Types of research

Qualitative Research originates from the social and behavioural sciences. It is used to explore and understand people’s beliefs, behaviour and attitudes. Qualitative methods include discussion/focus groups and interviews. Non-numeric data is collected such as descriptions of spasticity instead of numerical measures of spasticity. Thematic analysis of the data may be used.

Quantitative Research originates from the natural and social sciences. Numerical data is generated and quantitative methods include questionnaire surveys and controlled trials. The data is analysed with statistical formulae.

Mixed Methods Research is a way of using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. It may be employed where a qualitative study precedes to formulate questions to be asked in a quantitative survey questionnaire. 

Case studies and clinical trials

Case Studies are in-depth detailed examinations of subjects (cases). They may be linked to any of the research methods above. It is likely that the data will have been collected over a sustained period.

Clinical Trials are experiments carried out in clinical research with a background in biomedical or behavioural sciences. The randomised controlled trial is employed in medical research linked to testing the efficacy of pharmacological agents before they are widely available to the general public. 

More information can be found on the Research Methodology website and the Cochrane Library offers a free online interactive course on making sense of research and evidence.

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