1.0 Selection of the research methodology
According to Marshall & Rossman (2010) a researcher can adopt three different kinds of research methods namely exploratory, descriptive and causal research. The researcher in this case should adopt the descriptive research method. Ritchie et al. (2013) opined that by using the descriptive method the researcher will be able to observe a large mass of target population and make required conclusions about the variables. The researcher by using descriptive research can effectively design a pre-structured questionnaire with both open ended and closed ended questions. The information collected from the responses of can be statistically presented in this type of research method for the easy interpretation of the report users. Since the researcher is trying to analyze the customer opinion, attitude , behavior and satisfaction level in relation to services and products hence the researcher should effectively use the descriptive method in order to statically analyze the data.
The researcher here is not considering explanations of any issues or is not aiming to establish any new concepts or theories hence the researcher should effectively use the descriptive method instead of the exploratory methods. The multiple choice questions used in the descriptive method gives the respondent the attributes from which they need to choose and enables the researcher to connect the choice of the respondent with the choice of the researcher for the project. The use of descriptive design enables the researcher to measure the results rather than exploring the results.
2.0 Evaluation of differences between facts and theory and concepts and variables
According to (_) facts are real information that an individual can observe. On the contrary, theories are the academic explanations that the scholars provide from the observations of the facts. For instance, a news report states that Ebola killed thousands of people in Africa and hundreds were shifted in order to prevent transmission of the disease. In this report, the statistics of thousands of people and the information relation to death caused due to Ebola are facts. The theory is the information about the transmission of the disease. It is not clear whether the disease is transmitted through human touch however; the quick spread of the disease has evoked the scientists to generate a theory regarding the same. Hence, (_) suggested that facts are true observations whereas theories are explanations of those observations. The interrelation between the fact and theory shows that theories can be transformed into facts if they are adequately supported by evidences and can be proven.
Harriss & Atkinson (2011) opined that a concept is a summarized detail about a fact. On the contrary, the concept becomes a variable when the concept can be expressed in numerical terms or can be categorized. For instance, a research conducted on customer satisfaction about online shopping shows that customer satisfaction is a concept. However, within the research when the customers are questioned about how satisfied they are with the online shopping services, the concept becomes a variable. When the researcher is attaching levels of satisfaction to the concept, the concept becomes variable. Hence Ritchie et al. (2013) added that all variables are derived from concepts however all concepts are independent and are not considered to be variables unless they are provided with levels. Thus, the existence of the concept is independent however; the variable may not exists without being linked with a particular concept.
3.0 Use of theoretical perspective in the design process
The research process requires the research to engage with the theoretical prospective at some stages of the research. According to Marshall & Rossman (2010) the research philosophies outlines the research design process. The different theoretical views namely positivism, post positivism, feminism, interpretivism and critical inquiry helps the researcher to effectively complete the research process. The adoption of the different types of the research philosophies defines the research methodology undertaken by the researcher. The researcher adopting the positivism philosophy assumes that the society and the environment can be measured through observations. The researcher thus adopts logical and scientific principles to interpret the observations and derive at conclusions. Thus, the researchers adopting positivism philosophy develops non experimental research designs.
Maxwell (2012) added that interpretivism is opposite to positivism. The interpretivists believe that the reality has a multiple number of projections and hence they engage in experimental research designs to find the cause and affect relationship between the variables. The researchers adopting this philosophy generally adopt flexible research structures because the major aims of the researchers are to interpret and understand the human behavior through their research work.
The phenomenology philosophy states that the personal experiences of the respondents can be effectively used to understand the various research topics. The researcher adopting the phenomenology philosophy within the research study generally strives to establish new concepts and principles. Thus, the researcher adopts an inductive approach for conducting of the research project.
The researcher adopting realism assumes that the facts and objects of the research are true and accurate. The realist researcher also has the scope of making changes in the research questions, facts and methods. The researchers in case of realist approach use the explanatory research designs. The research project will thus explain in details all the aspects of the variables and will avoid any judgmental conclusions since the researcher does not engage in any kind of observational analysis. The researcher here also uses the theories in order to derive the explanations to the various causes (Ritchie et al. 2013).
Finally, in the modern research reports the researchers generally adopts the post positivism philosophy that suggests that the theories, values and knowledge of the researcher are important for deriving the appropriate conclusions to the various observations. Unlike positivism where the researchers adopt that the there is no relation between the theories and the research outcomes, post positivism recognizes the interrelation between the two.
