Research projects at school and university: which approach is the best?

Whether it’s middle school, baccalaureate preparation, bachelor’s or master’s degree, as soon as a new research project is awaited, the first question for many schoolchildren and students is which approach is best for achieving the most meaningful results. possible. For example, when should you work inductively and when should you work deductively? Is qualitative empirical research better than quantitative research? And what are the differences anyway?

What is the best approach to a research project to get the most significant results possible? Photo: pixabay

As is known, a research project mainly concerns the scientific added value of work, regardless of whether it is a school project or the methods that are part of the master’s degree thesis. However, there are so many different possibilities and approaches that it’s easy to lose sight of things. It is therefore advisable to clarify the following questions as soon as possible: Which procedure is potentially most suitable for collecting research-relevant data? In what points does the qualitative method differ from the quantitative method in relation to the upcoming project? And is there already an existing theory that you would like to confirm or disprove with your own research, or are you instead researching a completely new and unknown research field? But before you really get started, the first step is to find out what the differences are between the different research methods.

Inductive and deductive research: what does it mean and what are the differences?

When it comes to carrying out an empirical research project, the research student has two different approaches to choose from: inductive and deductive. But before finally deciding on a type of research, you should of course also understand the points where the inductive approach differs from the deductive one:

What is meant by inductive search?
In the inductive research approach, a theory on the respective topic is developed on the basis of the results obtained so far. Consequently, the results of other research projects only play a subordinate role and therefore have virtually no influence on one’s own work. The inductive approach usually begins with the definition of the research topic and an initial hypothesis. Detailed observations and the collection and evaluation of the collected data follow, before you can finally come up with your theory. Good to know: Group discussions and (online) surveys are particularly suitable for data collection, since in this way many different opinions and views can be gathered relatively quickly.

How does deductive research work?
In the deductive approach, on the other hand, an already existing theory is verified for its feasibility and veracity on the basis of one’s research in order to confirm or refute the results. Consequently, the basic process of deductive research differs from the inductive approach mentioned above, as the actual research topic must first be defined and the existing theory must be explained at least briefly for better understanding. Only then can a hypothesis be defined, which is confirmed or refuted on the basis of extensive data collection. Good to know: Deductive research is particularly suitable when a general statement needs to be applied to an individual (special) case.

Where do the qualitative and quantitative research methods differ?

To find out which of the two research methods is best suited to the chosen (research) topic, the first step is to understand how the qualitative approach differs from the quantitative one. While the so-called qualitative method is mainly concerned with acquiring new knowledge in the area of ​​the selected research question, the quantitative method focuses on developing one’s hypothesis that it is as meaningful as possible. Consequently, the qualitative approach is often used for inductive research, while the quantitative method is more used in deductive research.

Furthermore, the qualitative research method is usually very suitable for interpreting different research examples and for being able to describe in detail the knowledge acquired, for example on the basis of observations, group discussions or interviews. Quantitative methodology, which is primarily concerned with numbers, data, and facts, works best with detailed preliminary research, as this is the best way to develop a meaningful hypothesis from the initial question. For this purpose, various tests, standardized measurements and experiments are often carried out, with which the search results can then be verified or falsified.

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