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The Four Types of Research Paradigms: A Comprehensive Guide

The Four Types of Research Paradigms: A Comprehensive Guide

  • 5-minute read
  • 22nd January 2023

In this guide, you’ll learn all about the four research paradigms and how to choose the right one for your research.

Introduction to Research Paradigms

A paradigm is a system of beliefs, ideas, values, or habits that form the basis for a way of thinking about the world. Therefore, a research paradigm is an approach, model, or framework from which to conduct research. The research paradigm helps you to form a research philosophy, which in turn informs your research methodology.

Your research methodology is essentially the “how” of your research – how you design your study to not only accomplish your research’s aims and objectives but also to ensure your results are reliable and valid. Choosing the correct research paradigm is crucial because it provides a logical structure for conducting your research and improves the quality of your work, assuming it’s followed correctly.

Three Pillars: Ontology, Epistemology, and Methodology

Before we jump into the four types of research paradigms, we need to consider the three pillars of a research paradigm.

Ontology addresses the question, “What is reality?” It’s the study of being. This pillar is about finding out what you seek to research. What do you aim to examine?

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It asks, “How is knowledge gathered and from what sources?”

Methodology involves the system in which you choose to investigate, measure, and analyze your research’s aims and objectives. It answers the “how” questions.

Let’s now take a look at the different research paradigms.

1.   Positivist Research Paradigm

The positivist research paradigm assumes that there is one objective reality, and people can know this reality and accurately describe and explain it. Positivists rely on their observations through their senses to gain knowledge of their surroundings.

In this singular objective reality, researchers can compare their claims and ascertain the truth. This means researchers are limited to data collection and interpretations from an objective viewpoint. As a result, positivists usually use quantitative methodologies in their research (e.g., statistics, social surveys, and structured questionnaires).

This research paradigm is mostly used in natural sciences, physical sciences, or whenever large sample sizes are being used.

2.   Interpretivist Research Paradigm

Interpretivists believe that different people in society experience and understand reality in different ways – while there may be only “one” reality, everyone interprets it according to their own view. They also believe that all research is influenced and shaped by researchers’ worldviews and theories.

As a result, interpretivists use qualitative methods and techniques to conduct their research. This includes interviews, focus groups, observations of a phenomenon, or collecting documentation on a phenomenon (e.g., newspaper articles, reports, or information from websites).

3.   Critical Theory Research Paradigm

The critical theory paradigm asserts that social science can never be 100% objective or value-free. This paradigm is focused on enacting social change through scientific investigation. Critical theorists question knowledge and procedures and acknowledge how power is used (or abused) in the phenomena or systems they’re investigating.

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Researchers using this paradigm are more often than not aiming to create a more just, egalitarian society in which individual and collective freedoms are secure. Both quantitative and qualitative methods can be used with this paradigm.

4.   Constructivist Research Paradigm

Constructivism asserts that reality is a construct of our minds ; therefore, reality is subjective. Constructivists believe that all knowledge comes from our experiences and reflections on those experiences and oppose the idea that there is a single methodology to generate knowledge.

This paradigm is mostly associated with qualitative research approaches due to its focus on experiences and subjectivity. The researcher focuses on participants’ experiences as well as their own.

Choosing the Right Research Paradigm for Your Study

Once you have a comprehensive understanding of each paradigm, you’re faced with a big question: which paradigm should you choose? The answer to this will set the course of your research and determine its success, findings, and results.

To start, you need to identify your research problem, research objectives , and hypothesis . This will help you to establish what you want to accomplish or understand from your research and the path you need to take to achieve this.

You can begin this process by asking yourself some questions:

  • What is the nature of your research problem (i.e., quantitative or qualitative)?
  • How can you acquire the knowledge you need and communicate it to others? For example, is this knowledge already available in other forms (e.g., documents) and do you need to gain it by gathering or observing other people’s experiences or by experiencing it personally?
  • What is the nature of the reality that you want to study? Is it objective or subjective?

Depending on the problem and objective, other questions may arise during this process that lead you to a suitable paradigm. Ultimately, you must be able to state, explain, and justify the research paradigm you select for your research and be prepared to include this in your dissertation’s methodology and design section.

Using Two Paradigms

If the nature of your research problem and objectives involves both quantitative and qualitative aspects, then you might consider using two paradigms or a mixed methods approach . In this, one paradigm is used to frame the qualitative aspects of the study and another for the quantitative aspects. This is acceptable, although you will be tasked with explaining your rationale for using both of these paradigms in your research.

Choosing the right research paradigm for your research can seem like an insurmountable task. It requires you to:

●  Have a comprehensive understanding of the paradigms,

●  Identify your research problem, objectives, and hypothesis, and

●  Be able to state, explain, and justify the paradigm you select in your methodology and design section.

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types of critical research methods

What is Critical Research? | Definition, Examples & Methods

types of critical research methods


What does critical research mean, what is an example of critical qualitative research, approaches to critical theory.

Critical research was created out of a need to examine power , inequities, and the resulting societal implications on the status quo in society. It is a necessary departure from traditional scientific research in that it looks beyond what is directly observable to analyze the social world and develop social theory from novel perspectives to address previous injustices. In this article, we'll look at what critical theory entails for qualitative research , as well as the different strands that make up critical research.

types of critical research methods

In specific terms, critical research examines the nature of power dynamics influencing the social world. More broadly, this has implications for understanding inequality and disparity across cleavages of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and economic class, among other differences in identity.

While there are many different strands to critical research, there are a number of common characteristics that are shared by scholars of critical theory:

  • Contextualization : Traditional research assumes a singular, almost absolutist approach to knowledge. In contrast, critical theory challenges the positivist outlook on scientific research and assumes a more sociocultural outlook to the social world. In adopting a more contextualized approach to any particular social phenomenon, scholars look to making propositions specific to different contexts rather than defining grand, unifying theories that explain socially constructed concepts regardless of individual or cultural circumstances.
  • Subjectivity : Unlike more positivist approaches to research, critical research presupposes a lack of an ability to directly observe physical reality. Moreover, a researcher's perception is often confounded by culturally-reinforced presumptions such as stereotypes and other biases that privilege those in power. The possibility that the social world can be subjectively construed directly challenges assumptions of a positivist understanding of social phenomena. Instead, critical research encourages scholars and laypeople alike to consider the world from different points of view in order to identify problems and inequities that are otherwise invisible within traditional worldviews.
  • Social change : Critical research is seldom interested in generating insights purely out of intellectual curiosity. Critical scholars tend to adopt a philosophy of social justice where research is aimed at benefiting marginalized or oppressed populations who lack the same opportunities and benefits that are otherwise granted to those in mainstream society. In this respect, research and analysis within a critical paradigm are merely preliminary steps in a process that appeals to institutions, stakeholders, and social activists to draw on actionable insights from the research and make tangible proposals for enacting change.
  • Transformation : Similar to the imperative of social change, transformation deals with fundamentally altering contemporary paradigms. However, this aspect to critical research is more concerned with problematizing traditional perspectives of the social world and the phenomena within it, both from a layperson's point of view and from the view of traditional academic institutions that perpetuate mainstream scientific inquiry. Rather than simply acknowledge the subjective nature of the social world, critical research calls for fundamentally transforming perceptions and attitudes in a manner that views marginalized populations more equitably.

types of critical research methods

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One of the more famous studies to produce a critical analysis is the doll test first devised by Mamie Clark, then conducted with husband Kenneth Clark starting in the 1940s and replicated in later years. In the doll test, children were asked how they felt about dolls that were put in front of them. The children preferred to play with the dolls that looked white rather than the dolls that looked black, and had more positive views about the white-looking dolls. Children who were black also tended to share the same perception of black-looking dolls, which suggested that their surrounding environment - particularly the school system but more broadly the culture around them - profoundly impacted them by reinforcing negative stereotypes about racial minorities.

Critical theorists argue that such stereotypes, especially when perpetuated by institutions like education and mass media, further contribute to economic and social disparities when children of color experience exposure to negative attitudes about race and ethnicity. This novel research provided fundamental insights that led to the following real-world changes:

  • Desegregation of schools : This research took place in the era where public schools in the United States were separated by race. The findings from the doll test helped make the case that institutionalized discrimination had effects on the educational and emotional development of children of color, ultimately leading to judicial rulings that contributed to school desegregation.
  • Educational reforms : Subsequent discussions of racial stereotypes have helped to further promote initiatives for racial equity and equality in public education. While still undoubtedly controversial to this day, efforts to promote diversity training for teachers, multicultural curriculum development, and other policies to address racial disparities can be partly attributed to the findings of the doll test.
  • Anti-discrimination policies : The findings from the doll test form a scientific basis for anti-discrimination frameworks for public policy, workplace organization, and other formal institutions. Where racism and equality might otherwise be abstract, potentially vague concepts, a scientific framework regarding discriminatory attitudes provides a language for discussing practical implications addressing racism.

Here are some of the various forms of critical research. Keep in mind that these approaches are not exclusive to each other, though they have their own distinct focus to shed light on specific issues relevant to the social sciences, nor are they exhaustive of the entire array of critical theory.

  • Critical discourse analysis : Researchers who critically analyze communication look at how people exercise power through speech to manipulate or control others. This analytical method connects theories from linguistics, sociology, and anthropology to look at the power of language in constructing social reality.
  • Critical ethnography : Ethnography is an all-encompassing approach to research aimed at capturing relationships, practices, and behaviors within any given context. Beyond a comprehensive examination of cultures, critical ethnographers use the resulting findings to advocate for social change.
  • Critical methodology : Critical scholars may also look at how methods are used to construct scholars' epistemology about scientific knowledge and question approaches to science that emphasize objectivity to a fault. Critical methodology advocates for reflexivity and participatory research as a departure from traditional research methods.
  • Critical race theory : Scholars engaged in critical race theory look at longstanding racial disparities to examine how institutions and power structures perpetuate racism and how people of color can challenge those structures from legal and advocacy standpoints in order to foster equity and equality.
  • Decolonizing research : Focusing on the critique that most established research comes from a Western-based perspective, research on decolonization seeks to deconstruct established philosophical paradigms that disadvantage perspectives of indigenous populations, cultures from the Global South, and other communities that have long been ignored by mainstream scholarship.

types of critical research methods

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types of critical research methods

An Introduction to Critical Approaches

  • First Online: 29 September 2022

Cite this chapter

types of critical research methods

  • Robert E. White   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8045-164X 3 &
  • Karyn Cooper 4  

1446 Accesses

As can be understood from the previous chapter, in qualitative research, words are used as data rather than numerical representations (Miles & Huberman, 1994). All qualitative methods rely on linguistic information rather than on statistical evidence. As such, they tend to employ meaning-based (as opposed to numerical-based) data analysis (Polkinghorne, 1983). Thus, qualitative research utilizes data in the form of text, which, in turn, serves to furnish a detailed analysis of a situation, a case, a subject or an event through original analysis (Creswell, 2013). In qualitative research, data is usually collected and analyzed on fewer participants and situations (Patton, 2014) than is commonly found in quantitative research practices. The previous chapter introduced a short history of qualitative research as it relates to quantitative research endeavours. The current chapter devotes itself to a discussion of a number of approaches to qualitative research, specifically the critical approach.

The reliance on personal experience is the main building block, the main distinction of qualitative research. Not so much feelings, not so much how do we feel about things, but what is the experience as felt, as told, as manifest in the things that we do. Robert Stake, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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Transformative Potentials of Critical Educational Inquiry

Emma Simmons

The foundational questions to critical work are: Who/what is helped/privileged/legitimated? Who/what is harmed/oppressed/disqualified?

(Cannella & Lincoln, 2009, p. 54)

Critical inquiry has been criticized for creating illusions of justice and being unable to transform the situations of the oppressed. Critics have voiced concerns for the paradoxical nature of critical inquiry, arguing that by providing alternative understandings of social phenomena, critical inquirers send a message that the oppressed are partly responsible for their situations due to their lack of “ appropriate” knowledge. In this article, we discuss the transformative potentials of critical educational inquiry. We use five contexts of qualitative research, namely, autobiographical, historical, political, postmodern, and philosophical to explore the possibilities of critical inquiry in educational research. We also use an article by Deborah Hicks (2005) to exemplify how critical research may be transformative and empowering by involving the researched in a process of inquiry characterized by negotiation and reciprocity.

critical inquiry, educational research, contexts of qualitative research, empowerment


Critical theory generally refers to the theoretical traditions developed by a number of scholars affiliated with the Institute of Social Research at the University of Frankfurt in the mid-twentieth century. This group of scholars, including Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse, situated this inquiry within German philosophical, social, and political thoughts and traditions. Very soon, the life and work of these scholars were heavily influenced by the devastation of World War I, along with resulting economic crises and political instability. They believed that reinterpretations of society were necessary, during an infamous period in history, when various forms of injustice and subjugation were shaping their world. Unfortunately, only a decade after the establishment of the Frankfurt School, the Nazis overtook Germany in body and mind. The leading scholars of the Frankfurt School decided (or were forced) to move to the United States. However, they were shocked by many aspects of American culture, especially the unquestioned acceptance of empirical practices of American social science research. In 1953, Horkheimer and Adorno decided to return to Germany in order to revitalize the Institute of Social Research, but Marcuse chose to stay in the United States and continue his work in social science research and theorization (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2011).

All members of the Frankfurt School championed a vision of a more just society, in which people have not only an equal access to desirable things but also control over the economic, political and cultural aspects of their lives. They argued that the oppressed and exploited people would be emancipated only if they were empowered to transform their situations by themselves. This theoretical tradition is called “critical” because the promoters of this theory “saw the route to emancipation as being a kind of self-conscious critique which problematizes all social relations, in particular those of and within the discursive practices of power, especially technical rationalism” (Tripp, 1992, p. 13).

Although frequently referenced in social science literature, critical theory has also been misinterpreted, misunderstood and accused of being patriarchal and re-inscribing old power structures. For example, Elizabeth Ellsworth (1989) famously questioned the ability of critical theory to empower the oppressed and transform their situations. To avoid confusion in our discussion, we conceptualize critical theory as a framework to understand “issues of power and justice and the ways that the economy; matters of race, class, and gender; ideologies; discourses; education; religion and other social institutions; and cultural dynamics interact to construct a social system” (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2011, p. 288).

Because of its emancipatory nature, critical theory is different from traditional empiricist theories in three important ways (Schwandt, 2007). First, it is a self-reflective, democratic discourse in the sense that it relinquishes normative and accepted understandings of the social order and adopts a lens of critical reconsideration. Second, unlike the empiricist tradition in which the theorist is disinterested in and detached from the research subjects, critical inquiry is closely related to praxis [i.e., action + reflection = word = work = praxis] (for details, see Freire, 1970). Third, critical inquiry “employs the method of immanent critique, working from within categories of existing thought in order to radicalize those categories, reveal their internal contradictions and shortcomings, and demonstrate their unrecognized possibilities” (Schwandt, 2007, p. 55). Therefore, when research is carried out from the perspectives of critical theory, it aims to identify various forms of power and “seeks in its analyses to plumb the archaeology of taken-for-granted perspectives to understand how unjust and oppressive social conditions came to be reified as historical ‘givens’” (Cannella & Lincoln, 2009, p. 54).

The critical theory tradition has been taken into the field of education by a number of scholars, “but most notably by Paulo Freire in his work with oppressed minorities which gave rise to the term critical pedagogy , meaning teaching-learning from within the principles of critical theory” (Tripp, 1992, p. 13). Other scholars, such as Michael Apple, Henry Giroux, Joe Kincheloe and Peter McLaren have taken up critical theory to unpack politics of education, epistemological violence, control of teachers and learners, commodification of knowledge, and how schools reproduce social, economic, political, and cultural inequalities. In addition to identifying these oppressive roles of education, they have also provided the language of possibility .

In this article, we explore critical inquiry through five contexts, namely, autobiographical, historical, political, postmodern, and philosophical. Karyn Cooper and Robert White (2012) propose these five contexts as “a theoretical framework for conducting, understanding, and interpreting qualitative research” (p. 23). Throughout our exploration, we use Deborah Hicks’ (2005) article “Cultural hauntings: Girlhood fictions from working-poor America” as an example of reflexive, advocacy-centred critical inquiry. In this article, Hicks delineates links between third and fourth-grade girls’ fascination with horror fiction, layered dimensions of their voice and identity, and the complexities of growing up in a predominantly white working-poor community. Using the five contexts of qualitative research (Cooper & White, 2012) as a theoretical framework with reference to Hicks (2005), as an example of critical inquiry, we present our analysis of and insights into the possibilities for and realities for empowerment in critical education research.

