Health Research Methodology

Research may be classified as basic or pure research or applied research. The objective of basic or pure research is not in line with a specific field. Basic or pure research is conducted in order to simply add information to accumulated existing knowledge.

Applied research, on the other hand, is conducted in order to deal with a particular problem or interest. Applied research results in the conclusion of a solution or a remedy that shall be applied to a particular instance or scenario. (Neuman, 2006)

Research Paradigms

Paradigms that structure research include the inductive paradigm and the deductive paradigm, qualitative research and quantitative research, or a mixed paradigm which necessitates the use of two or more individual paradigms. In social research, there are other research paradigms identified such as the conflict paradigm, feminism, Darwinism, positivism, structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, etc. (Babbie, 2001)

Perhaps, research paradigms are particular for each field, owing to the differences in nature and requirements. To tackle general paradigms that govern research, the inductive, deductive, qualitative, and quantitative paradigms of research shall be described. The inductive paradigm begins with specific principles or ideas to general principles or ideas, while the deductive paradigm follows the opposite movement. (Cresswell, 1994)

The quantitative method follows the deductive paradigm and relies on statistics or data, and from it formulates interpretations, in order to formulate a generalization or a conclusion. On the other hand, generalizations or conclusions from qualitative data rely on a set of knowledge, principles, theories, etc. and follows the inductive paradigm. (Neuman, 2006)

Paradigms provide a structure or a context on which research is to be patterned. It propels the research process because it has the ability to direct and guide researchers for them to realize their identified goals and objectives. Therefore, an effective research study necessitates the researcher’s familiarity of these paradigms and how they should be applied to the research process.

Problem definition

A first step in conducting a research is by defining the problem that will be answered by the research. Problem definition answers the questions of what the research is all about and why the research is being conducted. The problem is a question that needs to be answered itself. However, it also seeks to answer other relevant questions such that will guide the research process.

These questions will answer the causes and effects of the problem, the magnitude and kind of information needed to obtain in order to answer the question or solve the problem, the resources needed for the research, the goal or objective of the research, the expected results or outcome of the research, etc.

Problem definition involves the presentation of a given scenario or situation, phenomenon, or any other information that provides a background of what the problem is all about. The problem definition also identifies how the researcher will go about the research process, identifying the paradigm that needs to be implemented, the tools and resources that should be employed, and the research expectations.

Defining a problem also bears in mind some aspects that need to be addressed in the process including the researcher’s interest or curiosity regarding the issue, the degree or enormity of the problem (usually, the problem needs to be specified from a general point of view, but sill maintaining its substance worthy of the research process), etc. (Kuman, 2005)

Literature Review

The Literature Review is an analytical or judicious evaluation of materials or resources that are related to the theme of the research. Moreover, the literature review serves as a compilation of all types of publications that discusses a topic relative to the research subject.

The information disclosed in the literature review sets the position of the research topic, determining the concepts that supports or challenges the focus of the research study. The literature review also provides a framework that illustrates the course of the research subject through time, including additional information contributed, and changes in trends and approaches, etc.

A literature review should be composed of how the problem was identified or unraveled in its particular setting, the actual narration or representation of gathered materials or resources, the assessment of the gather materials and resources, and the elucidation of related literature to the context of the research subject. (Macauley, 2001)

Other requirements in presenting an outstanding literature review is to argue different points of view from varied materials and resources in order to determine a common ground and the differences that make each material or source valuable to the research process. The ability of the researcher to identify flaws within each material or resource also guides him toward a particular research approach. (University of Melbourne, 2007)

Designing a Research Proposal

Designing a research proposal follows a long process of planning and evaluation. The research proposal contains an overview of the entire research process that aims to present the purpose and significance of a particular research subject. The proposal provides factual and significant reasons that explain why the research should be conducted in terms of the objectives that it is trying to accomplish and the scale of knowledge that it will contribute to existing facts or data.

Another purpose of the research proposal is to project in depth knowledge and expertise regarding the subject of the research, making clear the objective of the research process will be acknowledged and realized. The accuracy and flaws of the research process will also be identified in the research proposal. The good points of the research will be kept in check and the flaws of the process (for instance, inappropriate methodology or lacking background information) will also be identified to allow for immediate alterations.

