How to start research at university

Which research methods will I use?

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Your choice of research method will be heavily influenced by your subject area and your university guidelines: natural scientists may be expected to do laboratory experiments, but social scientists may conduct a survey, or analyse a data set.

The type of research method used depends on the question that is being answered; for example, a study comparing the effectiveness of two drugs would require a rigorous, controlled scientific study. In contrast an anthropological study of an isolated tribe would require the researcher to become immersed in the life of the tribe with the aim of observing behaviour.

Also, Some subjects use only qualitative research methods, and some use only quantitative research methods; however, many subjects use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods.

Activity: research methods in your subject - 20 minutes

1. Find out whether your subject uses mostly qualitative or quantitative research methods, or a combination of the two. Take a look through your study guide or course handbook to see if there's any information on the research methods you'll be using.

2. Look at popular or prestigious journals for your subject area. Do the published studies use qualitative or quantitative methods?

3. Try talking to tutors, lecturers or PhD students about the research methods they use when they are conducting their research.

Recommended Further Reading

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