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business research methods essay questions and answers

Home Market Research

Business Research: Methods, Types & Examples

Business Research

Content Index

Business research: Definition

Quantitative research methods, qualitative research methods, advantages of business research, disadvantages of business research, importance of business research.

Business research is a process of acquiring detailed information on all the areas of business and using such information to maximize the sales and profit of the business. Such a study helps companies determine which product/service is most profitable or in demand. In simple words, it can be stated as the acquisition of information or knowledge for professional or commercial purposes to determine opportunities and goals for a business.

Business research can be done for anything and everything. In general, when people speak about business research design , it means asking research questions to know where the money can be spent to increase sales, profits, or market share. Such research is critical to make wise and informed decisions.

LEARN ABOUT: Research Process Steps

For example: A mobile company wants to launch a new model in the market. But they are not aware of what are the dimensions of a mobile that are in most demand. Hence, the company conducts business research using various methods to gather information, and the same is then evaluated, and conclusions are drawn as to what dimensions are most in demand.

This will enable the researcher to make wise decisions to position his phone at the right price in the market and hence acquire a larger market share.

LEARN ABOUT:  Test Market Demand

Business research: Types and methodologies

Business research is a part of the business intelligence process. It is usually conducted to determine whether a company can succeed in a new region, to understand its competitors, or simply select a marketing approach for a product. This research can be carried out using steps in qualitative research methods or quantitative research methods.

Quantitative research methods are research methods that deal with numbers. It is a systematic empirical investigation using statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques . Such methods usually start with data collection and then proceed to statistical analysis using various methods. The following are some of the research methods used to carry out business research.

LEARN ABOUT: Data Management Framework

Survey research

Survey research is one of the most widely used methods to gather data, especially for conducting business research. Surveys involve asking various survey questions to a set of audiences through various types like online polls, online surveys, questionnaires, etc. Nowadays, most of the major corporations use this method to gather data and use it to understand the market and make appropriate business decisions.

Various types of surveys, like cross-sectional studies , which need to collect data from a set of audiences at a given point of time, or longitudinal surveys which are needed to collect data from a set of audiences across various time durations in order to understand changes in the respondents’ behavior are used to conduct survey research. With the advancement in technology, surveys can now be sent online through email or social media .

For example: A company wants to know the NPS score for their website i.e. how satisfied are people who are visiting their website. An increase in traffic to their website or the audience spending more time on a website can result in higher rankings on search engines which will enable the company to get more leads as well as increase its visibility.

Hence, the company can ask people who visit their website a few questions through an online survey to understand their opinions or gain feedback and hence make appropriate changes to the website to increase satisfaction.

Learn More:  Business Survey Template

Correlational research

Correlational research is conducted to understand the relationship between two entities and what impact each one of them has on the other. Using mathematical analysis methods, correlational research enables the researcher to correlate two or more variables .

Such research can help understand patterns, relationships, trends, etc. Manipulation of one variable is possible to get the desired results as well. Generally, a conclusion cannot be drawn only on the basis of correlational research.

For example: Research can be conducted to understand the relationship between colors and gender-based audiences. Using such research and identifying the target audience, a company can choose the production of particular color products to be released in the market. This can enable the company to understand the supply and demand requirements of its products.

Causal-Comparative research

Causal-comparative research is a method based on the comparison. It is used to deduce the cause-effect relationship between variables. Sometimes also known as quasi-experimental research, it involves establishing an independent variable and analyzing the effects on the dependent variable.

In such research, data manipulation is not done; however, changes are observed in the variables or groups under the influence of the same changes. Drawing conclusions through such research is a little tricky as independent and dependent variables will always exist in a group. Hence all other parameters have to be taken into consideration before drawing any inferences from the research.

LEARN ABOUT: Causal Research

For example: Research can be conducted to analyze the effect of good educational facilities in rural areas. Such a study can be done to analyze the changes in the group of people from rural areas when they are provided with good educational facilities and before that.

Another example can be to analyze the effect of having dams and how it will affect the farmers or the production of crops in that area.

