Methodology – The 5 Key Components

Time to read: 5 Minutes

The methodology section of a research paper lets your readers analyze your approach to the study. It states the topic of your study and the tools used to conduct the research.

Methodology – In a Nutshell

  • Research methodology shows that a research project is valid and reliable.
  • Researchers follow a systematic approach in collection and analysis of data.
  • Data analysis is subject to the type of data and the techniques applicable in its collection and analysis.
  • Meaningful insights can be drawn from qualitative and quantitative sources.

Definition: Methodology

Methodology in research refers to the scientific framework adopted in the research process. Data for research in methodology is collected through surveys, interviews, group discussions, and tracking online trends.1

1. Inductive vs. Deductive research

  • Inductive research in methodology is a blank page approach, where researchers create hypotheses from observed patterns.2
  • Deductive research in methodology is concerned with creating hypotheses around existing theories.
  • A mixed approach combines inductive and deductive research in different parts of the study where either is best suited.3

Examples of each approach

Type of Research Example
Inductive Observation – Your Uber ride took longer than the subway.

Pattern – Your Uber ride has taken longer than the subway for 2 weeks

Theory – Uber rides take longer than the subway
Deductive Theory – Uber rides take longer than the subway

Hypothesis – If you took the subway, you would get there faster than an Uber

Collect data on time taken by both means in one route
Mixed Begin with the observation and work with the theory in mind

2. Setting and participants in methodology

Setting in research methodology can be a physical, social, or cultural context where a study is based. Participants are the target population involved directly in a research study.4

3. Data collection in methodology

Data collection is a systematic process of gathering, classifying, and labeling essential variables in a study. Researchers use data to formulate valid hypotheses in research methodology.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative data collection

Qualitative data collection includes interviews, group discussions, and observations. It involves close-ended questionnaires, polls, and surveys to collect numerical data.5

Below are the strengths and weaknesses of each method:

Method Strengths Weaknesses
Qualitative data collection • Provides an extensive array of insights
• It can be used to study new phenomena
• It helps study low-level correlations
• It may take a long time to gather information.
• It may not be possible to replicate results in several studies
Quantitative data collection
• Data can be consistent and reliable
• Repetitive inputs can be automated
• It is possible to analyze large volumes of data
• It often requires a specialized set of skills and a workforce
• Some essential variables may not be quantifiable6

Primary vs. Secondary data collection

Primary data collection is the process of collecting raw data through surveys, experiments, and interviews. Field surveys are considered a reliable source of primary data. They allow researchers to control sample size and quality.

Secondary data refers to primary data used by researchers in a new study. Sources of secondary data include websites, books, newspapers, and journals.7

Data Strengths Weaknesses
Primary Data • Specific data is collected
• The quality of data can be controlled
• Valuable data can be collected
• It is time-consuming
• It has many costs
• Some data collected may not be usable
Secondary Data • Data collection is easy and systematic
• It is usually readily available
• There are many sources
• It may be insufficient in some cases
• The data may be outdated
• It may be difficult to find precise data8

Descriptive vs. Experimental data collection

Descriptive data collection highlights what the subject matter is rather than why it exists. For example, a descriptive study would focus on what many millennials do in their free time rather than why they do it.9

Experimental data collection is a more hands-on method of research. It involves altering certain variables to see how they affect others. For example, changes in prices often change demand for the same product.

Data collection Strengths Weaknesses
Descriptive data collection • Offers a diverse range of usable data
• It provides an adequate source of information
• It is easy to perform
• It may not provide or show causality
• The data may not be replicable
• Lack of statistical tools may cause biasness
Experimental data collection • The findings of the study can be replicated
• It provides specific findings
• It provides a basis for causality
• It is time-intensive
• It may not offer usable findings
• Some variables may not be under the researcher’s control10

Overview of data collection methods

Research methods guide the process of data collection and analysis. The following are some standard research methods and their relevance:11


4. Data analysis in methodology

Data analysis is the logical process of applying statistical techniques to describe, sort, and summarize data. It condenses raw data inputs into usable insights in research methodology.12

Qualitative data analysis

This is reviewing and analyzing text data to identify and explain themes and underlying correlations. It is applied to non-numerical case studies of social, economic, and political phenomena, among other areas.13

Quantitative data analysis

Quantitative analysis is concerned with analyzing numbers. Numerical data is collected, and mathematical models are used to derive relationships between the data sets.14

Overview of data analysis methods

Data analysis can be distilled into various forms and applications:


5. Ethical considerations in methodology

This component of research methodology outlines and explains ethical concerns noted and observed during research. Ethical considerations in research show how matters of integrity and ethical behavior were upheld during the course of study. It is important to ensure research does not infringe on the rights and freedoms of the population.


Interviews. Besides interviews, other research methods are focused on discussions, surveys, and polls. They serve as data collection practices.

Secondary sources of information are pre-recorded data sources. They are used in quantitative and qualitative research. Examples of secondary sources are journals, newspapers, and videotapes.

Descriptive research identifies and lists all the observable features of a research topic. It is used by researchers in methodology to create the scope of a research topic.

Research methodology is an integral part of research papers. It articulately shows the method used to collect and analyze data. Researchers develop a methodology to make their research usable and verifiable.


1 University of Witwatersrand Johannesburg. “Research support: Research Methodology.” March 05, 2022.

2 Dudovskiy, John. “Inductive Approach (Inductive Reasoning).” Business Research Methodology. accessed August 05, 2022.

3 Trochim, William M.K.. “Deduction & Induction.” Conjointly. Accessed August 05, 2022,

4 Editage Insights. “Methods: What is meant by the setting of the study?.” November 30, 2020.

5 Houston, Kimberly. “Quantitative data-collection methods.” Jotform. May 11, 2022.

6 Medina, Josh. “3.2 strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research.” SlideShare. December 12, 2017.

7 Formplus. “What is Secondary Data? + [Examples, Sources, & Analysis].” January 15, 2022.

8 Commerce Mates. “Advantages and Disadvantages of Primary Data and Secondary Data.” Accessed August 05, 2022.

9 QuestionPro. “Descriptive Research: Definition, Characteristics, Methods, Examples and Advantages.”Accessed August 05, 2022.

10 Gaille, Louise. “16 Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research.” Vittana. April 13, 2017.

11 Formplus. “Descriptive Research Designs: Types, Examples & Methods.” January 23, 2022.

12 Responsible Conduct of Data Management. “Data Analysis.” Accessed August 05, 2022.

13 The Pell Institute and Pathways to College Network. “Analyze Qualitative Data.” Accessed August 05, 2022.

14 Jansen, Derek, and Kerryn Warren. “Quantitative Data Analysis 101: The lingo, methods and techniques, explained simply.” GradCoach. December, 2020.