4.0 Evaluation of construct validity and measurement reliability
Goh & Law, (2002) stated that in research project the concept of construct validity refers to the assessment of the validity of the research methods. Apart from the content validity and criterion validity, construct validity helps the researcher to judge the effectiveness of the measurement procedures like the effectiveness of the questionnaires and the techniques used for designing the research questionnaires. With the help of construct validity, the researcher is also able to measure the level of the experiment in successfully establishing the research objectives. Mackey & Gass (2013) argued that in may cases the researchers assume construct validity to be the measurement scale for measuring the physical design of the research methods. However, the concept deals in measuring the theoretical aspect of the design rather than the physical aspect. In general, for the exploratory research designs the researchers adopt the construct validity concept (Silverman, 2010). For instance, in case of education and language studies the researchers test the construct validity of the topic and the methods before engaging in the main research work.
The concept of measurement reliability defines the process of quality measurement of the research methods. The reliability of the process is checked in order to check the consistency and the repeatability of the measures. The True score theory mentions the two components that assures the reliability of the research process namely the true ability of the respondent and the random error of the measurement process. Creswell (2013) suggested that construct validity may change with the change of time and hence the application of measurement reliability is necessary to measure the consistency of the research process. It is necessary to measure the reliability of different points within the research methods because measurement of reliability will ensure that the project is successfully being implemented and the objectives are attained.
5.0 Justification of quantitative research designs
According to Waltz et al. (2010) quantitative research design is used in the experimental research methodologies where the researcher uses the mathematical and statistical data obtained from the observational research methods to analyze the outcome of the research. The researcher engaging in quantitative research generally asks narrow closed ended questions to produce unbiased results. Tashakkori & Teddlie (2010) suggested that it is justifiable to use quantitative data in cases where the researcher wants to compare the data in a systematic way or the researcher is attempting to test a theory with hypothesis. For instance in case of a research project dealing with determination of customer satisfaction in relation to a particular product or service, the researcher should effectively use quantitative research techniques.
Silverman (2010) suggested that a quantitative method helps the researcher to measure the preference levels of the customers, customer buying behavior, customer support etc. Quantitative techniques use a structured questionnaire that enables the respondents to select their answers from a given list of options. With the help of the rating questions, the researcher is able to measure the satisfaction rates and with the help of the ranking questions, the researcher can measure the preference rates. Moreover, Sein et al. (2011) has added that the primary reason behind use of quantitative research allows the researcher to understand the number of people in a target population sharing the same characteristics or behavior patterns. In case of companies conducting a research on the acceptance level of a new product it is advisable to use Quantitative research technique because this technique will help the company to understand the number of people who are using the products of the company and the number of people who will prefer using the new product of the company. The companies may also use quantitative research to estimate the market size, business volume and measure the target market segments in order to forecast potential future demands.
6.0 Justification of qualitative research designs
Qualitative research methods are generally the in-depth research methods employed by the researcher to get a wide idea about the target market segment. O'Leary (2013) added that when the researcher is uncertain about the research problem and research approach, then the researcher generally adopts the exploratory methods of qualitative research design. The focus group interviews, in depth interviews, observations and ethnographic participations are the methods of obtaining qualitative data. However, not all research projects require in-depth analysis. Hence, Kazdin (2011) suggested that the best situations where the qualitative method can be adopted are namely:
- To ascertain strengths and weakness of products and brands
- To generate an idea for a new product development
- To study emotions and attitudes of customers
- To study customer reactions to different public campaigns and advertisements
- To understand the perceptions of the customer towards a brand, product or service
Collis & Hussey (2013) suggested the level of importance for a product to the customers can be effectively determined by the qualitative research technique. Astbury and Leeuw (2010) recommended that if the researcher is trying to ascertain the rate of response in accordance to some issues than it is not advisable to use qualitative research. Qualitative research helps the researcher to generate the research questions and the issues. Thus, qualitative research should be used when the researcher requires in-depth information about the research topic. In case of a qualitative research, process the researcher uses open-ended questions within the research questionnaire. This helps the researcher to record the response of the respondents rather than limiting the response with options. The wide responses show the emotions of the respondents in relation to the issue of research problem thereby helping the researcher to make an in-depth analysis of the research topic.
7.0 Ethical considerations
When the research process includes surveys of human participants, it is necessary to establish certain code of ethics for maintaining the dignity and autonomy of the participants. Creswell & Clark (2007) opined that a researcher should abide by the following code of ethics in researcher that involves human participation.
- The research should be designed and conducted in a way that ensures quality, contribution to societal development, knowledge enhancement and integrity
- Researchers involving participation by children below 16 years or physically and metally misbalanced individuals should be risk free and conducted in a sympathetic manner without any act of pressure by the researcher on the respondents
- For company researches involving obtaining of internal company data the researcher should maintain code of confidentiality as proposed under the Data Protection act, of the employee respondents and should also ensure confidentiality of the data (Tarone et a 2013)
- In accordance with the Code of Ethics, the researchers should ensure that the data collected from the researchers should involve free consent of the respondents. Any kind of coercion, threat or biasness involved in acquiring the data will be considered unethical and invalid for the research.
