Research design and methods
Methodology and methods are often confused in postgraduate research, especially in smaller scale, shorter studies, such as those completed in a coursework Honours or Masters degree programme. These terms mean quite different things, though with methodology referencing a more conceptual, abstracted understanding of what kind of study you are doing, and why, and methods understood as practical tools that you can use to realise your study design and purpose. This Prezi takes students through a basic explanation of what the different terms mean, and how they fit together in designing a research study. It then goes further to explore how methodological choices are made by crucially taking guidance from the research questions, and theoretical framework for the study. The additional reading recommended below, as well as the worksheet, enable further exploration of this topic, and an opportunity for students to link the video and reading materials with their own research study.
Who might find this useful?
This material is primarily for postgraduate scholars, to assist them in conceptualising and plotting out their methodology and methods, if they are starting out, or revising this section if they are further along in their study. It can also be utilised, with the worksheet, in postgraduate research workshops. The additional reading may be useful for supervisors and postgraduate mentors, to guide their students in developing this section of the research project.
Questions for users:
For supervisors/PG support staff: What methodologies do you typically use in your research – qualitative/quantitative, exploratory/causal and so on. Why and how do you use these? What aspects of your own research design process and decision-making can you share with your students, to help them to think about and construct their own? What reading, or other resources can you point them to, to get them started, or deepen their thinking?
For students: What is your research design? Why have you chosen this design? What data are you planning to generate, why, and how?
Explore these additional resources
Worksheet: Outlining a research design and its tools
- Things examiners look for in a methods chapter: https://patthomson.net/2017/06/26/three-things-examiners-look-for-in-methods-chapters/
- Methodology isn’t methods: https://patthomson.net/2013/02/18/methodology-isnt-methods-or-what-goes-in-a-methods-chapter/
- A metaphor for a methods chapter: https://patthomson.net/2013/01/24/the-methods-chapter-as-a-party/
- Wits University Library guide to methodology and methods: http://libguides.wits.ac.za/c.php?g=145381&p=953599
- Research methodology for science students: https://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0601009.pdf
- Research methodology in the social sciences: http://lynn-library.libguides.com/researchmethods