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Analysis of Research Methodologies: Quantitative, Qualitative and Mixed Methods

Info: 7706 words (31 pages) Dissertation
Published: 2nd Sep 2021

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Tagged: StatisticsResearch Methodology

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Review research definition, functions and approaches 2

definitions 2

WHO definition 2

Cresswell’s definition 2

Function 3

New knowledge 3

Invention of new products  4

Approaches 5

Questionnaires 5

Interview 6

Analysis of quantitative, quantitative and mixed method research approaches 7

Quantitative research 7

Qualitative research 9

Mixed method research 11

Analysis of Action and Appreciative Inquiry research methods 12

Appreciative Inquiry  12

Action research  13

Conclusion  15

References 15


It’s important to know what the word research itself means. Therefore in this report two formal definitions for research are reviewed. In addition, two research functions and two research tools will be discussed.

After describing the basic knowledge about research, the next part of the report scrutinises possible research approaches, which are: quantitative, qualitative and mixed method research. Explanations about each approach are included in the report, including uses and the way data is measured.

The third part of the report scrutinises appreciative inquiry and action research. It will discuss their uses and data analysis.

Review research definitions, functions and approaches

It’s obvious that the origin of research is the curiosity of people as people thirst to search for new knowledge, improvements and discoveries. Since the word began, it has gone through massive evolution with formal or informal means of research.  Research was one of the main components of human evolution from Stone Age, Hunter Gather society to contemporary modern society. However, even the word research itself has a long history. The Online Etymology Dictionary defines the word “research”, derived in about 1590s from French “rechercher”, as meaning to seek out or search closely. The “chercher” derives from Latin circare which is “wonder around”.  The meaning of the whole word is “a careful search for facts”.


WHO definition

As World Health Organisation’s second edition for Training Research Methods document describes “Research is a quest for knowledge through diligent search or investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of new knowledge.” (WHO, 2001)

As WHO describe, research is a search for knowledge that uses thorough search, study or experimentation to discover and explain new knowledge.

In first sight, it might seem that WHO has given a broad definition for research. In fact, the definition lacks some important features of research. Anyway, it’s better to see the positive side first. The definition of WHO is short and clear. It also explains clearly one purpose of research by mentioning discovery and interpretation of new knowledge.

There are also a few weak points in the definition. As the WHO definition mentions, research is to discover or interpret new knowledge, however research can be done also to support and confirm exist theories. The next weakness is that the definition does not state that research can combine more than one way to “search for knowledge”. Another issue with the definition is that it does not explain the steps of research and also doesn’t explain the different types of research (exploratory, analytical, predictive and descriptive). It also doesn’t mention that the research process should be systematic.

Cresswell’s definition

There are a number of writers who have given definitions for the research. One writer is John W. Cresswell, who is a professor of family medicine and co-director of the Michigan Mixed Methods Research and Scholarship Program at the University of Michigan. As he describes “research is a process of steps used to collect and analyse information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue. It includes three steps: create a question, collect data to answer the question, and present an answer to the question” (Cresswell, 2008). The author thinks that his definition is simple and easy to understand. But it covers most of the activities done in the research process.

As Cresswell describes research is the set of activities for collecting and analysing information in order to increase understanding of a research area (topic or issue). Cresswell describes three steps for research. The steps are 1) creating a question, 2) collecting information to answer the question and 3) presenting an answer to the question.

One of the strengths of his definition is that it describes the steps for research. Another strength is it gives a more complete definition of research than the WHO definition. He also describes a function of research very well, that is, that research increases the understanding about a topic or issue.

However, there are weaknesses as well in his definition. The first weakness is, as in the WHO, definition, it does not explain the different types of research such as exploratory, analytical, predictive and descriptive.  It also doesn’t mention the main function of the research, which is discovering new knowledge. It also didn’t mention that the research process should be systematic.


New knowledge

Since the day humans are born, they pursue new knowledge because curiosity is inherent in people’s nature. Sometimes people gain new knowledge informally and sometimes formally. The formal way to discover new knowledge is research. Most of the time, discovering new knowledge is a complex process. After new knowledge is discovered, it can sometimes bring great value to change society in a positive way. Knowledge is the base for human cultural and societal evolution. As research continues there will be more knowledge discoveries and the world will be not the same after some years. Discovering new knowledge is the key for health care improvements. In health, there are two main types of research which help acquisition of new knowledge. These are clinical research and laboratory research.

