Dissertation Primary Research

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A Complete Guide to Dissertation Primary Research

A Complete Guide to Dissertation Primary Research

Dissertation primary research has an approach of being intimidating to many students despite the level of education.

This includes students of higher learning, for example, those at the postgraduate level.

The problem is caused by a variety of factors such as insufficient knowledge of the research methods, lack of skills required and lack of interest in statistics among others.

Primary research causes high levels of anxiety whereas it is an activity that initiates engagements, rewards, diverse and is also fun.

It presents the opportunity to indulge and test the students’ inquisitive side.

Once in the field, they can share their point of view which can be implemented and hence motivate them to participate in more research activities.

Research is a learning process that involves systematic procedures and decision making where the student should be aware of when to make the decision and evaluate the outcome.

A solution to this problem is where the information is broken down, simplified and made relatable to the students.

The following process should be considered for effectiveness:

Step 1: Determine data classification

Step 2: Choose on the method of primary research

Steps 3 to 8 Methods to be selected are;

  1. Qualitative method
  2. Quantitative method
  3. Mixed method
  4.  Other steps to be reviewed

The first two steps are followed first then as indicated in step 3 there are three methods to choose from that is (the qualitative method, the qualitative method, and the mixed method).

One is selected then the later steps depend on the method adopted.

Each step is discussed below.

Step 1: Determine the Classification of Data

This is the first step in primary research.

Data is a collection of information and is classified as primary and secondary data.

In this case, the focus is on primary research which uses primary data but it is wise to have an idea of the other data approaches.

Primary Data 

This is a type of data that is collected by the researcher from the source.

The researcher has control of the data he or she collects and is influenced by the time of collection.

It is commonly used while doing school research projects.

Secondary Data

This is a type of data that was collected by another person in the past.

It is accessed through past researchers, online records in the internet, offline records such as books in libraries or archives and a government source.

An advantage is that it is time-saving since the information is readily available.

However, secondary data is not as reliable compared to primary data since the researcher had his or her objectives that may not be aligned to the current situation.

Big Data

It is not commonly known as the other two types of data.

Big data is the most complex as compared to the rest.

It is used beyond the graduate level of education.

It is characterized by; high capacity of data, a wide range of the type of data and high velocity with the processed data also known as the three V’s.

This type of data requires intense training as opposed to standard procedures due to its complexity.

Step 2: Choose on The Method of Primary Research

The research methodologies are qualitative, quantitative and mixed.

One has to decide on the primary research methodology they want to use.

The methods are looked at in detail below.

Qualitative Research

The nature of this method is exploratory.

It is often exploited when there is no examination on the topic at hand therefore it is a first-time discovery.

This research method is conducted through observation and interviews.

The researcher is flexible with the findings and concludes with the different perspectives collected during the research.

Quantitative research 

The nature of this method is confirmed.

This means that the researcher collects the available information on a topic and the aim is to confirm or to deny the hypotheses.

Unlike in a qualitative method that is flexible, the quantitative method is fixed since it relies on statistical analysis.

Mixed Research 

Mixed research combines qualitative and quantitative methods.

Its aim is to attain an understanding of a topic as opposed to the case using one method.

The qualitative research is first done then the findings are used in quantitative research.

Qualitative Method Selected

What to be done

Step 3: Know of Merits and Demerits

Its merits are its nature of exploratory.

The researcher is not limited to finding out about the topic in-depth and in detail.

The focus is on what interests the researcher as per his or her objectives on the topic.

Findings under this method are more detailed compared to the qualitative method because the researcher is keen on the factors associated such as beliefs, habits, developments, circumstances, ideas among others.

The limitations of this method are the findings cannot be generalized since it’s a small population that is covered and the factors associated with them differ from the rest of the higher population.

Also, the quality of research is questionable because it relies on the researches skills and ability which can be biased.

Due to the different perspectives, it is hard for the researcher to give a solid conclusion from the results of the findings.

