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Download a glossary of terms used in this course.

Data collection methods are the tools and techniques that you will use to collect your data:

  • Qualitative methods are used to observe, collect, describe, explore, create and/or interpret opinions, perceptions, worldviews, artefacts or objects, for example
  • Quantitative methods are used to collect, create, organise and/or examine numerical (statistical, mathematical or computational) data that can be measured and analysed.

In practice, qualitative and quantitative methods can be used together. This is referred to as mixed, multiple or hybrid methods research.

Categorise the following research methods as 'Qualitative', 'Quantitative' or 'Mixed' by dragging and dropping them into the relevant position on the Venn diagram. When you have correctly placed an item, a short description will appear. Then read the feedback.

Categorise the following research methods, and then continue on for the correct answers and a short description of each method.

Qualitative

Life history interviews

Life history interviews

Life history interviews

In-depth interviews used to document the lives, or parts of the lives, of participants.

Open-ended questionnaires

Open-ended questionnaires

Open-ended questionnaires

Questions are left open so that respondents are free to answer them in any way that they want, based on their personal experiences, beliefs and understanding.

Art as research

Art as research

Art as research

Art is seen to be a method of inquiry in which art creation, art activities and/or art installations are simultaneous processes of creating and researching.

Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling

A collaborative method that uses digital equipment to enable people and communities to communicate, share their lives and illustrate their lived realities, from their perspectives.
Quantitative

Closed-ended questionnaires

Closed-ended questionnaires

Closed-ended questionnaires

Participants choose from a number of fixed responses so that answers can be quantified.

Controlled observations

Controlled observations

Controlled observations

An observational method that is contrived by the researcher and carried out in a controlled environment.

Big data analytics

Big data analytics

Big data analytics

A method used to capture, examine, store and analyse data to discover patterns, highlight trends and gain deeper insight.

Sensor-based methods

Sensor-based methods

Sensor-based methods

Methods used to detect, measure, record and respond to some type of input from machinery, people or the environment.
Mixed

Online research communities

Online research communities

Online research communities

Participants are brought together to form an online community in which they can discuss ideas and answer questions, and numerical data can be collected.

Virtual world analysis

Virtual world analysis

Virtual world analysis

A combination of methods used to investigate human action, interaction, relationships and behaviour in computer-based simulated environments.

Online panel research

Online panel research

Online panel research

Pre-recruited and pre-selected panel members complete open-ended and closed-ended questionnaires over a period of time.

Time-use apps

Time-use apps

Time-use apps

Respondents record their activity at random points during the day, along with contextual information such as who they were with and how they felt at the time.

The term 'mixed methods' refers to research that combines methods from both qualitative and quantitative approaches. This type of study integrates qualitative and quantitative methods and data (concurrently or sequentially), enabling the researcher to gain deeper insight and greater understanding, and to generate new knowledge.

Here are the groups you are asked to place items into:

  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Mixed

Here are the items that you are asked to place in the groups provided:

  • Digital storytelling
  • Open-ended questionnaires
  • Art as research
  • Life history interviews
  • Closed-ended questionnaires
  • Big data analytics
  • Sensor-based methods
  • Controlled observations
  • Virtual world analysis
  • Online panel research
  • Time-use apps
  • Online research communities

The correct answers are:

  • Qualitative
    • Digital storytelling
      A collaborative method that uses digital equipment to enable people and communities to communicate, share their lives and illustrate their lived realities, from their perspectives.
    • Open-ended questionnaires
      Questions are left open so that respondents are free to answer them in any way that they want, based on their personal experiences, beliefs and understanding.
    • Art as research
      Art is seen to be a method of inquiry in which art creation, art activities and/or art installations are simultaneous processes of creating and researching.
    • Life history interviews
      In-depth interviews used to document the lives, or parts of the lives, of participants.
  • Quantitative
    • Closed-ended questionnaires
      Participants choose from a number of fixed responses so that answers can be quantified.
    • Big data analytics
      A method used to capture, examine, store and analyse data to discover patterns, highlight trends and gain deeper insight.
    • Sensor-based methods
      Methods used to detect, measure, record and respond to some type of input from machinery, people or the environment.
    • Controlled observations
      An observational method that is contrived by the researcher and carried out in a controlled environment.
  • Mixed
    • Virtual world analysis
      A combination of methods used to investigate human action, interaction, relationships and behaviour in computer-based simulated environments.
    • Online panel research
      Pre-recruited and pre-selected panel members complete open-ended and closed-ended questionnaires over a period of time.
    • Time-use apps
      Respondents record their activity at random points during the day, along with contextual information such as who they were with and how they felt at the time.
    • Online research communities
      Participants are brought together to form an online community in which they can discuss ideas and answer questions, and numerical data can be collected.

