What is Research Methodology

Research Methodology


Table of Contents

How does a researcher decide 

  • What data do they want to collect?
  • From whom should they collect the data?
  • What method should they use for data collection?
  • How can they analyze the collected data?

The process of deciding how to systematically design research and conduct it is called Research Methodology. To conduct a market or social research, you have to plan out every step from which questions to ask to what analysis method to use, to ensure that you gather valid and reliable results from the research. 

In this article, we have explained how you can design your own research methodology. Dive in to read more. 

What is Research Methodology?

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A research methodology is an outline of how a given piece of research is carried out. It defines the techniques or procedures that are used to identify and analyse information regarding a specific research topic. The research methodology, therefore, has to do with how a researcher designs their study in a way that allows them to obtain valid and reliable results and meet their research objectives.

How is the research methodology different from research methods?

The both are related concepts used in the field of research, but they refer to different aspects of the research process.

Research methodology is the overall strategy or approach used by researchers to conduct research. It encompasses the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of the research, the research design, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and the overall framework within which the research is conducted. 

Methodology of research provides a framework for how research is planned, conducted, and analyzed, and it guides researchers in making decisions about the most appropriate methods to use in their research.

On the other hand, research methods refer to the specific techniques, procedures, or tools that researchers use to collect, analyze, and interpret data. Research methods can be quantitative, involving numerical data, or qualitative, involving non-numerical data. 

Examples of research methods include surveys, interviews, experiments, observations, content analysis, and statistical analysis, among others. Research methods are selected and employed by researchers based on their research question, research design, and the type of data they want to collect.

In summary, research methodology is the overall strategy or approach used in research, while research methods are the specific techniques or tools used to collect, analyze, and interpret data within that overall strategy. 

It guides the entire research process, while research methods are the practical steps taken by researchers to conduct research.

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What are the major components of typical research methodology?

Here are the key components of a typical research methodology:

1. Research design: This involves selecting the most appropriate research design based on the nature of the research question and the data required. Common research designs include experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, descriptive, and exploratory.

2. Sampling: This involves selecting a representative subset of the population being studied, known as the sample. Various sampling techniques, such as random sampling, stratified sampling, and purposive sampling, may be used depending on the research design and population characteristics.

3. Data collection: This involves gathering data using different methods, such as surveys, interviews, observations, experiments, or existing datasets. The data collection process should be carefully planned, documented, and carried out ethically.

4. Data analysis: This involves organizing, analyzing, and interpreting the collected data using appropriate statistical or qualitative techniques, depending on the nature of the data and research objectives. Statistical fucntionality, such as cross tabs or conjoint analyis, may be used for quantitative data analysis, while qualitative data may be analyzed using techniques like text analysis or sentiment analysis.

5. Validity and reliability: Ensuring the validity and reliability of research findings is crucial. Validity helps identify accuracy and truthfulness of the research findings, while reliability refers to the consistency and stability of the results over time and across different conditions.

6. Ethical considerations: Research should be conducted ethically, ensuring the protection of human subjects and adherence to ethical guidelines. This involves obtaining consent from participants, maintaining confidentiality, and addressing potential conflicts of interest.

Why do we need a research methodology?

Methodology of research is an essential aspect of researching to ensure that the research process is systematic, rigorous, reliable, and valid. Here are some reasons why methodology in research is important:

1. Clarity and precision: It provides a framework and guidelines for researchers to clearly define their research questions, objectives, and hypotheses. It helps researchers identify the most appropriate research design, sampling techniques, data collection methods, and data analysis procedures to ensure that the research is conducted with precision and clarity.

2. Validity and reliability: Research methodology helps researchers ensure that their research findings are valid and reliable. Validity helps identify accuracy and truthfulness of research results, while reliability refers to the consistency and stability of research findings over time. Proper methodology helps in minimizing biases, errors, and confounding factors that may affect the validity and reliability of research results.

3. Ethical Considerations: It provides ethical guidelines and principles that researchers must follow while conducting research involving human subjects, animals, or sensitive data. It helps researchers ensure that their research is conducted ethically, respecting the rights and dignity of research participants, and following appropriate ethical standards and regulations.

4. Replicability: Research methodology emphasizes the importance of replicability of research findings. Replicability means that other researchers should be able to repeat the research study using the same methods and obtain similar results. 

5. Representative: This means that research findings can be applied to a broader population or context. Proper research methodology helps in designing research studies that are replicable and generalizable, enhancing the credibility and robustness of research findings.

6. Efficiency and resource utilization: It helps researchers in planning and organizing their research study efficiently, optimizing the use of time, resources, and efforts. It ensures that researchers use appropriate data collection methods, sample sizes, and statistical techniques to obtain meaningful results while minimizing unnecessary costs and efforts.

Research Methodology in Formal Research

Research papers, dissertations, thesis, academic journal articles, or any other piece of formal research will contain a section (or chapter) on research methodology. This section stipulates the methodological choices made and also substantiates why these choices were made. This section is therefore used by researchers to justify why the methods they employed are best suited to achieve the research objective and arrive at valid and reliable results. This section also allows readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of a study based on the relevance and effectiveness of the procedures employed. 