Step 4: Identify A Specific Qualitative Method

According to the research question, one needs to choose the most effective of the types of qualitative methods.

The common ones are observation, focus group, interviews and case studies as discussed below.


It means that the researcher notices and registers the behaviours of a group of individuals in a setting.

He or she may take a participating role by indulging with them or observe from a distance.

The findings of this type are made in an observation checklist that is earlier prepared by the researcher.


Set questions are prepared that are addressed to the participants.

The researcher then asks the question that is based on the topic and in some instances may deviate from the set questions.

This is to get a better understanding and also have a wider range of information. This type is the most common.

It is used in a formal and casual setting. Interviews should be recorded to prove their validity and can be used for reference.

Focus Groups

These are interviews involving more than one person.

Participants are selected from different settings.

The researcher interacts with each one of them to hear their opinion on the topic.

The sessions should be a recorder for future use and reference.

Case Studies

An individual or an organization is selected for this type of qualitative method.

The focus is on the ideologies presented based on the topic under investigation.

Step 5: Choose Participants

Participants vary according to the type of qualitative method chosen.

For instance, in interviews, observations and focus groups require a group of people whereas in a case study a specific individual or an organization selected.

To come up with participants, the researcher must;

  • Consult the research topic.
  • Determine the number of participants needed.
  • Make an arrangement on whether your contributors should be on separate or same settings.
  • Have a system of recruiting the participants, not the case for case studies since the particular individual or organization are predefined.
  • Prepare an informed consent to be signed by the participants agreeing to participate in the investigation.

Step 6: Select Measures

Qualitative research methods have simpler measures compared to those in quantitative measures methods.

As earlier stated in the observation method checklist should be present to record the findings during the activity.

The other three methods that were discussed also have a measure to be observed.

In the case of interviews, case studies and focus groups there are a set of questions prepared that assist for effective results.

Set questions ease the researcher’s way of acquiring the information he or she is looking for which is used in structured interviews.

On the other hand, semi-structured interviews have the set questions prepared and also provide a chance for the researcher to expound on the responses away from the set questions.

An observation checklist should include the participant’s name or numbers given to them if they are cautious about their privacy, the demographic features of the participants and the observation purpose.

For the crafting of interview questions, the researcher should seek assistance from the research topic and involve the relevant literature in question.

Step 7: Select Analyses

The findings of the qualitative research are analyzed swiftly because the statistics are not complicated.

The results of the data collected depend on coding and finding themes.

The process is easy since the researcher consulted the primary sources and was present during the activity.

Finding themes in the collected data involves procedures including; interpretative phenomenological analysis, narrative analysis, discourse analysis, thematic analysis, and constant comparative analysis.

Thematic Analysis

This is an analysis that is mostly used whose aim is to code the result of the findings, searching themes codes, as well as reviewing and naming the themes.

Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

This procedure is conducted similarly to that of thematic analysis.

The difference is the special focus assigned to a given individual, in a particular context gives an understanding of the phenomenon.

Constant Comparative Analysis

A piece of information is made for comparison with others to identify the similarities and differences.

The mandate of comparing is to give an understanding of the relations between the data.

Narrative Analysis

It aims at the verbal experiences presented by the participants. The themes are extracted based on linguistics.

Discourse Analysis

Its agenda is similar to that of narrative analysis, languages but the main focus is to do understand how it relates to the influences that mould people’s habits and thoughts.

Step 8: Interpret the approach

Qualitative research methods procedures are easy to implement.

When the participants are identified, time is scheduled for the activities to be conducted.

In the case of the observation method, observation takes place and the findings noted down.

During interviews, case studies and focus groups, the interviews take place and should be recorded.

The results are analyzed from the findings gathered and formulates a final report of the research topic.

Quantitative Method Selected

What to be done

Step 3: Know of Merits and Demerits

The merits include, the researcher relies on the already existing procedures and can select a sample from the varieties based on the topic to be looked into.

