The following research methods are most suitable for a positivistic research philosophy:
Surveys involve selecting a representative and unbiased sample of subjects drawn from the group you wish to study.
- Uses questionnaires or interviews or a combination
- Descriptive survey is concerned with identifying and counting the frequency of a particular response among the survey group
- Analytical survey analyzes the relationship between different elements (variables) in a sample group.
Experimental studies are done in carefully controlled and structured environments and enable the casual relationships of phenomena to be identified and analyzed. Studies done in laboratories tend to offer the best opportunities for controlling variables; however, the artificiality of the situation can affect the response of test subjects.
Longitudinal studies are often conducted over several years to observe the effect of time has on the situation under observation and to collect primary data of these changes.
Cross-sectional studies are done when time resources for more extended research are limited. Such a study involves different organizations or groups of people to look at similarities or differences between them at any one particular time.
The following research methods are most appropriate for a phenomenological research philosophy:
Case studies offer an opportunity to a study a particular subject information that may be both qualitative and quantitative. Case studies can be used to formulate theories, or be:
- Descriptive - where current practices is described in detail
- Illustrative - where the case studies illustrate new practices adopted by an organization
- Experimental - where difficulties in adopting new practices or procedures are examined
- Explanatory - where theories are used as a basis for understanding and explaining procedures
Autobiography is a means of collecting information from small groups of respondents to seek patterns, underlying issues and life concerns. This method could be used to trace the influences of variables such as social class, gender, and educational experiences on career development and career progression within an organization.
Action research involves an intervention by a researcher to influence change in any given situation and to monitor and evaluate the results.
Ethnography as participant observation is where the researcher becomes a working member of the group or situation to be observed.
Participative enquiry is research done within one's group or organization and involves the active involvement and co-operation of people who you would normally associate with on a daily basis.
Feminist perspectives focuses on knowledge grounded in female experience and is of benefit to everyone, but particularly women.
Grounded theory reverses approaches in research that collected data in order to test the validity of theoretical propositions, in favor of an approach that emphasizes the generation of theory from data--to approach research with no preconceived ideas about what might be discovered or learned.
Neville, Collin. Introduction to Research and Research Methods. Effective Learning Advisor, University of Bradford School of Management, 2007. PDF file.