LEARN ABOUT: Market research trends

Experimental research

Experimental research is based on trying to prove a theory. Such research may be useful in business research as it can let the product company know some behavioral traits of its consumers, which can lead to more revenue. In this method, an experiment is carried out on a set of audiences to observe and later analyze their behavior when impacted by certain parameters.

LEARN ABOUT: Behavioral Targeting

For example: Experimental research was conducted recently to understand if particular colors have an effect on consumers’ hunger. A set of the audience was then exposed to those particular colors while they were eating, and the subjects were observed. It was seen that certain colors like red or yellow increase hunger.

Hence, such research was a boon to the hospitality industry. You can see many food chains like Mcdonalds, KFC, etc., using such colors in their interiors, brands, as well as packaging.

Another example of inferences drawn from experimental research, which is used widely by most bars/pubs across the world, is that loud music in the workplace or anywhere makes a person drink more in less time. This was proven through experimental research and was a key finding for many business owners across the globe.

Online research / Literature research

Literature research is one of the oldest methods available. It is very economical, and a lot of information can be gathered using such research. Online research or literature research involves gathering information from existing documents and studies, which can be available at Libraries, annual reports, etc.

Nowadays, with the advancement in technology, such research has become even more simple and accessible to everyone. An individual can directly research online for any information that is needed, which will give him in-depth information about the topic or the organization.

Such research is used mostly by marketing and salespeople in the business sector to understand the market or their customers. Such research is carried out using existing information that is available from various sources. However, care has to be taken to validate the sources from where the information is going to be collected.

For example , a salesperson has heard a particular firm is looking for some solution that their company provides. Hence, the salesperson will first search for a decision maker from the company, investigate what department he is from, and understand what the target company is looking for and what they are into.

Using this research, he can cater his solution to be spot on when he pitches it to this client. He can also reach out to the customer directly by finding a means to communicate with him by researching online.’

LEARN ABOUT: 12 Best Tools for Researchers

Qualitative research is a method that has a high importance in business research. Qualitative research involves obtaining data through open-ended conversational means of communication. Such research enables the researcher to not only understand what the audience thinks but also why he thinks it.

In such research, in-depth information can be gathered from the subjects depending on their responses. There are various types of qualitative research methods, such as interviews, focus groups, ethnographic research, content analysis, and case study research, that are widely used.

Such methods are of very high importance in business research as they enable the researcher to understand the consumer. What motivates the consumer to buy and what does not is what will lead to higher sales, and that is the prime objective for any business.

Following are a few methods that are widely used in today’s world by most businesses.

Interviews are somewhat similar to surveys, like sometimes they may have the same types of questions used. The difference is that the respondent can answer these open-ended questions at length, and the direction of the conversation or the questions being asked can be changed depending on the response of the subject.

Such a method usually gives the researcher detailed information about the perspective or opinions of its subject. Carrying out interviews with subject matter experts can also give important information critical to some businesses.

For example: An interview was conducted by a telecom manufacturer with a group of women to understand why they have less number of female customers. After interviewing them, the researcher understood that there were fewer feminine colors in some of the models, and females preferred not to purchase them.

Such information can be critical to a business such as a  telecom manufacturer and hence it can be used to increase its market share by targeting women customers by launching some feminine colors in the market.

Another example would be to interview a subject matter expert in social media marketing. Such an interview can enable a researcher to understand why certain types of social media advertising strategies work for a company and why some of them don’t.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Interview

Focus groups

Focus groups are a set of individuals selected specifically to understand their opinions and behaviors. It is usually a small set of a group that is selected keeping in mind the parameters for their target market audience to discuss a particular product or service. Such a method enables a researcher with a larger sample than the interview or a case study while taking advantage of conversational communication.

Focus group is also one of the best examples of qualitative data in education . Nowadays, focus groups can be sent online surveys as well to collect data and answer why, what, and how questions. Such a method is very crucial to test new concepts or products before they are launched in the market.

For example: Research is conducted with a focus group to understand what dimension of screen size is preferred most by the current target market. Such a method can enable a researcher to dig deeper if the target market focuses more on the screen size, features, or colors of the phone. Using this data, a company can make wise decisions about its product line and secure a higher market share.

