Want to plan a research but you are troubled with which approach to use? Your concern is quite reasonable. For many organisations, planning a research is a hassle.
Research has become part of life for all Organisations, Governments, Businesses and Individuals. It is vital for all projects in order to inform actions and provide evidence to achieve desired impact, milestones and targets. Learning is a day-to-day activity; research contributes towards the learning process for every growing sector.
Designing a Research Study
Conducting research studies involves good planning, designing, collecting data, analysing, interpretation and reporting findings. Analysis gives meaning to data, thereby breathing life into it. The results and inferences are accurate only if proper statistical tests are used.
A comprehensive Statistical tool requires proper design of the study and appropriate selection of study sample. Improper statistical methods may result in erroneous conclusions, hence misdirecting your project. An adequate knowledge of the project and Statistics is necessary for proper study design.
Many Organisations have found it easier to collaborate with professional research companies to work with their in house M&E to design and implement research studies. One of the most popular research companies is MOOD TECHNOLOGIES which has worked with many organisations in Uganda and 16 other countries for more than 15 years in conducting research. Organisations have benefited by utilising their professional skills in;
- Digitizing data collection tools with apps like CSPro, ODK, etc.
- Data analysis and reporting
- Monitoring and Evaluation Systems
Quantitative vs Qualitative Research
Researchers are highly polarized on choice of research methods. To understand which way to go, let us look at each independently:
Quantitative Research: Imagine you are in a helicopter, above the city, looking down at heavy evening traffic on streets. If you count all vehicles and motorbikes on one particular street, you could conclude that 75% of vehicles are cars, 10% are trucks, and the rest are motorbikes. This is quantitative data.
Quantitative research involves using objective facts and numerical data transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify facts, attitudes, opinions, behaviours, and other research areas. It uses measurable data; giving confidence in trends and proofs about the research topic. Quantitative research compose of small to extremely large sample sizes. Although sample size as small as 30 observations can provide significant results, it is recommended to have more than 100 observations. Various and affordable software exists to analyse quantitative data including Microsoft Excel, Stata, SPSS, R, etc.
Qualitative Research: If you landed on a busy street during traffic jam and interviewed some motorbike riders about their thoughts and feelings about car drivers, the notes or audio recordings compose qualitative data.
Qualitative research is rich in information and composes of open-ended questions. Final data comprises of many words in form of texts, photos, audio recordings or videos. It provides more understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, motivations, feelings, emotions, etc. In many occasions, qualitative research is conducted to gain insights into occurring problems or develop ideas for an upcoming quantitative research and sample sizes are always smaller. It can be in form of focus groups, key informants or individuals, literature reviews, observations and laddering. However, you can turn qualitative data into quantitative data and analyse. Most researchers struggle with how to analyse qualitative data since most software used for analysis are expensive e.g. NVivo, ATLAS.ti, etc.
Quantitative or Qualitative, which one do professionals use?
Despite differing opinions on approach, many organisations have adopted use of mixing both quantitative and qualitative research to back-up each other. It is highly recommended that the focus of research be considered in order to determine which method should dominate the other. Each method has limitations and strengths, a blend of both compensates for the weakness of another. The key focus should be on which questions should dominate a particular method.
Digitizing your research
Experts from MOOD TECHNOLOGIES are using their 15 years’ experience in research to provide low-cost solutions by using new technologies to digitize research.
Organisations can now take advantage of the growth in usage of smart phones and tablets to conduct low-cost but effective and secure research digitally. Approximately 6.7 billion people (83.72%) all over the world have adapted smart phone usage.
With growth of internet, digital data collection tools such as CSPro, ODK, etc. can connect with cloud servers and project managers are able to access simple dashboards to monitor real-time progress of their research projects with instant statistical results using their phones or laptops.
By Martin Ogwal
Research Consultant at MOOD TECHNOLOGIES
[email protected], WWW.MT.CO.UG