Skip main navigation

How to approach selecting a methodology

Watch this practical guide to selecting a research methodology. It includes obtaining appropriate sources of information and analysing them.
VOICEOVER: Whatever subject you’re tackling, there will usually be a consistent way of deciding which methodological approach you want to take, and the methods of analysis that you might employ. It’s always worth first reflecting upon the research question and proposal that you set out in Week Two, so that you have in mind at all times what your aims are. After that, think about which sources of information might be instrumental in answering your research question, and how you’ll be able to obtain them.
Once you know what you want to look at in order to answer your research question, you should then consider how you might wish to look at it, what methods of analysis you will use to investigate the source material more closely. Finally, you should consider the potential biases you may encounter with the sources of information and analyses you’ve chosen. Think about how these biases could impact upon your project, and weigh up some of the advantages and disadvantages of your choice accordingly. If you can justify why you have used your method, whatever it might be, your project should be a success.
The steps within this process will likely take a good deal of research in itself, and it’s really helpful to set aside plenty of time for this within your project time, alongside researching any content, as well. To process a little better, we’ll consider both psychology and music. Although they’re very different subject disciplines, they can be approached in very similar ways. In both contexts, you will first think about the research question and what you have set out to achieve, before moving on to considering what your sources of information might be, and how you’ll go about obtaining them.
In both subjects, there may be a range of different techniques to obtain the information to analyse, like some of those shown, though more or less time may be spent on this, depending on the nature of your project. The same really does apply to thinking about how we put the information you have used or gathered. And some examples show the different varieties, as you will see on screen. Finally, irrespective of the information and methods considered, researchers of either discipline would assess the level of bias their methodology may encounter. Research methods are incredibly varied by subject. It is therefore impossible to provide an exhaustive list, so it is important to research, and with respect to your individual projects, in much depth.
But hopefully, this process will provide a practical guide for thinking about your methodology.

In this animation with voiceover, the team provides you with a practical guide to how to approach selecting a methodology.

You are encouraged:

  • to research thoroughly how you will obtain sources of information appropriate for your research project

  • and to think how you may wish to analyse them.

This article is from the free online

Developing Your Research Project

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education