Research Methodology, Dissertation Methods, Survey Research Methodologies
There are two primary dissertation research methods: Qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research focuses on examining the topic via cultural phenomena, human behavior, or belief systems. The three most routinely used include:. Quantitative research involves the empirical investigation of observable and measurable variables. It is used for theory testing, prediction of outcomes, and determining relationships between and among variables using statistical analysis.
The choice of whether to use a qualitative or quantitative methodology is based on the nature of the questions being asked, the state of the field, and the feasibility of the approach with the population of interest. Researching a doctoral dissertation is an ongoing learning process. Capella University offers PhD and professional doctorate degree programs ranging from business to education and health to technology. Here are 5 tips to help you set attainable targets. Follow these six steps to finance your doctoral degree—from Capella University.
A recent survey of Capella University doctoral graduates found a high level of satisfaction among alumni. June 25, Doctoral research is the cornerstone of a PhD program. Qualitative Qualitative research focuses on examining the topic via cultural phenomena, human behavior, or belief systems. Proposal Writing. Research Methods. Statistics Resources.
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Power Analysis Help. Effect Size Calculation. Key tools that are available to help you, include:. It is a good idea to make an appointment to see the librarian specialising in your subject. An information librarian should be able to give you advice on your literature search, and on how to manage the information that you generate.
You will probably generate more references than you can read.
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Use the titles and abstracts to decide whether the reference is worth reading in detail. Be selective by concentrating on references that:. Once you start reading, ensure that you think about what you are trying to get out of each article or book that you read. Your notes should enable you to write up your literature search without returning to the books you have read. Refer to the guides Effective Note Making , Referencing and Bibliographies , and Avoiding Plagiarism , for further help with note-making. For most research projects the data collection phase feels like the most important part.
However, you should avoid jumping straight into this phase until you have adequately defined your research problem, and the extent and limitations of your research. If you are too hasty you risk collecting data that you will not be able to use. Consider how you are going to store and retrieve your data. You should set up a system that allows you to:.
There are many systems that support effective data collection and retrieval. These range from card indexes and cross-referenced exercise books, through electronic tools like spreadsheets, databases and bibliographic software, to discipline-specific tools. You should talk about how you plan to store your data with your supervisor, an information librarian, or a study adviser in the Learning Development.
As you undertake your research you are likely to come up with lots of ideas. It can be valuable to keep a record of these ideas on index cards, in a dedicated notebook, or in an electronic file. They may be useful as ideas in themselves, and may be useful as a record of how your thinking developed through the research process.
A pilot study involves preliminary data collection, using your planned methods, but with a very small sample. It aims to test out your approach, and identify any details that need to be addressed before the main data collection goes ahead. For example, you could get a small group to fill in your questionnaire, perform a single experiment, or analyse a single novel or document.
When you complete your pilot study you should be cautious about reading too much into the results that you have generated although these can sometimes be interesting. The real value of your pilot study is what it tells you about your method. Spend time reflecting on the implications that your pilot study might have for your research project, and make the necessary adjustment to your plan.
Planning and conducting a dissertation research project
Even if you do not have the time or opportunity to run a formal pilot study, you should try and reflect on your methods after you have started to generate some data. Once you start to generate data you may find that the research project is not developing as you had hoped. Do not be upset that you have encountered a problem. Research is, by its nature, unpredictable. Analyse the situation.
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Think about what the problem is and how it arose. Is it possible that going back a few steps may resolve it? Or is it something more fundamental? If so, estimate how significant the problem is to answering your research question, and try to calculate what it will take to resolve the situation. Changing the title is not normally the answer, although modification of some kind may be useful.
If a problem is intractable you should arrange to meet your supervisor as soon as possible. Give him or her a detailed analysis of the problem, and always value their recommendations. The chances are they have been through a similar experience and can give you valuable advice. Never try to ignore a problem, or hope that it will go away. Finally, it is worth remembering that every problem you encounter, and successfully solve, is potentially useful information in writing up your research. Rather, flag up these problems and show your examiners how you overcame them. As you conduct research, you are likely to realise that the topic that you have focused on is more complex than you realised when you first defined your research question.
The research is still valid even though you are now aware of the greater size and complexity of the problem. A crucial skill of the researcher is to define clearly the boundaries of their research and to stick to them.
You may need to refer to wider concerns; to a related field of literature; or to alternative methodology; but you must not be diverted into spending too much time investigating relevant, related, but distinctly separate fields. Starting to write up your research can be intimidating, but it is essential that you ensure that you have enough time not only to write up your research, but also to review it critically, then spend time editing and improving it.
The following tips should help you to make the transition from research to writing:. Remember that you can not achieve everything in your dissertation.