Already I have written several blogs about the use of research methods. But how do you choose a suitable research method for your research? Here are several steps to take.

What information do you already have? And what information do you need to collect?

Think carefully about what information you need to answer your research questions. You may already have information at hand that you can use to answer your research questions. Think, for example, of a data file that you keep with data from participants and the cash register printout of your sold tickets.

Still, you might need more information to answer your research questions.

► Look at the information you already have and can use to answer your research questions. Think about what information you still need and want to collect.

Where can you find the information? Who can help you further?

Once you have an idea of the information you need to answer your research questions, determine where you can find that information. Do you need to conduct interviews to obtain extensive information, or do you want to reach large numbers of respondents with, for instance, a questionnaire? Carefully consider how you will approach the respondents; young people should be approached differently than older people. Or maybe you need to search further in the literature to find the correct information.

► Therefore, clearly define what information you want to find, which persons can help you with the information, and how you will approach them.

Which tool will you use for which research question?

Once you have a clear idea of what information you want to collect and who you will consult, you can establish what you can combine. Which subjects will recur in the interview, and what will you pay attention to when making your observations.

► Make a diagram showing what information you want to collect, from whom, and in what way.

In a previous blog, I wrote about how best to draw a sample. In the blog, I briefly described the difference between a select and a random sample. There is a substantial difference between the two.

In a random sample, everyone in the focus population has an equal chance of being in the sample. This sample is also called a probability sample or random selection. There are several methods for doing a random sample:

In a select sample, not everyone has a chance to be in the sample group. The results apply only to the group being studied. There are a number of selective sampling options:

From the conversations I have with various people who do research stems some confusion about the term research methods. There are theories on which you can conduct a research study, and you have multiple ways of collecting data.

In my blogs, I regularly talk about research methods, referring to the various ways of collecting data.

Once you have clarity about your research questions, you examine what information you can collect and how. There are many different methods to do this. You have qualitative research methods and quantitative research methods. Qualitative research methods are not about facts and figures but rather about how and why. Quantitative research methods are more about facts and figures that can be compared. Also, check out my blog about the difference between qualitative and quantitative research methods.

There are all sorts of research methods. My overview blog of different research methods lists different ways. Also, be creative with the ways you collect data. Look beyond the standard practices of research and make interesting combinations.

Once you have chosen a research method, thorough preparation is essential. Look at what you need per method and take the time to set up your measuring instrument properly. Discuss it with colleagues and test the measuring instrument before using it.

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Claudia's heart is in research. With her passion, she enjoys enthusing others about research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience. Claudia works and lives in the Netherlands, where she has been helping students and beginning researchers with research for years. Through blogs, but also with e-books, e-courses, and coaching. The first blogs are now translated into English to help more students and beginning researchers.
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