It allows the researcher to examine hypotheses and to decide on the control of various factors.

The final result of the research can be used in the future for reference purposes or by other researches for development.

There are also limitations.

It is not as effective as the qualitative research that has access to the depth and the detail of the research, to know more about the participants’ perception.

Since this type uses other participants’ information, the certainty is questionable due to biases of the source and the decisions of the then researcher.

The information provided may not be sufficient for the research to interpret the final findings reason being objectives differ.

Failure to keenly choose the participants and analyze the data correctly can subject the findings to be rejected.

Step 4: Identify A Specific Quantitative Method

Quantitative methods vary and a researcher should choose depending on the topic.

They are; descriptive, correlational, experimental, or quasi-experimental research.

Descriptive Research

This method is used to describe the characteristic of a population or beliefs.

It is not used to explain the origin of something or the relationship between factors but to elaborate on an existing factor.

Correlational Research

It is used to find out the connection between two or more factors.

The concept of independent and dependent factors is mostly taken into consideration in this method.

The dependent factors rely and are controlled by the effects on tests done for the independent factor.

It never gives the causes of action but tests the relationship between variables.

There is a third factor that may arise in some cases known as confounder or covariate.


They focus on the result and answers the reason “why”.

This is not the case for correlational research and descriptive research.

This type of research method takes advantage of the independent factor.

It has two kinds of designs, which are, between-subjects and within-subjects. They are assigned randomly.


It lacks the random assignment aspect of the experiment which makes it not true.

It is used when the participants are put together according to a predetermined aspect.

They cannot effectively bring forth causation.

Step 5: Choose Participants

The numbers in this method are higher compared to those in qualitative research.

This enables a larger perspective due to the numbers as opposed to covering a small population.

The researcher selects participants based on the target population.

This is done by clearly stating what to be included and what to be excluded.

Informed consent should be provided here as well for the participants to acknowledge their participation in the study.

Step 6: Select Measures

Measures are greatly recognized in quantitative research and have valid and dependable questionnaires used in past experiences as tools.

The consistency of results obtained from a questionnaire proves its reliability and dependability.

Its validity is established from the measures it offers and if it’s the same as that expected from it.

The questionnaires to be used in research should be as a result of consultation with the supervisor or questionnaires used in the past under the same topic with the same sort of measures observed.

Questionnaires’ final results are based on the statistics collected from the filled questionnaires.

Step 7: Select Analyses

Quantitative research has statistics that are analyzed to give the final report.

This part could be demoralizing but it’s not as complex as it may seem.

Computation of mean and percentages are some of the basics of this step.

Descriptive and frequencies statistics have to be done for all types of qualitative research.

They are essential to elaborate on the demographic features of the data such as age, race, and nationality among others.

Correlational research requires a correlation or regression analysis.

If the information is normally transferred, the figure is a bell-shaped curve hence depends on a Pearson correlation analysis.

Whereas if the information is not normally transferred, a Spearman correlation analysis is used.

Regression analysis is used to show if levels of an independent factor predict levels of dependent variables.

The online platform has provided information on the breakdown of regression analysis.

Two main types of ANOVA analysis are One-way ANOVA and Two-way ANOVA.

The further is used when there are more than two contexts of an independent factor while the latter is used where the independent factor exceeds one.

MANCOVA, on the other hand, is applicable where there is a single or more independent factors and also have more than one dependent factor.

Step 8: Understand the Procedure

Quantitative research procedures are manageable.

For example, in the case of an experiment when the researcher has appointed the participant, he or she allocates them to conditions randomly.

During quasi-experiments, as clearly depicted earlier have a predetermined characteristic and a specific way of experimenting is outlined.

An illustration is where the researcher has a topic to examine the population and give the findings of differences between males and females.

The researcher then groups the male gender and female gender separately which enables him to have an effective outcome.

