Step 5 – select the methodology

By step 5 of the Research Cycle, you have considered and refined your research question, building a broadening understanding of your research issue. It is now time to think about the most helpful research methodology to answer your research question. You need to develop an awareness of the range of research methods available to you in order to select the best method, or methods, to explore your research question.

In pursuing your research methodology, you can choose to collect data through a single research method, or combine a range of research methods. It is important to understand the theory behind research methodology. This will help you to define the type of methodology that will help to answer your research question. Theories such as qualitative and quantitative research, longitudinal research, single study research, microgenetic research, cross-sectional research, design experiments, action research and the mosaic approach. In understanding the theoretical basis for research, you can select your approach to research with confidence along with the practical tools for research.

Here are the key theories that underpin step 5 in the Research Cycle:

  • Qualitative research involves numerical data.
  • Quantitative research involves non-numerical data, this could include words or pictures/images.
  • Longitudinal research looks at how things change over time.
  • Single study research focuses on one participant (or sometimes a limited number of participants) in detail.
  • Microgenetic research is a form of study where the subject is observed during a period of rapid learning or change.
  • Cross-sectional research, unlike longitudinal research, collects data on students of different ages or developmental levels at the same time.
  • Design experiments allow the researcher to design their own parameters of research to test out their own hypothesis.
  • Action research critically examines one’s own practice and then make changes to practice based on the research findings.
  • The mosaic approach (Clark, 2005) was devised as a tool to gain the thoughts and perspectives of young children in research using a range of research tools.


Clark, A. (2005). Beyond Listening: Children’s perspectives on early childhood services.
The Policy Press.

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