When starting your research you will begin with a research question or topic that you need to find out about. You will then need to go about finding answers thrown up by the question. Research methods are the tools used to help you find, collect, analyse and interpret information in order to answer your research question.
Key points to think about around your research
Investigate whether you need to produce your own data to answer your question or does it already exist?
Set realistic targets and goals for managing your research project and be prepared to revise your plan if something goes wrong
Identify which research methods best suit your question or topic and the time you have to carry out the work. You might want for example to use experimental methods, meta analysis, qualitative or quantitative methods or possibly a combination. Will your methods yield the evidence base you need for your research?
When you have selected your methods think about ethics, privacy, and any legislation which may applied to the research
When writing your research proposal ensure that it is clearly planned and structured. Know when to write and when to incorporate graphics and charts to display data. Be prepared to incorporate feedback in your draft
To assist your study at the University of Southampton a Guide to Research Methods self-study module has been designed for students of the University undertaking masters or postgraduate study. It has eight generic themes including:
getting started as a researcher
the literature review
choosing your research topic
writing your research proposal
The module allows each of the themes to stand alone, or all eight can be undertaken as an entire module. To gain the maximum benefit from this module it is recommended that students regularly discuss their progress through the module with their tutor.
Academic foundations of quantitative research - A Lynda.com course by Rolin Moe
Hints on conducting a literature review - by the University of Toronto
Interviews and methods - by the UK Data Service
National Centre for Research Methods - based at the University of Southampton
Quantitative or qualitative? what are these methods and when to use them by Birmingham University
Writing a research proposal by Exeter University