Autobiographical Context

One of the over-arching aims of critical inquiry is to include various perspectives in academia and to acknowledge that the stories and voices of particular groups have long been underrepresented in conversation of research. Critical inquiry has paved the way for, and continues to incorporate, the lenses of feminist theory, critical race theory and class analyses, among others, and ultimately seeks to challenge the canonical frames of academia that have allowed for only one reality. The autobiographical context provides a step forward in that challenge, and many practitioners of critical inquiry have used the autobiographical context both to inform their larger critiques and also to situate themselves within the larger discourse. Race and gender theorists such as Gloria Anzaldua (1987), bell hooks (1994), and Beverly Daniel Tatum (1997) weave their autobiographies throughout their critical analyses in order to establish the inextricability between their lived experience and their perspective regarding the world around them.

As described in Cooper and White (2012), the autobiographical context is a way to highlight the researcher’s own perspective in order to better establish a connection between researcher, researched and reader, as well as to contextualize the research produced. Without an autobiographical context, the researcher and, in fact, the research itself would be disembodied and without a human source. As a reader, one would be unable to understand both the insights and the blind spots that the researcher brings to an investigation without an understanding of the author’s preconceived ideologies and experiences: “To use a metaphor, viewing a work of art without contextualizing it in terms of our knowledge about the artist tends to limit our understanding of the painting itself” (Cooper & White, 2012, p. 33). Before theorists in the latter half of the 20 th century began to call into question the positionalities within the academy, the autobiography of the researcher was hidden, leading to an inability to trust the work produced, and an “othering” of the subject.

Referencing William Pinar, Cooper and White (2012) highlight the use of autobiography in research, noting that it need not be a self-indulgent exercise. Pinar demonstrates, through his method of currere, that autobiography is a part of a larger context. His four steps allow researchers to incorporate their lived experiences into their larger research and, in fact, study themselves in order to ask and understand the question, “What do I make of what I have been made?” (Cooper & White, 2012, p. 34). As critical inquiry attempts to inspire new ways of thinking, it simultaneously follows the steps that Pinar lays out—regressive, progressive, analytical, and synthetical. These steps give us the opportunity first to look back on our formative experiences, then forward to where we desire to go. The third step looks at our present, while being informed by our past and future and, fourth, we bring all three pieces together in order to understand our ways of understanding (Pinar, 1975).

Hicks’ (2005) relies heavily on the autobiographical context to perform her critical inquiry. Within her analysis, she interweaves her own autobiography, as well as those of her students. Hicks’ voice as the researcher and author is never lost within her writing; her choices, observations and interactions are always deeply embedded within her work. In fact, the writing/research process and the choices she has made within that are all reflective of her positionality, and she makes no secret of that. In so doing, she avoids the problem of the researcher’s gaze which, gone unmentioned, can affect the ways in which the reader sees the subjects of the research, ultimately skewing the reader’s response and, perhaps in turn, any action taken as a result of her research. As Cooper and White (2012) discuss, by being autobiographically expository, one ensures that both researcher and reader are using the same tools to understand and view the subjects of the research. By revealing our subjectivity, we actually allow more space for our reader to be objective.

In addition to being honest about her own autobiography, we would also argue that Hicks presents what functions almost as an autobiography of the community where she conducted her research. More than simply contextualizing her students’ narratives, the way in which she describes the setting of the classroom leads the reader to feel as if the place is in and of itself. She describes its position on the economic margins of the city by stating that the middle-class “might drive through on the way to something else, noting in passing the ghostly frames of abandoned warehouses or the thick, gray smoke churned out from one of the few working factories” (p. 172).

While this contextualization also has its place in discussions of both the historical and political context, it is raised here as well. Hicks regards the space that her subjects live in with her particular eye and mindset, and gives a specific meaning to both their autobiographies and the very act of contextualization. In doing so, Hicks provides her individual subjects with more of a universality, a way to posit that narrative need not be insular and without academic merit. The research question, as stated by Hicks, is “what was it like to grow up as a girl in contemporary working-poor America?” (p. 172). Thus, her focus on the economic and structural context of her subjects is vital to the larger underpinnings of her research, for which horror novels become merely a vehicle and not the point, in themselves.

The third modality in which we see the autobiographical context at play is, of course, in the narratives of the girls themselves. Hicks uses bell hooks (1994), Myles Horton (1990) and Paulo Freire (1970) as a framework, all three of whom centered both their pedagogies and their scholarship within a context of dialogue so the human aspect of each of the girls’ experiences is vital to the analysis that Hicks is attempting to construct. We learn about these girls through our understanding of their community and through their understandings of and interactions with the books that Hicks posits as “subversive” texts (p. 174). As Hicks describes their reactions to the texts, their previous experience with different genres and the choices that they make, we are able to understand the girls both as individuals, and within their larger contexts.

In Inquiry and Reflection, Diane Dubose Brunner (1994) talks about representations of student experience in various forms of media (pp. 153-186), a topic that is also tackled quite often by both bell hooks and Henry Giroux. By investigating how these girls read different texts, Hicks provides us a new reading of the girls themselves. Brunner talks about the way in which language has been used to describe students, especially along class lines, in television, film and literature, as well as the ways in which students, themselves, have been depicted as using (or conversely, failing to use) language. Hicks’ framing of her larger point of inquiry, the ways in which language and linguistic practices are both reflective and constructive of their material and cultural lives is an investigation into the very way that fictional depictions of youth in educational spaces disembodies them from their contexts, a process described by Brunner (1994). By focusing on the autobiography and narrative experience of herself, her students, and their teacher, Hicks is able to re-contextualize these experiences.

Historical Context

Moving through the five contexts of critical inquiry, we arrive at the historical context. Cooper and White (2012) open their discussion of the historical context with the African proverb, “Until the lion has his own historian, the hunter will always be the hero” (p. 52). This proverb is central to the ideas of a critical, historical analysis. Without questioning, “Whose history is it?” we are unable to look critically at the stories that we have taken as truth (p. 52). Denzin and Lincoln (2005) do just this by going through what they depict as the eight moments of qualitative research. They move from the traditional, through modernist, blurred genres, crisis of representation, and finally, the triple crisis. As they move through these moments, we see the history of qualitative research in varying complexities itself, as it is opened to new voices, new ways of knowing, seeing and understanding.

There are, of course, numerous scholars who aim to illustrate both a critical and historical understanding of their subjects. One such scholar, whose work seems of particular relevance to Hicks’ content and analysis, is David Roediger (1993). By developing a history of American racial construction through the paradigm of whiteness, Roediger takes both a critical and historical look at the ways in which our understanding of self, power, poverty and privilege are informed by the history of racial construction, as well as the history of labour in the United States. As Hicks discusses the working poor character of the town that her work is centered in, Roediger’s (1993) analysis of how labour history and the history of slavery becomes particularly critical to our understandings of the intersections of whiteness and working class identities, as posited by Hicks (2005).

Gloria Ladson-Billings (1995, 1999) also captures a historical context in her analyses of education and race, uniting the contexts of critical race theory and critical pedagogy. By tracing notions of racial segregation and looking at cultural deprivation, Ladson-Billings is able to reclaim the ways that we look at modern schooling and the ways that we talk about racial disparities in education. In so doing, the historical perspective in critical inquiry acts as a counter-argument to sometimes dangerous modes of thinking, such as the “deficit” model of education. Hicks continues this tradition by highlighting the voices of subjects schooled within a working class context, as well as by demonstrating positive examples of engaged learning.

Many of Hicks’ methodological and writing strategies demonstrate a strong connection to the historical context. Firstly, she contextualizes the geographic location based on historical understanding. She discusses its physical make-up, position within the larger urban space and, also, demographic profiles within a historical context. The critical inquiry piece here is that neighborhoods do not simply arise, just as residents are not divorced from their space—neighborhoods themselves do not exist separately from the forces that construct them (Hicks, 2005). She specifically mentions factors such as factory closings that occurred long before her students were born, largely as a means to highlight the ways in which communities live under the economic shadows of what came before. It is clear within a historical context that events do not just happen and dissipate; they continue to have an effect on what comes after them.

Hicks is also able to engage with the historical context by extending her study over a year-long period (She even goes so far as to refer to her data as a “history” (p. 173)). By looking at the girls over a period of time, she engages with notions of change. The other way in which she engages with the historical context is by situating her methodology and theoretical framework within a trajectory of study, wherein she cites the work of Gee (2004) and other practitioners of new literacy studies. In so doing, she draws a historical lens over her specific research, as well as engaging in a larger theoretical conversation.

Political Context

Within critical theory, it is impossible to create barriers between the political, postmodern, and philosophical contexts. Like the postmodern world we live in, they are liquid, and flow into each other at different times of the research and inquiry process. First and foremost, we currently live in the postmodern era and, thus, all contemporary research is firmly rooted within that particular framework. Secondly, if, as Pinar (1978) claims, all intellectual acts are inherently political, then any act of research by an individual or institution is, of course, political as well. Finally, thoughtful considerations of philosophy hold these concepts together and, through the philosophical context, dialogue and discourse are created to enable change. Nonetheless, the political aspect of critical theory is interwoven into all four contexts and must always be present in any research that aims to be called “critical.”

The Frankfurt School, notably Max Horkheimer, is central in exploring the political context of critical theory. Horkheimer (1972) states in his pivotal work, Critical Theory , that there cannot be many defined criteria for critical theory, as it is a product of its political, social, cultural, and economic contexts and is, thus, continually changing; however, he argues that critical theory must always contain the unfaltering “concern for the abolition of social injustice” (p. 242), a sentiment echoed by scholars such as Giroux (2004) and Lather (1986).

Lather (1986), in particular, argues that researchers should employ critical theory in order to avoid the “rape model” of research—namely, objectifying and “othering” one’s research subject. Critical theory can help researchers and institutions build and maintain “a more collaborative approach...to empower the researched, to build emancipatory theory, and to move toward the establishment of data credibility within praxis-oriented, advocacy research” (Lather, 1986, p. 272). Essentially, the goal of critical theory should be to encourage and facilitate emancipatory change for the oppressed, marginalized and misunderstood. For example, in her article, Hicks investigates—and eventually advocates for—the typically “hidden face of poverty” or the hidden “white” face of poverty. Intrigued and surprised by the “predominant Whiteness of the neighbourhood” (p. 171), where she situates her research, Hicks draws attention to an often overlooked area in urban poverty research.

The change called for in critical inquiry can be demonstrated through the realization of agency, which is central to the political context, and to critical inquiry as well: “the political contexts at work within society impact upon one’s sense of agency” (Cooper & White, 2012, p. 72). In Hicks’ article, her goal (though flawed by her own middle-class biases and preconceptions of the working-poor) was to investigate the experience of girlhood in working-poor America, and how the school language practices—mainly reading novels—were “layered within their cultural and material lives” (p. 172). Though her research began with a more observational rather than advocacy focus, Hicks accomplished the praxis-oriented research that is often advocated by Lather (1986) and other critical researchers and theorists. When one student, Brandy, voiced her newfound confidence and proclaimed that “We can start to control this [their situation] by just sitting down and talking” (p. 184), she demonstrated that she had begun to realize her agency—the first step towards the change that critical theory champions.

The students in Hicks’ research also struggled with “juggling the tension and ambiguity of their class differences in a middle-class school culture” (p. 173). This is clearly evident in Hicks’ demonstration of her own middle-class cultural capital, when she attempts to begin the course with a text that the girls simply did not relate to, involving a cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1985) that rested outside of their realm of experience. Instead, the girls chose to focus on a type of text that was familiar to them: horror paperbacks. This shift in the types of literature that the students gravitated towards raises some critical questions: Are students in working-poor, urban neighbourhoods only capable of consuming simple, seemingly “low brow” texts? Should educators push those students beyond their comfortable reading environment into something more literary?

It is here that the true task of critical inquiry begins to take shape: “Literary” for whom, exactly? Why are these texts considered to be “low brow?” Why do we feel the need to teach certain accepted texts within the English classroom? While not specifically stating that these questions entered her research, Hicks displays in her article her engagement with these issues, as she questions her own cultural capital and decides to investigate, instead, the possibilities that lay within the horror paperbacks for unveiling the layered meanings of her students’ identities.

By taking this critical approach, Hicks’ grounds herself in the realm of critical pedagogy for political and social change—after reflecting on and altering her preconceptions of the cultural awareness and capital of her students, she provided them with a forum to be heard and to express their own cultural hauntings. Bauman (1997) claims that “the key to a problem as large as social justice lies in a problem as (ostensibly) small-scale as the primal moral act of taking up responsibility for the other nearby” (p. 70)—while Hicks may not have solved the issue of social justice, her research and willingness to speak and listen to these young girls illustrates her commitment to this group in working-poor America.

Postmodern Context

Critical theory argues that, in our postmodern society, normative assumptions and dominant perspectives of politics, culture and society often remain unquestioned. Horkheimer (1972) proposes that we re-evaluate our interactions and place within society a renewed consciousness that is “dominated at every turn by a concern for reasonable conditions of life” (pp. 198-199). Of course, the critical researcher must question and define what is meant by “reasonable conditions of life;” the researcher must also focus on how that is attainable for each individual. For many theorists, the key lies in the search for individual and collective agency. For example, once the young girls in Hicks’ class developed and discovered their personal stories and voices, they were able to create a larger, collaborative agency that, potentially, could be heard outside of their small, working-poor neighbourhood classroom.

Central to the postmodern context is the move from a producer to a consumer society, and the power dynamics that occur as a result—a concept encountered by many critical theorists and researchers. Foucault (1982) claims that, for society to progress to a more equitable and open society, we are in desperate need of a “new economy of power relations” (p. 779). However, as Giroux (2004) notes, it is important to remember that, within our capitalist, postmodern society, power does not disappear but, rather, becomes reworked, replayed and restaged; perhaps that reworking of power can result from the turn from consumer to producer.

Bauman also voices his concern for our movement from a producer society to a consumer society and notes that, “if unchecked, [it] will spell dire consequences for humanity” (quoted in Cooper & White, 2012, p. 86). He further explains that the concept of choice, and the deceptively simple ability to choose, is yet another crucial component of our postmodern condition, rooted in the dichotomy of producer and consumer. Surrounded by menial daily choices of what espresso drink to purchase, television program to fit into our schedule or Twitter account to follow, it is clear that our postmodern society values choice. Bauman would argue, however, that these are quick, meaningless choices that require little to no responsibility once the choice has been made, but it is these choices that create and shape our identities, only to be “adopted and discarded like a change of costume” (1997, p. 88).

In Hicks’ article, her students began as consumers. They were drawn to the paperback horrors because of their distribution and saturation within the media, from television programs such as Goosebumps , as well as other film interpretations of the genre. However, once they began creating the same horror texts that they originally consumed and became producers, they found their voices and became individuals with their own sense of agency and the awareness of their autobiographical situation within their postmodern, political world.

Even so, Hicks’ students do not have the same choices as many of their middle-class counterparts. Our consumer-driven society emphasizes the constant need for choice, yet so many fail to have the privilege of choice. Indeed, the word “fail” might seem insensitive and severe but, in a consumer-driven society, members of the working-poor have neither the ability nor the means to choose and participate in material culture. In her article, Hicks observes that her students fail to meet the material standards of the dominant, middle-class culture and, therefore, their ability to live within the consumer, postmodern world is gone; there are no jobs left in their area and, so, the “material possibilities” have disappeared for the youth in this working-poor neighbourhood (p. 170). In addition to their attempted participation in the middle-class consumer culture, the young girls also continuously struggle with “juggling the tension and ambiguity of their class differences in a middle-class school culture” (p. 173). If material possibilities are valued in identity construction in a postmodern consumer society, then the students’ inability to obtain them means a negation of individuality and agency and, thus, the potential for collective action and change.

Philosophical Context

The girls in Hicks’ summer school reading group may have juggled tensions and struggled with expression, but they certainly took matters into their own hands when they decided to circulate horror paperbacks amongst themselves. Hicks’ article illustrates a difference between education and schooling, and these young girls in working-poor America used the horror paperbacks as a means of creating their own form of education. Postmodern critical philosopher Maxine Greene (1988) notes the philosophical differences between schooling and education, and argues that “Education...encourages individuals to grow and to become, while schooling constrains students to become servants of a technocratic society” (Cooper & White, 2012, p. 106). This is particularly crucial to coming to an understanding of the dynamic nature of critical theory and, thus, critical pedagogy. Schooling, in Hicks’ situation, relied on a middle-class cultural capital that was not in the same sphere of experience as the education that the girls created for themselves, based on their interests and understandings. They began reading these texts as a self-created peer reading group and it was from this form of education, on the periphery of a middle-class school culture and environment, that the educator, Hicks, noticed the potential in exploring (and further complicating) the layered meanings of the girls’ identities.

