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Research Methods

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Research Methods

Research is a process of enquiry and investigation. It is also systematic, methodical and ethical and research can help solve practical problems and increase knowledge. Generally, research can be broken down in to four broad types.

These are exploratory research which is where research is undertaken where few or no precious studies exist. The aim is to look for patterns, hypotheses or ideas that can be tested and will form the basis for further research. Typical research techniques would include case studies, observation and reviews of previous related studies and data.

The second is descriptive research which is used to identify and classify the elements or characteristics of the subject. For example numbers of days lost due to industrial action. Quantitative techniques are most often used to collect, analyse and summarise data.

The third one is analytical which often extends the descriptive approach to suggest or explain why or how something is happening. For example underlying causes of industrial action. An important feature of this type of research is in locating and identifying the different factors/variable involved.

The final type of research is predictive research. This is where you speculate intelligently on future possibilities based on close analysis of available evidence of course and effect. For example predicting when and where future industrial action may take place.

There are also three different types of research approaches and these are quantitative/qualitative, applied/basic and deductive/inductive.

Quantitative research is mainly focussed on collecting and analysing numerical data and concentrates on measuring the scale, range and frequency of phenomena. This type of research is often highly detailed and structured and results can be easily collated and presented statistically. Qualitative research is more subjective in nature than quantitative research and involves examining and reflecting on less tangible aspects of a research subject. For example values, attitudes and perceptions. This type of research can often be difficult to interpret and present for non-professionals and requires years of experience.

Basic research seeks to improve knowledge generally, without any particular applied purpose in mind at outset. Applied research is designed from the start to apply its findings to a particular situation. Deductive research moves from general ideas/theories to specific particular situations. This is where the particular situations are deduced from the general. Inductive research moves from particular situations to make or infer broad general/idea theories.

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