Clinical research is a study of health conditions of human beings. It helps to gain new knowledge about diseases or disorders, causes, effects, treatments, prevention, genetic influence, epidemiological and phases of clinical trials. (Silagy, 2001) Clinical research can bring new knowledge about the physical side but also psychological, social and emotional health and wellbeing of humans to the health care system.

We can gain new knowledge about human anatomy, its functions, drugs and its effects on the human body through laboratory research. (Silagy, 2001)

Thousand years ago healthcare wasn’t well developed. People were dying from diseases, lacked nutrition and had low life expectancy. In emergency or serious cases such as heart attack, percentage of survival was very low because the knowledge wasn’t there to perform operations. But as years passed, there was a significant growth in health care. In 562, the World’s first clinical research was documented for the first time “Book of Daniel” in the Bible. Research was done by King Nebuchadnezza to find out if meat or vegetables was healthier. His findings were that people who had a vegetarian diet was healthier than meat-eaters. The golden age for health care research began from the 19th century which was the start for many clinical discoveries. (Bhatt, 2010)  Nowadays, people live healthier and longer thanks to improved healthcare. It’s not only medicines, operation and care but the possibility of human cloning in the future. Integration of health care and advanced technology can almost make miracles on the earth. All these changes happened because of the new knowledge discovered through research.

New knowledge can benefit health organisations in various ways. Pursuing new knowledge through research is important in health care because available resources are limited in the health sector and they must be used efficiently to ensure a healthy population. At the same time, the number of people with access to healthcare for various health problems is increasing as population increases at an alarming rate. Therefore discovered new knowledge through research is helpful to allocate available resources throughout the health sector in a meaningful way. For example Ministry of Health in New Zealand does research to have up-to-date knowledge about health problems that need to be solved immediately and priority groups to decide how much funds should be allocated to different health organisations to promote equity in health. Undoubtedly, new knowledge also benefits to ensure patients’ satisfaction in health care. Now the world is moving to the patient-centred approach means patient’s need, wants and preferences should be met. Patients’ needs and preferences changes as world is changing. Therefore research needs to be done to get knowledge about what patients expect, if a patient is satisfied, and, if not, why and how to do better next time. It’s not only to improve the quality of health care but also the profitability. It’s a well-known thing that health facilities which are research active provide higher quality care for patients than health facilities which are not active in research and therefore they have high profit. The reason for this is that organisations are acquiring new knowledge through research. New knowledge brings safety because healthcare should be a safe practice for the service provider and service user. Therefore new knowledge should always be there to prevent, e.g., errors and cross infections. Another important benefit is innovation because the underlining factor for that is the new knowledge. Knowledge helps to bring new concepts, ideas, services, products or processes to improve health care.

New knowledge always doesn’t bring advantages to health care, it can also bring negative effects. People can live longer nowadays because of improvement of healthcare found through new knowledge. Though it’s a good thing in one side it is also a problem on another side as the aged population is increasing and at the same time their dependency time in healthcare is increasing. It means more money and other resources are needed to facilitate their care. Unemployment is also another issue because as new research brings knowledge and technology to use less human labour. As I mentioned before, knowledge should be used carefully as, if not, devastating effects might occur.

Invention of new products

Another function of research is as the basis to invent new products. Many companies are researching continually for customer preferences, market and the issues associated with recent products. As a result people can see new products launching every day. Invented medical instruments have brought a huge advancement for health care.  For example, in 1972 British engineer Godfrey and South Africa-born physicist Cormack invented “Computed Tomography (CT scan)”, which examination of soft tissues in the body. It made a huge revolution in disease diagnosis such as for cancer, circulatory system diseases, spinal conditions, kidney and bladder stones, inflammatory diseases, etc.

