If you are new to academic writing, there may be various new terminology around research methods that you do not fully understand yet, but we have tried to explain it in the simplest terms possible in this guide.

At this stage, you may have decided on your research question or project title.

In your research proposal, you will have to give an indication of the type of research you want to do and provide the reasoning behind it. The reasoning behind the topic of research will come from your hypothesis or literature review. Your planning of how to undertake the research to get the answers you need is what we are discussing here.

Before you start, you need to ask yourself this:

What is the purpose and scope of your research and what is the rationale?

Types of Research

Firstly, we will define the two overarching types of research. In most cases, research will fall into one category or the other.


With deductive research, you start with a theory. You create a hypothesis and test it with the aim to confirm or disprove the hypothesis.

When testing a theory, the research approach is usually quantitative. The aim is to draw general conclusions.

Quantitative research has a focus on statistical and numerical data collection and analysis. The results you will be interpreting will be in numerical form of some kind. If you are researching the relationships between two things and envisage a correlation graph in your results, then this is most likely to be quantitative.

Examples of quantitative research include, but are not limited to, surveys and questionnaires which have closed questions. Think yes/no answers or a numerical rating scale.


The other side of the spectrum is inductive research. With this approach, you start with data and infer conclusions from said data. In order to have worthwhile results, a qualitative approach is the most common for inductive research.

Qualitative research includes, generally, any data which is not numerical. The data collected is likely to be descriptive of something, rather than precisely measuring it. Qualitative data is interpreted to create new theory from new data, usually with new phenomena.

The researcher’s role is to interpret the data accordingly; qualitative data is less structured than quantitative and requires a strong analytical approach. Sometimes the answers are less obvious when in words rather than in numbers.

Examples of qualitative data include opinions and views collected from interviews or focus groups.

Research Approaches

Once you have decided whether to take an inductive or deductive approach to your research, you must then explore the research paradigms. A research paradigm may sound like something extra-terrestrial, but it simply refers to underlying general assumptions of research philosophies.

Generally speaking, there are two overarching reasons for conducting research, aside from the fact you are required to do it at a higher academic level.

Research is undertaken either to:

  • Fill a knowledge gap, or
  • Solve a problem

Most cases for research fall somewhere on a continuum between the two.

Now, we will highlight two of the most common research approaches.


A positivist research perspective sees things for the single reality they are in. It takes two things and finds the relationship between them. If there is no clear relationship, then it can be researched to see what the correlation is.

Positivist researchers will propose a hypothesis and then test the hypothesis to see how x impacts y. This is based on statistics and applies an objectivist approach.


An interpretivist – or constructivist – approach will look at reality from different perspectives.

In this approach, everyone experiences reality differently, and so the collection of different opinions matters. Things like culture, demographic and upbringing can affect people’s sense of reality in various ways.

Words are much more valuable than numbers here. Researchers should aim to get participants to delve deep into discussions and share their personal opinions on the particular topic being researched. This can identify perceptions or ideas which have not yet been discovered, and perhaps even change the scope or depth of the research project.

Other research approaches include Pragmatism, Subjectivism and Critical, should you wish to read up on them.

Methodology & Methods

Next, you must decide how you will go about your data collection. Think broadly about the values and assumptions which influence the research and justify which methods are best suited.

A positivist research project may employ experimental research or surveys.

Some types of method used for quantitative research include:

  • Sampling
  • Measurement and Scaling
  • Statistical analysis
  • Questionnaires

Constructivist research may use ethnography, discourse analysis or grounded theory.

Methods of qualitative data collection include:

  • Qualitative interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Observation
  • Case studies

It is also possible that the research could be a combination of both in a mixed-methods approach.

Proofreading your Research  

Proofreading your research proposal, or this whole section once it is complete, will help to eradicate any minor errors or spelling mistakes you have made.

If you would like a professional to proofread and edit your final version, you can get in touch to speak to one of our team or obtain an instant proofreading and editing quote for our academic editing service. Our qualified team will check your work for spelling and grammar issues as well as syntax and grammar inconsistencies and errors. You can then be confident that you are submitting the best possible version of your work.