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What is the best research method?
Research is at the heart of any innovation and, therefore, is considered a crucial academic skill. However, research is not only important in the academe for writing a thesis or dissertation for their degree, professionals will find that this is a necessary skill for any role in an organization. Research allows people to advance their knowledge and the application of that knowledge by leveraging data. Conducting research is a serious matter and for it to be fruitful, it must be done systematically. One of the major elements of research is the research method, which is the process by which research is conducted. There are three main research methods: quantitative research, qualitative research, and mixed methods research. Choosing the best research methodology is vital to the success of any research. Thus, the question: which is the best research method?
While it is necessary for researchers to determine the best research method, this question is not easy to answer. There is no single answer to the question of what the best research method is. This is because what is considered “the best” research method depends on the research study one is to conduct. In other words, the purpose, objectives, and the findings (the format of a research paper ) you want to present among other factors will determine the research method you will choose. With that being said, the author of this custom essay is of the opinion that combining research methods , or the mixed method, is the best option for most research because it combines the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative research and is, therefore, capable of coming up with objective answers as well as dig deep into unquantifiable answers.
The Three Research Methodologies
In order to understand why a mixed method is an excellent approach, it is essential to first understand what the different types of methods are. In the succeeding paragraphs, I shall define the three research methods: quantitative research, qualitative research, and mixed methods research.
The first is the quantitative research method. Basias and Pollalis define quantitative research as a research method that “involves systematic and empirical investigation of phenomena through statistics and mathematics and the processing of numerical data” (2018, p. 92). This method deals mainly with numbers or statistics in order to address the formulated research question that usually centers on facts or phenomena, especially to determine their causes, explanation for causes and changes, or correlations (Basias and Pollalis, 2018, pp. 92-93). Many researchers choose this type of method because its numerical nature prevents the results from being influenced by the researchers’ personal feelings (Basias and Pollalis, 2018, p. 93). It also makes data collection, processing, and analysis more manageable for studies that require or involve large samples.
The second is qualitative research, which is defined as “a sequence of interpretive techniques that try to describe, decode and translate concepts and phenomena rather than to record the frequency of certain phenomena in society” (Maanen, 1983, as cited in Basias and Pollalis, 2018, p. 94). This method is typically used for analyzing experiences, behaviors, and relations that cannot easily be summarized by numerical data (Basias and Pollalis, 2018, p.94) As such, in a qualitative research, the researcher is expected to interpret the data and make a conclusion based on their observations from the study (Basias and Pollalis, 2018, p.94). Because qualitative studies rely on flexible questionnaires with open-ended questions, researchers believe that this method is capable of providing more in-depth answers.
The third is mixed methods. This research methodology is defined as the “purposeful mixing of methods in data collection, data analysis and interpretation of the evidence” (Shorten and Smith, 2017, para. 3). This research method allows researchers to integrate the strengths of the first two research methods to gain a deeper insight into the connections between quantitative and qualitative data, allowing for more in-depth answers to research questions (Shorten and Smith, 2017). Conversely, the method minimizes the weaknesses of the two research methods, such as by allowing the qualitative research method to complement the statistical perspective offered by quantitative research, while quantitative research can minimize the influence of personal opinions that qualitative research is prone to (Regnault, Willgoss, and Barbic, 2018). Mixed methods research is used for answering complex questions since it allows for a wider view of the different perspectives on the research topic (need help on choosing a topic for your research paper?).
Why Mixed Methods Research Is The Best
As the author stated in the thesis statement, mixed methods research is arguably the best option for researchers because it allows quantitative and qualitative methods to complement each other, thereby minimizing weaknesses and errors. Mixed methods research allows researchers to explore more complex research questions, such as those that answer what, how, when, and where (Basias and Pollalis, 2018). It is also open to subjective answers to questions that researchers can interpret through more natural approaches. However, since qualitative research methods are prone to the influence of the researcher in both data collection (i.e., observer bias) and interpretation, quantitative research methods, the mixed method is the best option for most research because it combines the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative research and is, therefore, capable of coming up with objective answers as well as dig deep into unquantifiable answers.
However, what truly makes mixed methods research comprehensive is that researchers can integrate different research approaches from both quantitative and qualitative methods to better meet their research needs (Regnault, Willgoss, and Barbic, 2018). This type of approach to research, thus, allows for a more comprehensive interpretation and conclusions. Each method can bring a different approach to the research process, thereby enriching the data in ways that using only a single method cannot. Each of these two methods will bridge gaps in the other, thus resulting in research that is more intensive in its investigation and more extensive in its scope (Regnault, Willgoss, and Barbic, 2018). An example of a study that uses a mixed method would be using a questionnaire that features both close-ended and open-ended questions. The use of such questions allows data to be more comprehensive. A researcher must remember, though, that mixing methods is not always applicable. Apart from instances when it is unnecessary or even detrimental to the study, using a mixed method can also consume a great deal of resources.
All three research methods offer advantages and disadvantages. Whereas the quantitative research method focuses on generalizing findings by analyzing large amounts of data using computational, mathematical, or statistical models, the qualitative research method emphasizes gathering of elaborations and explanations, while the mixed method combines both, there remains no singular approach that can be unequivocally announced as the best. However, it is clear that the mixed method offers a more comprehensive approach since it combines the two other approaches and allows for more flexibility. Thus, it may be concluded that the mixed method approach can address the needs of most research studies, making it closest to being “the best.” With that said, choosing between the research methods cannot simply be concluded with a comparison of quantitative versus qualitative versus mixed methods. The best research method, ultimately, has to be based upon the requirements of the research question. Therefore, the best method will differ for each research study and will have to be analyzed and rationalized by the researcher for them to create a strong research design.
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Basias, N. and Pollalis, Y. (2018). Quantitative and qualitative research in business & technology: Justifying a suitable research methodology. Review of Integrative Business and Economics Research, 7(1), pp. 91-105, https://sibresearch.org/uploads/3/4/0/9/34097180/riber_7-s1_sp_h17-083_91-105.pdf
Regnault, A., Willgoss, T., and Barbic, S. (2018). Towards the use of mixed methods inquiry as best practices in health outcomes research. Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes, 2(19), https://doi.org/10.1186/s41687-018-0043-8
Shorten, A. and Smith, J. (2017). Mixed methods research: Expanding the evidence base. Evidence-Based Nursing, 20(3), http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/eb-2017-102699