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Research Methodology & Design

This guide features NU Library resources for studying and planning research methodology and design.

Research Methodology

Once you are well into your literature review, it is time to start thinking about the study you will design to answer the gap you identified. Which methodology will you use to gather the data for your research? Will you use a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods methodology? You will choose a research method that best aligns with your research question.

To evaluate which type of methodology will be most appropriate, you will work closely with your Dissertation Chair. However, as you are reading the literature, take a look at past studies that focus on your topic, or a similar topic. What kind of research methodology do you see being used most often? Once you have an idea about the general methodology type that would suit your research, consult with your Dissertation Chair on the possibility of using that methodology.

Finding a research design strategy is similar to the research process as a whole: first, locate general information on research design and methodologies, then gain background knowledge on the methodology you feel would most appropriately address the type of data you will be collecting, and finally choose a methodology and test/measurement to use in your research. The following techniques outline how to locate information about research methodology from reference books, scholarly articles and dissertations.


The SAGE Research Methods database may be used to locate information about research design and methodology. It includes over 175,000 pages of content from the following sources: encyclopedias, dictionaries, books, journal articles, videos, and major works--resources that bring together the seminal articles about that particular methodology. For a complete list of titles in SAGE Research Methods, please see the SAGE Research Methods Title List.

Using the menu bar, you may browse SAGE Research Methods content by topic, discipline, or content type.

On the SAGE Research Methods home page, you may also click on the Advanced Search option to search for resources by method, as shown below. Make sure to select Method from the drop-down field. Your search results page includes a brief definition of the method searched, followed by the rest of your search results.
SAGE Research Methods Advanced Search screen with the Method field selected.

Finally, you can use the Methods Map (under the Research Tools link) to discover new methods, or discover relationships between methods, and then link to related results. For example, browsing by Quantitative Data Analysis has led us to 97 results. You may click link to view results, or continue making selections.

SAGE Research Methods screeshot showing the Methods Map.


For additional guidance, see the SAGE Research Methods workshop.

After you have located background information about your research design, you may want to locate scholarly journal articles on your research topic that use a particular type of methodology. By looking at research articles that use a particular methodology you can learn a lot about your field. What types of research studies are prevalent? What methodologies are appropriate for a specific research question? How do you construct a research study? What methodologies should you consider for your dissertation research?

Few databases allow you to limit your search by research methodology. APA PsycArticles and APA PsycInfo are the exceptions; these databases do allow you to limit your search results to show articles that use a particular methodology. 

In APA PsycArticles and APA PsycInfo, you may use the Methodology limit box to select your desired research method, as shown below.

PsycARTICLES Advanced Search screen with the Methodology box highlighted.

As the limit by methodology option is not available in other databases, it may be effective to include your methodology as one of your search terms. In the example below, using the Library’s NavigatorSearch, we have constructed a search to locate quantitative studies about job satisfaction. Note that we have placed the word quantitative in the abstract of the article. Authors are likely to identify which type of research design they used in the abstract. You will also want to limit your search to Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journals.

Roadrunner Advanced Search screen showing an example search using the word qualitative in the abstract.

Finally, you may use the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database to discover graduate and doctoral-level research that has already been conducted on your topic. A similar study may have employed a research methodology appropriate for use in your own dissertation. Check dissertation abstracts to see if the author mentions which methodology was used.

You may also use the Advanced Search in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses to limit your search to dissertations that used a particular research methodology. In the example below, we are searching for qualitative studies on the topic of inclusive classrooms. Again, we have limited the term qualitative to the abstract of the dissertation.

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Advanced Search screen showing an example search using the word qualitative in the abstract.

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