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic research is one of the most challenging research but can give extremely precise results. Such research is used quite rarely, as it is time-consuming and can be expensive as well. It involves the researcher adapting to the natural environment and observing its target audience to collect data. Such a method is generally used to understand cultures, challenges, or other things that can occur in that particular setting.

For example: The world-renowned show “Undercover Boss” would be an apt example of how ethnographic research can be used in businesses. In this show, the senior management of a large organization works in his own company as a regular employee to understand what improvements can be made, what is the culture in the organization, and to identify hard-working employees and reward them.

It can be seen that the researcher had to spend a good amount of time in the natural setting of the employees and adapt to their ways and processes. While observing in this setting, the researcher could find out the information he needed firsthand without losing any information or any bias and improve certain things that would impact his business.

LEARN ABOUT:   Workforce Planning Model

Case study research

Case study research is one of the most important in business research. It is also used as marketing collateral by most businesses to land up more clients. Case study research is conducted to assess customer satisfaction and document the challenges that were faced and the solutions that the firm gave them.

These inferences are made to point out the benefits that the customer enjoyed for choosing their specific firm. Such research is widely used in other fields like education, social sciences, and similar. Case studies are provided by businesses to new clients to showcase their capabilities, and hence such research plays a crucial role in the business sector.

For example: A services company has provided a testing solution to one of its clients. A case study research is conducted to find out what were the challenges faced during the project, what was the scope of their work, what objective was to be achieved, and what solutions were given to tackle the challenges.

The study can end with the benefits that the company provided through its solutions, like reduced time to test batches, easy implementation or integration of the system, or even cost reduction. Such a study showcases the capability of the company, and hence it can be stated as empirical evidence of the new prospect.

Website visitor profiling/research

Website intercept surveys or website visitor profiling/research is something new that has come up and is quite helpful in the business sector. It is an innovative approach to collect direct feedback from your website visitors using surveys. In recent times a lot of business generation happens online, and hence it is important to understand the visitors of your website as they are your potential customers.

Collecting feedback is critical to any business, as without understanding a customer, no business can be successful. A company has to keep its customers satisfied and try to make them loyal customers in order to stay on top.

A website intercept survey is an online survey that allows you to target visitors to understand their intent and collect feedback to evaluate the customers’ online experience. Information like visitor intention, behavior path, and satisfaction with the overall website can be collected using this.

Depending on what information a company is looking for, multiple forms of website intercept surveys can be used to gather responses. Some of the popular ones are Pop-ups, also called Modal boxes, and on-page surveys.

For example: A prospective customer is looking for a particular product that a company is selling. Once he is directed to the website, an intercept survey will start noting his intent and path. Once the transaction has been made, a pop-up or an on-page survey is provided to the customer to rate the website.

Such research enables the researcher to put this data to good use and hence understand the customers’ intent and path and improve any parts of the website depending on the responses, which in turn would lead to satisfied customers and hence, higher revenues and market share.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Research Questions and Questionnaires

  • Business research helps to identify opportunities and threats.
  • It helps identify research problems , and using this information, wise decisions can be made to tackle the issue appropriately.
  • It helps to understand customers better and hence can be useful to communicate better with the customers or stakeholders.
  • Risks and uncertainties can be minimized by conducting business research in advance.
  • Financial outcomes and investments that will be needed can be planned effectively using business research.
  • Such research can help track competition in the business sector.
  • Business research can enable a company to make wise decisions as to where to spend and how much.
  • Business research can enable a company to stay up-to-date with the market and its trends, and appropriate innovations can be made to stay ahead in the game.
  • Business research helps to measure reputation management
  • Business research can be a high-cost affair
  • Most of the time, business research is based on assumptions
  • Business research can be time-consuming
  • Business research can sometimes give you inaccurate information because of a biased population or a small focus group.
  • Business research results can quickly become obsolete because of the fast-changing markets

Business research is one of the most effective ways to understand customers, the market, and competitors. Such research helps companies to understand the demand and supply of the market. Using such research will help businesses reduce costs and create solutions or products that are targeted to the demand in the market and the correct audience.