A research proposal includes the following: the title of the research study (clear and specific), information about the researchers, background information regarding the research problem, the goals and objectives of the research study, the processes or methodology that will be employed in the research process (including techniques or approaches, measurement tools, the variables for the study, the materials or resources that will be utilized during the research process, and the expected outcome or direction of the research study after the research process.

Qualitative Research Method

The qualitative method in research is usually used in the social sciences, in specific topics that deals with the explanation of human behavior, way of life, social interaction, etc. based on assumptions, observations, narrative data, and other means. It does not however rely on numerical statistics or date to come up with a generalization or a conclusion.

The qualitative method as a research is investigative and probing in nature, subjective to personal but rational interpretations or assessments by the research, based on established concepts, theories, or laws, and information obtained from related materials or resources. Another feature of the qualitative method when applied to research is its propensity to extract conclusions from a natural unaffected situation or state of mind, based on the points of view of the researcher.

The qualitative research method employs a unique set of tools or instruments to go about conducting the research such as ethnographical observation (observing a particular group with common traits and backgrounds), case study approach (assessment of a constrained case or an occurrence), phenomenological approach (exerting effort to understand and explain a particular phenomena).

Biographical approach (obtaining knowledge about an individual), fishbowl observation (an individual or a group of people are observed under a particular setting in a given period of time), historiographical approach (drawing conclusions and generalizations from historical facts and data), etc. (Strauss & Corbin, 1990)

Quantitative Research

If qualitative data deals with exploration and discovery of particular situations or phenomena as a subject of research and conclusion, quantitative research deals with numerical or statistical data in order to reach a valid generalization. It is objective, concentrating on the measured and valid interpretations of obtained data from the methodology and the results of the research process. Quantitative research is experimental and aims to prove or disprove theories through conventional and determined processes.

Quantitative research is mostly used in a various fields of science, as opposed to qualitative research which is usually employed in social sciences and other fields similar to the structure of social science. Quantitative research is utilized in pure sciences such as chemistry, physics, algebra, biology, and social science as well, etc.

Quantitative research usually makes use of a controlled setting, with the use of variables in order to arrive at a conclusion. (Cresswell, 2003) It also follows a systematic process that adapts the deductive paradigm, that which aims to formulate a concept, theory, or law.

Moreover, this type of research is leaning towards the formulation of paradigms and theoretical frameworks illustrated in statistical or numerical fashion. The most common methods or techniques to carry out quantitative research are through the use of questionnaires, observation of controlled settings, etc.

Interview and Questionnaire Design

The interview and questionnaire design is a method employed in research in order to gather or obtain related data significant to the goals and objectives of the research study. Interview is a research technique that requires a dialogue or a consultation with a resource person in order to gather first hand information about the subject of the research. A questionnaire may be used in order to guide the interview process. However, the usual purpose of the questionnaire is to gather information from a specific or focus group for measurement and interpretation.

The interview and questionnaire as methods of research may be used in both qualitative and quantitative research. However, it is important to keep in mind that before deciding to use specific research techniques, the goals and objectives of the research study must be identified in order to determine whether these techniques would be efficient to realize the goals and objectives of the research study.

After determining the goals and objectives of the research study and the usefulness of interview and questionnaire has been identified, the researcher has to come up with steps in order to carry out these techniques.

An interview requires approval from a resource person, and a scheduling available time and day both for the researcher and the interviewee to conduct the dialogue. The researcher should keep in mind that the questions should meet the requirements of the research, with clear and definite questions. Questioning should not be time-consuming.

In designing a questionnaire, the following attributes should be kept in mind. A questionnaire should be short and extensive. The questions should be understandable and should not take a lot of time for the respondents to answer. It should also include a short introduction that presents the research study, the researchers, and the goals and objectives of the study. (Creative Research Systems, 2008)

Sampling Strategies

Sampling strategies are techniques utilized in sampling or selecting a section from a population to focus the study on. They are also implemented in order to ensure that the sample population that will be taken and studied from the total population will meet the desired results and generalizations of the research study.

There are several sampling strategies utilized in research. Probability sampling can be categorized into four kinds, the simple random, stratified random, the cluster, and the systematic sampling. Simple random sampling selects arbitrarily from the population.

The stratified random sampling categorizes the population into subgroups or divisions and samples will be drawn from each subgroup or division. Cluster sampling is grouping the population into clusters according to similarities, and samples will be drawn from each cluster. Systematic sampling follows a pattern of selecting a sample that will be observed.