Feedback:

The term 'mixed methods' refers to research that combines methods from both qualitative and quantitative approaches. This type of study integrates qualitative and quantitative methods and data (concurrently or sequentially), enabling the researcher to gain deeper insight and greater understanding, and to generate new knowledge.

Your choice of research methods is framed and guided by your chosen methodology. Although certain methodologies and methods are favoured in certain disciplines, your choices should not be constrained or restricted by discipline.

Useful information Useful information

The European Survey Research Association (ESRA) is a membership organisation for those interested in survey research. Survey Research Methods is the official journal of the ESRA. It is peer-reviewed and published electronically, with free and open access.

Other organisations relevant to research methods include:

Click on your disciplinary icon to see examples of methodology in your area (these are just possibilities and many more are available). Then click on each methodology card for examples of appropriate research methods. If you are interested in interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary research, you might find it useful to click on all three icons to view similarities and differences in methodology and methods.

Click on your disciplinary icon to see examples of methodology in your area (these are just possibilities and many more are available). Then click on each methodology card for examples of appropriate research methods. If you are interested in interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary research, you might find it useful to click on all three icons to view similarities and differences in methodology and methods.

Continue on for examples of methodology in your disciplinary area (these are just possibilities and many more are available). Each methodology is followed by examples of appropriate research methods. If you are interested in interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary research, you might find it useful to read all three lists to consider similarities and differences in methodology and methods.

Humanities STEM Social sciences Narrative inquiry
  • Digital storytelling
  • Participatory film-making
  • Narrative analysis
Historical method
  • Source criticism
  • Historical reasoning
  • Document analysis
Autoethnography
  • Self-observation
  • Reflexive investigation
  • Fieldwork
Experimental research
  • Randomised double-blind trial
  • Controlled experiment
  • One-shot case study
Survey research
  • SMS questionnaire
  • Closed-ended questionnaire
  • Telephone interviewing
Computer modelling and simulation
  • Agent-based modelling
  • Predictive modelling
  • Spatial modelling
Ethnography
  • Key informant interviews
  • Participant observation
  • Fieldwork
Phenomenological research
  • In-depth interviews
  • Memoing
  • Essay production and analysis
Survey research
  • Online questionnaire
  • Mobile phone interviews
  • Trend analysis

Methodologies and methods in the humanities

Narrative inquiry

  • Digital storytelling
  • Participatory film-making
  • Narrative analysis

Historical method

  • Source criticism
  • Historical reasoning
  • Document analysis

Autoethnography

  • Self-observation
  • Reflexive investigation
  • Fieldwork

Methodologies and methods in STEM

Experimental research

  • Randomised double-blind trial
  • Controlled experiment
  • One-shot case study

Survey research

  • SMS questionnaire
  • Closed-ended questionnaire
  • Telephone interviewing

Computer modelling and simulation

  • Agent-based modelling
  • Predictive modelling
  • Spatial modelling

Methodologies and methods in the social sciences

Ethnography

  • Key informant interviews
  • Participant observation
  • Fieldwork

Phenomenological research

  • In-depth interviews
  • Memoing
  • Essay production and analysis

Survey research

  • Online questionnaire
  • Mobile phone interviews
  • Trend analysis

When choosing your data collection methods, you must ensure that they are appropriate to your methodology. However, for some qualitative approaches it may be difficult to state specific methods at the beginning of your project. Your methods might be developed, modified or changed as themes emerge from your research.