Types of Research Methodologies

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There are three key types of research methodologies:

  • Qualitative Methodology: Qualitative research involves research that is conducted using words and textual data. This method of research is generally used in exploratory research where a research problem that is not clearly defined is being investigated. It is useful when trying to understand abstract concepts, perceptions, body language, opinions, and even visual data. 
  • Quantitative Methodology: Quantitative research relies on the measurement and testing of numerical data. Unlike qualitative research that is more exploratory in nature, quantitative research is typically leveraged when the research objectives are confirmatory in nature. 
  • Mixed-Methods Methodology: As the name suggests, the mixed-method methodology combines qualitative and quantitative methodologies to integrate both their strengths and obtain rich results.

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What are the main sampling design approaches in research methodology?

Sampling design is an important aspect of methodology of research. It involves selecting a subset of individuals or items from a larger population for study. There are several main sampling designs approaches that researchers commonly use:

1. Random sampling: 

This approach involves selecting individuals or items from a population in a purely random manner, where every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected. This helps to ensure that the sample is representative of the population and reduces the risk of bias.

2. Stratified sampling: 

In this approach, the population is divided into subgroups or strata based on characteristics (such as age, gender, or location), and then random sampling is conducted within each stratum. 

This helps to ensure that each subgroup is adequately represented in the sample, which can be useful when certain subgroups are expected to have different characteristics or when the research questions are specific to certain subgroups.

3. Cluster sampling: 

In this approach, the population is divided into clusters, such as geographic areas or organizations, and then a random sample of clusters is selected. All individuals or items within the selected clusters are then included in the sample. Cluster sampling is often used when it is difficult or expensive to sample individuals directly, and can be efficient in terms of time and resources.

4. Convenience sampling: 

This approach involves selecting individuals or items that are readily available or easy to access. Convenience sampling is often used in situations where it is difficult to randomly sample from the population, such as in exploratory or preliminary research. However, convenience sampling can be prone to selection bias, as it may not result in a representative sample.

5. Purposive sampling: 

Also known as judgmental or selective sampling, this approach involves deliberately selecting individuals or items based on specific criteria or characteristics that are relevant to the research question. You can use purposive sampling in qualitative research or when researchers want to focus on specific subgroups or individuals who are considered to be key informants.

6. Snowball sampling: 

This approach involves initially selecting a few individuals who meet the research criteria, and then asking them to refer to other individuals who also meet the criteria. This method is often used when the target population is difficult to identify or access, such as in studies of hidden or marginalized populations.

These are some of the main sampling design approaches in research methodology. The choice of sampling design depends on the research question, the characteristics of the population, available resources, and the desired level of generalizability or external validity of the research findings. It is important to carefully consider the appropriate sampling design to ensure the validity and reliability of their research results.

How to Write a Research Methodology

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Now that you have an understanding of what a research methodology is, let’s go over how one can write a research methodology using four constructive steps: 

  • Determine your Methodological Approach: In the first step of writing your research methodology, you can provide an explanation of the overall methodological approach of your research. This should include an explanation of your research problem and the type of data (quantitative/qualitative, primary/secondary) you will require to answer it. 
  • Outline the Methods of Data Collection: The next step is to describe the methods of data collection that you will be using in your research. There are many different methods that can be used to gather data. Quantitative methods of data collection include experiments, surveys, and existing literature. Qualitative methods of data collection include participant observation, focus groups, interviews, and existing literature. 
  • Outline the Methods of Analysis: This step requires you to outline the methods of analysis that you will be using in your research. If you’re conducting research that is quantitative in nature, you should include any data preparation techniques, statistical tests, or even software used to analyse your data. If you’re conducting research that is qualitative in nature, you should include any methods of content analysis, thematic analysis, or discourse analysis used in your research. 
  • Justify your Choices: The final step is to evaluate and justify all your methodological choices. You can elaborate on why other methods were not suitable for your research and why the methods you chose were best suited to achieve your research objectives and arrive at an outcome that is reliable and valid. You should acknowledge the limitations and weaknesses of the approaches chosen, while also justifying how these were outweighed by the strengths.

Research methodology is a large topic and designing a research method properly can be challenging. However, the key tip to take away from this article is that when designing a research method you should focus on clearly defining the aims and objectives of the research. 

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In conclusion, research methodology is a critical aspect of any research study. It provides the framework and approach used to conduct the research, collect and analyze data, and derive meaningful findings and conclusions.

FAQs on Research Methodology

A research methodology refers to the different procedures, techniques, and processes employed to carry out research on a specific topic.

There are three main types of research methodologies; quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies.

The qualitative methodology is leveraged in research that involves the collection and analysis of words and textual data. It is generally used in research studies that are trying to break down perceptions, abstract concepts, body language, opinions, and even visual data.

The quantitative methodology is leveraged in research that relies on the measurement and testing of numerical data. It is generally used in studies where the research objectives are confirmatory in nature.

The mixed-methods methodology is used in research when both quantitative and qualitative methods of research are required to effectively answer a research question and meet the research aims and objectives. The integration of both these methods facilitates a more complete and synergistic utilization of data than when these methods are used separately.

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