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Faculty Research & Scholarly Activity: Methods & Ethics

Tips and resources for getting started, reviewing the literature, choosing a method, and sharing the findings of scholarly activity and other research projects


A methodology refers to the systematic mode in which you will plan and conduct your research. This stage can also be referred to as "research design."

Selecting a methodology that aligns with your research question or problem statement is a crucial step in the research process, as what you choose will influence the methods you use to collect your data. For example, if choosing a qualitative methodology like grounded theory that seeks to understand how people experience a concept in their daily lives, it might work best to collect data through interviews with individuals or groups who are predisposed to that particular concept.

Note that an application to the Research Ethics Board is needed for projects that involve human participants. Do not collect data before you have received ethics approval.

Research methodologies are often grouped into two broad types: qualitative and quantitative. Learn more about these types in the chart below, or follow these links to further explore research design and the ethics approval process:

Qualitative & Quantitative Methods: A Comparison Chart

Purpose Typically considered an inductive approach to research, qualitative methods are interested in exploring meaning, interpreting patterns of relationships, and generating theory. Typically considered a deductive approach to research, quantitative methods are interested in testing theory through hypotheses and manipulation.
Procedures Procedures use a naturalistic approach, with researchers seeking to avoid external control or manipulation over the setting. Procedures are oriented to examining cause and effect, with researchers adopting an objective stance and employing standardized protocols to create a controlled environment that attempts to produce generalizable results.
Data Collection & Analysis Data is collected in the form of words, but may involve some quantification. Analysis is specific and detailed; qualitative researchers seek to describe, understand, connect, and relate concepts and theories. Data is collected in the form of numbers and typically involves complex statistical analysis that seeks to measure, compare, and examine the relationships between variables.
Example Approaches

The distinction between these types of methods is not strictly binary. Some researchers employ mixed methods, which attempt to combine the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative methods.

The Library's subscription to SAGE Research Methods is an invaluable tool in your research efforts. It provides a research planner to walk you through your proposal process, practice data sets for qualitative and quantitative analysis, handbooks and definitions for a wide variety of research methods, and more.

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