Greene (1988) also states that imagination is central to developing one’s particular perspective and realizing one’s individual agency.

It takes imagination to become aware that a search is possible, and there are analogies here to the kind of learning we want to stimulate...it takes imagination on the part of the young people to perceive openings through which they can move. (Cooper & White, 2012, p. 110)

Greene’s (1988) emphasis on imagination paving the path to freedom is central to understanding the philosophical context of critical inquiry and also the philosophical context of Hick’s research. During a discussion of The Wizard of Oz, Hicks asked her students if, given the choice, they would choose to stay in Oz or go back to Kansas. One student, Shannon, imagines her escape from her current situation in a heartbreaking revelation:

I would choose Oz because it’s a beautiful land and up there you don’t hear no gunshots. And you don’t walk on glass and don’t hear people hollering and screaming at you like you do here. (Hicks, 2005, p. 183)

Shannon might not have made a plan of action for escaping her reality, but her imagination in this one instance displays her awareness of her political, social and economic situation, and her desire to escape. Picturing a better place—even one that is imaginary—could have been Shannon’s first step into plucking herself from her reality and escaping into a new one of change and autonomy (Greene, 1988).

Critics often blame critical inquiry for its emphasis on the language of critique, rather than the language of possibility. For example, Elizabeth Ellsworth (1989) expresses her doubt in critical inquiry’s empowering and transformative powers. She argues that “the discourse of critical pedagogy is based on rationalist assumptions that give rise to repressive myths,” and critical pedagogues “perpetuate relations of domination in their classrooms” (p. 297). Like Ellsworth, Viviane Robinson (1992) argues that there is a paradox at the heart of critical inquiry’s endeavours for emancipation. When critical researchers offer alternative understandings of subjects’ situations, their offer has two “arrogant” claims:

a) subjects’ (mis)understandings are at least in part responsible for the situation they find unacceptable; and (b) the alternative understandings offered by the critical social scientist, if acted on, would result in outcomes that are more effective and fulfilling than those currently experienced. (p. 346)

Nonetheless, critical inquiry is, by its nature, self-critical, and critical theorists assert that, while these may be potential issues, true critical inquiry inherently addresses these problems. Rather than criticizing the nature of critical inquiry, Canella and Lincoln (2009) identify three issues that may marginalize and disempower critical inquiry, thus impacting its reception amongst academic and general populations. First, a high level of abstraction and use of difficult language keep the work of critical inquiry away from broader audiences. Second, political forces often attack diversity and discredit critique. Finally, the rise of neoliberalism and hyper-capitalism suppress critical inquiry and privileges evidence-based, positivistic research.

In this article, we have used the five contexts for qualitative research (Cooper & White, 2012) to understand the possibilities for empowerment in critical educational research. In our analysis, Hicks’ (2005) article has provided examples of how teachers can adopt responsive and dialogic pedagogies that “start with close readings of students’ lives and voices” (p. 188). Through her constant reflective, self-critical, and participatory methodology, Hicks avoids the potential pitfalls of critical inquiry and, instead, epitomizes the language of possibility in critical inquiry. Thus, the five contexts of Cooper and White (2012) exemplified through Hicks (2005) illustrate the emancipatory potentials of critical educational research by engaging “the researched in a democratized process of inquiry characterized by negotiation, reciprocity, [and] empowerment” (Lather, 1986, p. 257).

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White, R.E., Cooper, K. (2022). An Introduction to Critical Approaches. In: Qualitative Research in the Post-Modern Era. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-85124-8_2

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Choosing the Right Research Methodology: A Guide for Researchers

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Table of Contents

Choosing an optimal research methodology is crucial for the success of any research project. The methodology you select will determine the type of data you collect, how you collect it, and how you analyse it. Understanding the different types of research methods available along with their strengths and weaknesses, is thus imperative to make an informed decision.

Understanding different research methods:

There are several research methods available depending on the type of study you are conducting, i.e., whether it is laboratory-based, clinical, epidemiological, or survey based . Some common methodologies include qualitative research, quantitative research, experimental research, survey-based research, and action research. Each method can be opted for and modified, depending on the type of research hypotheses and objectives.

Qualitative vs quantitative research:

When deciding on a research methodology, one of the key factors to consider is whether your research will be qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative research is used to understand people’s experiences, concepts, thoughts, or behaviours . Quantitative research, on the contrary, deals with numbers, graphs, and charts, and is used to test or confirm hypotheses, assumptions, and theories. 

Qualitative research methodology:

Qualitative research is often used to examine issues that are not well understood, and to gather additional insights on these topics. Qualitative research methods include open-ended survey questions, observations of behaviours described through words, and reviews of literature that has explored similar theories and ideas. These methods are used to understand how language is used in real-world situations, identify common themes or overarching ideas, and describe and interpret various texts. Data analysis for qualitative research typically includes discourse analysis, thematic analysis, and textual analysis. 

Quantitative research methodology:

The goal of quantitative research is to test hypotheses, confirm assumptions and theories, and determine cause-and-effect relationships. Quantitative research methods include experiments, close-ended survey questions, and countable and numbered observations. Data analysis for quantitative research relies heavily on statistical methods.

Analysing qualitative vs quantitative data:

The methods used for data analysis also differ for qualitative and quantitative research. As mentioned earlier, quantitative data is generally analysed using statistical methods and does not leave much room for speculation. It is more structured and follows a predetermined plan. In quantitative research, the researcher starts with a hypothesis and uses statistical methods to test it. Contrarily, methods used for qualitative data analysis can identify patterns and themes within the data, rather than provide statistical measures of the data. It is an iterative process, where the researcher goes back and forth trying to gauge the larger implications of the data through different perspectives and revising the analysis if required.

When to use qualitative vs quantitative research:

The choice between qualitative and quantitative research will depend on the gap that the research project aims to address, and specific objectives of the study. If the goal is to establish facts about a subject or topic, quantitative research is an appropriate choice. However, if the goal is to understand people’s experiences or perspectives, qualitative research may be more suitable. 


In conclusion, an understanding of the different research methods available, their applicability, advantages, and disadvantages is essential for making an informed decision on the best methodology for your project. If you need any additional guidance on which research methodology to opt for, you can head over to Elsevier Author Services (EAS). EAS experts will guide you throughout the process and help you choose the perfect methodology for your research goals.

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What Is a Research Design | Types, Guide & Examples

Published on June 7, 2021 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023 by Pritha Bhandari.

A research design is a strategy for answering your   research question  using empirical data. Creating a research design means making decisions about:

  • Your overall research objectives and approach
  • Whether you’ll rely on primary research or secondary research
  • Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects
  • Your data collection methods
  • The procedures you’ll follow to collect data
  • Your data analysis methods

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research objectives and that you use the right kind of analysis for your data.

Table of contents

Step 1: consider your aims and approach, step 2: choose a type of research design, step 3: identify your population and sampling method, step 4: choose your data collection methods, step 5: plan your data collection procedures, step 6: decide on your data analysis strategies, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research design.

  • Introduction

Before you can start designing your research, you should already have a clear idea of the research question you want to investigate.

There are many different ways you could go about answering this question. Your research design choices should be driven by your aims and priorities—start by thinking carefully about what you want to achieve.

The first choice you need to make is whether you’ll take a qualitative or quantitative approach.

Qualitative approach Quantitative approach
and describe frequencies, averages, and correlations about relationships between variables

Qualitative research designs tend to be more flexible and inductive , allowing you to adjust your approach based on what you find throughout the research process.

Quantitative research designs tend to be more fixed and deductive , with variables and hypotheses clearly defined in advance of data collection.

It’s also possible to use a mixed-methods design that integrates aspects of both approaches. By combining qualitative and quantitative insights, you can gain a more complete picture of the problem you’re studying and strengthen the credibility of your conclusions.

Practical and ethical considerations when designing research

As well as scientific considerations, you need to think practically when designing your research. If your research involves people or animals, you also need to consider research ethics .

  • How much time do you have to collect data and write up the research?
  • Will you be able to gain access to the data you need (e.g., by travelling to a specific location or contacting specific people)?
  • Do you have the necessary research skills (e.g., statistical analysis or interview techniques)?
  • Will you need ethical approval ?

At each stage of the research design process, make sure that your choices are practically feasible.

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types of critical research methods

Within both qualitative and quantitative approaches, there are several types of research design to choose from. Each type provides a framework for the overall shape of your research.

Types of quantitative research designs

Quantitative designs can be split into four main types.

  • Experimental and   quasi-experimental designs allow you to test cause-and-effect relationships
  • Descriptive and correlational designs allow you to measure variables and describe relationships between them.
Type of design Purpose and characteristics
Experimental relationships effect on a
Quasi-experimental )

With descriptive and correlational designs, you can get a clear picture of characteristics, trends and relationships as they exist in the real world. However, you can’t draw conclusions about cause and effect (because correlation doesn’t imply causation ).

Experiments are the strongest way to test cause-and-effect relationships without the risk of other variables influencing the results. However, their controlled conditions may not always reflect how things work in the real world. They’re often also more difficult and expensive to implement.

Types of qualitative research designs

Qualitative designs are less strictly defined. This approach is about gaining a rich, detailed understanding of a specific context or phenomenon, and you can often be more creative and flexible in designing your research.

The table below shows some common types of qualitative design. They often have similar approaches in terms of data collection, but focus on different aspects when analyzing the data.

Type of design Purpose and characteristics
Grounded theory

Your research design should clearly define who or what your research will focus on, and how you’ll go about choosing your participants or subjects.

In research, a population is the entire group that you want to draw conclusions about, while a sample is the smaller group of individuals you’ll actually collect data from.

Defining the population

A population can be made up of anything you want to study—plants, animals, organizations, texts, countries, etc. In the social sciences, it most often refers to a group of people.

For example, will you focus on people from a specific demographic, region or background? Are you interested in people with a certain job or medical condition, or users of a particular product?

The more precisely you define your population, the easier it will be to gather a representative sample.

  • Sampling methods

Even with a narrowly defined population, it’s rarely possible to collect data from every individual. Instead, you’ll collect data from a sample.

To select a sample, there are two main approaches: probability sampling and non-probability sampling . The sampling method you use affects how confidently you can generalize your results to the population as a whole.

Probability sampling Non-probability sampling

Probability sampling is the most statistically valid option, but it’s often difficult to achieve unless you’re dealing with a very small and accessible population.

For practical reasons, many studies use non-probability sampling, but it’s important to be aware of the limitations and carefully consider potential biases. You should always make an effort to gather a sample that’s as representative as possible of the population.

Case selection in qualitative research

In some types of qualitative designs, sampling may not be relevant.

For example, in an ethnography or a case study , your aim is to deeply understand a specific context, not to generalize to a population. Instead of sampling, you may simply aim to collect as much data as possible about the context you are studying.

In these types of design, you still have to carefully consider your choice of case or community. You should have a clear rationale for why this particular case is suitable for answering your research question .

For example, you might choose a case study that reveals an unusual or neglected aspect of your research problem, or you might choose several very similar or very different cases in order to compare them.

Data collection methods are ways of directly measuring variables and gathering information. They allow you to gain first-hand knowledge and original insights into your research problem.

You can choose just one data collection method, or use several methods in the same study.

Survey methods

Surveys allow you to collect data about opinions, behaviors, experiences, and characteristics by asking people directly. There are two main survey methods to choose from: questionnaires and interviews .

Questionnaires Interviews

Observation methods

Observational studies allow you to collect data unobtrusively, observing characteristics, behaviors or social interactions without relying on self-reporting.

Observations may be conducted in real time, taking notes as you observe, or you might make audiovisual recordings for later analysis. They can be qualitative or quantitative.

Quantitative observation

Other methods of data collection

There are many other ways you might collect data depending on your field and topic.

Field Examples of data collection methods
Media & communication Collecting a sample of texts (e.g., speeches, articles, or social media posts) for data on cultural norms and narratives
Psychology Using technologies like neuroimaging, eye-tracking, or computer-based tasks to collect data on things like attention, emotional response, or reaction time
Education Using tests or assignments to collect data on knowledge and skills
Physical sciences Using scientific instruments to collect data on things like weight, blood pressure, or chemical composition

If you’re not sure which methods will work best for your research design, try reading some papers in your field to see what kinds of data collection methods they used.

Secondary data

If you don’t have the time or resources to collect data from the population you’re interested in, you can also choose to use secondary data that other researchers already collected—for example, datasets from government surveys or previous studies on your topic.

With this raw data, you can do your own analysis to answer new research questions that weren’t addressed by the original study.

Using secondary data can expand the scope of your research, as you may be able to access much larger and more varied samples than you could collect yourself.

However, it also means you don’t have any control over which variables to measure or how to measure them, so the conclusions you can draw may be limited.

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As well as deciding on your methods, you need to plan exactly how you’ll use these methods to collect data that’s consistent, accurate, and unbiased.

Planning systematic procedures is especially important in quantitative research, where you need to precisely define your variables and ensure your measurements are high in reliability and validity.


Some variables, like height or age, are easily measured. But often you’ll be dealing with more abstract concepts, like satisfaction, anxiety, or competence. Operationalization means turning these fuzzy ideas into measurable indicators.

If you’re using observations , which events or actions will you count?

If you’re using surveys , which questions will you ask and what range of responses will be offered?

You may also choose to use or adapt existing materials designed to measure the concept you’re interested in—for example, questionnaires or inventories whose reliability and validity has already been established.

Reliability and validity

Reliability means your results can be consistently reproduced, while validity means that you’re actually measuring the concept you’re interested in.

Reliability Validity
) )

For valid and reliable results, your measurement materials should be thoroughly researched and carefully designed. Plan your procedures to make sure you carry out the same steps in the same way for each participant.

If you’re developing a new questionnaire or other instrument to measure a specific concept, running a pilot study allows you to check its validity and reliability in advance.

Sampling procedures

As well as choosing an appropriate sampling method , you need a concrete plan for how you’ll actually contact and recruit your selected sample.

That means making decisions about things like:

  • How many participants do you need for an adequate sample size?
  • What inclusion and exclusion criteria will you use to identify eligible participants?
  • How will you contact your sample—by mail, online, by phone, or in person?

If you’re using a probability sampling method , it’s important that everyone who is randomly selected actually participates in the study. How will you ensure a high response rate?

If you’re using a non-probability method , how will you avoid research bias and ensure a representative sample?

Data management

It’s also important to create a data management plan for organizing and storing your data.

Will you need to transcribe interviews or perform data entry for observations? You should anonymize and safeguard any sensitive data, and make sure it’s backed up regularly.

Keeping your data well-organized will save time when it comes to analyzing it. It can also help other researchers validate and add to your findings (high replicability ).

On its own, raw data can’t answer your research question. The last step of designing your research is planning how you’ll analyze the data.

Quantitative data analysis

In quantitative research, you’ll most likely use some form of statistical analysis . With statistics, you can summarize your sample data, make estimates, and test hypotheses.

Using descriptive statistics , you can summarize your sample data in terms of:

  • The distribution of the data (e.g., the frequency of each score on a test)
  • The central tendency of the data (e.g., the mean to describe the average score)
  • The variability of the data (e.g., the standard deviation to describe how spread out the scores are)

The specific calculations you can do depend on the level of measurement of your variables.

Using inferential statistics , you can:

  • Make estimates about the population based on your sample data.
  • Test hypotheses about a relationship between variables.

Regression and correlation tests look for associations between two or more variables, while comparison tests (such as t tests and ANOVAs ) look for differences in the outcomes of different groups.

Your choice of statistical test depends on various aspects of your research design, including the types of variables you’re dealing with and the distribution of your data.

Qualitative data analysis

In qualitative research, your data will usually be very dense with information and ideas. Instead of summing it up in numbers, you’ll need to comb through the data in detail, interpret its meanings, identify patterns, and extract the parts that are most relevant to your research question.

Two of the most common approaches to doing this are thematic analysis and discourse analysis .

