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ENG 112: Writing and Research in the Disciplines

This Research Guide provides information to help you complete discipline specific research in English 112 classes using resources from the CCCC libraries and online.

What This Section is All About

Icon of a pencil in a circleIn this section, you will find an overview of different research methods common in science and social science.  You will find links to tools and resources in the library related to the different types of research and writing.


If you have any questions about how to use the tools ands resources included here, please contact your librarian!

Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Most Research is categorized into two general methods:


Speech Bubble IconQualitative Research

Non-numerical evidence, usually examined in its raw form

Used when a researcher wants to understand people's opinions, idiosyncratic responses to an event, motivations, or underlying reasons for actions or decisions.
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Example: Interviewing the victims of a natural disaster to gather a range of emotional responses.


A collection of random numbers.Quantitative Research

Numbers!  Collected as numerical data or converted into numerical data and examined using statistical methods of analysis.

Used to examine trends and compare populations.
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Example: Asking victims of a natural disaster to rank their feelings of anxiety using a pre-determined scale.


 

The Research Continuum

Image of the Research Continuum showing the spectrum of research from qualitative to quantitative.

Common Social Science Research Methods

Magnifying GlassObservational Studies

The researchers record data and information by studying participants without influencing them or their actions.

Types of observational studies include: Naturalistic Observation link will open in a new window, Participant Observation link will open in a new windowor Ethnography. link will open in a new window

 


Balance Beam IconCase Studies

The researcher will collect and write detailed histories and descriptive accounts of individual lives. A case study can combine a few research approaches, including interviews, observational data, and archival data.

Examples of Case Studies include Freud's history of Anna O link will open in a new window., and the stories related in Oliver Sacks's best selling book The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat.


Open Book IconArchival Research

A researcher analyzes and interprets data that has already been collected, often for an unrelated purpose, in order to answer their research question.

Typical sources of archival data include: census datalinkwill open in a new windowcourt recordswill open in a new window, medical records, and even case files from other researchers.


Question Mark IconQuestionnaires

Participants are asked a pre-selected set of questions.  These questions may be delivered in writing or through an interview format.

There are three main types of questionnaire methods: Random Sampling,linkwill open in a new window Stratified Samplinglink will open in a new window, and Convenience Sampling. link will open in a new window


 

Common Natural Science Research Methods

Question Mark IconQuestionnaires

Participants are asked a pre-selected set of questions.  These questions may be delivered in writing or through an interview format.

There are three main types of questionnaire methods: Random Sampling,  Stratified Sampling, and Convenience Sampling.


Icon of Crossed ToolsApplied and Field research

Studies undertaken primarily to find a solution to an immediate, practical problem, such as reducing drug use or increasing worker productivity. 

Field research is a type of applied research that is undertaken in a non-laboratory setting, such as a hospital or workplace.


Erlenmeyer flask iconExperimental Research

Controlled research undertaken in a laboratory or other controlled environment.  Data collected can be analyzed to test a hypothesis.

 


Longitudinal Studies

The experimenters follow the same group of participants over the course of many years.  This is common in medical research.

Identifying the Method in Library Resources

1. Read the Abstract

In a Summon results page, click Preview to read the Abstract.  Look for information about the study's methodology.

Image explaining how to preview an abstract.

2. Find the Methods section.

In the Article's Full Text, the Methods are usually outlined in the second or third section under a heading that reads "Method" or "Methodology."  

Is the method describe Qualitative or Quantitative? What type of method does it most closely resemble?  Does it use more than one method to gather data?


Help!

Need Help? IconNeed a little extra help?

Contact your librarian.

Or use the links below to find more in-depth information and help on Methods for Psychological Research.