Preparing a Research
Cycle of Research
(Research Plan and
Some starting points for a good
•Provides a realistic plan for investigation of
your research question
•Provides justification of a methodological
•& methods of investigation
•Provides data which has the capacity to
answer your research question
•Adequately considers relevant ethical issues
Method or Methodology?
Methods are the techniques/ procedures
used to collect and analyse data
Methodology refers to discussions of how
research is done, or should be done, and
the critical analysis of methods of research
Some questions you may be
What‟s my research question?
What theories, concepts, models inform my research?
What kind of data will I need to answer my question?
How will I collect this data?
What ethical issues are relevant to my research?
What are the strengths and limitations of my research?
How much can I reasonably achieve in my research?
How will my work be judged?
“a question well asked is a question
half answered”: the way the question
(or hypothesis) is stated shows what
data will be necessary to answer (or
test) it, and probably suggests also
how and from where or from whom the
data will be obtained
Punch, K. (1998). Introduction to Social Research:
Quantitative & Qualitative Approaches. London: Sage.
Types of research questions
These three types of questions usually
form a sequence …
What Why How
Developing a research question
Having come up with some prototype
questions now refine.
Examine the scope of your question/s
Separate major and subsidiary questions
Is each question necessary?
Refine the wording of your question/s
Refining your Questions
Beware of the tendency toward bigger and more questions
Consider carefully the verbs you
use in your question
Explore (initial description)
Describe (detailed account)
Explain (establish the factors responsible)
Understand (establish reasons)
Predict (using an explanation to postulate future
Change (to actively intervene)
Evaluate (assess if desired outcomes are
After finalising the research
question - two questions ...
strategy will be
WHERE will the
data come from?
Form of reasoning – bottom up
Top down reasoning
Observations to address
Test the hypothesis with specific data
the original hypothesis
Strategies for Answering
A Research Design needs to answer
3 basic questions:
WHAT will be studied?
WHY will it be studied?
HOW will it be studied?
Where does your method sit?
Quantitative researchers attempt to be objective,
meaning that they wish to develop an
understanding of the world as it is „out there‟,
independent of their personal biases, values and
Quantitative research involves numbers.
Usually large volume of participants/ records
Eg. Survey Research, Analysis of existing
quantitative data sets
Weakness: Depth of Understanding
Qualitative researchers view themselves as
primary instrument for collecting data. They rely
partly or entirely on their feelings, impressions,
and judgments in collecting data.
Qualitative research involves words
Usually smaller volume of participants/records
Eg. Ethnographic research, life history
interviews, discourse analysis
Strength: Depth of understanding
Introduction (inc. statement of research problem/ question/ aims
Background/ Literature Review
- Method of data selection
- Instruments/ techniques to be used
- Methodological limitations
- Methodological significance/ innovation
- Data analysis strategy
- Ethical issues
- Resources required
- Expected outcomes of research
Plan your Proposal
Decide how long each section will be
Some sections will be quite short (eg
limitations, timeline etc) while other
sections (eg literature review will be quite
The significance of sections will vary
according to your particular project. You
may even have some additional sections
that are needed for your proposal.
Finalise your research question/ problem
Make sure your proposal is logical.
Identify possible weaknesses in your research
design, acknowledge them and explain why they
Critically review/ edit your own writing, seek
others help with this
Learn to read like a writer – examine structure,
style, organisation etc
Some more tips
Write with authority (ie back up your statements)
Write for clarity not „impressiveness‟
Show that you are planning your research
carefully (think about pragmatic issues – agency
support/ ethics/ resources you may need/
You are the expert on your topic. Help the
reader to grasp your ideas.
Edit for clarity (don‟t just proofread)
Interrelationship between conceptual terms
Ontology Epistemology Methodology Methods Sources
there to know?
What and how can
we know about it?
How can we go about
acquiring that knowledge?
Which precise procedures
can we use to acquire it?
can we collect
Figure adapted from Hay, C. (2002)
Political Analysis: A Critical Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave. p. 64