Approach Characteristics
Thematic analysis
Discourse analysis

There are many other ways of analyzing qualitative data depending on the aims of your research. To get a sense of potential approaches, try reading some qualitative research papers in your field.

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A research design is a strategy for answering your   research question . It defines your overall approach and determines how you will collect and analyze data.

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research aims, that you collect high-quality data, and that you use the right kind of analysis to answer your questions, utilizing credible sources . This allows you to draw valid , trustworthy conclusions.

Quantitative research designs can be divided into two main categories:

  • Correlational and descriptive designs are used to investigate characteristics, averages, trends, and associations between variables.
  • Experimental and quasi-experimental designs are used to test causal relationships .

Qualitative research designs tend to be more flexible. Common types of qualitative design include case study , ethnography , and grounded theory designs.

The priorities of a research design can vary depending on the field, but you usually have to specify:

  • Your research questions and/or hypotheses
  • Your overall approach (e.g., qualitative or quantitative )
  • The type of design you’re using (e.g., a survey , experiment , or case study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., questionnaires , observations)
  • Your data collection procedures (e.g., operationalization , timing and data management)
  • Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical tests  or thematic analysis )

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

Operationalization means turning abstract conceptual ideas into measurable observations.

For example, the concept of social anxiety isn’t directly observable, but it can be operationally defined in terms of self-rating scores, behavioral avoidance of crowded places, or physical anxiety symptoms in social situations.

Before collecting data , it’s important to consider how you will operationalize the variables that you want to measure.

A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question . Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative , descriptive , longitudinal , experimental , or correlational . What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

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Critical Research and Qualitative Methodologies: Theoretical Foundations and Contribution to Nursing Research


  • 1 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada [email protected].
  • 2 Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Saint-Jérome, Québec, Canada.
  • PMID: 35584891
  • DOI: 10.1891/RTNP-2021-0014

Background: Methodological approaches that draw on critical perspectives (critical ethnography, critical phenomenology, and critical grounded theory) share common concepts, including social justice, reflexivity, positionality, pragmatism and social transformation. These approaches differ from conventional phenomenology, ethnography and grounded theory despite sharing common methodological grounds. Purpose: In this article, we will outline the major contributions of critical theory, as a research paradigm, to the development and evolution of qualitative methodologies. In particular, we will discuss their application to nursing research. The historical and conceptual underpinnings of these critical methodologies will first be described to highlight their paradigmatic characteristics and implications for nursing. Implications for Practice: Although not yet widely employed in nursing research, critical qualitative methodologies are particularly well suited to the discipline as they shed light on issues of power, social control, and marginalization among the vulnerable populations with whom nurses practise on a daily basis. The use of critical approaches can expose the epistemic injustice and social and health inequality that continue to prevail in our society.

Keywords: critical theory; ethnography; grounded theory; phenomenology; qualitative methods.

© Copyright 2022 Springer Publishing Company, LLC.

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The Complete Guide to Mastering the 6 Most Critical Types of Research for Any Research Endeavor

types of research

Understanding the six most critical types of research is an absolute must for market researchers and general researchers alike. 

The world of research is ever-expanding as new technologies evolve, new techniques for obtaining data arise and more secondary sources become available to the public.

However, the six chief types of research remain as the foremost processes for conducting investigations. They refer to specific types of research which include more than merely using a method of study.

This guide explains the six prominent types of research, when to use each, how they benefit business and more.

Defining the Major Types of Research

For the purpose of general research, a major type of research does not refer to conducting studies on a designated topic of choice (for example, sales research).

So what defines a “major” type of research?

When categorizing research into several key varieties, a “type of research” refers to a particular form of research that can examine virtually any topic and its variables, thorough particular means and approaches. These approaches involve using distinct components such as methods, processes and frequencies particular to one kind of research.

These components form the core of the research type, making it feasible to differentiate from others. Each variety of research is also bound by a unique purpose . This purpose is not thematic , as it can be applied to all kinds of subjects of study.

Despite operating through different approaches and methods, some forms of research share several features , including the purpose of the study/ the kind of results it seeks to some extent. 

The Need to Understand the Different Types of Research

Whether you operate under a B2C or a B2B business, either as a business owner or market researcher, you ought to verse yourself in the different types of research. This includes being able to distinguish between them and not confusing one for another. 

Before you tackle any area of concern to investigate for your research needs, you need to assure you’re setting your research project up for success. In order to form an effective research campaign, you’ll need to be methodical. 

This means you’ll need to tend to several concerns to build a successful campaign. This involves organizing your topic of study and inquiries into a particular variety of research. 

Doing so will ensure you apply the correct market research techniques and methods, the kinds that best suit the inquiries and needs of your topic of research, thus, best tending to your concerns.

When you use the correct type of research for your study, you’ll be able to understand it more thoroughly and thereby find more fitting changes and solutions . This is especially true when your area of study is a problem you would like to minimize or reverse. 

Using the correct form of research will also ensure that you are measuring and observing the correct elements and by way of a frequency best suited towards your research issue. 

Moreover, when you employ the proper type of research, it is far less likely to come upon errors and gaps that require answers. Thus, there is less of a need to start again or switch to a different type of research.

All of these areas of importance would be impossible to fulfill if you do not become familiar with them and are not able to tell them apart.  

The following explains the six most critical types of research.

Exploratory Research

What it is: Used to reveal facts and details around a topic with little to no research, exploratory research forms the foundation of the research process. It identifies a topic, be it an issue or a phenomenon with scant details and seeks to find its basic properties. 

As such, it finds the correct variables the researcher needs in order to begin the study, understand its basic elements and form a hypothesis. The key issue at hand, its variables and its hypothesis are used for further research. 

Essentially, this kind of research forms the premise of a research campaign, assuring that the variables and other components are indeed what the researcher needs to study in the next steps (other types of research). 

Stage in the research process: The very first

Conclusive ? No

How it benefits a business: Before a business can explore an issue in-depth, it needs to decide on a specific topic, the existing problem within the topic and its key variables. This ensures the business is equipped to enter the next research stage (type) and that it does not have any extraneous variables or concerns that do not contribute to solving the problem. 

Descriptive Research

What it is: This type of research is premised on describing a phenomenon, behavior or problem discovered in an earlier stage of research, usually in exploratory research, although it can also be focused around that which was discovered in explanatory research. 

Descriptive research describes the nuances of a population, a variable or occurrence that a researcher requires further study on. Its objective centers on finding previously unknown facts or extracting more details on facets with fewer details.

It focuses on the what, how, when and where of a study rather than on the why.

Stage in the research process: The early portion of the middle stage 

Conclusive ? Yes

How it benefits a business: It is crucial for a business to understand a phenomenon and its variables in a full or close-to-full context. This type of research helps a business do just that, as it finds all the key details about a phenomenon that a business may not have known about before conducting the research. 

What’s more is that, as a primarily quantitative form of research, it is apt for creating statistics. Being statistically-oriented allows this form of research to be conclusive, although it is considered to be in the early mid-stages of an entire research project.

These statistics are not simply key for internal resource purposes, but they provide a differentiating ingredient for your content. A strong content marketing strategy relies on putting out original insights; the data you derive from descriptive research is as original as it gets. This can be accomplished when you opt for a primary method (such as survey research).

Explanatory Research

types of critical research methods

What it is: Explanatory research is based on research that explains the already established aspects in a research campaign. It fills in the gaps and connects the dots from exploratory and descriptive research.

This type of research is unique in that it can be conducted either prior to or after descriptive research. As such, it rests in the early to mid-stages of the overall research process. 

Like descriptive research, it works to shine a light on the various details that make up a research subject of study. However, contrary to descriptive research, it does not simply seek to describe, but rather to explain.

Thus, this research category falls under qualitative research . It helps find the why of a problem or phenomenon. It is not conclusive. 

Stage in the research process: Early to mid-stages (can be performed before or after descriptive research, depending on a business’s needs). 

How it benefits a business: It benefits a business in that it seeks to go beyond describing a subject of study. Rather, it plunges into a subject in greater depth, finding the kinds of insights that descriptive research cannot.

Additionally, it is flexible. It can be conducted following exploratory research and either before or after descriptive research, the only research of its kind to offer this benefit.

This research involves studying an important aspect that is studied in the later stages of the entire process, that of cause and effect. Explanatory research studies cause and effect relationships so as to explain their scope and nature, a critical precursor for correlational and causal research. 

Correlational Research 

What it is: Correlational research is a study into the relationship between two variables. Inspecting precisely two variables, this type of research seeks to discover and render the relationship between variables suspected of relating in some way.

This research seeks to make sense out of the variables identified in earlier stages of research. Although correlational research is not sufficient to conclude on cause and effect relationships, it is necessary to conduct to find whether a relationship between variables exists to begin with.  

An observational form of research, it is non-experimental; there is no controlling or manipulation of the variables involved.  

The relationship between the variables can be either positive, negative or zero (nonexistent). 

Stage in the research process: Middle stage 

How it benefits a business: Being able to determine if there is a positive, negative or zero correlation between two variables allows researchers to know how to move on to the next step: finding a cause and effect relationship between the variables. 

A zero correlation informs a business that there’s no need to further study the relationship between two particular variables, saving the business money and time. A negative or positive correlation dictates that further research is needed to discover whether there is cause and effect relationship.

Either way, the results derived from this type of research are highly influential on the next steps a business decides to take in their research process: whether to end it, continue and how. 

Above all, it reveals how two variables relate to one other, giving a business a clearer picture of the environment they operate within, whether the variables concern sales figures, impressions or something more abstract like customer loyalty. 

Causal Research 

What it is: Causal research is founded on the undertaking of determining cause and effect relationships. As such, it involves conducting experiments and testing markets in a controlled setting. It is more scientific than any of the previous types of research.

This kind of research uses the findings from correlational and explanatory research in an attempt to unearth causal relationships. Since correlation does not equal causation, causal research studies whether the variables with a negative or positive correlation have any effect on the other variable(s) in the study .

Causal research has two objectives: finding which variable forms the cause and which makes up the effect, and understanding the relationship of the causal variables after the effect occurs. 

Stage in the research process: Late-final stage 

How it benefits a business: Often the final form of research, causal research is critical to complete the entire process. It involves conducting both secondary and primary research, the latter of which is experimental.

As such, this research type does not only observe, rather it investigates the variables themselves, manipulating them and controlling them as needed. This is crucial for a business in that it not only analyzes, but proves the existence of a causal relationship , along with how the effect manifests.

Thus, this research is not only conclusive, as it finds the most important result that a business or market researcher seeks: a proven answer to their hypothesis. This allows researchers to close off the research process, or conduct further experimental research if they so choose.

Experimental Research 

types of critical research methods

What it is: Experimental research vigorously follows a scientific research design . It is entirely scientific, more so than causal research, as it nearly, if not fully implements the scientific method towards finding a solution.

The final stage of the research process, this kind of research uses all the information from the previous stages to conduct an experiment to test a hypothesis. It can also follow causal research; causal research itself is a kind of experimental research.

Researchers can conduct further experiments on the variables they found causal relationships for, in that they can test how to reverse an unwanted correlation, or minimize it to some degree. Or, further experiments can show a business how to reap more benefits from a desired correlation.

Stage in the research process: Final stage 

How it benefits a business: Experimental research proves or disproves a hypothesis; as such, it is the final stage in the research process. It is the most scientific kind, leaving little to no room for errors, intuition or bias.

It can be used to accommodate causal research, digging further into a discovered cause and effect relationship. This is especially important for a business, as while it is critical to know whether a causal relationship exists, understanding how to move forward with this knowledge is of the essence.

Experimental research allows brands to test discovered causal relationships further, finding much-needed solutions. For example, a brand may want to learn how to reduce an unwanted correlation or to increase a needed correlation. Moreover, conducting further experiments can show brands how to gain a desired causal relationship sooner.

Complementing Your Research

In summary, there are six major types of research. A market researcher must consider these carefully before setting up their market research campaign. In order to build a comprehensive and effective study, you need to be able to organize your research.

To begin this endeavor, you need to classify your research topic(s) under a particular campaign, such as advertising, for example. Following this, you need to create a smooth and educated process. Thus, you need to follow the research process by way of the 6 dominant forms of research that this guide explains.

Doing so will ensure you conduct a comprehensive research campaign, one that leaves little to discover, except for possible future events, In order to complement your research, you need to conduct effective surveys for research campaigns. These allow you to understand your target market or target population. Even in experimental research, conducting surveys helps fill in the cracks and find answers to the unknown. Understanding your respondents, i.e., customers is paramount for a business. The proper online survey tool does not solely compliment a business or research endeavor, it completes it.

Frequently asked questions

Why is it important for marketers to understand different types of research.

Your business may cater to unique customer segments, including people of different ages and interests. This is why it's important for any business owner and marketer to use the right kind of research methodology for their research campaign. The correct type of research enables you to understand the data more thoroughly and find more fitting changes and solutions.

What are the 6 most critical types of research?

The six critical types of research include exploratory research, descriptive research, explanatory research, correlational research, and causal research.

How do you get accurate information for your research campaigns?

To get accurate information for your research campaigns, it is essential that you make effective survey questions that enable you to understand your customers on a deeper level. Even if your research is experimental, it is necessary to complement it by conducting surveys to help fill in the gaps.

What is conclusive research and which research methods are conclusive?

Conclusive research tends to be quantitative in nature and helps marketers reach a decision. Experimental research, causal research, and descriptive research are all conclusive as they require data-sets analyzed to help reach a conclusion.

Why is exploratory research the first step in a research campaign?

Before a business can conduct an in-depth study on a particular topic or its customers, it is important first to understand the existing problem and how the research can help fix it. This information can form the trajectory for the business to enter the next research stage and make it clear what kind of research to conduct next.

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A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research Questions and Hypotheses in Scholarly Articles

Edward barroga.

1 Department of General Education, Graduate School of Nursing Science, St. Luke’s International University, Tokyo, Japan.

Glafera Janet Matanguihan

2 Department of Biological Sciences, Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA, USA.

The development of research questions and the subsequent hypotheses are prerequisites to defining the main research purpose and specific objectives of a study. Consequently, these objectives determine the study design and research outcome. The development of research questions is a process based on knowledge of current trends, cutting-edge studies, and technological advances in the research field. Excellent research questions are focused and require a comprehensive literature search and in-depth understanding of the problem being investigated. Initially, research questions may be written as descriptive questions which could be developed into inferential questions. These questions must be specific and concise to provide a clear foundation for developing hypotheses. Hypotheses are more formal predictions about the research outcomes. These specify the possible results that may or may not be expected regarding the relationship between groups. Thus, research questions and hypotheses clarify the main purpose and specific objectives of the study, which in turn dictate the design of the study, its direction, and outcome. Studies developed from good research questions and hypotheses will have trustworthy outcomes with wide-ranging social and health implications.


Scientific research is usually initiated by posing evidenced-based research questions which are then explicitly restated as hypotheses. 1 , 2 The hypotheses provide directions to guide the study, solutions, explanations, and expected results. 3 , 4 Both research questions and hypotheses are essentially formulated based on conventional theories and real-world processes, which allow the inception of novel studies and the ethical testing of ideas. 5 , 6

It is crucial to have knowledge of both quantitative and qualitative research 2 as both types of research involve writing research questions and hypotheses. 7 However, these crucial elements of research are sometimes overlooked; if not overlooked, then framed without the forethought and meticulous attention it needs. Planning and careful consideration are needed when developing quantitative or qualitative research, particularly when conceptualizing research questions and hypotheses. 4

There is a continuing need to support researchers in the creation of innovative research questions and hypotheses, as well as for journal articles that carefully review these elements. 1 When research questions and hypotheses are not carefully thought of, unethical studies and poor outcomes usually ensue. Carefully formulated research questions and hypotheses define well-founded objectives, which in turn determine the appropriate design, course, and outcome of the study. This article then aims to discuss in detail the various aspects of crafting research questions and hypotheses, with the goal of guiding researchers as they develop their own. Examples from the authors and peer-reviewed scientific articles in the healthcare field are provided to illustrate key points.


