Research Methods

Learning about research methods

One purpose of this website is to aid in the instruction of social science research methods. The most useful subjects will be in the “Research” section. That section introduces many of the key approaches, methods and techniques employed in the research process. The first two sections — on causality and concepts — should be of concern to most student research.  The third section is on data collection and discusses a range of ways that we may seek out, or even attempt to create, data.  The fourth section focuses on particular methods and techniques that are often employed in analyzing data.

One thing you may want to keep in mind is that is often very useful to utilize multiple different approaches to a subject.  The process of triangulation can be extremely useful to a researcher (Patton 1990).  This may include using a variety of data sources, multiple researchers, multiple theoretical perspectives, and/or multiple methods (e.g. statistics plus interviews).  This is a version of the old journalist axiom that when your mother tells you she loves you you should seek independent corroboration for her story.

Remember that whatever method(s) and data you utilize in your research process, the choice of data and approach should flow from the question that is asked.


Patton, Michael Quinn. 1990. Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Regardless of what you plan to do it is always important to be in touch with your primary advisor and/or course instructor.  They may have advice or instructions that vary from those presented here.  This website is meant to be used as a general guide, to supplement — not replace — what they provide.