In cases of correlation and descriptive research, there is no need for participant classification.

In all procedures that the researcher may use, he or she should provide the informed consent that approves the participants’ involvement as well as educates them on the research topic.

Also, they are well informed on the steps to take while the activities are ongoing.

While conducting questionnaires, the researcher may provide the questions at different times, which is known as counterbalancing.

This greatly determines the findings of the research.

The order can be rearranged because some participants can be dishonest and share the information with the other participants.

This dishonesty is found if it’s a large number and has been divided into groups where the researcher can manage a small number at a time.

All chances of biases are removed and the participants have the freedom to provide the information without any interference.

Once the activity is over, the researcher gathers the participants and addresses them on the reasons for the research.

Statistical analysis is conducted which later provides for the final report.

Mixed-Method Selected

What to be done

Step 3: Know of Merits and Demerits

Mixed research methods are a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods.

This unique feature grants more advantages.

An example is where there is a limitation of questionable honesty in the qualitative method then it is replaced by the quantitative research that can be affected by the said factor.

Details and in-depth are the strengths of qualitative research methods which is not the case for quantitative research methods therefore in such a situation the qualitative research is considered.

Generally, these methods adopt the merits of either of the two research methods and apply them.

It encourages detailed unbiased findings that led to comprehensive results.

There some disadvantages that come forth with mixed research.

The top of the list is complexity. It is involving and has a lot of measures compared to when tackled singlehandedly.

Also, it is time-consuming.

A lot of time is required to cover both research methods and to compute results.

While interpreting the results, much care is needed to solve any issues that may arise.

Step 4: Identify A Specific Mixed Method

Mixed methods are a variety of types which are separated according to the factors researched on.

They are called sequential exploratory design, sequential explanatory design, concurrent triangulation design, and concurrent nested design as discussed below.

Sequential Exploratory Design

Under this method, a process is followed whereby the qualitative research proceeds the quantitative research.

This enabled examination of detailed and in-depth data which then is added to the statistical information collected in the quantitative research.

The importance of this method is that all theories are tested and compared where only the best are taken into consideration.

Moreover, the results are not subjected to a small group but explore a large population under the same research topic.

Sequential Explanatory Design

Unlike in the sequential exploratory process, in this case, quantitative research data is dominated since it is conducted before the qualitative research.

In qualitative research, biases may arise, this design clears the doubts and confirms by using the findings retrieved from the quantitative research.

Also, it is useful where the information acquired in the quantitative research lacks the detail and in-depth that the qualitative research explains.

Concurrent Triangulation Design

The collected findings acquired from the qualitative and quantitative research are used concurrently.

No priority is given to any of the two methods, they are treated the same.

Data collected is analyzed simultaneously at a time.

It is a complex design and used to acquire properly articulated research data.

Concurrent Nested Design

Both methods, qualitative research, and quantitative research, are conducted during the same period but one of them dominates the other, then the other nests on the dominant method.

An illustration is where the qualitative method is the dominant method then the quantitative method embeds on the qualitative method.

The qualitative method deals with different research from that of the quantitative method then the finding is put together to give the final result.

Step 5: Choose Participants

In mixed research, there are two sets of participants based on the methods.

The first set of participants are under the qualitative research and are chosen as discussed earlier under step five on qualitative research.

The second lot is selected according to step five of quantitative research.

The researcher is required to apply the necessary regulations under qualitative research as well as those in quantitative research.

Step 6: Select Measures

As has been the case for mixed research, both the qualitative and quantitative measures should be put into consideration.

The measures should be addressed accordingly as earlier stated in the respective sections covering them.

An overview, qualitative research findings are based on the observation checklists and interview records whereas the quantitative research depends on the validity and reliability of the questionnaires which can be sourced from previous studies.

A researcher may need to validate the data collected by retrieving questionnaires from the qualitative research conducted that are later used in quantitative research. It’s the application of the sequential exploratory design.