Invention of new products can help to improve the accuracy of healthcare. Because new devices are more sophisticated, thus the accuracy and precision rate is higher than for old devices. For example, new digital glucometers give great accuracy in blood sugar measurements than old ones. Another advantage is the relationship between independent variables and dependent variables measured accurately with technological devices. Beside that complex factors can be easily separated in to simpler single components with new machines and it therefore enables the use of those components in a more meaningful way. For example Plasma Machines have been invented to separate plasma from blood and therefore hospitals can do plasma transfusion in heart surgeries when the patient’s blood protein level goes down. It therefore ensures safety of the patient. The possibility of putting the patient at risk is lower with new devices compare to old devices. New inventions can make health care more effective and efficient because new devices make the treatment easier. Usually processes are easier and faster when using technological devices than by a manual process. Therefore they save time and cost. New inventions are also an answer for the lack of skilled workforce. Health care always has a shortage of skilled workers. Creating some effective new products can replace physical labour. Innovation is another benefit associated with new inventions as healthcare is improving constantly with new highly technological devices.

There are disadvantages also associated to invention of new devices. Unemployment is one of them. As new technological devices can replace some physical labour, employment for human labour can be reduced. At the same time, it can also reduce humans’ thinking ability because people don’t need to think as much when they begin to depend on machines.



A questionnaire is a research tool which includes a set of questions and is designed to collect data from sample participants, especially for statistical analysis. (Key, 1997) Questionnaires are a good method to collect primary data and also the researcher can collect data through questionnaires without personal intervention. Usually it’s in written or printed form. Questions can be designed in both open-ended and close-ended formats. If a researcher builds open-ended questions, the participant needs to articulate answers and if questions are close-ended, the participant just needs to give yes/no or tick the suitable number.

There are three types of research questions. Which are:

  • Descriptive questions: design to examine what exists now. These allow measurement of perceptions, attitudes and concrete variables.
  • Relational/comparative questions: these examine the relationship or difference between two or more variables.
  • Causal questions: designed to find out influence and effects of variables or factors

There are few things to consider when creating a questionnaire. First is to focus on the context or the purpose of the research. It’s also better to gather secondary data and to get advice from expertise and colleagues relevant to the research context. Writing research objectives and what the hypothesis is and how it will be tested also plays a role. Having a good reflection on the topic will increase the effectiveness of questionnaires.

There are several advantages of questionnaires. As the focus of health organisations are efficiency and cost effectiveness, questionnaires would be a good solution as a research method. Questionnaires are practical as they can be used to gather large amounts of data from a large number of people in comparatively short time and at low cost.  It’s also easy for researchers to measure the collected data through questionnaires. Questionnaire results can be used not only for quantifying, but also for comparing and contrasting. Questionnaires are a useful approach to find out if there is any problem in the behaviours, attitudes, preferences, or opinion because it describes the characteristic of whole populations. After finding out the problem other methods can be used to examine causative factors. For example questionnaires can use to find out what percentage of male adults smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day which is a characteristic of a bad behaviour and then other questions can help find out why they smoke. Questionnaires are helpful to gather data for systematic analysis. They can provide the basis to reveal relationships between variables such as diseases and causative factors and how much influence these factors have.  Questionnaires are a great tool to measure the performance of health organisations.  The Author believes that questionnaires can be used in medicine manufacturing companies to investigate the effectiveness of medicine, and by hospital and other health organisations to find out the effectiveness of care and customer satisfaction. Not only that, it helps also to measure employees’ performance and job satisfaction.

There are disadvantages as well in questionnaires. In health, it’s important to identify the causes and effects to help achieve a permanent cure, especially in psychology.  Questionnaires are insufficient to find out underlining factors as truly understanding complex human feelings is difficult through questionnaires. It’s questionable if participants provide the true answers because they can fake for social desirability as most people want to create positive picture about themselves. In that case, validity and reliability of information is also a problem.  Another problem for validity is that questionnaires might be designed incorrectly if a researcher’s hypothesis not relevant to the context.


An interview is a conversation or discussion between two or more people where questions are asked to gather information. Interview is used as a research tool mostly in qualitative research. Most of the interviews are conducted to get in-depth information in areas such as Human perceptions, cultural rituals, social relationships psychology, human and social experiences and organisational routines. Usually the researcher needs to personally intervene in the interview. Having good communicational skills is important when interviewing participant. Researchers should have other skills also during interviewing, such observational skills, and interaction skills to understand the participant’s feelings and emotions. It’s not required that interview questions should be highly-structured if it’s not a survey interview for quantitative research because the interviewer can change the questions according to the participant’s response. Interviews can be conducted face to face or by telephone. But face to face interview will be more effective as researchers can observe respondent’s reaction. (Brinkmann, 2014)

There are facts to consider before making interview questions. First having a good understanding about the context and what kind of information is needed from the population. Who are the participants, and how to reach a target sample population. It’s also important to consider how to use language carefully and also meaningfully by using correct words.

