Before you complete a thesis or research paper, you will be asked to define research methods. You need to name and describe them. This usually happens in the methodology part of the work. In this article, I will show exactly what methods are and what the differences are.

Reading tip: How do I classify my research scientifically?

Qualitative research

Qualitative research targets unknown and often small samples. They gain access to reality through subjective interpretation. Specifically, this means that you observe or question something or read something in the form of a literature analysis. You usually do this for highly individual or unknown questions. The drawbacks are that you often interpret subjectively and this is vulnerable. Everyone could interpret something different from the data. They must therefore give detailed reasons for their interpretation of the data. Below are three examples of qualitative research.

Reading tips:

Quantitative research

These procedures include the standardised and structured collection of data. So it represents real-world problems in a numerical representation. However, this does not require small samples but many data sets. It is often based on the comparison of the data sets and requires a rather familiar problem as a disadvantage. For example, a list of known technologies must be available before a survey can be carried out on the technical equipment of SMEs. This means that always defined patterns for data collection are necessary.

Reading tip: Qualitative survey

Differences between qualitative and quantitative research

Qualitative research focuses on the view of the research object and is rather more individual. Quantitative research, on the other hand, focuses on the external perspective. In qualitative research, soft data is collected, which must be interpreted and can therefore be used dynamically for several contexts. It’s about understanding a meaning and exploring something. This is in contrast to quantitative research, which collects hard data in the form of figures and therefore wants to confirm well-established hypotheses. It is therefore less possible to use them in other contexts. It’s also less about discovering something, it’s more about measuring.

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Recommendations for action for thesis

It should be up to you to decide what to use in your research method. They have to weigh up the exact subject of the research and often both methods are combined. For example, an expert interview may follow after a survey. This is often welcome in master’s theses, as they are more extensive. Here’s how you look at a problem from 2 perspectives. If the problem is more well known, then first use the survey and interpret the results with experts and if the problem is unknown, use the experts to form a questionnaire.

In a bachelor’s thesis, one method is often enough. So look closely at whether you are investigating a rather unknown problem or investigating something based on an existing theory or reference. In the following I show 2 exemplary research questions for both types of research:

  • What are possible scenarios for possible work 5.0 in SMEs? (Expert interviews)
  • What technologies are used by project managers at distributed teams and how are they evaluated? (survey and correlation analysis)

Reading tip: Build research design

Are there any questions?

If you have any questions, I have two tips. I have summarized my experience from 5 years in the supervision of theses in the book: "Recommendations for the Bachelor and Master thesis". This is available at Springer and Amazon since August 2020. The book is an official reference book and can be quoted. You are also welcome to give me a call. Just look in the booking system for a free appointment . I take a few hours every month to help students.

My tip before submitting your thesis

It is always worth doing a professional thesis Proofreading or check plagiarism to let. The benefit is that you will also get feedback and improve your academic style. Providers such as Scribbr help with good prices for the thesis.

Gender note: I have used the masculine form for easier readability. Unless an explicit distinction is made, women, diverse and men as well as people of all origins and nations are meant. Read more about this.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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