Whether you are working to solve a unique organizational issue or making a contribution to theory, the research methods framework will help you align the “DNA” of your study to deliver the insights that you need. “I use terms like ‘canvas’ and ‘design’ because research requires both analytical and creative knowledge, skills, and abilities. There is no one best way to conduct research and the answer to ALL research methods questions is, ‘it depends.'” (Latham, 2014).
The Research Methods Framework section is an online resource designed to help researchers of all types design a custom research methodology for their particular project. While the research framework is organized into nine components with clear linkages, the process of developing a good research design is an iterative and often “messy” process. Each of the nine components is linked to the previous and subsequent components and all components are linked to the conceptual framework. The component are organized into two groups – the “T” or foundation of problem, purpose, research questions and conceptual framework and the “U” or methodology including the literature review, overall approach, data collection, data analysis, and drawing conclusions.
Getting the “T” or Foundation Right
All too often new researchers will begin their design process by asking questions like, “could I use an existing survey to measure ______ with population ________?” This is the wrong place to start. Form follows function and the methodology follows the purpose of the research or the “T” or foundation. Step one is to get the “T” or foundation right. The T or foundation consists of four related components including: (a) the problem (real world symptoms and specific knowledge gap); (b) the purpose of the study to help fill that knowledge gap; (c) the research questions; and (d) the conceptual framework.
Often the first step in the research design process is to identify a real world problem or management dilemma and provide a very brief description of the nature of the issue, the undesirable symptoms, and our inability or lack of knowledge to solve the problem. All the other components are designed to produce a contribution to knowledge that will help solve this problem. | Read more
The purpose statement builds on the knowledge gap in the problem statement. Describe what new knowledge the study will produce. This is not the specific content or answer but rather the type of knowledge that will be produced. The should directly address the knowledge gap in the problem statement. | Read more
There is nothing in the research process that is more important than getting the question(s) right. If the questions are good there is a chance that the study will be good. If the questions aren’t good then there is no hope that the study will be good. The answer to the questions fulfills the specifci purpose. | Read more
A diagram of the topic is worth more than 10,000 words. The task here is to create a diagram of the topic that includes clearly defined constructs or variables (independent, dependent, etc.) along with the relationships of those variables and key factors that influence the variables and the relationships. This task is often done in conjunction with the development of the research questions and it is an iterative process. | Read more
Developing the “U” or Methodology
Once the foundation is fairly well developed you are ready to start working on how you will answer the questions in a credible way that will fulfill the purpose and add new insights to help us solve the problem. The U or methodology is composed of five key pieces including: (a) a complete literature review; (b) the selection of an overall research approach; (c) the specific data collection methods and instruments; (d) the specific data analysis methods and procedures: and (e) drawing conclusions.
While a partial literature review was required to develop the foundation, you will now need to take it to the next level and develop a “full blown” literature review. What do we know about the constructs, variables, and relationships identified in the conceptual framework and the questions? The literature review outlines, discusses and analyzes the existing research findings. | Read more
Selecting an overall approach – quantiative, qualitative, or mixed methods – is based on the purpose of the study and how much we already know about the questions. Organization and management research often includes measurable variables and relationships that can be analyzed using quantitative methods as well as constructs and relationships the require more flexible qualitative methods. | Read more
Data collection planning consists of three key components: (a) a sampling plan; (b) a measurement plan and (c) a data collection plan. Who will participate? We measure the constructs and variables and then we analyze the relationships. How will you measure the independent, dependent, and moderating variables? | Read more
While measurement and data collection are typically focused on the constructs, variables, factors, and the context – the analysis is focused on the relationships between the variables, factors, contextual factors. The type and level of data that is collected along with the questions and purpose(s) will determine the data analysis options that are available. | Read more
The final step in the research process is to put all the pieces together in a cogent discussion of key findings and their implications for theory and practice, the limitations associated with those conclusions, and recommended the future research questions and studies. At this point the study has come “full circle” and addresses the original problem and knowledge gap. | Read more
Whether you are taking one of one of my graduate courses in research methods or just interested in exploring the research methods content on this site, this is the resource page for you. This resource page provides a convenient “one-stop shop” of many of the research methods resources found on this website. Explore the Research Methods Resources.