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Research Methods Online: Distinguishing Characteristics of Research Methodologies

This guide introduces you to SAGE Research Methods Online, a database which supports your research activities, from selecting your research methods to designing your research, and much more.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Research Methodologies

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS  OF RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES                                                    




What is the purpose of the research?

To explain and predict

To confirm and validate

To test theory

To describe and explain

To explore and interpret

To build theory

What is the nature of the research process?


Known variables

Established guidelines

Predetermined methods

Somewhat context-free

Detached view


Unknown variables

Flexible guidelines

Emergent methods


Personal view

What are the data like, and how are they collected?

Interval/Ratio data

Representative, large sample

Standardized instructions

Textual and/or image-based data

Informative, small sample

Loosely structured or non-standardized

observations and


How are data analyzed to determine their meaning?

Statistical analysis

Stress objectivity

Deductive reasoning

Search for themes and categories

Acknowledgement that analysis is subjective and potentially biased

Inductive reasoning

How are the findings communicated?


Statistics, aggregated data

Formal voice, scientific style


Narrative, individual quotes

Personal voice, literary style