A research question is what a study aims to answer after data analysis and interpretation. The answer is written in length in the discussion section of the paper. Thus, the research question gives a preview of the different parts and variables of the study meant to address the problem posed in the research question. 1 An excellent research question clarifies the research writing while facilitating understanding of the research topic, objective, scope, and limitations of the study. 5

On the other hand, a research hypothesis is an educated statement of an expected outcome. This statement is based on background research and current knowledge. 8 , 9 The research hypothesis makes a specific prediction about a new phenomenon 10 or a formal statement on the expected relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable. 3 , 11 It provides a tentative answer to the research question to be tested or explored. 4

Hypotheses employ reasoning to predict a theory-based outcome. 10 These can also be developed from theories by focusing on components of theories that have not yet been observed. 10 The validity of hypotheses is often based on the testability of the prediction made in a reproducible experiment. 8

Conversely, hypotheses can also be rephrased as research questions. Several hypotheses based on existing theories and knowledge may be needed to answer a research question. Developing ethical research questions and hypotheses creates a research design that has logical relationships among variables. These relationships serve as a solid foundation for the conduct of the study. 4 , 11 Haphazardly constructed research questions can result in poorly formulated hypotheses and improper study designs, leading to unreliable results. Thus, the formulations of relevant research questions and verifiable hypotheses are crucial when beginning research. 12


Excellent research questions are specific and focused. These integrate collective data and observations to confirm or refute the subsequent hypotheses. Well-constructed hypotheses are based on previous reports and verify the research context. These are realistic, in-depth, sufficiently complex, and reproducible. More importantly, these hypotheses can be addressed and tested. 13

There are several characteristics of well-developed hypotheses. Good hypotheses are 1) empirically testable 7 , 10 , 11 , 13 ; 2) backed by preliminary evidence 9 ; 3) testable by ethical research 7 , 9 ; 4) based on original ideas 9 ; 5) have evidenced-based logical reasoning 10 ; and 6) can be predicted. 11 Good hypotheses can infer ethical and positive implications, indicating the presence of a relationship or effect relevant to the research theme. 7 , 11 These are initially developed from a general theory and branch into specific hypotheses by deductive reasoning. In the absence of a theory to base the hypotheses, inductive reasoning based on specific observations or findings form more general hypotheses. 10


Research questions and hypotheses are developed according to the type of research, which can be broadly classified into quantitative and qualitative research. We provide a summary of the types of research questions and hypotheses under quantitative and qualitative research categories in Table 1 .

Quantitative research questionsQuantitative research hypotheses
Descriptive research questionsSimple hypothesis
Comparative research questionsComplex hypothesis
Relationship research questionsDirectional hypothesis
Non-directional hypothesis
Associative hypothesis
Causal hypothesis
Null hypothesis
Alternative hypothesis
Working hypothesis
Statistical hypothesis
Logical hypothesis
Qualitative research questionsQualitative research hypotheses
Contextual research questionsHypothesis-generating
Descriptive research questions
Evaluation research questions
Explanatory research questions
Exploratory research questions
Generative research questions
Ideological research questions
Ethnographic research questions
Phenomenological research questions
Grounded theory questions
Qualitative case study questions

Research questions in quantitative research

In quantitative research, research questions inquire about the relationships among variables being investigated and are usually framed at the start of the study. These are precise and typically linked to the subject population, dependent and independent variables, and research design. 1 Research questions may also attempt to describe the behavior of a population in relation to one or more variables, or describe the characteristics of variables to be measured ( descriptive research questions ). 1 , 5 , 14 These questions may also aim to discover differences between groups within the context of an outcome variable ( comparative research questions ), 1 , 5 , 14 or elucidate trends and interactions among variables ( relationship research questions ). 1 , 5 We provide examples of descriptive, comparative, and relationship research questions in quantitative research in Table 2 .

Quantitative research questions
Descriptive research question
- Measures responses of subjects to variables
- Presents variables to measure, analyze, or assess
What is the proportion of resident doctors in the hospital who have mastered ultrasonography (response of subjects to a variable) as a diagnostic technique in their clinical training?
Comparative research question
- Clarifies difference between one group with outcome variable and another group without outcome variable
Is there a difference in the reduction of lung metastasis in osteosarcoma patients who received the vitamin D adjunctive therapy (group with outcome variable) compared with osteosarcoma patients who did not receive the vitamin D adjunctive therapy (group without outcome variable)?
- Compares the effects of variables
How does the vitamin D analogue 22-Oxacalcitriol (variable 1) mimic the antiproliferative activity of 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D (variable 2) in osteosarcoma cells?
Relationship research question
- Defines trends, association, relationships, or interactions between dependent variable and independent variable
Is there a relationship between the number of medical student suicide (dependent variable) and the level of medical student stress (independent variable) in Japan during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Hypotheses in quantitative research

In quantitative research, hypotheses predict the expected relationships among variables. 15 Relationships among variables that can be predicted include 1) between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable ( simple hypothesis ) or 2) between two or more independent and dependent variables ( complex hypothesis ). 4 , 11 Hypotheses may also specify the expected direction to be followed and imply an intellectual commitment to a particular outcome ( directional hypothesis ) 4 . On the other hand, hypotheses may not predict the exact direction and are used in the absence of a theory, or when findings contradict previous studies ( non-directional hypothesis ). 4 In addition, hypotheses can 1) define interdependency between variables ( associative hypothesis ), 4 2) propose an effect on the dependent variable from manipulation of the independent variable ( causal hypothesis ), 4 3) state a negative relationship between two variables ( null hypothesis ), 4 , 11 , 15 4) replace the working hypothesis if rejected ( alternative hypothesis ), 15 explain the relationship of phenomena to possibly generate a theory ( working hypothesis ), 11 5) involve quantifiable variables that can be tested statistically ( statistical hypothesis ), 11 6) or express a relationship whose interlinks can be verified logically ( logical hypothesis ). 11 We provide examples of simple, complex, directional, non-directional, associative, causal, null, alternative, working, statistical, and logical hypotheses in quantitative research, as well as the definition of quantitative hypothesis-testing research in Table 3 .

Quantitative research hypotheses
Simple hypothesis
- Predicts relationship between single dependent variable and single independent variable
If the dose of the new medication (single independent variable) is high, blood pressure (single dependent variable) is lowered.
Complex hypothesis
- Foretells relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables
The higher the use of anticancer drugs, radiation therapy, and adjunctive agents (3 independent variables), the higher would be the survival rate (1 dependent variable).
Directional hypothesis
- Identifies study direction based on theory towards particular outcome to clarify relationship between variables
Privately funded research projects will have a larger international scope (study direction) than publicly funded research projects.
Non-directional hypothesis
- Nature of relationship between two variables or exact study direction is not identified
- Does not involve a theory
Women and men are different in terms of helpfulness. (Exact study direction is not identified)
Associative hypothesis
- Describes variable interdependency
- Change in one variable causes change in another variable
A larger number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 in the region (change in independent variable) will reduce the region’s incidence of COVID-19 infection (change in dependent variable).
Causal hypothesis
- An effect on dependent variable is predicted from manipulation of independent variable
A change into a high-fiber diet (independent variable) will reduce the blood sugar level (dependent variable) of the patient.
Null hypothesis
- A negative statement indicating no relationship or difference between 2 variables
There is no significant difference in the severity of pulmonary metastases between the new drug (variable 1) and the current drug (variable 2).
Alternative hypothesis
- Following a null hypothesis, an alternative hypothesis predicts a relationship between 2 study variables
The new drug (variable 1) is better on average in reducing the level of pain from pulmonary metastasis than the current drug (variable 2).
Working hypothesis
- A hypothesis that is initially accepted for further research to produce a feasible theory
Dairy cows fed with concentrates of different formulations will produce different amounts of milk.
Statistical hypothesis
- Assumption about the value of population parameter or relationship among several population characteristics
- Validity tested by a statistical experiment or analysis
The mean recovery rate from COVID-19 infection (value of population parameter) is not significantly different between population 1 and population 2.
There is a positive correlation between the level of stress at the workplace and the number of suicides (population characteristics) among working people in Japan.
Logical hypothesis
- Offers or proposes an explanation with limited or no extensive evidence
If healthcare workers provide more educational programs about contraception methods, the number of adolescent pregnancies will be less.
Hypothesis-testing (Quantitative hypothesis-testing research)
- Quantitative research uses deductive reasoning.
- This involves the formation of a hypothesis, collection of data in the investigation of the problem, analysis and use of the data from the investigation, and drawing of conclusions to validate or nullify the hypotheses.

Research questions in qualitative research

Unlike research questions in quantitative research, research questions in qualitative research are usually continuously reviewed and reformulated. The central question and associated subquestions are stated more than the hypotheses. 15 The central question broadly explores a complex set of factors surrounding the central phenomenon, aiming to present the varied perspectives of participants. 15

There are varied goals for which qualitative research questions are developed. These questions can function in several ways, such as to 1) identify and describe existing conditions ( contextual research question s); 2) describe a phenomenon ( descriptive research questions ); 3) assess the effectiveness of existing methods, protocols, theories, or procedures ( evaluation research questions ); 4) examine a phenomenon or analyze the reasons or relationships between subjects or phenomena ( explanatory research questions ); or 5) focus on unknown aspects of a particular topic ( exploratory research questions ). 5 In addition, some qualitative research questions provide new ideas for the development of theories and actions ( generative research questions ) or advance specific ideologies of a position ( ideological research questions ). 1 Other qualitative research questions may build on a body of existing literature and become working guidelines ( ethnographic research questions ). Research questions may also be broadly stated without specific reference to the existing literature or a typology of questions ( phenomenological research questions ), may be directed towards generating a theory of some process ( grounded theory questions ), or may address a description of the case and the emerging themes ( qualitative case study questions ). 15 We provide examples of contextual, descriptive, evaluation, explanatory, exploratory, generative, ideological, ethnographic, phenomenological, grounded theory, and qualitative case study research questions in qualitative research in Table 4 , and the definition of qualitative hypothesis-generating research in Table 5 .

Qualitative research questions
Contextual research question
- Ask the nature of what already exists
- Individuals or groups function to further clarify and understand the natural context of real-world problems
What are the experiences of nurses working night shifts in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic? (natural context of real-world problems)
Descriptive research question
- Aims to describe a phenomenon
What are the different forms of disrespect and abuse (phenomenon) experienced by Tanzanian women when giving birth in healthcare facilities?
Evaluation research question
- Examines the effectiveness of existing practice or accepted frameworks
How effective are decision aids (effectiveness of existing practice) in helping decide whether to give birth at home or in a healthcare facility?
Explanatory research question
- Clarifies a previously studied phenomenon and explains why it occurs
Why is there an increase in teenage pregnancy (phenomenon) in Tanzania?
Exploratory research question
- Explores areas that have not been fully investigated to have a deeper understanding of the research problem
What factors affect the mental health of medical students (areas that have not yet been fully investigated) during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Generative research question
- Develops an in-depth understanding of people’s behavior by asking ‘how would’ or ‘what if’ to identify problems and find solutions
How would the extensive research experience of the behavior of new staff impact the success of the novel drug initiative?
Ideological research question
- Aims to advance specific ideas or ideologies of a position
Are Japanese nurses who volunteer in remote African hospitals able to promote humanized care of patients (specific ideas or ideologies) in the areas of safe patient environment, respect of patient privacy, and provision of accurate information related to health and care?
Ethnographic research question
- Clarifies peoples’ nature, activities, their interactions, and the outcomes of their actions in specific settings
What are the demographic characteristics, rehabilitative treatments, community interactions, and disease outcomes (nature, activities, their interactions, and the outcomes) of people in China who are suffering from pneumoconiosis?
Phenomenological research question
- Knows more about the phenomena that have impacted an individual
What are the lived experiences of parents who have been living with and caring for children with a diagnosis of autism? (phenomena that have impacted an individual)
Grounded theory question
- Focuses on social processes asking about what happens and how people interact, or uncovering social relationships and behaviors of groups
What are the problems that pregnant adolescents face in terms of social and cultural norms (social processes), and how can these be addressed?
Qualitative case study question
- Assesses a phenomenon using different sources of data to answer “why” and “how” questions
- Considers how the phenomenon is influenced by its contextual situation.
How does quitting work and assuming the role of a full-time mother (phenomenon assessed) change the lives of women in Japan?
Qualitative research hypotheses
Hypothesis-generating (Qualitative hypothesis-generating research)
- Qualitative research uses inductive reasoning.
- This involves data collection from study participants or the literature regarding a phenomenon of interest, using the collected data to develop a formal hypothesis, and using the formal hypothesis as a framework for testing the hypothesis.
- Qualitative exploratory studies explore areas deeper, clarifying subjective experience and allowing formulation of a formal hypothesis potentially testable in a future quantitative approach.

Qualitative studies usually pose at least one central research question and several subquestions starting with How or What . These research questions use exploratory verbs such as explore or describe . These also focus on one central phenomenon of interest, and may mention the participants and research site. 15

Hypotheses in qualitative research

Hypotheses in qualitative research are stated in the form of a clear statement concerning the problem to be investigated. Unlike in quantitative research where hypotheses are usually developed to be tested, qualitative research can lead to both hypothesis-testing and hypothesis-generating outcomes. 2 When studies require both quantitative and qualitative research questions, this suggests an integrative process between both research methods wherein a single mixed-methods research question can be developed. 1


Research questions followed by hypotheses should be developed before the start of the study. 1 , 12 , 14 It is crucial to develop feasible research questions on a topic that is interesting to both the researcher and the scientific community. This can be achieved by a meticulous review of previous and current studies to establish a novel topic. Specific areas are subsequently focused on to generate ethical research questions. The relevance of the research questions is evaluated in terms of clarity of the resulting data, specificity of the methodology, objectivity of the outcome, depth of the research, and impact of the study. 1 , 5 These aspects constitute the FINER criteria (i.e., Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, and Relevant). 1 Clarity and effectiveness are achieved if research questions meet the FINER criteria. In addition to the FINER criteria, Ratan et al. described focus, complexity, novelty, feasibility, and measurability for evaluating the effectiveness of research questions. 14

The PICOT and PEO frameworks are also used when developing research questions. 1 The following elements are addressed in these frameworks, PICOT: P-population/patients/problem, I-intervention or indicator being studied, C-comparison group, O-outcome of interest, and T-timeframe of the study; PEO: P-population being studied, E-exposure to preexisting conditions, and O-outcome of interest. 1 Research questions are also considered good if these meet the “FINERMAPS” framework: Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, Relevant, Manageable, Appropriate, Potential value/publishable, and Systematic. 14

As we indicated earlier, research questions and hypotheses that are not carefully formulated result in unethical studies or poor outcomes. To illustrate this, we provide some examples of ambiguous research question and hypotheses that result in unclear and weak research objectives in quantitative research ( Table 6 ) 16 and qualitative research ( Table 7 ) 17 , and how to transform these ambiguous research question(s) and hypothesis(es) into clear and good statements.

VariablesUnclear and weak statement (Statement 1) Clear and good statement (Statement 2) Points to avoid
Research questionWhich is more effective between smoke moxibustion and smokeless moxibustion?“Moreover, regarding smoke moxibustion versus smokeless moxibustion, it remains unclear which is more effective, safe, and acceptable to pregnant women, and whether there is any difference in the amount of heat generated.” 1) Vague and unfocused questions
2) Closed questions simply answerable by yes or no
3) Questions requiring a simple choice
HypothesisThe smoke moxibustion group will have higher cephalic presentation.“Hypothesis 1. The smoke moxibustion stick group (SM group) and smokeless moxibustion stick group (-SLM group) will have higher rates of cephalic presentation after treatment than the control group.1) Unverifiable hypotheses
Hypothesis 2. The SM group and SLM group will have higher rates of cephalic presentation at birth than the control group.2) Incompletely stated groups of comparison
Hypothesis 3. There will be no significant differences in the well-being of the mother and child among the three groups in terms of the following outcomes: premature birth, premature rupture of membranes (PROM) at < 37 weeks, Apgar score < 7 at 5 min, umbilical cord blood pH < 7.1, admission to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and intrauterine fetal death.” 3) Insufficiently described variables or outcomes
Research objectiveTo determine which is more effective between smoke moxibustion and smokeless moxibustion.“The specific aims of this pilot study were (a) to compare the effects of smoke moxibustion and smokeless moxibustion treatments with the control group as a possible supplement to ECV for converting breech presentation to cephalic presentation and increasing adherence to the newly obtained cephalic position, and (b) to assess the effects of these treatments on the well-being of the mother and child.” 1) Poor understanding of the research question and hypotheses
2) Insufficient description of population, variables, or study outcomes

a These statements were composed for comparison and illustrative purposes only.

b These statements are direct quotes from Higashihara and Horiuchi. 16

VariablesUnclear and weak statement (Statement 1)Clear and good statement (Statement 2)Points to avoid
Research questionDoes disrespect and abuse (D&A) occur in childbirth in Tanzania?How does disrespect and abuse (D&A) occur and what are the types of physical and psychological abuses observed in midwives’ actual care during facility-based childbirth in urban Tanzania?1) Ambiguous or oversimplistic questions
2) Questions unverifiable by data collection and analysis
HypothesisDisrespect and abuse (D&A) occur in childbirth in Tanzania.Hypothesis 1: Several types of physical and psychological abuse by midwives in actual care occur during facility-based childbirth in urban Tanzania.1) Statements simply expressing facts
Hypothesis 2: Weak nursing and midwifery management contribute to the D&A of women during facility-based childbirth in urban Tanzania.2) Insufficiently described concepts or variables
Research objectiveTo describe disrespect and abuse (D&A) in childbirth in Tanzania.“This study aimed to describe from actual observations the respectful and disrespectful care received by women from midwives during their labor period in two hospitals in urban Tanzania.” 1) Statements unrelated to the research question and hypotheses
2) Unattainable or unexplorable objectives

a This statement is a direct quote from Shimoda et al. 17

The other statements were composed for comparison and illustrative purposes only.