In-house business research can enable senior management to build an effective team or train or mentor when needed. Business research enables the company to track its competitors and hence can give you the upper hand to stay ahead of them.

Failures can be avoided by conducting such research as it can give the researcher an idea if the time is right to launch its product/solution and also if the audience is right. It will help understand the brand value and measure customer satisfaction which is essential to continuously innovate and meet customer demands.

This will help the company grow its revenue and market share. Business research also helps recruit ideal candidates for various roles in the company. By conducting such research, a company can carry out a SWOT analysis , i.e. understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. With the help of this information, wise decisions can be made to ensure business success.

LEARN ABOUT:  Market research industry

Business research is the first step that any business owner needs to set up his business to survive or to excel in the market. The main reason why such research is of utmost importance is that it helps businesses to grow in terms of revenue, market share, and brand value.

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310+ Business Research Methods (BRM) Solved MCQs

1.
A. Systematic
B. computerized
C. general
D. none of these
Answer» A. Systematic
2.
A. Management
B. administration
C. business
D. none of these
Answer» C. business
3.
A. Management
B. administration
C. business
D. none of these
Answer» C. business
4.
A. Marketing
B. financial
C. technical
D. investment
Answer» B. financial
5.
A. Abstract
B. theory
C. conclusion
D. none of these
Answer» B. theory
6.
A. Phenomenon
B. principles
C. conclusion
D. none of these
Answer» A. Phenomenon
7.
A. Induction
B. deduction
C. rational
D. none of these
Answer» B. deduction
8.
A. Induction
B. deduction
C. rational
D. none of these
Answer» B. deduction
9.
A. Constructs
B. concept
C. induction
D. deduction
Answer» B. concept
10.
A. construct
B. concept
C. proposition
D. hypothesis
Answer» C. proposition
11.
A. Statement
B. conclusion
C. prediction
D. none of these
Answer» A. Statement
12.
A. Basic
B. exploratory
C. applied
D. experimental
Answer» C. applied
13.
A. Basic
B. exploratory
C. applied
D. experimental
Answer» A. Basic
14.
A. Basic
B. exploratory
C. applied
D. experimental
Answer» B. exploratory
15.
A. Pure
B. exploratory
C. applied
D. experimental
Answer» A. Pure
16.
A. Formulative
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. none of these
Answer» C. descriptive
17.
A. Formulative
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. none of these
Answer» B. causal
18.
A. Social
B. business
C. educational
D. none of these
Answer» B. business
19.
A. Theory
B. concept
C. construct
D. hypothesis
Answer» A. Theory
20.
A. Theory
B. concept
C. construct
D. hypothesis
Answer» A. Theory
21.
A. Retroduction
B. induction
C. deduction
D. none of these
Answer» C. deduction
22.
A. Retroduction
B. induction
C. deduction
D. none of these
Answer» B. induction
23.
A. Retroduction
B. induction
C. deduction
D. none of these
Answer» C. deduction
24.
A. Theory
B. concept
C. construct
D. hypothesis
Answer» B. concept
25.
A. Theory
B. concept
C. construct
D. hypothesis
Answer» C. construct
26.
A. Operational definition
B. concept
C. proposition
D. hypothesis
Answer» A. Operational definition
27.
A. Operational definition
B. concept
C. proposition
D. hypothesis
Answer» C. proposition
28.
A. Pure
B. exploratory
C. applied
D. action
Answer» D. action
29.
A. Pure
B. exploratory
C. applied
D. experimental
Answer» A. Pure
30.
A. Pure
B. exploratory
C. applied
D. experimental
Answer» B. exploratory
31.
A. Formulative
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. none of these
Answer» C. descriptive
32.
A. Formulative
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. none of these
Answer» B. causal
33.
A. Situational
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. exploratory
Answer» D. exploratory
34.
A. Final
B. preliminary
C. causal
D. none of these
Answer» B. preliminary
35.
A. Preliminary study
B. secondary study
C. case study
D. pilot
Answer» C. case study
36.
A. Preliminary
B. secondary
C. case
D. pilot
Answer» D. pilot
37.
A. Situational
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. exploratory
Answer» A. Situational
38.
A. Situational
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. exploratory
Answer» D. exploratory
39.
A. Situational
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. exploratory
Answer» D. exploratory
40.
A. Situational
B. causal
C. descriptive
D. exploratory
Answer» D. exploratory
41.
A. case study
B. pilot study
C. descriptive study
D. diagnostic study
Answer» B. pilot study
42.
A. First
B. second
C. third
D. last
Answer» A. First
43.
A. Theory
B. concept
C. construct
D. hypothesis
Answer» D. hypothesis
44.
A. Research design
