Research methods are specific ways of gathering evidence and data for original research. The most useful method depends on the type of subject matter. Methods usually fall into one of two categories: qualitative and quantitative.
Quantitative research involves numerical data and requires strictly quantifiable measurement. A quantitative approach is one in which the investigator uses surveys, statistics, and experimental strategies of inquiry. *
Qualitative research involves subjective textual data and requires a human interpreter. A qualitative approach is one in which the investigator uses strategies of inquiry such as narratives, ethnographies, phenomenologies, or case studies with the primary intent of developing themes from the data. *
A mixed-methods approach is one in which the investigator uses closed-ended measures and open-ended observations that involves both numeric information as well as text information, so the data represent both quantitative and qualitative information. *
* Creswell, J.W. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Method Approaches. Sage Publications, 2003.
Human Subject Research (IRB)
Regardless of the method used, research involving human subjects must be approved and monitored by an internal Institutional Review Board (IRB) to validate that the research meets certain basic ethical standards.