There are some techniques which make for a better interview. First and foremost, a researcher should be a good listener. Meaning the researcher should listen carefully for the interviewee without having pre assumptions about what the interviewee is going to say next. Being a reflective and active listener, who encourages the interviewee to speak and offering what interviewee said back to clarify that the researcher understood well what the interviewee means exactly, is the best. The interviewer should have other communicational skills as well to get in-depth information.  It’s important to ask suitable questions without ambiguity, in clear voice and maintaining suitable eye contacts throughout interview. Having some understanding about an interviewee’s cultural background could also be important because it gives an idea for the researcher what kind of questions they should not ask to avoid embarrassing the interviewee, and in the same time the researcher should be respectful for the personal boundaries. The researcher should not be biased and it is better to have pleasant personality to create the positive environment which encourages the interviewee to express themselves freely.

Interview as a research tool carries many benefits in health care. The most important advantage is the in-depth information it provides on particular processes or phenomena. The theme of health care is that prevention is better than cure. Thus, the focus of health organisations is not only to find solutions on how to treat the patients but also to find causative factors, getting information about how people feel about their condition and the way that issue has affected them in a real world setting. Therefore when interviewing people or patients it is important to get holistic information about a phenomenon in order to eliminate causative factors. At the same time it saves cost for health organisations because treating people is more expensive than helping them to prevent diseases. For example, cancer society interviews of people to find out causes behind their smoking addiction and to eliminate smoking behaviours is better than treating lung cancers and other side effects because treating drains lots of money from healthcare budgets. Unlike questionnaires, interviews are not done in controlled settings or with a rigid format. They help researchers see real world cases in a natural setting and framework. Hence, solutions found through interviews can be more applicable in real world health care.

Despite the benefits of interview, it has some draw backs also.  The first drawback is that it’s costly. As healthcare has a shortage of funds most of the time, spending more money for research interviews can be a problem. Interview is also time consuming. It may take a considerable time to interview large samples as it can require one hour or more for one good interview.  As healthcare is full of the unexpected and can need urgent actions, interview will not be the best choice to find solutions within a short period. Another problem associated with interview is it’s not replicable because respondents answers, feelings and emotions may not be the same if interview conduct again. Therefore validating interview data is a consideration.

Analysis of Quantitative, Qualitative and Mixed Method Research Approaches

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is the systematic way of collecting and quantifying or analysing data numerically or statistically to find true facts or new discoveries. In quantitative research, collected relevant data should be able to be quantified or transferred into numbers. The collected data is usually arranged in non-textual formats such as tables and graphs. Research is more objective. Usually, research study subjects are based on hypothesis or theories. Quantitative research mostly uses deductive approaches. In this approach, questions should be highly structured by considering all aspects of the research and the method designed before data collection. Quantitative study has a design to verify the connection between independent variables and dependent variables. Methods of quantitative data collection include questionnaires, surveys, secondary data, interviews and polls. (University of Southern Califonia, 2018)

Quantitative research can use all the fields which require measurements or prediction about actions. The mostly commonly used quantitative research areas are connected to the mathematics, physical science, social science, biology, economics etc. For example, in business economics quantitative research can be used for the continual development of a product such as to test assumptions, quantify awareness, validate statistical information, confirm best pricing methods, launch product according to the consumer demands and to recognise market sentiment. (Michaela Mora, 2018)

There are two research methodologies in quantitative research. These are experimental or non-experimental. Experimental research is done in controlled settings such as in labs. The purpose of experimental research is to test the hypothesis. It may use true, quasi or pre experimental designs to find out the relationship between independent and dependent variables. Non-experimental research is usually done in natural settings. Descriptive, correlational, survey or causal-comparative designs may be used in quantitative research. (Cresswell, 2008)

There are a few steps to follow in quantitative research. First the researcher needs to pinpoint the problem or purpose of the research. Secondly, they must create a question and need to review the previous literature on the relevant topic. After that, it is important to create a hypothesis. They then need to select the research method and design. Then they test the hypothesis and analyse the data. Then they need to construct the conclusion according to the findings. (University of Southern Califonia, 2018)

There are two sampling strategies in quantitative research, which are random and non-random. Sub strategies under random are simple, systematic, stratified, and cluster. Convenience, quota, purposive and snow ball strategies fall in to the non-random category.