B. research method
C. research procedure
D. research problem.
Answer» A. Research design
45.
A. Independent
B. dependent
C. extraneous
D. none of these.
Answer» B. dependent
46.
A. Descriptive
B. explorative
C. causal
D. none of these.
Answer» C. causal
47.
A. Dependent variables
B. independent variables
C. Extraneous variables
D. none of these.
Answer» C. Extraneous variables
48.
A. Descriptive
B. non descriptive
C. causal
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Descriptive
49.
A. Cross- sectional
B. longitudinal
C. sample
D. none of these.
Answer» B. longitudinal
50.
A. Experiment
B. survey
C. research design
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Experiment
51.
A. Secondary
B. primary
C. sample
D. none of these.
Answer» B. primary
52.
A. Research
B. sample
C. popular
D. none of these.
Answer» B. sample
53.
A. Chance
B. non random
C. restricted
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Chance
54.
A. Restricted
B. random route
C. cluster
D. none of these.
Answer» C. cluster
55.
A. variable
B. problem
C. design
D. none of these.
Answer» C. design
56.
A. Non-experimental
B. experimental
C. working
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Non-experimental
57.
A. Descriptive
B. analytical
C. Causal
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Descriptive
58.
A. Causal
B. Descriptive
C. analytical
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Causal
59.
A. experimental
B. non- experimental
C. both (a) & (b)
D. none of these.
Answer» B. non- experimental
60.
A. cross-sectional
B. historical
C. Longitudinal
D. none of these.
Answer» A. cross-sectional
61.
A. census
B. sample
C. both (a) & (b)
D. none of these.
Answer» A. census
62.
A. dependent
B. Extraneous
C. independent
D. none of these.
Answer» B. Extraneous
63.
A. Unbiased
B. biased
C. technical
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Unbiased
64.
A. Ranking
B. measurement
C. scaling
D. rating
Answer» C. scaling
65.
A. Nominal
B. ordinal
C. interval
D. ratio
Answer» A. Nominal
66.
A. Chi square
B. median
C. range
D. both (b) and (c) are not permissible.
Answer» D. both (b) and (c) are not permissible.
67.
A. Nominal
B. ordinal
C. interval
D. ratio
Answer» C. interval
68.
A. Semantic differential
B. constant sum
C. likert
D. both (a) and(c).
Answer» D. both (a) and(c).
69.
A. Scaling
B. ratio
C. rating
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Scaling
70.
A. Nominal
B. ordinal
C. interval
D. ratio.
Answer» B. ordinal
71.
A. Lickert
B. rating
C. dichotomous
D. category.
Answer» C. dichotomous
72.
A. Sematic
B. likert
C. rating
D. numerical.
Answer» A. Sematic
73.
A. Secondary
B. primary
C. both
D. none of these.
Answer» B. primary
74.
A. Open ended
B. closed
C. both
D. open response-option questions.
Answer» B. closed
75.
A. Unstructured
B. structured
C. closed form
D. none of these.
Answer» B. structured
76.
A. Editing
B. entry
C. classification
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Editing
77.
A. Coding
B. tabulation
C. editing
D. classification.
Answer» C. editing
78.
A. Editing
B. coding
C. tabulation
D. classification.
Answer» B. coding
79.
A. Qualitative
B. Quantitative
C. Geographical
D. chronological
Answer» A. Qualitative
80.
A. Classification
B. coding
C. tabulation
D. editing.
Answer» C. tabulation
81.
A. Histiogram
B. bar diagram
C. histogram
D. none of these.
Answer» C. histogram
82.
A. Bivaralite
B. correlation
C. casual analysis
D. unidimensional
Answer» D. unidimensional
83.
A. Mode
B. mean
C. median
D. range.
Answer» C. median
84.
A. Mode
B. median
C. mean
D. range
Answer» C. mean
85.
A. Bivaraite
B. multivariate
C. casual analysis
D. unidimensional.
Answer» B. multivariate
86.
A. Technical
B. popular
C. general
D. specific.
Answer» B. popular
87.
A. Bibliography.
B. Content
C. appendix
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Bibliography.
88.
A. One
B. two
C. three
D. four
Answer» D. four
89.
A. Measurement
B. classification
C. scaling
D. tabulation.
Answer» A. Measurement
90.
A. Interval
B. ordinal
C. ranking
D. ratio.
Answer» C. ranking
91.
A. Interval
B. ordinal
C. ratio
D. ranking
Answer» A. Interval
92.
A. Quantitative
B. qualitative
C. both (a) & (b)
D. none of these.
Answer» B. qualitative
93.
A. Schedule
B. questionnaire
C. both (a) & (b)
D. none of these.
Answer» C. both (a) & (b)
94.
A. Closed
B. open
C. multiple choice question
D. none of these.
Answer» B. open
95.
A. Closed
B. open
C. multiple choice question
D. none of these.
Answer» C. multiple choice question
96.
A. Schedule
B. questionnaire
C. check-list
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Schedule
97.
A. Secondary
B. primary
C. both
D. none of these.
Answer» B. primary
98.
A. Coding
B. editing
C. tabulation
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Coding
99.
A. Classification.
B. Editing
C. coding
D. tabulation.
Answer» D. tabulation.
100.
A. Spreadsheets.
B. Microsoft word
C. Microsoft office
D. none of these.
Answer» A. Spreadsheets.

