In the published guidance on the RAP the requirement to ‘explain your overall research approach’ causes confusion among students. Below are listed some research approaches that are applicable to social sciences like management, economics, or accounting.
System or process?
System approach views an organisation as an organic and open system, which is composed of interacting and interdependent parts, called subsystems. Process approach views an organisation as a set of interrelated or interacting activities that use inputs to deliver an intended result. These approaches are very suitable to management topics, but they are less appropriate for topics on accounting.
Quantitative or qualitative?
RAP can be based on either quantitative or qualitative data, or on a combination of both. A quantitative approach will mean that you will need substantial data-sets, as well as the inclusion of tables and statistics in your final submission. A qualitative approach will likely mean conducting interviews, questionnaires or observing behaviour.
Deductive or inductive?
In general, deductive research is theory-testing and inductive research is theory-generating. Deductive approach begins with existing theories, concepts and formulates hypothesis that are later tested and confirmed. Inductive approach begins with the real world data and then theory is erected from it.
Empirical or theoretical?
An empirical study could involve close analysis of statistics or some form of qualitative research. In theoretical study you compare theories in terms of their applicability.
You could comprehend importance of overall research approach by reading OBU RAP Information Pack 2017-18, page 45: ‘It is best understood as the underlying structure which shapes and guides your research report. It links a statement of what it is you are trying to find out to an outline of the methods you have used to provide the required answers. Thinking clearly about your overall research approach and writing a clear statement about it will act as a guide through the research process which will shape and structure what you do and how you do it’.