After collecting data it’s important to measure it accurately. In quantitative research, data shapes and sizes vary to one another. Therefore data need to be categorised for measurements. In 1946, S.S. Stevenson discovered the system to segregate data.  According to his findings, there 4 different shapes of data. Those are nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio scales. Data would be categorised according to their shared traits and specifics. In the nominal scale, there is no data which can be used directly as numbers. For example people, experiences, opinions. Therefore, numbers are assigned as labels to data for measurement. For example, male=0 and female=1.  Disadvantage of nominal scale is that it involves only categorisation but not illustrative details. In the Ordinal scale, data is arranged from lowest to highest for ranking. For example a customer satisfaction survey can be done with the ordinal scale. It’s helpful to find out location of the data relevant to another variable.  Disadvantages of this include the fact that a number is assigned only for ranking but can’t quantify the data and doesn’t provide detailed information. The Interval scale considers there are equal distance between two values and there are no natural 0s. The interval scale consists of categorisation, ranking and distance, which provide more details than nominal and ordinal scales. For example the interval scale can be used to measure meaningfully difference in height or weight of difference people. The advantage of this scale is distance between two values of a variable can be calculated accurately. The ratio scale is similar to interval scale but the difference is that it’s possible to calculate all averages and other numerical values can be added, subtracted, divided or multiplied in the data. The interval scale allows only to add and subtract the data.  The interval scale doesn’t claim a true zero but the zero in the ratio scale is logical. The advantage of the ratio scale is it contains most of the necessary information needed for measurement. It includes categorisation, ranking, distance and ratio. Ratio scale provides meaningful and highly accurate calculations compared to the other three scales. In the hierarchical structure the nominal scale is in the lowest level whereas the ratio scale is the highest level according to usefulness and accuracy of data measurement.(Centre for Innovation Reseach and Teaching, 2018)

There are number of advantages in the Quantitative research. Which are:

  • Enable to use statistics to generalise findings.
  • Easy to use for large samples.
  • Provides instruments for validity and reliability of data. (such as Test-Retest, Alternate-Forms, Split-Half, Internal-Consistency )
  • Can avoid researcher’s biased ideas.
  • Provide predictability of casual relationships.

There are number of disadvantages in the Quantitative research. Which are:

  • If the data collection method is not well designed the whole process can go wrong.
  • No opportunity for participants to provide broad answers about how they feel as questions are close-ended.
  • Results are limited because research provides statistical data rather than detailed data.
  • Can’t use to describe norms of population.
  • Can lead to false conclusions if participant doesn’t tick the correct answers in questionnaires, as formats based on yes and no.
  • Circumstances of the research are ignored as reasoning behind a problem isn’t addressed well.

(University of Southern Califonia, 2018)

Qualitative research

Qualitative research has a long history in the field of Sociology, Ethnology, Anthropology and psychology. Qualitative research is the systematic way of collecting and analysing data in themes or word format to find true facts or new discoveries. Usually, qualitative research is designed to investigate individual experiences, group patterns or norms.  This research method is subjective and the process is via textual formats. An inductive approach is associated with qualitative research. As in Quantitative research, qualitative research doesn’t build a hypothesis before collecting data instead it examines phenomena. Qualitative research is more flexible than quantitative because it’s not highly structured nor has pre-planned questions. It allows the researcher to change questions according to the situations. (Centre for Innovation Reseach and Teaching, 2018)

Qualitative research is usually used in disciplinary background practices to uncover thoughts and opinions. It can be used in areas such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, ethnology, business, health, which are all related to human behaviours. In sociology, qualitative research will used by a sociologist to explain social patterns and to demonstrate the relationship from micro-level to macro-level and even to build universal theories.  Psychology is another area which uses qualitative research mostly to find out underlining factors. For example, research can be done to find out why some children have low self-confidence.  Qualitative research can be used in business for the development of new products. For example; for forecasting and understanding people’s needs and feelings, to create new ideas, to know the best way to communicate to the market a product and how people respond to marketing strategies. (Michaela Mora, 2018)

