Edinburgh Napier University

Category: Research

Research Methods

Research Methods

Introduction to Research Methods…

It is now that time of year when exams and deadlines are approaching fast. Whether these deadlines consist of coursework, essays, projects or presentations. The implementation of various research methods relevant to the assignment at hand will be hugely significant in planning and putting together a well-constructed, informative, and unbiased piece of work with accurate results and strong arguments. Should they be utilised correctly, research methods have many advantages. It allows for data to be gathered efficiently and objectively and systematically. This reduces the risk of subjectivity and personal biases being present, allowing got meaningful conclusions to be drawn with data. Evidence which is both accurate and unbiased. New techniques and innovative ways of conducting research can also evolve from the practice, allowing for advancements and progression to be made in a particular field.

Defining Research Methods…

Research Methods is an umbrella term covering a range of systematic techniques. And tools used to carry out effective research in a particular field. Researchers will often use them as a regulatory guide when collating information and interpreting data as part of answering a specific research question or covering a particular topic of interest.

There are two key types of research methods frequently used by researchers. These are quantitative research methods and qualitative research methods. The difference between these two research methods is that quantitative research primarily involves the collation and analysis of numerical data and statistics. Whilst qualitative research involves the same process but with data which is non-numerical. Quantitative data can primarily consist of statistics, correlational studies, and figures as well as results from surveys and experiments. Meanwhile, qualitative data often includes answers and findings gathered from focus groups, interviews, and content analysis. As well as studies and observations conducted on the behaviours, interactions, customs, and habits, otherwise known as ethnography. Now imagine a study is being conducted on the popularity of Galaxy chocolate. Quantitative research will be used here to provide an estimate of how popular it is overall. And its popularity in comparison with competitors such as Cadbury and Hershey’s chocolate. On the other hand, qualitative research would be used to determine reasons why it is more popular or not. Depending on what kind of research questions you are trying to answer or objectives you are trying to meet, one research method could indeed be more useful than the other.

There are strengths and limitations involved with using quantitative or qualitative research. Whilst quantitative analysis can produce a solid base of objective and exact data, it does not delve into the specifics behind the figures provided or reveal the complete complexities of phenomena. In other words, it does lack a degree of depth to it which qualitative research does not. Qualitative analysis will provide a more in-depth, extensive level of detail regarding the present data to help achieve a more enriched understanding of the findings and results gathered. Nevertheless, there is the risk of subjectivity in the data as well as it not being generalisable to greater populations. Mixed method research combines both research methods and involves the use of both quantitative and qualitative analysis in one solitary study, so the benefits and advantages of using both quantitative and qualitative research can be reaped. Nevertheless, the use of mixed-method research can be very resource-intensive take up a lot of time and often requires a specialist to conduct this kind of research effectively.

SAGE Research Methods Online

SAGE Research Methods is known as the ultimate methods library which assists with research needs at all levels. It has over 1000 different books, journals and informative video clips published by leading academics and researchers from across the globe.  It has the biggest collection of digitised qualitative methods texts out of all scholarly databases. All Napier students and staff should have access to the SAGE database. Researchers will find the tool very useful for seeking information. This can organising and putting together a research project, receiving assistance with conducting literature reviews or data analysis and learning new research methods. The SAGE Research Methods Online database also has a variety of podcasts, datasets, and case studies available.

The Importance 

When it comes to conducting any kind of research project or study. The research methods implemented ultimately make or break how effective, credible, and meaningful any conclusions made will be based on the findings and data gathered as part of the research process. They ultimately help researchers collate data in a regulatory and organised manner to provide accurate and unbiased results and findings.

It can sometimes be challenging to find the most suitable research method for your study or project in the initial stages. Our libraries in all three campuses at Napier each have an extensive research collection. They  have a variety of research books available detailing different research methods for specific subjects and courses. All the recommendations linked below can be found on Library Search. Please note that some of these texts are only available online.

The SAGE handbook of qualitative research, Denzin, Norman K., editor.;Lincoln, Yvonna S., editor. 2018


Qualitative versus quantitative research, Sonyel Oflazoglu; Oflazoglu Dora, Sonyel, editor. 2017



Quantitative research for the qualitative researcher, O’Dwyer, Laura M., author.; Bernauer, James A., author. 2014



Mixing methods: qualitative and quantitative research, Brannen, Julia, editor. 1992



By Rachel Downie

You can find more research posts

Researcher Skills Forum 2024

Researcher Skills Forum 2024.

It’s that time of year again: Edinburgh Napier University’s Researcher Skills Forum – 2024.

Tomorrow is day one of our annual researcher development event which is brought you in proud partnership of Research, Innovation & Enterprise team and Information Services.

A fun and interesting line-up of speakers, workshops and activities aimed at researchers of all levels.

Tomorrow will be an in-person event at Sighthill LCR5 (top floor of the library) and the 20th will be our online event. You can register for either or both!

Researcher Skills Forum -13th March

Tomorrow will start off right with tea and coffees at 10.40 before diving into introductory talks. The day will cover academic publishing, transform presentations. And a career panel with career consultants going over how to get jobs but also how to build a career. Finally, there will be an opportunity for networking and there will be lunch covered.

Researcher Skills Forum – 20th March

This is will be held online on Microsoft Teams. Once you have registered, you will receive a link. The event will running all afternoon from 1pm till 4.30pm. It will include looking at systematic approaches to literature reviews, writing as a researcher and literature searching.


Both days are packed with research development and we hope to see you there. Remember you can register for both.

For more information and where to register: Researcher Skills Forum 2024

And you look at other ways the university supports research.

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