To construct effective research questions and hypotheses, it is very important to 1) clarify the background and 2) identify the research problem at the outset of the research, within a specific timeframe. 9 Then, 3) review or conduct preliminary research to collect all available knowledge about the possible research questions by studying theories and previous studies. 18 Afterwards, 4) construct research questions to investigate the research problem. Identify variables to be accessed from the research questions 4 and make operational definitions of constructs from the research problem and questions. Thereafter, 5) construct specific deductive or inductive predictions in the form of hypotheses. 4 Finally, 6) state the study aims . This general flow for constructing effective research questions and hypotheses prior to conducting research is shown in Fig. 1 .

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Research questions are used more frequently in qualitative research than objectives or hypotheses. 3 These questions seek to discover, understand, explore or describe experiences by asking “What” or “How.” The questions are open-ended to elicit a description rather than to relate variables or compare groups. The questions are continually reviewed, reformulated, and changed during the qualitative study. 3 Research questions are also used more frequently in survey projects than hypotheses in experiments in quantitative research to compare variables and their relationships.

Hypotheses are constructed based on the variables identified and as an if-then statement, following the template, ‘If a specific action is taken, then a certain outcome is expected.’ At this stage, some ideas regarding expectations from the research to be conducted must be drawn. 18 Then, the variables to be manipulated (independent) and influenced (dependent) are defined. 4 Thereafter, the hypothesis is stated and refined, and reproducible data tailored to the hypothesis are identified, collected, and analyzed. 4 The hypotheses must be testable and specific, 18 and should describe the variables and their relationships, the specific group being studied, and the predicted research outcome. 18 Hypotheses construction involves a testable proposition to be deduced from theory, and independent and dependent variables to be separated and measured separately. 3 Therefore, good hypotheses must be based on good research questions constructed at the start of a study or trial. 12

In summary, research questions are constructed after establishing the background of the study. Hypotheses are then developed based on the research questions. Thus, it is crucial to have excellent research questions to generate superior hypotheses. In turn, these would determine the research objectives and the design of the study, and ultimately, the outcome of the research. 12 Algorithms for building research questions and hypotheses are shown in Fig. 2 for quantitative research and in Fig. 3 for qualitative research.

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  • EXAMPLE 1. Descriptive research question (quantitative research)
  • - Presents research variables to be assessed (distinct phenotypes and subphenotypes)
  • “BACKGROUND: Since COVID-19 was identified, its clinical and biological heterogeneity has been recognized. Identifying COVID-19 phenotypes might help guide basic, clinical, and translational research efforts.
  • RESEARCH QUESTION: Does the clinical spectrum of patients with COVID-19 contain distinct phenotypes and subphenotypes? ” 19
  • EXAMPLE 2. Relationship research question (quantitative research)
  • - Shows interactions between dependent variable (static postural control) and independent variable (peripheral visual field loss)
  • “Background: Integration of visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive sensations contributes to postural control. People with peripheral visual field loss have serious postural instability. However, the directional specificity of postural stability and sensory reweighting caused by gradual peripheral visual field loss remain unclear.
  • Research question: What are the effects of peripheral visual field loss on static postural control ?” 20
  • EXAMPLE 3. Comparative research question (quantitative research)
  • - Clarifies the difference among groups with an outcome variable (patients enrolled in COMPERA with moderate PH or severe PH in COPD) and another group without the outcome variable (patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH))
  • “BACKGROUND: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) in COPD is a poorly investigated clinical condition.
  • RESEARCH QUESTION: Which factors determine the outcome of PH in COPD?
  • STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: We analyzed the characteristics and outcome of patients enrolled in the Comparative, Prospective Registry of Newly Initiated Therapies for Pulmonary Hypertension (COMPERA) with moderate or severe PH in COPD as defined during the 6th PH World Symposium who received medical therapy for PH and compared them with patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) .” 21
  • EXAMPLE 4. Exploratory research question (qualitative research)
  • - Explores areas that have not been fully investigated (perspectives of families and children who receive care in clinic-based child obesity treatment) to have a deeper understanding of the research problem
  • “Problem: Interventions for children with obesity lead to only modest improvements in BMI and long-term outcomes, and data are limited on the perspectives of families of children with obesity in clinic-based treatment. This scoping review seeks to answer the question: What is known about the perspectives of families and children who receive care in clinic-based child obesity treatment? This review aims to explore the scope of perspectives reported by families of children with obesity who have received individualized outpatient clinic-based obesity treatment.” 22
  • EXAMPLE 5. Relationship research question (quantitative research)
  • - Defines interactions between dependent variable (use of ankle strategies) and independent variable (changes in muscle tone)
  • “Background: To maintain an upright standing posture against external disturbances, the human body mainly employs two types of postural control strategies: “ankle strategy” and “hip strategy.” While it has been reported that the magnitude of the disturbance alters the use of postural control strategies, it has not been elucidated how the level of muscle tone, one of the crucial parameters of bodily function, determines the use of each strategy. We have previously confirmed using forward dynamics simulations of human musculoskeletal models that an increased muscle tone promotes the use of ankle strategies. The objective of the present study was to experimentally evaluate a hypothesis: an increased muscle tone promotes the use of ankle strategies. Research question: Do changes in the muscle tone affect the use of ankle strategies ?” 23


  • EXAMPLE 1. Working hypothesis (quantitative research)
  • - A hypothesis that is initially accepted for further research to produce a feasible theory
  • “As fever may have benefit in shortening the duration of viral illness, it is plausible to hypothesize that the antipyretic efficacy of ibuprofen may be hindering the benefits of a fever response when taken during the early stages of COVID-19 illness .” 24
  • “In conclusion, it is plausible to hypothesize that the antipyretic efficacy of ibuprofen may be hindering the benefits of a fever response . The difference in perceived safety of these agents in COVID-19 illness could be related to the more potent efficacy to reduce fever with ibuprofen compared to acetaminophen. Compelling data on the benefit of fever warrant further research and review to determine when to treat or withhold ibuprofen for early stage fever for COVID-19 and other related viral illnesses .” 24
  • EXAMPLE 2. Exploratory hypothesis (qualitative research)
  • - Explores particular areas deeper to clarify subjective experience and develop a formal hypothesis potentially testable in a future quantitative approach
  • “We hypothesized that when thinking about a past experience of help-seeking, a self distancing prompt would cause increased help-seeking intentions and more favorable help-seeking outcome expectations .” 25
  • “Conclusion
  • Although a priori hypotheses were not supported, further research is warranted as results indicate the potential for using self-distancing approaches to increasing help-seeking among some people with depressive symptomatology.” 25
  • EXAMPLE 3. Hypothesis-generating research to establish a framework for hypothesis testing (qualitative research)
  • “We hypothesize that compassionate care is beneficial for patients (better outcomes), healthcare systems and payers (lower costs), and healthcare providers (lower burnout). ” 26
  • Compassionomics is the branch of knowledge and scientific study of the effects of compassionate healthcare. Our main hypotheses are that compassionate healthcare is beneficial for (1) patients, by improving clinical outcomes, (2) healthcare systems and payers, by supporting financial sustainability, and (3) HCPs, by lowering burnout and promoting resilience and well-being. The purpose of this paper is to establish a scientific framework for testing the hypotheses above . If these hypotheses are confirmed through rigorous research, compassionomics will belong in the science of evidence-based medicine, with major implications for all healthcare domains.” 26
  • EXAMPLE 4. Statistical hypothesis (quantitative research)
  • - An assumption is made about the relationship among several population characteristics ( gender differences in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of adults with ADHD ). Validity is tested by statistical experiment or analysis ( chi-square test, Students t-test, and logistic regression analysis)
  • “Our research investigated gender differences in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of adults with ADHD in a Japanese clinical sample. Due to unique Japanese cultural ideals and expectations of women's behavior that are in opposition to ADHD symptoms, we hypothesized that women with ADHD experience more difficulties and present more dysfunctions than men . We tested the following hypotheses: first, women with ADHD have more comorbidities than men with ADHD; second, women with ADHD experience more social hardships than men, such as having less full-time employment and being more likely to be divorced.” 27
  • “Statistical Analysis
  • ( text omitted ) Between-gender comparisons were made using the chi-squared test for categorical variables and Students t-test for continuous variables…( text omitted ). A logistic regression analysis was performed for employment status, marital status, and comorbidity to evaluate the independent effects of gender on these dependent variables.” 27


  • EXAMPLE 1. Background, hypotheses, and aims are provided
  • “Pregnant women need skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth, but that skilled care is often delayed in some countries …( text omitted ). The focused antenatal care (FANC) model of WHO recommends that nurses provide information or counseling to all pregnant women …( text omitted ). Job aids are visual support materials that provide the right kind of information using graphics and words in a simple and yet effective manner. When nurses are not highly trained or have many work details to attend to, these job aids can serve as a content reminder for the nurses and can be used for educating their patients (Jennings, Yebadokpo, Affo, & Agbogbe, 2010) ( text omitted ). Importantly, additional evidence is needed to confirm how job aids can further improve the quality of ANC counseling by health workers in maternal care …( text omitted )” 28
  • “ This has led us to hypothesize that the quality of ANC counseling would be better if supported by job aids. Consequently, a better quality of ANC counseling is expected to produce higher levels of awareness concerning the danger signs of pregnancy and a more favorable impression of the caring behavior of nurses .” 28
  • “This study aimed to examine the differences in the responses of pregnant women to a job aid-supported intervention during ANC visit in terms of 1) their understanding of the danger signs of pregnancy and 2) their impression of the caring behaviors of nurses to pregnant women in rural Tanzania.” 28
  • EXAMPLE 2. Background, hypotheses, and aims are provided
  • “We conducted a two-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate and compare changes in salivary cortisol and oxytocin levels of first-time pregnant women between experimental and control groups. The women in the experimental group touched and held an infant for 30 min (experimental intervention protocol), whereas those in the control group watched a DVD movie of an infant (control intervention protocol). The primary outcome was salivary cortisol level and the secondary outcome was salivary oxytocin level.” 29
  • “ We hypothesize that at 30 min after touching and holding an infant, the salivary cortisol level will significantly decrease and the salivary oxytocin level will increase in the experimental group compared with the control group .” 29
  • EXAMPLE 3. Background, aim, and hypothesis are provided
  • “In countries where the maternal mortality ratio remains high, antenatal education to increase Birth Preparedness and Complication Readiness (BPCR) is considered one of the top priorities [1]. BPCR includes birth plans during the antenatal period, such as the birthplace, birth attendant, transportation, health facility for complications, expenses, and birth materials, as well as family coordination to achieve such birth plans. In Tanzania, although increasing, only about half of all pregnant women attend an antenatal clinic more than four times [4]. Moreover, the information provided during antenatal care (ANC) is insufficient. In the resource-poor settings, antenatal group education is a potential approach because of the limited time for individual counseling at antenatal clinics.” 30
  • “This study aimed to evaluate an antenatal group education program among pregnant women and their families with respect to birth-preparedness and maternal and infant outcomes in rural villages of Tanzania.” 30
  • “ The study hypothesis was if Tanzanian pregnant women and their families received a family-oriented antenatal group education, they would (1) have a higher level of BPCR, (2) attend antenatal clinic four or more times, (3) give birth in a health facility, (4) have less complications of women at birth, and (5) have less complications and deaths of infants than those who did not receive the education .” 30

Research questions and hypotheses are crucial components to any type of research, whether quantitative or qualitative. These questions should be developed at the very beginning of the study. Excellent research questions lead to superior hypotheses, which, like a compass, set the direction of research, and can often determine the successful conduct of the study. Many research studies have floundered because the development of research questions and subsequent hypotheses was not given the thought and meticulous attention needed. The development of research questions and hypotheses is an iterative process based on extensive knowledge of the literature and insightful grasp of the knowledge gap. Focused, concise, and specific research questions provide a strong foundation for constructing hypotheses which serve as formal predictions about the research outcomes. Research questions and hypotheses are crucial elements of research that should not be overlooked. They should be carefully thought of and constructed when planning research. This avoids unethical studies and poor outcomes by defining well-founded objectives that determine the design, course, and outcome of the study.

Disclosure: The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

Author Contributions:

  • Conceptualization: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
  • Methodology: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
  • Writing - original draft: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
  • Writing - review & editing: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
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Research Method

Home » Critical Analysis – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Critical Analysis – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Critical Analysis

Critical Analysis


Critical analysis is a process of examining a piece of work or an idea in a systematic, objective, and analytical way. It involves breaking down complex ideas, concepts, or arguments into smaller, more manageable parts to understand them better.

Types of Critical Analysis

Types of Critical Analysis are as follows:

Literary Analysis

This type of analysis focuses on analyzing and interpreting works of literature , such as novels, poetry, plays, etc. The analysis involves examining the literary devices used in the work, such as symbolism, imagery, and metaphor, and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the work.

Film Analysis

This type of analysis involves examining and interpreting films, including their themes, cinematography, editing, and sound. Film analysis can also include evaluating the director’s style and how it contributes to the overall message of the film.

Art Analysis

This type of analysis involves examining and interpreting works of art , such as paintings, sculptures, and installations. The analysis involves examining the elements of the artwork, such as color, composition, and technique, and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the work.

Cultural Analysis

This type of analysis involves examining and interpreting cultural artifacts , such as advertisements, popular music, and social media posts. The analysis involves examining the cultural context of the artifact and how it reflects and shapes cultural values, beliefs, and norms.

Historical Analysis

This type of analysis involves examining and interpreting historical documents , such as diaries, letters, and government records. The analysis involves examining the historical context of the document and how it reflects the social, political, and cultural attitudes of the time.

Philosophical Analysis

This type of analysis involves examining and interpreting philosophical texts and ideas, such as the works of philosophers and their arguments. The analysis involves evaluating the logical consistency of the arguments and assessing the validity and soundness of the conclusions.

Scientific Analysis

This type of analysis involves examining and interpreting scientific research studies and their findings. The analysis involves evaluating the methods used in the study, the data collected, and the conclusions drawn, and assessing their reliability and validity.

Critical Discourse Analysis

This type of analysis involves examining and interpreting language use in social and political contexts. The analysis involves evaluating the power dynamics and social relationships conveyed through language use and how they shape discourse and social reality.

Comparative Analysis

This type of analysis involves examining and interpreting multiple texts or works of art and comparing them to each other. The analysis involves evaluating the similarities and differences between the texts and how they contribute to understanding the themes and meanings conveyed.

Critical Analysis Format

Critical Analysis Format is as follows:

I. Introduction

  • Provide a brief overview of the text, object, or event being analyzed
  • Explain the purpose of the analysis and its significance
  • Provide background information on the context and relevant historical or cultural factors

II. Description

  • Provide a detailed description of the text, object, or event being analyzed
  • Identify key themes, ideas, and arguments presented
  • Describe the author or creator’s style, tone, and use of language or visual elements

III. Analysis

  • Analyze the text, object, or event using critical thinking skills
  • Identify the main strengths and weaknesses of the argument or presentation
  • Evaluate the reliability and validity of the evidence presented
  • Assess any assumptions or biases that may be present in the text, object, or event
  • Consider the implications of the argument or presentation for different audiences and contexts

IV. Evaluation

  • Provide an overall evaluation of the text, object, or event based on the analysis
  • Assess the effectiveness of the argument or presentation in achieving its intended purpose
  • Identify any limitations or gaps in the argument or presentation
  • Consider any alternative viewpoints or interpretations that could be presented
  • Summarize the main points of the analysis and evaluation
  • Reiterate the significance of the text, object, or event and its relevance to broader issues or debates
  • Provide any recommendations for further research or future developments in the field.

