Posted on May 24th, 2020 by Luis M Romero-Rodríguez – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

One of the keys to the success of an investigation lies in its relevance and internal coherence. This means that there must be a clear linearity between the literature and background review, the formulation of the objectives, research questions and hypotheses (if applicable) and the selection of the appropriate materials and methods. To make an analogy, if an investigation is a journey, the objectives are the destination and the methods are the route.

Thus, the research method will determine the direction that the study will follow, the way in which the data will be collected and the depth of the same. In this sense, the decision of the methods, materials and techniques will influence the fulfillment of the objectives set, the emerging results and the conclusions that can be reached. However, this choice does not always depend on the simple will of the researcher, but on its possibilities and limitations, for example:

  • Are there the resources (economic, human, technical…) to carry out a descriptive study with a sufficient sample to infer the phenomenon in a whole population?
  • Is the researcher allowed to converse with the people who are part of the group to study?
  • Do you have the capacity (knowledge, time, software…) to apply innovative data analysis techniques, such as big data treatment, feeling analysis, models and predictive simulations?

Beyond a topic of «preferences», the choice of a research method or techniques should be based on the objectives, understanding that they are proposed in order to expand the pre-existing knowledge about a problem or to recognize new phenomena that, unfailingly, must result in a significant contribution to the field of study or discipline.

There are many guides, manuals and reference texts that carefully explain the scope of research (exploratory, descriptive, correlational, explanatory and predictive), research designs (quantitative, qualitative and mixed) and the types of research (experimental, quasi- experimental, field and documentary), each of them with its techniques, specific materials and with a distinctive utility depending on their outflows. Some of this content was discussed in this post from School of Authors of Comunicar Journal.

Here are some keys for choosing the right research method:

  1. Define the research objectives, research questions and hypotheses: This is achieved by getting to know the topic to be investigated, taking into account the background, the methods that have already been applied in other studies and the research prospects that have been proposed as opportunities.

Don’t forget that to read is the first task

2. Identify your resources, capabilities and limitations: Not all methods are created equal. Each one will require a different dedication, materials, means, skills and capital (human, financial, temporary…).

3. Plan, manage and administer: Before proceeding with the empirical work, it is important to write down everything on paper, including the time, the allocation of responsibilities and the resources available. This will confirm that the necessary resources are available and establish a schedule for the research.

Remember that the objective of the “materials and method” section is not only to describe the applied techniques, but to show how and why they were applied and to demonstrate that the research was carried out with rigor, coherence and seriousness.

The author must be able to convince the reader why he chooses a specific method and how it fits the objective. The approach used must be clear to answer the research question and the problem statement.

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