AN OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH METHODS1

An overview of Research Methods: Types, Advantages, & Disadvantages of Research.

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Research methods are nothing but the way in which you carry out your research and collect information. Your research method must be peculiar to the kind of information you are going to collect and the end result you wish to achieve with it. Choosing the right research collection mechanism, tool, and analysis method lie at the core of your research.

In this blog, we will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of research. We will look through different types of methods used and the pros and cons of each. 

 

What are the types of research methods?

When planning your research you need to make two decisions – 

  1. How you will collect your data?
  2. How will you analyze the data?

These two questions will help you map out your entire research plan. 

There are three ways research methods are divided. Each of these ways serves a certain purpose. These three ways depend on how you want to collect the data. 

  1.  Do you want to collect numerical or textual data? – Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Method. 
  2. Do you want to perform experiments or gather data as it is? – Experimental Vs Descriptive Method.
  3. Do you want to collect your own data or want to use existing data? – Primary Vs. Secondary Method.

Now that we have established the three different approaches, let’s dive deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of research. 

 

An overview of research methods : Types , advantages , disadvantages Mental Health Survey

Advantages and Disadvantages of Research Methods

We will look at the pros and cons as we explain each form of the data collection method. We will explain all six types of methods in this section. 

1. Qualitative vs Quantitative

On the basis of the data you want to collect, your research methodology can be bifurcated into these two types of approaches. 

Qualitative method

Qualitative data includes textual information that presents insights and explanations in the respondents’ own words. Unstructured questions which allow the respondents to elaborate their opinions without any restrictions are included under this sub-type.

Now let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of research type. 

Advantages

  • Comprehensive: A respondent has the liberty to dive deep into explanations and follow-ups that allow researchers to identify positives and fallouts.
  • Flexible and genuine: Given that the onus of answering lies completely with the respondent as there are no fixed answer choices, the number of respondents does not matter as long as the ones included in the research are representative of the target group’s sentiment and sampling bias can be avoided.

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to analyze: Analysing qualitative information is a meticulous activity that requires careful attention to detail while listing key takeaways from individual responses
  •  Highly subjective: Qualitative responses vary in terms of length and type of responses. Listing one standard summary that provides an umbrella to each response is tedious, particularly when there is a large sample involved.

[Related read: Quantitative Vs Qualitative Research]

Quantitative method

This includes pre-planned questions which provide numeric answers to questions. This method usually explains the “what” in research. 

The quantitative method helps discover trends and patterns in customer feedback. It also helps establish the initial groundwork needed to conduct in-depth research. 

Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of research collecting quantitative data. 

Advantage

  •  Easily summarized: Numerical data is easy to analyze using statistical analysis tools that provide a holistic summary of respondent answers.
  • Objective in nature: The questions in this method have limited answer options making it easy to establish standardized answers that have low room for variability.

Disadvantage

  • Lacks insights: Quantitative method does not allow the respondent to elaborate on the reasoning behind the choice of their answers. The restrictive nature of such a study makes it necessary for the researcher to complement their study using open-ended comments that give a peek into the respondent’s mindset.
  • Requires expertise: Although there are available tools to put quantitative data into perspective, the leg work of choosing and applying those specific tools requires a certain level of skill so that the analysis can be properly executed.

2. Descriptive vs Experimental

Based on how you want to conduct the research we can categorize them into the following two research methods. 

Descriptive method

The descriptive method is based on gathering data without indulging or intervening. This type of way is usually used to describe characteristics or phenomena based on the viewpoints provided by a target set of people.

Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of research conducted without intervention.

Advantage

  • Large scale and quick: Descriptive data can be gathered from a large number of respondents using the right mechanism that maximizes reach along with increasing promptness in distribution and collection.
  • Cohesive mechanism: This method of research collects both qualitative and quantitative data and can be used as a stand-alone data collection method.

Disadvantage

  • Cause and effect relationship cannot be established: It is difficult to highlight cause and effect relationships using correlational studies.
  • Restrictive: Case studies, which are a type of descriptive study may limit participants to peculiar individuals which are a good fit for that case.

