Research approaches refer to the systematic and structured ways that researchers use to conduct research, and they differ in terms of their underlying logic and methods of inquiry.
Types of Research Approach
The Three main research approaches are deductive, inductive, and abductive.
The deductive approach starts with a theory or a hypothesis, and the researcher tests the hypothesis through the collection and analysis of data. The researcher develops a research design and data collection methods based on the theory or hypothesis. The goal of this approach is to confirm or reject the hypothesis.
The inductive approach starts with the collection and analysis of data. The researcher develops a theory or an explanation based on the patterns and themes that emerge from the data. The goal of this approach is to generate a new theory or to refine an existing one.
The abductive approach is a combination of deductive and inductive approaches. It starts with a problem or a phenomenon that is not fully understood, and the researcher develops a theory or an explanation that can account for the data. The researcher then tests the theory through the collection and analysis of more data. The goal of this approach is to generate a plausible explanation or theory that can be further refined or tested.
Research Approach Methods
Research approach methods are the specific techniques or tools that are used to conduct research within a particular research approach. Below are some examples of methods that are commonly used in each research approach:
Deductive approach methods:
- Surveys and questionnaires: to collect data from a large sample of participants
- Experiments: to manipulate variables and test hypotheses under controlled conditions
- Statistical analysis: to test the significance of relationships between variables
- Content analysis: to analyze and interpret text-based data
Inductive approach methods:
- Interviews: to collect in-depth data and explore individual experiences and perspectives
- Focus groups: to collect data from a group of participants who share common characteristics or experiences
- Observations: to gather data on naturalistic settings and behaviors
- Grounded theory: to develop theories or concepts from data through iterative cycles of analysis and interpretation
Abductive approach methods:
- Case studies: to examine a phenomenon in its real-life context and generate new insights or explanations
- Triangulation: to combine multiple data sources or methods to enhance the validity and reliability of findings
- Exploratory research: to gather preliminary data and generate new research questions
- Concept mapping: to visually represent relationships and patterns in data and develop new theoretical frameworks.
Applications of Research Approach
Here are some common applications of research approach:
- Academic Research: Researchers in various academic fields, such as sociology, psychology, economics, and education, use research approaches to study a wide range of topics.
- Business Research: Organizations use research approaches to gather information on customer preferences, market trends, and competitor behavior to make informed business decisions.
- Medical Research: Researchers use research approaches to study various diseases and medical conditions, develop new treatments and drugs, and improve public health.
- Social Research: Researchers use research approaches to study social issues, such as poverty, crime, discrimination, and inequality, and to develop policies and programs to address these issues.
- Environmental Research: Researchers use research approaches to study environmental problems, such as climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss, and to develop strategies to mitigate these problems.
- Marketing Research: Companies use research approaches to study consumer behavior, preferences, and needs in order to develop effective marketing strategies.
- Educational Research: Researchers use research approaches to study teaching and learning processes, develop new teaching methods and materials, and improve educational outcomes.
- Legal Research: Lawyers and legal scholars use research approaches to study legal precedents, statutes, and regulations in order to make legal arguments and develop new laws and policies.
Examples of Research Approach
Examples Deductive approach:
- A researcher starts with a theory or hypothesis and then develops a research design to test it. For example, a researcher might hypothesize that students who receive positive feedback from their teachers are more likely to perform well academically. The researcher would then design a study to test this hypothesis, such as surveying students to assess their feedback from teachers and comparing their academic performance.
- Another example of a deductive approach is a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a new medication. The researchers start with a theory that the medication will be effective and then design the study to test this theory by comparing the outcomes of patients who receive the medication with those who receive a placebo.
Examples Inductive approach:
- A researcher begins with data and then develops a theory or explanation to account for it. For example, a researcher might collect data on the experiences of immigrants in a particular city and then use that data to develop a theory about the factors that contribute to their success or challenges.
- Another example of an inductive approach is ethnographic research, where the researcher immerses themselves in a cultural context to observe and document the practices, beliefs, and values of the community. The researcher might then develop a theory or explanation for these practices based on the observed patterns and themes.
Examples Abductive approach:
- A researcher starts with a puzzle or a phenomenon that is not easily explained by existing theories and uses a combination of deductive and inductive reasoning to generate a new explanation or theory. For example, a researcher might notice a pattern of behavior in a particular group of people that is not easily explained by existing theories and then use both deductive and inductive reasoning to develop a new theory to explain the behavior.
- Another example of an abductive approach is diagnosis in medicine. A physician starts with a set of symptoms and uses deductive reasoning to generate a list of possible diagnoses. The physician then uses inductive reasoning to gather more information about the patient and the symptoms to narrow down the list of possible diagnoses and arrive at a final diagnosis.
Purpose of Research Approach
The purpose of a research approach is to provide a systematic and logical way of conducting research to achieve the research goals and objectives. It helps the researcher to plan, design, and conduct research effectively and efficiently, ensuring that the research is reliable, valid, and useful. Different research approaches have different purposes and are suited for different types of research questions and contexts.
Here are some specific purposes of different research approaches:
- To test hypotheses or theories
- To confirm or refute existing knowledge
- To generalize findings to broader populations or contexts
- To generate new theories or hypotheses
- To identify patterns, themes, or relationships in data
- To develop an understanding of social or natural phenomena
- To develop new explanations or theories when existing ones are inadequate
- To identify new patterns or phenomena that may be overlooked by existing theories
- To propose new research questions or directions