VI. Example

  • Provide an example or two to support your analysis and evaluation
  • Use quotes or specific details from the text, object, or event to support your claims
  • Analyze the example(s) using critical thinking skills and explain how they relate to your overall argument

VII. Conclusion

  • Reiterate your thesis statement and summarize your main points
  • Provide a final evaluation of the text, object, or event based on your analysis
  • Offer recommendations for future research or further developments in the field
  • End with a thought-provoking statement or question that encourages the reader to think more deeply about the topic

How to Write Critical Analysis

Writing a critical analysis involves evaluating and interpreting a text, such as a book, article, or film, and expressing your opinion about its quality and significance. Here are some steps you can follow to write a critical analysis:

  • Read and re-read the text: Before you begin writing, make sure you have a good understanding of the text. Read it several times and take notes on the key points, themes, and arguments.
  • Identify the author’s purpose and audience: Consider why the author wrote the text and who the intended audience is. This can help you evaluate whether the author achieved their goals and whether the text is effective in reaching its audience.
  • Analyze the structure and style: Look at the organization of the text and the author’s writing style. Consider how these elements contribute to the overall meaning of the text.
  • Evaluate the content : Analyze the author’s arguments, evidence, and conclusions. Consider whether they are logical, convincing, and supported by the evidence presented in the text.
  • Consider the context: Think about the historical, cultural, and social context in which the text was written. This can help you understand the author’s perspective and the significance of the text.
  • Develop your thesis statement : Based on your analysis, develop a clear and concise thesis statement that summarizes your overall evaluation of the text.
  • Support your thesis: Use evidence from the text to support your thesis statement. This can include direct quotes, paraphrases, and examples from the text.
  • Write the introduction, body, and conclusion : Organize your analysis into an introduction that provides context and presents your thesis, a body that presents your evidence and analysis, and a conclusion that summarizes your main points and restates your thesis.
  • Revise and edit: After you have written your analysis, revise and edit it to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and well-organized. Check for spelling and grammar errors, and make sure that your analysis is logically sound and supported by evidence.

When to Write Critical Analysis

You may want to write a critical analysis in the following situations:

  • Academic Assignments: If you are a student, you may be assigned to write a critical analysis as a part of your coursework. This could include analyzing a piece of literature, a historical event, or a scientific paper.
  • Journalism and Media: As a journalist or media person, you may need to write a critical analysis of current events, political speeches, or media coverage.
  • Personal Interest: If you are interested in a particular topic, you may want to write a critical analysis to gain a deeper understanding of it. For example, you may want to analyze the themes and motifs in a novel or film that you enjoyed.
  • Professional Development : Professionals such as writers, scholars, and researchers often write critical analyses to gain insights into their field of study or work.

Critical Analysis Example

An Example of Critical Analysis Could be as follow:

Research Topic:

The Impact of Online Learning on Student Performance


The introduction of the research topic is clear and provides an overview of the issue. However, it could benefit from providing more background information on the prevalence of online learning and its potential impact on student performance.

Literature Review:

The literature review is comprehensive and well-structured. It covers a broad range of studies that have examined the relationship between online learning and student performance. However, it could benefit from including more recent studies and providing a more critical analysis of the existing literature.

Research Methods:

The research methods are clearly described and appropriate for the research question. The study uses a quasi-experimental design to compare the performance of students who took an online course with those who took the same course in a traditional classroom setting. However, the study may benefit from using a randomized controlled trial design to reduce potential confounding factors.

The results are presented in a clear and concise manner. The study finds that students who took the online course performed similarly to those who took the traditional course. However, the study only measures performance on one course and may not be generalizable to other courses or contexts.

Discussion :

The discussion section provides a thorough analysis of the study’s findings. The authors acknowledge the limitations of the study and provide suggestions for future research. However, they could benefit from discussing potential mechanisms underlying the relationship between online learning and student performance.

Conclusion :

The conclusion summarizes the main findings of the study and provides some implications for future research and practice. However, it could benefit from providing more specific recommendations for implementing online learning programs in educational settings.

Purpose of Critical Analysis

There are several purposes of critical analysis, including:

  • To identify and evaluate arguments : Critical analysis helps to identify the main arguments in a piece of writing or speech and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. This enables the reader to form their own opinion and make informed decisions.
  • To assess evidence : Critical analysis involves examining the evidence presented in a text or speech and evaluating its quality and relevance to the argument. This helps to determine the credibility of the claims being made.
  • To recognize biases and assumptions : Critical analysis helps to identify any biases or assumptions that may be present in the argument, and evaluate how these affect the credibility of the argument.
  • To develop critical thinking skills: Critical analysis helps to develop the ability to think critically, evaluate information objectively, and make reasoned judgments based on evidence.
  • To improve communication skills: Critical analysis involves carefully reading and listening to information, evaluating it, and expressing one’s own opinion in a clear and concise manner. This helps to improve communication skills and the ability to express ideas effectively.

Importance of Critical Analysis

Here are some specific reasons why critical analysis is important:

  • Helps to identify biases: Critical analysis helps individuals to recognize their own biases and assumptions, as well as the biases of others. By being aware of biases, individuals can better evaluate the credibility and reliability of information.
  • Enhances problem-solving skills : Critical analysis encourages individuals to question assumptions and consider multiple perspectives, which can lead to creative problem-solving and innovation.
  • Promotes better decision-making: By carefully evaluating evidence and arguments, critical analysis can help individuals make more informed and effective decisions.
  • Facilitates understanding: Critical analysis helps individuals to understand complex issues and ideas by breaking them down into smaller parts and evaluating them separately.
  • Fosters intellectual growth : Engaging in critical analysis challenges individuals to think deeply and critically, which can lead to intellectual growth and development.

Advantages of Critical Analysis

Some advantages of critical analysis include:

  • Improved decision-making: Critical analysis helps individuals make informed decisions by evaluating all available information and considering various perspectives.
  • Enhanced problem-solving skills : Critical analysis requires individuals to identify and analyze the root cause of a problem, which can help develop effective solutions.
  • Increased creativity : Critical analysis encourages individuals to think outside the box and consider alternative solutions to problems, which can lead to more creative and innovative ideas.
  • Improved communication : Critical analysis helps individuals communicate their ideas and opinions more effectively by providing logical and coherent arguments.
  • Reduced bias: Critical analysis requires individuals to evaluate information objectively, which can help reduce personal biases and subjective opinions.
  • Better understanding of complex issues : Critical analysis helps individuals to understand complex issues by breaking them down into smaller parts, examining each part and understanding how they fit together.
  • Greater self-awareness: Critical analysis helps individuals to recognize their own biases, assumptions, and limitations, which can lead to personal growth and development.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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  • → What is descriptive research? Definit...

What is descriptive research? Definition, examples, and use cases

Descriptive research is a research methodology that focuses on understanding the particular characteristics of a group, phenomenon, or experience.

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Latest posts on Tips

Typeform    |    06.2024

Typeform    |    05.2024

Descriptive research is critical in nearly every business—from e-commerce to SaaS to everything in between. Whether you’re selling luxury quilted comforters or an advanced market research automation tool, you need to know who your customers are, what their preferences are, and how to analyze the competitive landscape. 

While you can scrape some of this information from third-party data, there’s nothing like zero-party data for the most accurate information about your customers. (After all, why not go straight to the source?) That’s why research methods like surveys, observational studies, case studies, and other descriptive types of research are necessary: They all provide that sweet, sweet zero-party data for your team. 

Today, we’ll explore the nature of descriptive research and what differentiates it from other research types—plus look at how you can put these strategies to work for your business. 

What is descriptive research?

If you want to understand your customers better, descriptive research is a powerful tool for determining what users want. This approach is typically used to discover more information about a specific segment or demographic or to further segment an existing group.

the definition of descriptive research with examples

It can be helpful to think of descriptive research as the opposite of experimental research —if you’re doing experiments, you’re changing variables in your target group. (Think of famous experiments like Newton’s discovery of light!) If you’re doing descriptive research, however, you want to understand the characteristics of your target group without changing any variables. 

In business, the data from research like this is invaluable, as it can help you better understand (and segment) your customers. 

Descriptive research characteristics

Now that we’ve learned about the definition of descriptive research, let’s look at some common characteristics of research like this. (Spoiler: It’s a lot of surveys .) Because we’re not looking to answer any “why” questions, this type of research will analyze data without impacting or altering it.

If your research contains the following elements, it’s probably descriptive: 

Measuring data trends with statistical outcomes: This method analyzes data using statistical tools and techniques to identify patterns and changes over time. 

Example: A retail business might analyze sales data from 2013-2023 to identify seasonal trends, then use that data to predict future sales peaks.

Quantitative research: This method analyzes numerical data to uncover patterns and relationships—frequently utilizing the forms or surveys we know and love. 

Example: A SaaS company might survey users to discover usage rates and patterns per feature to optimize their product better. 

Designed for further research: If your research has different phases and starts with a general study to pave the way for a more detailed study, that’s descriptive research.

Example: A payroll management software company might conduct a study to gauge customer satisfaction levels, which could then lead to a study further analyzing specific parts of the tool. 

Uncontrolled variables: In descriptive research, none of the variables are impacted by the team doing the research in any way. (Doing so could introduce bias and impact the validity of the research.)

Example: In a study examining internal employee satisfaction, you might be unable to account for individual health or family concerns. 

Cross-sectional studies: These studies examine data from a single point in time, like taking a picture of your audience at a specific moment. 

Example: An online retailer looks at customer satisfaction in December to optimize customer experience during the holiday season.

a list of characteristics often present in descriptive research

What is descriptive research used for?

Now that we better understand what descriptive research looks like, you might recognize this research type in work your business is doing already. If so, congratulations, you’re ahead of the game! If not, you may wonder why one might go through all the trouble of doing this in-depth analysis. 

Here are a few ways we’ve seen companies successfully leverage descriptive research: 

Customer satisfaction surveys: A company might conduct a customer satisfaction survey to gauge customers' feelings about their products or services. By asking customers to rate their experience with product quality, customer service, and even pricing, the business can identify strengths and areas for improvement.

Market segmentation research: A company might use descriptive research to segment its market based on demographic, geographic, and behavioral characteristics. This helps the marketing team target specific groups more effectively. 

Trend analysis: Analyzing historical survey data to identify trends and patterns can help businesses forecast future sales, surface key insights, and even benchmark for future performance. 

Competitor benchmarking: A company might use descriptive research methods to benchmark performance against competitors. (Yes, you can!) A simple customer research survey can arm your team with information on competitors' pricing, product offerings, and market share.

Employee satisfaction research: A company might conduct research to assess employee satisfaction and engagement. An employee satisfaction survey can help businesses understand their workforce and identify factors contributing to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. 

a table listing examples of descriptive research in practice

Descriptive research methods

Now that we’ve covered some examples of descriptive research in the wild, you may be itching to start your own. Here are the four descriptive research methods and how to utilize them.

Observational research

The observational research method is perhaps the simplest (and arguably the most effective) of the descriptive research methods we’ll examine today. In observational research, the researcher simply records behavior as it occurs without manipulating the variables. This can look like qualitative or quantitative research —and yes, both can be observational!

In qualitative observation , the researcher simply documents what they see and hear. They may not even need to interact directly with the study subjects. This can include social media research, focus group interviews, forum discussion analysis, or even surveys with open-ended questions. 

In quantitative observation , the researcher takes a much more structured approach to collecting hard data. For example, they may perform detailed data analysis on survey results containing information about age, race, gender, position, or industry. They can then splice and dice the results to reveal numerical insights about the group in question. 

When utilizing either of these methods, you’ll want to be careful not to skew the data as you work. (For example, don't accidentally exclude any customer segments!)

Survey research

Survey research is fairly simple conceptually—it does what it says on the tin. (They’re probably also the first thing you think of when you think of market research.) A researcher using this method sends surveys or questionnaires to the selected groups and uses the data gleaned from this research to inform business decisions. Surveys are a very popular research method due to their accessibility and straightforward nature, as users can access them online and from any location. 

Case studies

Case studies are another popular method of performing descriptive research. They’re a great way to dive deep into the experiences of a particular individual or group and really understand that specific experience with your product or service. You can do this using multiple interviews with multiple parties involved. 

The downside is that data gleaned from these studies may not be particularly quantitative—but you will likely get a very strong understanding of how your customers feel about the topic of your study.  

Finally, a method of descriptive research design that’s gaining popularity in businesses is the interview method. This is distinct from the case study method in that interviews focus on gathering in-depth information from individuals , while case studies comprehensively analyze a particular experience within a context. All case studies should contain interviews—but not all interviews must be part of case studies. It’s sort of a squares-and-rectangles situation.

A table of the four methods used to perform descriptive research

Descriptive research pros and cons

All that said, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for learning about your customer in a practical, actionable way you can accomplish in a reasonable amount of time. Next, we’ll cover the pros and cons of this type of research—and how we see research teams working with (and around) those elements. 

Detailed data collection: Descriptive research provides rich and highly detailed data about the studied demographics. You can analyze this data and use it for various market research purposes. 

Cost efficiency: With the power of online surveys, research is easy and cost-efficient. 

Highly accurate: Descriptive research captures a highly accurate picture of the subjects, meaning any data you glean will be valuable to your business. 

Versatile: This method can be applied across various fields and disciplines and used for business research of almost any variety.

Easy to build on: Once you’ve begun a descriptive research program, it’s easy to build on year after year—making each compounding round of research more valuable. 

Time-consuming analysis: While collecting large swathes of data may be easy—especially with surveys—analyzing that data can take time and resources. 

No causality data: Since you’re only looking at a snapshot of data, you won’t know why certain things are true, only that they are true. Additional research may be necessary to discover more. 

Static: Again, since you’re only getting a snapshot of data, it will not remain accurate over time, and you may need to do another study to keep your information up-to-date. 

Here are some examples of descriptive research in practice. 

Example 1: Customer satisfaction in the hospitality industry  

A cruise line conducts a comprehensive survey of guests who have booked travel with them in the last year. The survey includes questions about their stay, including ease of booking, room cleanliness, staff service, check-in and check-out, food and beverage experiences, entertainment options, and overall satisfaction. 

The company can then analyze this data to identify patterns, such as the most common complaints about food options. The data is then shared with hospitality management to improve the quality of the food on the cruise. 

Example 2: Market segmentation for a SaaS platform  

A company that developed a SaaS platform for developers conducts a cross-sectional market research study to understand its users' demographics and usage patterns. They collect data on users’ location, industry, number of employees at the company, frequency of use, and more. 

By analyzing this data, the company identifies distinct market segments, such as learning that a large percentage of its users serve the automotive industry. This allows the company to develop new features explicitly targeted to these users. 

Example 3: Employee engagement at a dental office

A dental practice conducts an annual employee engagement survey to measure employee satisfaction at the company. The survey covers topics such as work-life balance, management support, career development opportunities, and company culture. 

The survey results show a trend toward employee dissatisfaction with the policies for requesting paid time off, allowing leadership to revisit those policies. By positively addressing these policies, the following year’s employee satisfaction rate increased by 25%. 

Ready to get started? 

Research doesn’t have to be hard. If you’re ready to learn more about your customers, users, or employees, don’t overengineer it. Typeform’s user-friendly form templates make research easier for you (and more fun for everyone else!). Try Typeform for free today.

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The Role of Vezf1 in Mammalian Development

Embryonic development relies on the complex interplay of epigenetic regulation, timely expression of genes, signal transduction pathways, and diverse morphological changes. The heart is the first organ to form during mammalian embryonic development. The proper development of the heart is critical to supply nutrients and oxygen to other cell types of the organism. Most cells that comprise the heart originate from the mesoderm post-gastrulation. Cardiomyocytes are the predominant cell type and confer function to the heart via contractile activity. The development and proliferation of cardiomyocytes ceases shortly after birth, where cardiomyocytes only nucleate and increase in size. Consequently, cardiomyocyte insufficiency underlies most cardiovascular diseases, a leading cause of death globally.