Non-probability sampling is categorizes under three techniques of sampling such as convenience sampling, quota sampling, and purposive sampling. Convenience sampling is selecting a sample population based on availability or accessibility.

Quota sampling is dependent on the opportunity to obtain a sample and setting a quota for variables such as quotas for female or male samples, etc. Purposive sampling is designed to meet a particular goal or objective. Samples are not derived randomly but are selected according to the sample’s ability to answer the purpose of the research. (Landrenaeu, 2007)

Quality of Data Reliability and Validity

The reliability and validity of data determines the significance and authority of a research study. Research studies will be welcomed as a reliable contribution to existing knowledge if it is consistent and dependable. The reliability of data as revealed in a research study may be tested from conducting another research or experiment. If a research study is reliable, other research studies would yield the same results or conclusions.

A research study will become commendable, worthy of attention and scrutiny if it reliable. However, a research study cannot stand in itself just by being reliable because reliability in itself does not make up a good research study. The research study should also be valid.

Validity requires that a research study is precise or truthful. Upon testing or evaluation of the research study, its results or conclusions should have answered the goals and objectives of the research. A research study will not be valid if its results or conclusions tackle a different concept, theory or law.

To fully identify whether a particular research study is valid, three validity contents should be determined, including the content, the concurrent and predictive, and the construct validity aspects of the research study. A research study proven to be reliable and valid becomes a valuable part of knowledge and science. (Golafshani, 2003)

Data Management and Data Analysis

Data management involves organizing data collected throughout the duration of the research process. Researchers should be able to accumulate in an organized and systematic fashion for easy retrieval and access.

Moreover, large amounts of data should be clustered according to their content and purpose in order to lessen ambiguity and overkill when it comes to digesting the content of the research study.

Primarily, the purpose of data management is to gather data in such a way that they the content of data is in line with the purpose of the research study. Data management is also used to accumulate data used in the research for the benefit of other researchers. (Miles & Huberman, 2004)

Data analysis requires synthesizing gathered data for the purpose of identifying similar and complementary content, determining useful or significant data to meet the goals and objectives of the research study, accumulating all necessary data, digesting the content of the data, interpreting the content of the data, describing its role in the research process, etc.

Data analysis concentrates on the validity of the content of data. The process of analyzing data involves breaking down the content of the data and synthesizing them to make a connection or a pattern that will be used to arrive at a result or conclusion. Data analysis is done through numerical processes.

Research Ethics

The research process and all its aspects should follow certain ethical issues and concerns. Research ethics was designed to project the field of research in a reliable, dependable, trustworthy, and respectable fashion.

It aims to look after the rights of all stakeholders, from the researcher, scientists, participants involved in the research process, the government, the community, etc. Primarily, research ethics is employed to provide guidelines and limits to researchers in conducting the research study. It is most applicable when the research study requires the involvement of other people intended to be utilized for testing or experimentation.

The simplest example of ethics in research is the obtainment of private information during the interview or answering of questionnaire. If the interviewee or respondent refuses to answer a particular question due to a valid personal reason, then the researcher should respect the decision. (Resnik, 2008)

Other ethical concerns that researchers should follow are the following. Target participants in the research study should not be forced to join the research study. The researcher should also follow ethical rules about privacy and confidentiality of information. Researchers should not trick target participants into participating in the research study, including revealing false information or concealing other information regarding the research.

In general, researchers should uphold ethical standards in research in order to keep the dignity and the consistency of the field of research. Research should not be used to injure stakeholders or damage the environment. Rather it should be utilized to contribute to existing knowledge and the betterment of everyday life.

References

  • Babbie, E. (2001). “The Practice of Social Research, 9th Ed. Belmont:
  • Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
  • Creative Research Systems. (2008). “Survey Design.” Retrieved August 27, 2008, from
  • Creative Research Systems, Inc. Website: http://www.surveysystem.com/sdesign.htm
  • Cresswell, J. W. (1994). “Research Design: Qualitative & Quantitative Approaches.
  • Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage Publications Inc.
  • Cresswell, J. W. (2003). “Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed
  • Methods and Approaches. California: Sage Publications Inc.
  • Fraenkel, J. R. & Wallen, N. E. (2006). “How to Design and Evaluate Research in
  • Education.” NY: McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
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