3 Main Types of Dissertations: Differences and Similarities

We may have qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods in dissertations. This blog will elaborate on quantitative dissertations, qualitative dissertations, and mixed methods dissertations by addressing their similarities and differences.

19.07.2022

3 Main Types of Dissertations: Differences and Similarities

Dissertation types

We may have qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods in dissertations. Therefore, this blog will elaborate on quantitative dissertations, qualitative dissertations, and mixed methods dissertations by addressing their similarities and differences. 

Quantitative dissertations

Using the word quantitative does not mean that the dissertation must have quantitative research methods or statistical analysis techniques. Quantitative research deals with addressing research questions, hypotheses, or both. This research type relates to establishing a research strategy, concluding results, and making inferences. Classic investigations involve replication-based studies, theory-driven research, and data-driven dissertations. Nonetheless, many core characteristics pertain to quantitative dissertations regardless of the particular route you adopt on a quantitative dissertation.

  • They build on or test theories. These may include adopting an original or comprehensive approach with replication or modification.

  • They address quantitative research questions and test research hypotheses by rejecting or failure to reject the null hypothesis.

  • Positivist or post-positivist research paradigms affect them heavily.

  • They can have descriptive, experimental, quasi-experimental, or relationship-based research designs.

  • They resort to utilizing probability sampling techniques, generalizing from the sample to a broader population. In contrast, they may have to apply non-probability sampling techniques.

  • Research methods produce quantitative data (e.g., data sets, laboratory-based methods, questionnaires/surveys, structured interviews, and structured observation).

  • They depend on statistical analysis techniques while examining the data collected, irrespective of their descriptive or inferential structure.

  • They check the findings’ reliability and internal and external validity and may provide confidence intervals for the population parameters.

  • Statements, data, tables, and graphs are used to report their findings addressing each research question, hypothesis, or both.

  • Conclusions align with the findings, research questions, hypotheses, or both, and theories test or expand on extant ideas or provide insight for future approaches.

Qualitative dissertations

Qualitative dissertations involve qualitative research methods such as unstructured interviews, focus groups, and participant observation. As they use research methods not employed in quantitative dissertations, qualitative research is beyond a choice between research methods. Qualitative research regards the research process differently by establishing research questions, developing and utilizing theory, choosing a research strategy, and presenting and discussing research findings in a substantially unique way. Thus, qualitative dissertations will have a distinct approach, relying on the specific route you adopt (for example, case study research compared to ethnographies). The traditional ways are autoethnography, case study, ethnographies, grounded theory, narrative, and phenomenological research. Nonetheless, whatever path you pursue, many broad characteristics relate to qualitative dissertations:

  • They are considered emergent designs, implying that the research process, and sometimes even the qualitative research questions you handle, often develop during the dissertation process.

  • They employ many ways to tackle the theory - sometimes capitalizing on theory to assist the research process; in other times, utilizing it to develop new theoretical insights. They sometimes use both techniques. However, the goal is seldom to test a particular theory from the outset.

  • Many research paradigms support them, including interpretivism, constructivism, and critical theory.

  •  They pursue research designs that radically affect your choices during the research process and the analysis and discussion of findings. Such research designs substantially vary based on the approach taken, whether autoethnography, case study research, ethnography, grounded theory, narrative research, and phenomenological research.

  • They employ theoretical sampling - non-probability sampling techniques – to explore cases most fit to address their research questions.

  • They study people in their natural settings by using multiple research methods. This process generates qualitative data involving unstructured interviews, focus groups, and participant observation.

  • They interpret the qualitative data from the researcher’s perspective and employ an inductive method to specific themes or abstractions, establishing a holistic/gestalt picture of the study.

  • They assess their findings’ quality concerning their dependability, confirmability, conformability, and transferability.

  • They elaborate on their findings primarily using personal accounts, case studies, and narratives. Moreover, they employ other means of describing themes or abstracts, processes, observations, and contradictions to address research questions.

  • They deliberate the theoretical mainly from the findings via the research questions and deduce tentative conclusions.

Mixed methods dissertations

Many reasons exist to include mixed methods in thesis and dissertations. Mixed methods dissertations use both qualitative and quantitative approaches in research. Although they are increasingly used with a more profound legitimacy, their components have not been adequately addressed. One can better tackle a research question by gathering qualitative and quantitative data, analyzing or interpreting them individually or in combination, and conducting multiple research phases. Thus, it is critical to perform qualitative research to investigate an issue and unearth primary themes before employing quantitative analysis to assess the relationships between them.

Mixed methods often confront challenges because qualitative and quantitative research substantially vary structure-wise. They may even be said to oppose. Hence, when having a mixed methods dissertation, you should be careful about the goals of your research and must decide whether the qualitative or quantitative components are more crucial in philosophical, theoretical, and practical terms and whether they can be combined or kept separate.

Why is editing and proofreading your dissertation or thesis critical?

Editing and proofreading your dissertation is exceedingly crucial. A professional editing and proofreading service has trained, experienced experts with PhD in their fields and will edit your work without prejudice. Their suggestions will make the dissertation or thesis more legible and practical. Another set of eyes can check your dissertation much better than you as they can readily find mistakes or areas that need fine-tuning. In academic writing, editing and proofreading ensure the credibility of the content. Many mistakes concerning grammar, punctuation, syntax, sentence construction and other minor errors are amended. An expert who will amend such mistakes will save time and ensure consistency and error-free writing for your thesis or dissertation. 

How to Structure a Dissertation: A Brief Guide

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A Step-by-Step Guide on Writing and Structuring Your Dissertation

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Dissertation Types

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This brief guide elaborates on quantitative dissertations, qualitative dissertations, and mixed methods dissertations by addressing their similarities and differences.  To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.

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