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Business Research MCQ: Business Research Methods Exam Questions and Answers PDF Download - 14

The application of the scientific method in finding for the truth about business phenomenon is called

  • business research

A directed finding of published works which includes books and periodicals and it discusses theory and presents empirical results relevant to the topic at hand is known as

  • pilot study
  • literature review

The manager grasps general nature of wished objectives and the information about alternatives in not completed in

  • uncertainty
  • decision making
  • observation

A firm that prioritizes effectiveness and efficiency of the production process in making decisions is called

  • marketing oriented
  • production oriented
  • profit oriented
  • product oriented

The research that is conducted without having a specific decision in mind is called

  • basic business research
  • applied business research
  • evaluation research
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  • Technique used to analyze unemployment rate, inflation rate anticipation and capacity utilization to manufacture goods is classified as
  • In probability theories, events which can never occur together are classified as
  • In stem and leaf display diagrams used in exploratory analysis, stems are considered as
  • In two units of company, employees in unit one are 650 and monthly salary is $2750, employees in unit two are 700 and monthly salary is $2500 then combined arithmetic mean is
  • Measure of distance which is greatly influenced by extreme values in data is considered as

Business Research Methods Exam Questions and Answers Practice Tests

  • Method that allows important day-to-day operational data to be stored and then organized for simple approach is called
  • Degree of having right amount of information is called
  • Research employees who give technical help with questionnaire design, analysis of data and other related activities are known as
  • An analysis seeks to diagnose reasons for business results and focuses on feelings of customers about competing goods is known as
  • A collection of raw data that is arranged logically and organized in such a form that is stored and then processed by computer is known as

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Methodology

Research Methods | Definitions, Types, Examples

Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design . When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make.

First, decide how you will collect data . Your methods depend on what type of data you need to answer your research question :

  • Qualitative vs. quantitative : Will your data take the form of words or numbers?
  • Primary vs. secondary : Will you collect original data yourself, or will you use data that has already been collected by someone else?
  • Descriptive vs. experimental : Will you take measurements of something as it is, or will you perform an experiment?

Second, decide how you will analyze the data .

  • For quantitative data, you can use statistical analysis methods to test relationships between variables.
  • For qualitative data, you can use methods such as thematic analysis to interpret patterns and meanings in the data.

Table of contents

Methods for collecting data, examples of data collection methods, methods for analyzing data, examples of data analysis methods, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research methods.

