Research methods

Research methods


Proposal and thesis writing are areas of research that have caused a lot of challenges to scholars and rise archers. These challenges are at times caused by the researcher’s inability to clearly define what is expected in a research proposal or thesis. Proposal and thesis writing constitute part of the research process. This chapter therefore gives a brief overview of research proposal and thesis writing and the variables therein.

The Concept of Research

The term “research” means to look for, examine, investigate or explore. Orodho and Kombo (2002:2) define research as the process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems through the planned systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data.

Kerlinger (1973:11) defines research as a systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relations among natural phenomena.

Tuchman (1978:1) describes research as a systematic attempt to provide answers to questions.

Keywords in these definitions include: process, systematic, collection, analysis and interpretation. Research can therefore be defined as a systematic process of collecting, examining and interpreting data.

Research involves the following components:

  1. It is systematic. Research attempts to solve problems whether social, economic, political, cultural or health-related in a systematic way. It is systematic in that a general system is followed. This involves the Identification of the problem, review of related literature and data collection. The process of data collection requires proper organization and control so that the data will enable valid decisions to be made about the research problem at hand. This is followed by data analysis, conclusions and recommendations.
  2. It is objective. Research attempts to find an objectives unbiased solution to the problem. Research involves gathering new data from primary sources (first hand) and secondary sources (using existing data). It attempts to find an objective unbiased solution to the problem.
  3. It is based on observable experience or empirical evidence. It demands accurate observation and description.
  4. It employs carefully designed procedures and rigorous analysis.

Types of Research

Research can either be qualitative or quantitative.

Qualitative Research

This is a form of research that involves description. Qualitative research seeks to describe and analyze the culture and behavior of humans and their groups from the point of view 0f those being stud.ied. Examples of qualitative research include case studies of communities and institutions. Qualitative research uses the natural setting, for instance, a classroom setting and not a laboratory. This means the scenario is not artificial. Qualitative research relies on a research strategy that is flexible and interactive. This includes interviewing, focus group discussions and questionnaires. In qualitative research, feelings and insights are considered important (Orodho and Kombo, 2002). Sometimes qualitative research is called naturalistic inquiry or field studies.


Qualitative research is appropriate inkier the following conditions:

When the subject matter is unfamiliar. For example, when one wants to know the causes and effects of a certain phenomenon and the answer is unfamiliar to the researcher. For example, The effect of free primary education on school accessibility and retention or The effect of price increases on commodity consumption.

  • When a researcher wants to relate particular aspects of behaviour to the wider context. For example when one wants to find out the effects of abortion on academic performance, a few schools and students will be sampled. The findings of the study will be applicable to a wider context.
  • When meanings rather than frequencies are sought. For example when analyzing the effect of abortion on education, the researcher may be more interested in why students procure abortions and the effect abortion has on their education. The emphasis will be on the causes and impact of abortion.
  • When flexibility of approach is needed to allow for discovery of the unexpected and in depth investigation of particular topics. for example in finding out the effect of abortion on education, the researcher may interview those who have carried out an abortion and are willing to be interviewed. Focus group discussions may be used. The researcher can also change a research instrument depending on the respondents. For example, a researcher may have planned to use a questionnaire written in English but may discover the majority of respondents are semi-illiterate. The researcher may therefore choose to interview and use the language which the respondents are most comfortable in. The researcher may also want to determine if there is any relationship between the academic performance of a student prior to and after the abortion.
  • This method is used for studying selected issues, cases or events in depth and detail (Orodho and Kombo, 2002).
(Visited 125 times, 1 visits today)
Share this:

Written by