- The researcher should also ensure respect and integrity in their treatment with the respondents in order to receive an effective response from them. In case of acquiring consent of the respondents, the researchers generally treat the respondents as objects of study rather than human beings with emotions. Hence, respecting the ideas and opinions of the respondents and recoding their advice on the research topic can ensure a fruitful study (Punch, 2013).
8.0 Comparison between three types of research methodologies
Focuses on discovery of new ideas and concepts
Focuses on analysis of opinions, attitudes, and behavior and satisfaction levels of individuals
This method undertakes a the research with an objective of defining a cause and effect relationship between the variables
The method is used when little or no information about the research topic is available to the researcher
The method is used when the researcher has set specific research aims and objectives and has also generated specific research questions (Smith et al. 2011)
The method is used when there is a probable existence of a cause effect relation between the variables
In this method the researcher generally uses open ended questionnaires in order to secure the information and opinion of the respondents
In this method the researcher generally uses close ended questionnaires with specific options and categories in order to understand the ratings
In this method the researcher uses both open ended and close ended questions to relate the variables.
This method generally uses qualitative research techniques
This method uses the quantitative research techniques
The researcher here also makes qualitative inquiry
9.0 Comparison between research designs
According to Berger (2013), every research design has a predictor variable within the research design, which is a part of the design that the researcher can manipulate. Experimental design is the type of research design where the researcher has the ability to manipulate the predictor variable and create a cause and effect relationship. On the contrary, a non-experimental research is the design where the researcher has no control over the variables and relies on observations to derive a conclusion. The experimental designs have the capability of performing experiments on the respondents. However, the researchers adopting the non-experimental designs are forced to restrain their research to observations and interpretation methods. Since the experiments can be made hence the researcher, using the experimental design can confirm the cause and effect relationship between the variables (Kitchin & Tate, 2013).
On the contrary, the non-experimental researcher can suggest that there is a cause and effect relationship but cannot ensure the existence of the same. Flick (2011) suggested that quasi-experimental design is similar to an experimental design however; there is only a lack of random assignment. The major difference between the quasi experimental and non experimental designs are that the non experimental design does not attempt to minimize threats however quasi designs does uses techniques to minimize the threats.
10.0 Strengths and weaknesses of each research methodology
Types of research
Exploratory research method
In depth analysis: The main objective of this research is to improve the researcher’s knowledge about the research topic because the in-depth analysis of the topic helps to build good knowledge.
Inappropriateness in quantitative measurements: The use of the open-ended questions makes the project theoretical rather than measurable or quantifiable.
Testing of concepts : The researcher engaging in exploratory researcher process generally tests the concept before projecting the concept in the market. For instance the testing of a new product before promoting the product in the market (Robson, 2002)
Time consuming: The analyses of the open-ended questionnaires are more time consuming compared to the statistical analysis.
Effective outcomes: The in-depth analysis done by the researcher in the exploratory research helps in producing better outcomes for the project.
Low usage: Majority of the studies aim to understand the individual behavior patterns hence the use of exploratory research is very low.
Descriptive research method
Huge target population : The use of close ended and pre structured questionnaires enables the researcher to collect data from a large sample within a short period.
Lack of confidentiality: The respondents avoid answering personal questions because they feel there is a lack of confidentiality in the research project.
Data collection from case studies: The descriptive research allows the researcher to collect data from personal case studies, newspaper reports and financial reports and contribute as a theoretical aspect to the research paper.
Presence of errors: The pre structuring of the questions by the researcher leaves errors or omissions within the questionnaire and the categories response options. The researcher may choose the data as per his own convenience.
No proof of the conclusions: The observations and the conclusions do not show any prove rather are statistical analysis of the data
Explanatory research method or causal research methods
Cause and effect relationship: The method clearly explains the cause and effect relationship between the variables in a project
Lack of accuracy: However, Thygesen et al. (2011) opined that the method lacks accuracy since the method is based on the theoretical approach of the researcher.
Future predictions: The method allows the researcher to make “what if “ analysis of the variables
Time consuming: The process of causal research may take time for establishing of the cause and effect relationship between the two variables
Use of both techniques: The method involves usage of both qualitative as well as quantitative techniques. When the researcher is experimenting on the research topic, the researcher uses the qualitative technique and when the researcher is making statistical analysis, the researcher uses the quantitative techniques.
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