Techniques for Choosing Methods and Approaches in Scientific Research

Research Approaches And Methods

The technique of choosing a research approach must be adapted to the problems encountered in the field.  Research issues should be discussed further and/or be of concern that needs to be addressed (e.g., issues of racial discrimination, etc.).  

Problems stem from gaps in the literature, conflicts in research results in the literature, topics that have been neglected in the literature;  the need to raise the voices of marginalized participants;  and “real-life” problems found in the workplace, home, community, and so on.

Certain types of social research problems require a special approach.  For example, if a problem requires (a) identification of factors influencing outcomes, (b) usefulness of an intervention, or (c) understanding the best predictors of outcomes, then a quantitative approach is best.  It is also the best approach to use for testing theories or explanations.

On the other hand, if a concept or phenomenon needs to be explored and understood because little research has been done on it, then it deserves a qualitative approach.  Qualitative research is very useful when the researcher does not know the important variables to be studied.  

This type of approach may be necessary because the topic is new, the subject has never been discussed with a particular sample or group of people, and existing theories do not apply to the particular sample or group studied (Morse, 1991).  

Mixed methods designs are useful when quantitative or qualitative approaches, on their own, are not sufficient to understand the research problem well and the strengths of quantitative and qualitative research (and the data) can provide the best understanding.  

For example, the researcher may wish to generalize the findings to a population as well as develop a detailed view of the meaning of a phenomenon or concept for individuals.

In this research, the questioner first explores, in general, to learn what variables will be studied and then studies those variables with a large sample of individuals.  Alternatively, the researcher might first survey a large number of individuals and then follow up with a few participants to get their specific views and voices on the topic.  In this situation, collecting closed quantitative data and open qualitative data proves to be advantageous.

The training and personal experience of the researchers also influenced their choice of approach.  A person trained in engineering, scientific writing, statistics, and computer statistical programs and familiar with quantitative journaling in a library will most likely choose the quantitative design.  

On the other hand, individuals who enjoy writing in a literary way or conducting personal interviews, or making close observations may be attracted to qualitative approaches.  Mixed methods researchers are individuals who are familiar with both quantitative and qualitative research.  

This person also has the time and resources to collect quantitative and qualitative data and has channels for mixed methods studies, which tend to be large in scope.

Since quantitative studies are the traditional way of research, carefully structured procedures and rules are available to them.  Researchers may be more comfortable writing highly systematic quantitative research procedures.  

Also, for some individuals, it may be uncomfortable to challenge the accepted approach among some faculties using qualitative and transformative approaches to inquiry.  On the other hand, the qualitative approach allows space to be innovative and work more within the framework designed by the researcher.

They allow for more creative writing, literary styles, and forms that individuals may prefer.  For transformative writers, there is undoubtedly a strong drive to pursue topics of personal interest issues related to marginalized people and interests, in creating a better society for them and everyone.  

For mixed methods researchers, the project will take extra time due to the need to collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data.  It is suitable for someone who enjoys both the structure of quantitative research and the flexibility of qualitative inquiry.

In planning research activities, researchers need to identify whether they will use a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods approach.  This approach is based on bringing together world views or assumptions about the research, specific design, and research methods.  

Decisions about the choice of approach are more influenced by the research problem or problem being studied, the researcher's personal experience, and the audience for whom the researcher is writing.


Creswell, J. W. (2014).  A concise introduction to mixed methods research.  SAGE publications.

Ishtiaq, M. (2019).  Book Review Creswell, JW (2014).  Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  English Language Teaching, 12(5), 40.

Clark, V. L. P., & Creswell, J. W. (2014).  Understanding research: A consumer's guide.  Pearson Higher Ed.

Creswell, J. W. (2014).  The selection of a research approach.  Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches 3-24.

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