Qualitative research is an art which requires patience and discipline especially in data analysis. Analysing qualitative data is complex and there are several dimensions for that. Usually the data going to analysed in Qualitative research is in transcripts, notes, audios, videos or pictures formats that the researcher collected through interviews or observations. The techniques of qualitative data analysis began from Documentation.  Collected various data should be documented in an order which makes it easier to follow up and not to misplace the evidence (data). Documenting data is also helpful to develop a framework for analytical process. The second step is Conceptualization, Coding and Categorising. It’s vital to recognise the concept before coding the data.  After concept identification, data need to be pulled apart and categorised meaningfully into similar groups. The third step is Examine Relationship and Displaying Data. The main feature of analytical process is the examination of relationships. For example what happened and why it happened. Displaying data in an order and illustrative manner ease the decision making process. The last step is Authenticating Conclusions. There are no set principles to confirm the validation of conclusions built through this research approach.  But the conclusions should build logically by critical examination of relationships. It’s crucial here to think critically and reflect on analysis when drawing conclusion.  There should of course be a direct connection between the research topic and conclusion. (Miles, 1994)

Advantages of Qualitative research

  • Flexibility
  • Useful when researcher is not sure about hypothesis and prediction.
  • Possible to know real thoughts of participants in details.
  • Secondary data is not required
  • No need for highly- structured methods
  • Explore new research areas and build new theories
  • Possible to investigate complex problems

Disadvantage of qualitative research

  • Possibility for bias results
  • Difficulties in conducting research at a large scale
  • Researcher should be skilful and experienced in interaction and communication with communities
  • Time consuming

Mixed method research approach

Mixed method research is a combination of qualitative and quantitative research approaches. This approach uses research methods from more than one research stage, e.g. from both qualitative and quantitative approaches, to gather data and do data analysis. (Creswell, 2003)

All methods used for data collection will have limitations, but mixed or multiple methods can be used to reduce some of the disadvantages of the individual methods. Also, for example, social features are complicated so using more than one method is most likely to accurately measure these features. An example would be conducting a survey with a large group and then conducting more in-depth interviews with a sub-sample of those individuals. The mixed method can also be applied to clarify or explain the discoveries from another method.  With mixed method it’s possible to build theories and then test them.  (Jennifer Byrne, 2007)

There are three main types of mixed method research designs:

  • Sequential explanatory – quantitative data collected first, then qualitative
  • Sequential exploratory – qualitative data collected first, then quantitative
  • Concurrent triangulation – one data collection phase, both qualitative and quantitative collected at the same time

There are at least five main stages to the application of this research method:

  1. Choose type of design to use
  2. Data collection – data from different parts can be collected sequentially (in order) or concurrently (at same time).
  3. Give priority to different method used – decide whether to use all research or even whether to use it equally.
  4. Decide when the data will be used – this depends on the purpose of the research
  5. Analyse data
  6. Build conclusion

How to measure/analyse data?

The types of data can be quantitative (e.g. statistical analysis of checklists, public documents, census data) or qualitative (e.g. interviews with participants, diaries, videotapes).

There are three ways to analyse the quantitative and qualitative data:

  • Merged – quantitative and qualitative data is used separately to get result
  • Connected – qualitative data collected first, then quantitative
  • Embedded – qualitative data collected first and then quantitative data on parts.

(Creswell, 2003)


There are number of advantages in the mixed model research. Which are:

  • Provide better understanding about the research than it conducts using one method.
  • Provides more comprehensive evidence for studying a research problem than either approach alone.
  • Allow researcher answer questions that could not be answered by either approach alone.
  • It lets researcher use any available method, so is practical and flexible.
  • Helps explain findings and causes of results

There are number of disadvantages in the mixed model research. Which are:

  • Researchers need to know how to do both quantitative and qualitative research
  • Complicates the procedures so reader needs to clearly know which data is being discussed
  • The research design can be complex
  • Takes more resources to do this type of research
  • May be difficult to resolve discrepancies in data

Analysis of Action and Appreciative Inquiry Research Methods

Appreciative Inquiry (AI)

AI means focusing to discover the positive side of people in their ideas, thoughts and in what they are good at, which will enable them to build on (improve) for a better outcome rather than trying to find solutions for problems. It simply emphasises giving value to people. AI is a fundamental method to recognise social context because it involves us rethinking our thought processes, the way people work and how to transform people and how research findings can support that transformation. (Reed, 2006) The major focus here is to identify what works for you and to therefore give that emphasis and value. It involves viewing who we are, and the world, in a positive light. For example: company A has problems with cooperativeness between employees and this has affected the productivity of the company. Appreciative Inquiry needs to identify the existing interaction skills and ethics of employees to strengthen them and change the way they view their co-workers.