Data is the information that you collect for the purposes of answering your research question . The type of data you need depends on the aims of your research.

Qualitative vs. quantitative data

Your choice of qualitative or quantitative data collection depends on the type of knowledge you want to develop.

For questions about ideas, experiences and meanings, or to study something that can’t be described numerically, collect qualitative data .

If you want to develop a more mechanistic understanding of a topic, or your research involves hypothesis testing , collect quantitative data .

Qualitative to broader populations. .
Quantitative .

You can also take a mixed methods approach , where you use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Primary vs. secondary research

Primary research is any original data that you collect yourself for the purposes of answering your research question (e.g. through surveys , observations and experiments ). Secondary research is data that has already been collected by other researchers (e.g. in a government census or previous scientific studies).

If you are exploring a novel research question, you’ll probably need to collect primary data . But if you want to synthesize existing knowledge, analyze historical trends, or identify patterns on a large scale, secondary data might be a better choice.

Primary . methods.
Secondary

Descriptive vs. experimental data

In descriptive research , you collect data about your study subject without intervening. The validity of your research will depend on your sampling method .

In experimental research , you systematically intervene in a process and measure the outcome. The validity of your research will depend on your experimental design .

To conduct an experiment, you need to be able to vary your independent variable , precisely measure your dependent variable, and control for confounding variables . If it’s practically and ethically possible, this method is the best choice for answering questions about cause and effect.

Descriptive . .
Experimental

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Research methods for collecting data
Research method Primary or secondary? Qualitative or quantitative? When to use
Primary Quantitative To test cause-and-effect relationships.
Primary Quantitative To understand general characteristics of a population.
Interview/focus group Primary Qualitative To gain more in-depth understanding of a topic.
Observation Primary Either To understand how something occurs in its natural setting.
Secondary Either To situate your research in an existing body of work, or to evaluate trends within a research topic.
Either Either To gain an in-depth understanding of a specific group or context, or when you don’t have the resources for a large study.

Your data analysis methods will depend on the type of data you collect and how you prepare it for analysis.

Data can often be analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. For example, survey responses could be analyzed qualitatively by studying the meanings of responses or quantitatively by studying the frequencies of responses.

Qualitative analysis methods

Qualitative analysis is used to understand words, ideas, and experiences. You can use it to interpret data that was collected:

  • From open-ended surveys and interviews , literature reviews , case studies , ethnographies , and other sources that use text rather than numbers.
  • Using non-probability sampling methods .

Qualitative analysis tends to be quite flexible and relies on the researcher’s judgement, so you have to reflect carefully on your choices and assumptions and be careful to avoid research bias .

Quantitative analysis methods

Quantitative analysis uses numbers and statistics to understand frequencies, averages and correlations (in descriptive studies) or cause-and-effect relationships (in experiments).

You can use quantitative analysis to interpret data that was collected either:

  • During an experiment .
  • Using probability sampling methods .

Because the data is collected and analyzed in a statistically valid way, the results of quantitative analysis can be easily standardized and shared among researchers.

Research methods for analyzing data
Research method Qualitative or quantitative? When to use
Quantitative To analyze data collected in a statistically valid manner (e.g. from experiments, surveys, and observations).
Meta-analysis Quantitative To statistically analyze the results of a large collection of studies.

Can only be applied to studies that collected data in a statistically valid manner.

Qualitative To analyze data collected from interviews, , or textual sources.

To understand general themes in the data and how they are communicated.

Either To analyze large volumes of textual or visual data collected from surveys, literature reviews, or other sources.

Can be quantitative (i.e. frequencies of words) or qualitative (i.e. meanings of words).

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business research methods essay questions and answers

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Chi square test of independence
  • Statistical power
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Pearson correlation
  • Null hypothesis
  • Double-blind study
  • Case-control study
  • Research ethics
  • Data collection
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Structured interviews

Research bias

  • Hawthorne effect
  • Unconscious bias
  • Recall bias
  • Halo effect
  • Self-serving bias
  • Information bias

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

In mixed methods research , you use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods to answer your research question .

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyze a large amount of readily-available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how it is generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.

Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).

In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .

In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.

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