible to conduct archival research without the need to travel if records are digitised or were born digital. It is worthwhile investigating what digital or digitised archives may be available for your research. Here are some possible sources:

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