Experimental method

This method is focused on using variables to study relationships in a controlled environment. Independent variables are manipulated to study their impact on the dependent variable.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of research conducted by experiment

Advantages

  • Explains cause and effect relationship: It is a meticulous study that explains the correlation between the dependent and independent variables in an accurate manner.
  • Specific results: The outcomes of the study are measured exactly with respect to what the research organization is looking for and the variables can be influenced accordingly.

Disadvantages

  • Research bias: The sway over the research can lead to window dressing and the researcher to skew the results in a certain direction.
  • Time-consuming: Creating an environment that facilitates the precise study of variables, in itself, is an elongated process. Added to that many studies cannot be carried out in an artificial environment due to their unrealistic nature.

3. Primary vs Secondary

Do you want to run surveys using an online survey tool? Conduct interviews in person? Or, do you want to use data from previous research conducted by other researchers? 

Depending on the channels you use to collect the data, the research method can be divided into primary or secondary types. 

Primary method

This method collects first-hand data directly from the respondents or the target group. Interviews focus groups and surveys are just some of the methods suitable for this mechanism.

Now let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of research conducted by gathering first-hand data. 

Advantages

  • Updated information: Data collected using primary methods is based on updated market information and helps in tackling dynamic conditions.
  •  Better control and customization: Primary data collection is tailor-made to suit the specific needs of the organization that is conducting it. Identifying pain points and gaining additional information becomes easier when the respondent is administered on a real-time basis.

Disadvantages

  • Costly: Primary data collection requires the organization to invest in each and every aspect of the research and so, is relatively expensive.
  • Cannot be performed by everyone: The various types of primary methods cannot be executed by untrained people. Professionals who specialize in advanced data collection and analytics can only be relied upon to deliver on the end objectives.

Secondary method

Secondary data uses existing information collected by other researchers to answer research questions. The nature of the documents that the organization uses for gathering information depends on the research topic.

Let’s see what are the advantages and disadvantages of research when you use existing data. 

Advantages

  • Saves time and money: Companies need not invest in surveying data that has already been collected and documented by other platforms.
  • Expanded source: Accessibility to data points from multiple locations and time periods makes comparison and trend analysis feasible, which improves the quality of decisions.

Disadvantages

  • Data doesn’t cater to researchers’ needs: When you use data collected by other researchers it is often not present in the way you need for your research goal. For e.g., say you want to collect data on the mobile usage of senior citizens. You may consider the age 70 and above for your research, but the data available may be based on ages 50 and above. 
  • Not real-time: The data may be outdated since they have been collected in the past. When you are conducting market research, secondary data can risk your goal since market trends change frequently. 

[Related read: Primary Vs Secondary Research]

Now that we have looked at the advantages and disadvantages of research in all its forms and approaches, let’s go to the second step in the research – data analysis. 

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Analysis techniques used in research

Methodologies are also distinguished in terms of how a company evaluates the data that has been collected by it. It’s not the data that you collect but how you choose to use it that makes a difference.

These analysis methods prevent data overload by categorizing and summarizing it in ways that facilitate deeper understanding. Based on the nature of the data, there are two categories of analysis: Quantitative and Qualitative analysis. 

It is important to understand how these two types of analysis are performed because they also contribute to the advantages and disadvantages of research. 

Qualitative analysis

Qualitative analysis is used to extract meaning and highlight central ideas in textual data. It reflects upon the key sentiments projected in an open-ended comment, idea, feedback, or any other unrestricted information. 

The qualitative analysis deals with inexact information which can be difficult to compute and is highly variable. This necessitates a meticulous understanding of each response for grasping the crux of the respondent’s point of view.

Quantitative analysis

In this method, the data collected is subjected to specialized statistical analysis tools that are implemented by trained experts to ensure accuracy. The data analysis method opted for, depends on the needs of the organization and is meant for increased and simple comprehension by stakeholders. 

These analyses produce substantive results that can be used to back up decisions. Close-ended, structured, and experimental questions can be evaluated using this method. The summary so obtained can be easily exported in relevant formats for easy usability.

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Wrapping Up;

AN OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH METHODS3

This sums up the advantages and disadvantages of research and how each type of approach contributes to the research goal.

When you plan your research use these three divisions to decide the best way to get the most out of it. Use the questions mentioned at the top to determine the best way to conduct your research and gather reliable and accurate data. 

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Hindol Basu 
GM, Voxco Intelligence

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