Vascular endothelial zinc finger 1 (VEZF1) is a transcription factor expressed predominantly in mesoderm during development. Previous studies from our lab show that the loss of VEZF1 impairs the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into endothelial cells, a cell type derived from mesoderm. Other published studies also show that Vezf1 loss impairs cardiomyocyte growth in Zebrafish and hematopoietic cell differentiation. Our work here describes a detailed investigation of the role of Vezf1 in the differentiation of mesoderm and cardiomyocytes using mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation as a mammalian model system. We initially developed an efficient method, known as the Wnt Switch method, to differentiate ESCs into cardiomyocytes. Our technique relies on the treatment of differentiating ESCs with small molecule inhibitors: i) CHIR99021, which induces mesoderm development via the activation of Wnt signaling in the first 48 hours of differentiation, followed by ii) XAV939, which inhibits Wnt signaling and drives mesoderm cells toward cardiomyocyte differentiation pathway. The Wnt Switch method significantly increases the efficiency of cardiomyocyte derivation (86%) from ESC compared to published methods (56%).

Interestingly, the Wnt Switch method showed that despite the external stimulation of Wnt signaling, Vezf1 KO cells are unable to differentiate into cardiomyocytes and show reduced expression of mesodermal genes 48 hrs post-differentiation. To better understand the stage-specific role of Vezf1 in cardiomyocyte development, we generated doxycycline-inducible Vezf1 knockdown clones that significantly reduce Vezf1 protein levels upon treatment with doxycycline. We found that the knockdown of Vezf1 prior to mesoderm induction significantly impaired ESC differentiation but had no significant effect on cardiomyocyte development after mesoderm induction. These data indicate that Vezf1 expression is crucial for proper mesoderm and, thus, mesodermal lineage development. Further, FACS analysis showed reduced mesoderm cell populations derived from Vezf1 null post-differentiation. We used high throughput sequencing methods to determine genome-wide Vezf1 binding by ChIP-SEQ and compared gene expression in WT and Vezf1 null cells using RNA-SEQ. The data indicated that VEZF1 binds near the promoters of numerous Wnt signaling genes after differentiation and that the expression of Wnt pathway genes decreases when Vezf1 is lost. Interestingly, supplementing WNT3A protein in culture media of Vezf1 null cells rescues the expression of Wnt target genes necessary for mesoderm formation.

Differentiating Vezf1 KO cells to endothelial or cardiomyocyte lineages also resulted in massive cell death. The surviving cells interestingly stained positive for alkaline phosphatase (AP) staining, indicating retention of the pluripotency in Vezf1 KO cells. Whereas, re-culturing of WT ESC in LIF media, after differentiating them for five days in the absence of LIF, results in cell death, Vezf1 KO cells proliferate and form AP-positive and SSEA-positive colonies. We further show the retention of pluripotency gene expression post-differentiation using RNA sequencing and RT-qPCR. Moreover, we show that the continued expression of pluripotency genes post-differentiation was not a consequence of reduced global DNA methylation in Vezf1 KO cells.

Interestingly, our data show that Vezf1 is a transcriptional activator and binds to key pro-differentiation pathways like the MAPK signaling and WNT signaling pathways. The loss of Vezf1 correlates with reduced expression of genes in the pro-differentiation pathways. We show that CTCF, an insulator-binding protein, opportunistically binds to VEZF1 sites on genes in the pro-differentiation signaling pathways in VEZF1 KO cells. Therefore, we hypothesized that this opportunistic CTCF binding is the mechanism that drives the repression of pro-differentiation signaling genes or compensates for the loss of Vezf1 binding to support basal gene expression in the absence of VEZF1. Given the dire consequences of pluripotency in cancer stem cells, we investigated the expression of Vezf1 in cancers. We found that Vezf1 expression is reduced in many cancers and is correlated with poor prognosis. We also show that MAPK3, a prominent member of the MAPK signaling pathway, is reduced in these cancers, highlighting a strong correlation between Vezf1 expression and Mapk3 gene expression in cancers. The data extend our observation of pluripotency in ESCs to cancers. To gain further insights into the role of Vezf1 in cancer, we utilized F9 embryonic carcinoma cells. F9 cells have been reported to retain pluripotency expression post-differentiation. Interestingly, the ectopic and transient expression of Vezf1 in F9 cells significantly reduced the expression of pluripotency genes, suggesting that Vezf1 is sufficient to repress pluripotency gene expression in F9 carcinoma cells. These data highlight the significant role of Vezf1 in pluripotency gene repression and provide an excellent avenue for treating cancer relapse caused by the occurrence of cancer stem cells.

In conclusion, our research elucidates the critical role of Vezf1 in cardiomyocyte formation and pluripotency regulation during embryonic development. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying Vezf1-mediated pathways provides insights into developmental processes and holds promise for therapeutic interventions for cardiomyocyte regeneration and against cancers.

Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Biochemistry

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Additional committee member 2, additional committee member 3, additional committee member 4, usage metrics.

  • Cell development, proliferation and death
  • Cellular interactions (incl. adhesion, matrix, cell wall)
  • Signal transduction

CC BY 4.0


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Press Release

types of critical research methods

ARPA-E Announces $11.5 Million to Support 23 Early-Career Innovators Accelerating Transformative Energy Technologies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced approximately $11.5 million in funding through its new Inspiring Generations of New Innovators to Impact Technologies in Energy 2024 (IGNIITE 2024) program focused on early-career scientists and engineers converting disruptive ideas into impactful energy technologies. Each IGNIITE 2024 selectee will receive approximately $500,000 to advance research projects at universities, national laboratories, and in the private sector that will span the full spectrum of energy applications, including advanced energy storage systems, fusion reactor technology, carbon-negative concrete alternatives, power electronics for grid reliability, critical material recovery, energy-efficient water desalination, plastic depolymerization, and more. The Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda is supported by IGNIITE 2024 through its focus on advancing critical research and development that underpins U.S. leadership in energy innovation and global decarbonization.

“We need an infusion of unconventional ideas from the next generation of researchers, entrepreneurs, and technologists to tackle energy challenges of today,” said ARPA-E Director Evelyn N. Wang . “As an engineer who benefited from support early on in my career, I know how instrumental resourcing and expert guidance is to successful innovation. By supporting this cohort of early-career innovators, I am confident that we are one step closer to a sustainable clean energy future.”

The following 23 individuals selected through IGNIITE 2024 are all set to receive approximately $500,000 to support their research efforts:

  • Michael Woods, Battelle Energy Alliance (Idaho National Laboratory) (Idaho Falls, ID)
  • Adam Uliana, ChemFinity Technologies (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Liang Feng, Duke University (Durham, NC)
  • Justin Panich, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, CA)
  • Lydia Rachbauer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, CA)
  • Woongkul Lee, Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  • Jinxing Li, Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  • Nelson James, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO)
  • Katrina Knauer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO)
  • Paul Meyer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO)
  • Andrew Westover, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN)
  • Guang Yang, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN)
  • Rain Mariano, Peregrine Hydrogen (Santa Cruz, CA)
  • Fudong Han, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)
  • Craig Cahillane, Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)
  • Zhongyang Wang, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
  • Jessica Boles, University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
  • Xizheng Wang, University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
  • Yangying Zhu, University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)
  • Jun Wang, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Lincoln, NE)
  • Julie Rorrer, University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
  • Sebastian Kube, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI)
  • Luca Mastropasqua, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI)

You can access project descriptions outlining the research these innovators will explore on ARPA-E’s website.

IGNIITE 2024 selectees will be honored on July 9, 2024 at the National Academies in Washington, D.C. The National Academies is crucial to the history of ARPA-E. In 2005, leaders from both parties in Congress asked the National Academies to "identify the most urgent challenges the U.S. faces in maintaining leadership in key areas of science and technology," as well as specific steps policymakers could take to help the U.S. compete, prosper, and stay secure in the 21st Century. The report recommended that Congress establish an Advanced Research Projects Agency within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) modeled after the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Now, 15 years into ARPA-E’s mission to secure U.S. technological leadership, the individuals set to be honored on July 9 underscore the Agency’s commitment to fostering American innovation by empowering the next generation of innovators to succeed.

You can learn more about IGNIITE 2024 here .

Press and General Inquiries: 202-287-5440 [email protected]


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  6. Research and it's Types || Research methodology || Applied and Basic research || Social Research


  1. The Four Types of Research Paradigms: A Comprehensive Guide

    Researchers using this paradigm are more often than not aiming to create a more just, egalitarian society in which individual and collective freedoms are secure. Both quantitative and qualitative methods can be used with this paradigm. 4. Constructivist Research Paradigm.

  2. What is Critical Research?

    Critical research was created out of a need to examine power, inequities, and the resulting societal implications on the status quo in society. It is a necessary departure from traditional scientific research in that it looks beyond what is directly observable to analyze the social world and develop social theory from novel perspectives to ...

  3. Research Methods

    Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design. When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make. First, decide how you will collect data. Your methods depend on what type of data you need to answer your research question:

  4. An Introduction to Critical Approaches

    The critical approach has, at its heart, an abiding interest in issues of justice, equity and equality. The critical nature of this approach allows for it to be used not merely as an approach to conducting qualitative research, but also as a method and, in some cases, as a methodology in its own right.

  5. Choosing the Right Research Methodology: A Guide

    Choosing an optimal research methodology is crucial for the success of any research project. The methodology you select will determine the type of data you collect, how you collect it, and how you analyse it. Understanding the different types of research methods available along with their strengths and weaknesses, is thus imperative to make an ...

  6. PDF The Methodological Integrity of Critical Qualitative Research

    Heidi M. Levitt, Zenobia Morrill, Kathleen M. Collins, and Javier L. Rizo. University of Massachusetts-Boston. This article articulates principles and practices that support methodological integrity in relation to critical qualitative research. We begin by describing 2 changes that have occurred in psychological methods over the last 15 years.

  7. An overview of methodological approaches in systematic reviews

    1. INTRODUCTION. Evidence synthesis is a prerequisite for knowledge translation. 1 A well conducted systematic review (SR), often in conjunction with meta‐analyses (MA) when appropriate, is considered the "gold standard" of methods for synthesizing evidence related to a topic of interest. 2 The central strength of an SR is the transparency of the methods used to systematically search ...

  8. 9 Critical Approaches to Qualitative Research

    That is, drawing from the writings of Marx, the Frankfurt School, and others (see Delanty, 2005; Marx, 1845/1976; Strydom, 2011), we suggest that critical approaches to qualitative methods do not signify only a particular way of thinking about the methods we use in our research studies, but that "critical approaches" also signify a turning ...

  9. What Is a Research Design

    A research design is a strategy for answering your research question using empirical data. Creating a research design means making decisions about: Your overall research objectives and approach. Whether you'll rely on primary research or secondary research. Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects. Your data collection methods.

  10. Critical Research and Qualitative Methodologies: Theoretical

    Background: Methodological approaches that draw on critical perspectives (critical ethnography, critical phenomenology, and critical grounded theory) share common concepts, including social justice, reflexivity, positionality, pragmatism and social transformation. These approaches differ from conventional phenomenology, ethnography and grounded theory despite sharing common methodological grounds.

  11. A framework for critical research methodology

    Critical information systems (IS) research, it is argued, does not have a distinct methodological identity. While some research methods are closely related to the positivist research paradigm ...

  12. (PDF) Understanding research methods: An overview of the essentials

    Abstract. A perennial bestseller since 1997, this updated tenth edition of Understanding Research Methods provides a detailed overview of all the important concepts traditionally covered in a ...

  13. 5: Research Methods and Sources

    5.1: Introduction to Research Methods Definitions and Roles; 5.2: Planning and Conducting Research; 5.3: Evaluating for Credibility; 5.4: Integrating Sources Into Your Writing; 5.5: Presenting Research Findings; 5.6: End of Chapter Wrap-Up; 5.7: Further Readings in Research Methods and Sources (Optional)

  14. 5.1: Introduction to Research Methods Definitions and Roles

    Research Definition: Academic research methods encompass a range of strategies and practices aimed at systematically investigating scholarly questions to generate reliable and valid knowledge.According to the American Library Association (ALA), information literacy is crucial in this process, emphasizing the need for students to determine the extent of information required, access necessary ...

  15. What Synthesis Methodology Should I Use? A Review and Analysis of

    Research question: A relevant, well-defined research question is used. Critical appraisal: According to Paterson et al. ... focus and question as well as on the type of research methods incorporated into the review. What is important in all research syntheses, however, is that the unit of analysis needs to be made explicit. ...

  16. Decolonizing Methodologies in Qualitative Research: Creating Spaces for

    Exercising critical reflexivity is a key approach to decolonizing research. Critical reflectivity is powerful for examining researchers' epistemological assumptions, their situatedness with respect to the research, and crucial in addressing power dynamics in research. ... (Eds.), The oxford handbook of multimethod and mixed methods research ...

  17. A Set of Principles for Conducting Critical Research in ...

    the IS research literature, criteria or principles for critical research are lacking. Therefore, the purpose of this. paper is to propose a set ofprinciples for the conduct of critical research in information systems. We examine. particularly as multiple approaches are still in the process of defining their identity.

  18. The Complete Guide to Mastering the 6 Most Critical Types of Research

    The following explains the six most critical types of research. ... This can be accomplished when you opt for a primary method (such as survey research). Explanatory Research. What it is: Explanatory research is based on research that explains the already established aspects in a research campaign. It fills in the gaps and connects the dots ...

  19. A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research

    INTRODUCTION. Scientific research is usually initiated by posing evidenced-based research questions which are then explicitly restated as hypotheses.1,2 The hypotheses provide directions to guide the study, solutions, explanations, and expected results.3,4 Both research questions and hypotheses are essentially formulated based on conventional theories and real-world processes, which allow the ...

  20. Research Methodology

    Research Methodology Types. Types of Research Methodology are as follows: Quantitative Research Methodology. This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of numerical data using statistical methods. This type of research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

  21. Research Methods

    Quantitative research methods are used to collect and analyze numerical data. This type of research is useful when the objective is to test a hypothesis, determine cause-and-effect relationships, and measure the prevalence of certain phenomena. Quantitative research methods include surveys, experiments, and secondary data analysis.

  22. Types of Research Methods (With Best Practices and Examples)

    A research method is a type of research or a research tool, like an interview or survey, that you use to collect and evaluate data in pursuit of answers. Show Transcript Video: Types of Research: Definitions and Examples Data-informed decisions are critical to a successful business.

  23. Critical Analysis

    Types of Critical Analysis. ... Research Methods: The research methods are clearly described and appropriate for the research question. The study uses a quasi-experimental design to compare the performance of students who took an online course with those who took the same course in a traditional classroom setting. However, the study may benefit ...

  24. Critical vs. Interpretive Research Methods

    This type of research is meant to pick apart any theories or conclusions made about society and culture. As the term reflects, these researchers carefully analyze and question previous claims and ...

  25. 5.5: Presenting Research Findings

    Presenting Research Findings. Presenting research findings is a critical component of the research process, allowing you to communicate your results effectively to your audience. This involves organizing your data logically, using appropriate visual aids, and adhering to academic standards for citations and formatting.

  26. What is descriptive research? Definition, examples, and use cases

    Descriptive research is a method of performing research that focuses on gathering data about the characteristics of a group, phenomenon, or experience. ... Descriptive research is critical in nearly every business—from e-commerce to SaaS to everything in between. ... and other descriptive types of research are necessary: They all provide that ...

  27. UTSW AI Innovations Challenge

    2:30 PM - AI assets arising from academic research at UTSW Presenter: Dr. Isamu Hartman Assistant Director of Technology Commercialization Office for Technology Development, UT Southwestern Overview: The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) within academic research has swiftly transitioned from a novel concept to a ubiquitous tool.

  28. The Role of Vezf1 in Mammalian Development

    Embryonic development relies on the complex interplay of epigenetic regulation, timely expression of genes, signal transduction pathways, and diverse morphological changes. The heart is the first organ to form during mammalian embryonic development. The proper development of the heart is critical to supply nutrients and oxygen to other cell types of the organism. Most cells that comprise the ...

  29. Prediction of voltage stability index in buses without measurement in

    The LR method can identify abnormal load types 1 and 2 in the data but struggles to detect type 3. The LOF method can differentiate between abnormal and type 3 loads. This paper combines the LR and LOF methods based on their unique characteristics. After identifying abnormal loads, they should be incorporated into the normal load profile.

  30. Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced approximately $11.5 million in funding through its new Inspiring Generations of New Innovators to Impact Technologies in Energy 2024 (IGNIITE 2024) program focused on early-career scientists and engineers converting disruptive ideas into impactful energy technologies. Each IGNIITE 2024 selectee will ...