Dissertation Typologies

One of the more difficult aspects of master thesis and doctoral dissertation study development is deciding what type of study to pursue. This brief blog defines the three basic types of study, the data common to those types and the methodology associated with them.

The first type of study is a qualitative study. It is direct observation designed to answer broad questions about a social phenomenon. Word data is collected that shows themes and patterns native to a sample population. It typically involves open-ended questions.

Quantitative studies, on the other hand, utilize statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques to investigate a social phenomenon. In this type of study, secondary numerical data is used to ask questions about populations. Quantitative studies use close-minded questions commonly answered with numerical or yes and no data.

The final study type is a mixed methods study. As indicated by its name, it involves both qualitative and quantitative means to answer questions about a social phenomenon. It provides both word and numerical data about a social phenomenon. It uses both open- and close-ended questions.

In summary, there are three primary study types – qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. Each uses word, numerical, or both data types, respectively and mixed methods uses both open and closed ended questions.

I hope this brief typology of studies clarifies the differences among the three major study type. As you can see the differences are clear and logical.



Colleen L.

Professor for Writing including Theses and Dissertations

300+ hours
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