Research Methodologies


  • Easy, non-threatening way and quick.
  • Can be anonymous, inexpensive, easy to analyse, can gain lots of data.
  • However, you might not gain careful feedback, wording can bias a clients responses, often don’t get the full story. 


  • Helps to fully understand a person’s experiences, or to elaborate on a previous questionnaire.
  • full range and depth of information, develops relationship between interviewer and interviewee, affords some flexibility.
  • can take time to prepare, conduct and transcribe.
  • can be hard to analyse and the interviewer can bias the client’s response.


  • to gather accurate information about behaviours in a particular setting.
  • view things as actually occurring.
  • can be difficult to interpret behaviours, plus the observer can influence the behaviours of program participants.

Focus Groups 

  • explore a topic in depth through group discussion.
  • quickly and reliably get common impressions, can be an efficient way to get a depth of knowledge in a short time.
  • However, can be hard to analyse responses and can be hard to schedule 6-8 people together.

Case Study

  • Conduct comprehensive examination through cross comparison of cases.
  • can serve to demonstrate similarities and differences between two distinct cases with factors in common.
  • However, it is time consuming and represents a depth of information rather than a breadth.

Action Research 

  • Produces recommendations for improving practice and develops strategies for solving existing problems and improving services.
  • Uses reflexivity and progressive problem-solving to increase understanding and improve practise.

A succinct definition of action research appears in the workshop materials we use at the Institute for the Study of Inquiry in Education. That definition states that action research:

‘is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.’

Content Analysis

  • Used to make replicable and valid inferences by coding and interpreting texts. By systematic evaluation qualitative data is converted into quantitative data.

Media content analysis is the deconstruction of pieces of media with tendency towards either quantitative or qualitative research methods. Quantitative research methods within Media Content Analysis point to a far more structured and consequently restricted form of gathering information from clips of media. Qualitative methods involve a viewing of the clip and then unstructured open discussions and debate on the themes and effects of the clip. Media content analysis was introduced as a systematic method to study mass media by Harold Lasswell (1927), initially to study propaganda.


Discourse Analysis


  • Interprets and describes cultural behaviour. Tells stories through the eyes of the people under study and enables people to speak in their own voices. Produces a holistic cultural description, while avoiding causal explanations.

Anthropology of media is an area of study within social or cultural anthropology that emphasizes ethnographic studies as a means of understanding producers, audiences, and other cultural and social aspects of massmedia.


  • Describes the procedures, practices and methods by which social order is produced and shared. Describes the accounts that people  (including scientists) produce and the methods that are used to convey these accounts, without evaluating their validity.

Feminist research

  • Incorporates the lived experiences, emotions and feelings of marginalised groups into the knowledge building process.
  • Acknowledges and reports the diversity of experience.
  • Conducts research, generates theory and draws conclusions form a feminist standpoint.

Grounded Theory

  • Draws theoretical insights from a cyclical process of analysis and reanalysis. Provides an explanation about how people resolve their central concerns, regardless of time and place. Interprets human interaction, which occurs through the use of symbols (description is avoided).

Grounded theory is:

– a research method that will enable you to:

– develop a theory which

– offers and explanation about

– the main concern of the population of your substantive area and

– how that concern is resolved or processed.

Heuristic Inquiry

  • Produces a creative synthesis of the meaning and essence of experience. Includes participant validation and researcher reflexivity in the final product.

Heuristic research is a search for the discovery of meaning and essence in significant human experience. It requires a subjective process of reflecting, exploring, sifting, and elucidating the nature of the phenomenon under investigation

Narrative Inquiry

  • The personal and human aspects of experience are researched over a period of time, to take account of the relationship between individual experience and cultural context.

Narrative inquiry is a way of understanding and inquiring into experience through “collaboration between researcher and participants, over time, in a place or series of places, and in social interaction with milieus” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000, p. 20).

Phenomenological Research 

  • Seeks to understand and describe lives experience, including people’s perceptions, perspectives and understanding or a particular situation or phenomenon.
  • Emphasises personal perspective and interpretation.

The focus of phenomenologic inquiry is what people experience in regard to some phenomenon or other and how they interpret those experiences. A phenomenological research study is a study that attempts to understand people’s perceptions, perspectives and understandings of a particular situation (or phenomenon).

These notes are from my Year 2 Semester 2 lectures, seminars and workshops. The image is from:

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