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Research methods

Research Skills required by PhD students A4: Research methods.

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3 March 2010

A4: An understanding of relevant research methodologies and techniques and their appropriate application within one's research field

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By the time students complete a PhD, they should be able to answer ‘Yes’ to most of these questions.

  • Can you articulate the difference between 'techniques', 'methods' and 'methodology'?
  • Is there a standard method used in your domain?
  • If so, what is it and why is it used?
  • Can you identify the 'typical' methods or techniques used in your domain?
  • Can you explain the applicability and limitations of each?
  • In your review of recent research, have you identified what techniques or methods have been applied in what contexts for what purposes?
  • When you read a research paper, do you consider the appropriateness, implementation, and limitations of the methods used?
  • Do you have a working knowledge of the statistics relevant to your domain?
  • Do you know which data analysis software is generally used in your field?
  • Can you design appropriate empirical studies to address your research question/test your hypothesis/es?

Evidence of this skill

These are examples of documents you can collect. Each implies a piece or work, which may be a good way for you to develop this skill.

  • The research approach component of your probation assessment.
  • A survey of techniques, methods, or methodologies in the field, as reported in key research publications.
  • Notes from a discussion about the appropriateness, implementation and limitations of the methods used in a published study.  
  • Credit for successful completion of appropriate course(s) - such as statistics, data analysis or data handling.

This cloud is based upon material produced by The Open University’s research school to support doctoral students.

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