Saunders research onion provides a systematic approach to tackling chapter three of a dissertation. According to this approach, research is like an onion with different covers that can be pealed one by one where the outer cover leads to the inner cover, and the cycle continues until one gets to the core of an onion. Key research methodology steps in the Saunders research onion approach include research philosophy, approaches, strategies, choices, time horizons, and techniques and procedures.
Research Philosophy-The outer layer of the research onion comprises the research philosophies. The two main philosophies guiding research are ontology and epistemology. Ontology explains the nature of the reality. It is guided by three philosophical stances: constructivism, objectivism, and pragmatism. On the other hand, epistemology philosophy seeks to explain what constitutes acceptable knowledge and how it can be acquired. Epistemology is guided by three stances which include positivism, critical realism, and interpretivism.
Research Approaches-Inductive and deductive are the two main research approaches. The deductive approach starts from general to specific. The researcher first examines the existing theories, which leads to a hypothesis then tested using data collected. On the other hand, in the inductive approach, the researcher moves from specific to general. It is usually applicable in an area characterised by inadequate research, which necessitates theory development.
Research Strategies -The third layer of Saunders research onion is the research strategies which entails deciding how the researcher will gather the data needed to address the research questions. Specific research strategies include experiment, action research, survey, case study, archival research, ethnography, and grounded theory.
Research Choices–Research choices are determined by the nature of the data collected and the analysis methods. Research can be qualitative or quantitative. Mono, mixed, and multi-methods are the main research methods in line with the data collected and the analysis perspective. A mono method uses either qualitative or qualitative data or the same analysis method. A mixed-method uses both the qualitative and quantitative data while analysis uses quantitative and qualitative techniques in line with data collected. Lastly, the Multi-method uses both qualitative and quantitative data, while analysis uses either qualitative or quantitative analysis techniques.
Time Horizons-The fifth layer of the research onion entails deciding on the time frame. Cross-sectional and longitudinal are the main timeframes. The cross-sectional timeframe is short, where a snap-shot view of the situation under investigation is obtained at a particular time. On the other hand, a longitudinal timeframe involves studying a sample over a long period to understand behaviours and events.
Techniques and Procedures -Deciding on techniques and procedures is the sixth and last stage of the research onion. Key decisions at this stage include target population, sample size, sampling method, data collection method (interviews, questionnaires, etc.), data analysis techniques, ethical issues, and research methodology limitations.
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