The researcher should seek assistance from the supervisor on were to subject focus on the quantitative and qualitative measures.

Step 7: Select Analyses 

Mixed research requires the researcher to analyze the data accordingly based on the type of research selected.

The analysis of both the quantitative and qualitative are outline in step seven of the respective sections.

Qualitative research data analyses are thematic analysis, interpretative phenomenological analysis, constant comparative analysis, narrative analysis, and discourse analysis.

Quantitative research data analyses are descriptive statistics for descriptive research, correlation or regression for correlational research, and a t-test, ANOVA, or MANCOVA for experiment or a quasi-experiment.

Step 8: Understand the procedure

Procedures to be undertaken rely on the type of design used.

In the case of sequential exploratory design, qualitative research will first take place then followed by quantitative research.

The sequential explanatory design prioritizes quantitative research data then compares it to qualitative research.

Concurrent triangulation and concurrent nested designs seek to examine the qualitative and quantitative research one after the other.

The difference is which research method dominates the other.

Despite the design selected, rules have to be followed as discussed earlier in the quantitative and qualitative areas.

Other Steps to Be Reviewed

Step 9: Think About Ethics 

The researcher should make sure that the activities are ethical no matter the type of research method that he or she selects.

Different topics have different issues to address that the researcher has the mandate to see it through that the participants are not negatively affected.

It could be emotionally based since some topics could be sensitive and open up wounds that cause discomfort to the participants.

Some ethics committees go through the research topics before the study commences and gives the approval if satisfied that the ethical aspect is adhered to.

They ensure that all the required documents such as the informed consent are provided that shows that the participants know what they are getting involved in.

It is important for all kinds of research as long as there are participants involve, they sign the document presented to them and in some instances even online to acknowledge their involvement.

These consents are to be signed by adults that are a minimum of 18 years of age, where the study involves people below that age the signing is accorded to the adults responsible for example parents, guardians.

Also, the privacy of the participants is maintained and they are kept safe from any circumstances that may harm them.

Information about the participants should be kept under lock and key.

Where there are names, the researcher can substitute them with numbers or initials to their names, therefore, the identity is kept since it can get to the wrong people who can take advantage and use the information to molest the participants.

The participants’ details should not be shared with any other people outside the study.

Where the researcher interacts with special groups such as the aged, people with special needs and the like they are addressed differently with special attention and care.

The research should give the participants freedom where they can share the information willingly and if they feel threatened or have their reasons they can withdraw from the activity at their convenience.

In a situation where the participant had already gone through the process, he or she has a right to get in touch with the researcher and ask for the information submitted to be destroyed.

Once the study has been completed the researcher should address the participants and acknowledge them of their efforts and assistance during the activity.

At this time the researcher should make clarity of any inquiries from the participants and give them a go-ahead on what next and what the data collected will be used for.

For any misinformation that could have happened during the process this part enables the researcher to correct it.

Step 10: Consider Your Level of Studies and Discipline 

The level of studies or discipline enables the researcher to identify the method to use.

For undergraduate students, qualitative research methods are more convenient for them since they are easy to implement.

Their focus is to understand the background of research.

The graduate students, however, are more advanced and the requirements are more complex therefore their choice of methods will affect the results and are more likely to indulge in the mixed research methods.

Critical thinking is involved in decision making during the research.

Well-designed studies, accurate crafts and calculations, multiple examinations and numerical analyses.

The aim is to be more informed in the complex research methods.

Disciplines determine the method of research that is most applicable.

For example, observation is important for science in the lab while undergoing experiments. Focus groups are for business studies.

Case studies are useful in psychology.

These are some of the qualitative research methods.

In instances of quantitative methods that is, descriptive, correlational, experimental, and quasi-experimental, they are used in social sciences.

Mixed research works best within the social sciences.

Take your time and go through the guideline and you will be able to do a primary research dissertation

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