Watch video on approaching methodologies (.wmv) Your approach, research design, and research question are all connected.
'Approach' means something more than the type of data you use – it refers to your overall orientation to research and the type of claims you will make for your study.
You need to justify your approach and methods and to cite appropriate literature to help you do this.
You will probably want to use large datasets and undertake quantitative data analysis, and you will be adopting a realist approach to the topic studied.
Quantitative dissertations are likely to be nearer to the lower end of the range of approved lengths for the dissertation (e.g.
if the length is to be 5,000-8,000 words, dissertations based on quantitative analysis are likely to be closer to 5,000 words in length).
Your supervisor or research methods tutor may be able to give you detailed examples of these or other ways to combine methods. If you decide to do a primarily theoretical dissertation, it is almost certain that your dissertation will be entirely literature-based.
This is likely to be the methodology of theoretical analysis: selection and discussion of theoretical material and descriptive material, in context, and detailed comparison of theories in terms of their applicability. How useful is subcultural theory for understanding virtual communities?
Whilst it is possible for dissertations to be entirely literature-based, the most common form of dissertation takes the form of a case study.
Here the focus of attention is on a particular community, organisation or set of documents.