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Drexel Library

Design & Merchandising

Current Guide for Research in Design & Merchandising

RESEARCH METHODS MINI GUIDE

Student Research at Drexel University

To learn more about research at Drexel University, please visit the Office of Research and Innovation. Pay special attention to the Compliance tab which provides information on conducting ethical research and what you need to meet institutional standards. This is especially important when you plan research that involves people and animals. You may also want to the link for students on the Getting Started page located under Resources. 

Another resource for graduate students are Drexel Fellowships, which you can learn more about on the Drexel University Graduate College homepage. 

Introduction to Research Methods

This supplement to your research guide is meant to support advanced research in humanities and social sciences. The focus of the guide is, therefore, on Qualitative Research methodologies. Below are general definitions that distinguish between Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed-Methods Research methods. These definitions are taken from the American Psychological Association (APA) online Dictionary of Psychology (2023).

If you have any questions please contact your librarian or speak to your professor. 

 

Method Use Benefits Limitations

 

Survey

 

Gather data from a large sampling of people in a short period of time

 

- can be anonymous

- inexpensive to administer

- easy to compare and analyze

- administer to many people

- can get lots of data

- many sample questionnaires 

 

- hasty feedback

- biased responses

- impersonal

- may need sampling expert

- doesn't get full story

 

Interview

 

Record an individual's experience or impression, potentially ask follow-up questions and clarify statements or intent

 

- range and depth of information

- relational and flexible

- spontaneous and adaptive

 

- time consuming

- laborious to analyze 

- biased responses

 

Observation

 

Collect firsthand information about people, events, interactions, programs, etc.

 

- witness events as they occur

- adapt to events as they occur

 

- subjective interpretation

- complex data 

- potential to influence environment or behaviors

 

Focus Group

 

Explore a subject or object in-depth through discussion with assembled participants

 

- quickly collect impressions

- can be efficient way to collect a range and depth of information in short time

- can convey key information 

 

- difficult to analyze 

- requires trained facilitator 

- assembling a group with complimentary schedules

 

Case Study

 

Understand an experience or conduct comprehensive examination of a subject

 

- record of subjects' experience that may include input on processes and results

- powerful means to portray data 

 

- time consuming to collect, organize, and describe data

- provides depth, rather than breadth, of data

Table adapted from Duke University's Library Guide on Qualitative Research Methods, Accessed January 2023. 

External Research Guides 

Research Guides from other Universities can provide significant information on topics we are interested in. However, Drexel does not always have direct access to the same resources as other institutions. If you find a resource you would like to access, please request it through EZBorrow or InterLibrary Loan. If you have questions, please reach out to your librarian. 

External Websites