AI research questions are generally associated with what respondents are enjoying, their environment, their conditions and what they are good at.

Appreciative Inquiry can be used to encourage and motivate individuals and teams. It also applicable to establish a shared vision among employees in an organisation. AI contributes to increasing the workforce productivity as it motivates employees to do their best according to their strengths. This method can be also used for continuous improvement of an organisation, actually one of the main functions of the method is individual and organisational improvements.

There is a theory for AI initially created by David Cooperrider and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University. The theory has three concepts. Which are:

  • Appreciation: This focuses on the strength of people, community and the organisation for improvements.
  • Inquiry: This is about asking questions from participants. It considers that the 4-D Cycle is appropriate for a researcher to inquire of participants and to encourage participants to ask questions from others. This is in order to recognise what all of them wants to achieve as part of an organisation. In fact, participants become co-researchers in the project.
  • Wholeness: This is about encouraging all employees at all levels to express their ideas for improvements. (Benedictine University, 2017)

4-D Cycle


Ask what’s best




Imagine what could be


Implement what will be


Determine what should be

(Benedictine University, 2017)

There are several steps to measure AI research data. It’s better to prepare semi-structured questions for interviews. Data should be recorded and documented well after interviewing the participants and also observing how participants interview other participants. Then have the idea about what relevant data is needed. Unwanted data should be removed. After that the researcher needs to categorise data according to their characteristics. Next, need to carefully examine the individual and common positive sides of participants. Finally, need to draw conclusions and also implement ways to motivate participants to strengthen their positive characteristics.

Action Research

There is no strong agreement about who created the action research method but the accreditation for inventing the process goes to Kurt Lewin in 1944. Action research was created to solve an existing problem in an organisation or community. The name “Action research” emphasises the main feature ofthe method which is participating actively to change a situation in a positive way. It focuses on finding solutions for practical problems. For example a teacher might get students’ engagements to find out their preferred learning method. It’s a two way communication between researcher and the participant.  There are two types of action research, which are practical and participatory.  Practical Action Research studies local practices (individuals and teams) and focuses on individual development whereas Participatory Action research studies social issues and improving equal collaboration. (Brydon-Miller, 2003)

Action research has uses in many different fields such as administration, community development, oraganisational change, education, political change, conscientization and empowerment, agriculture development, banking and heath care. It improves work quality and effectiveness because it helps to investigate work environment, practices, work process, strategies, policy, implementation and interaction with co-workers. It’s also useful for continous improvements because it focuses on how do we do things better. Action research can a base to build collaborative and co-constructive knowledge as the process involves working with colleages.

Shared principle- cycle for Action Research

There are several steps to measure an Action research data. First, it’s better to prepare semi-structured questions for interviews and plan how to actively participate with respondents. Data should be recorded and documented well after interacting with respondents. Then data is filtered to keep important data and remove ambiguous data. After that, data is categorised according to its characteristics and then data should be analysed. Finally, conclusions need to be drawn from the findings.


Most of the advancement and growth in the world are because of research. Research methods and approaches are helpful to discover new knowledge or support existing theories in different ways. Each approach has its own characteristics and purposes.

Qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods are good for building theories and also for testing them. But these wouldn’t be very applicable to practical problems because applying already built theories might not be very effective as the real problem is possibly not what was imagined. Therefore, finding a practical solution is important. The ideal research methods for that would be Appreciative Inquiry and Action Research, as these are focused on strengthening individuals and the solutions revealed are more applicable to current situations than other methods.


Benedictine University. (2017). What is Appreciative Inquiry? A Short Guide to the Appreciative Inquiry Model & Process. Lisle, US: Benedictine University.

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