Glossary Terms


This is a brief summary of the paper which outlines the aim, methods used, results obtained, and conclusion.

Action Research

This type of research involves a cyclical process of planning, action, observation, and reflection to improve practice or address a problem.The goal of action research is to generate new knowledge and understanding about a specific issue while at the same time taking action to improve the situation.

Alternative hypothesis

This hypothesis states that there is a significant difference between variables.


This refers to a person or organisation having political or administrative power and control.


This refers to the researcher's understanding of values and their role in research.


The ethical principle that requires actions that promote the well-being and interests of others.

Case-control study

This is a retrospective study in which the researcher compares a group of individuals with a specific outcome (cases) to a group of individuals without that outcome (controls) to identify factors associated with the outcome.

Cohort study

This is a longitudinal study in which the researcher follows a group of individuals who share a common characteristic (e.g., age, occupation) over time to monitor the occurrence of a particular health outcome.


This is the final section of the research paper, where the main findings are summarized, and the implications for future research are discussed.


This is the degree to which the findings are determined by respondents and conditions of the inquiry and not by the biases, motivations, interests or perspectives of the inquirer.

Confounding variable

This is a variable that mixes or muddles the effect or distorts the association between the dependent and independent variables, causing a spurious association.


This approach emphasizes the importance of understanding multiple perspectives and the subjective experiences of individuals

Content analysis

This is a method of unobtrusively investigating vast volumes of textual material to detect trends and patterns in words used, their frequency, their connections, and the structures and discourses of communication.

Convenience sampling

This is a technique used to recruit participants who are representative of the population from which they are selected but chosen because they are easily accessible and convenient to the researchers rather than being randomly selected

Convergent mixed methods design

This is a mixed methods design in which quantitative and qualitative data are collected simultaneously but analyzed separately, and the results are merged or integrated.


This refers to the degree to which the findings of a study are believable, trustworthy, and accurate.

Critical appraisal

This refers to the process of carefully and methodically reviewing research to determine its credibility, usefulness, and applicability.

Cross-sectional study

This is an observational study in which the researcher collects data on a group of participants at a single point in time.

Data collection

This is the process of gathering information for research purposes.


This refers to findings that are consistent and sustainable over time.

Descriptive qualitative study

This type of study design describes a situation, problem, phenomenon, service or programme. It focuses on discovering the who, what, and where of events or experiences and gaining insights from informants regarding a poorly understood phenomenon.

Discourse analysis

This type of analysis explores language in use instead of psychological factors such as attitudes, memories, or emotions.

Discussion section

A part of a paper that interprets the results, relate them to the background and objectives of the study and draws conclusions

Embedded design

This involves embedding one research design into another to generate new insights, and it is also known as nested design.


This describes how knowledge about reality is acquired, understood, and utilised.

Ethical principles

This refers to those general rules that operate as a foundational rationale for the numerous specific ethical guidelines and assessments of human behaviour.


This is the study of culture and entails the observation of details of everyday life as they naturally unfold in the real world. It is commonly used in anthropological research, which focuses on the community.

Explanatory sequential design

This is a mixed methods design characterised by the collection and analysis of quantitative data, followed by the collection and analysis of qualitative data.

Exploratory sequential design

This is a mixed methods design that involves the initial collection of qualitative data, and the findings are used to guide the design and development of the quantitative data collection tools.


The extent to which the results of a study can be applied to other settings or populations.

Grounded Theory

This is a qualitative research method that entails developing theories based on evidence that has been collected from the participants.


This is a foundation and logical construct between a research problem and its solution, and it expresses a possible answer to a research question.

Inductive data analysis

This type of data analysis involves coding of data without trying to fit it into a pre-existing coding frame or the researcher’s analytic preconceptions.

Inductive reasoning

This is commonly employed in qualitative research and focuses on specific observations, identifies patterns and regularities, formulates hypotheses that could be explored and develop conclusions.


This is an epistemological stance that is based on the belief that knowledge is constructed through human interpretation and social interactions. It emphasizes the subjective and interpretive nature of human experience.


This is the beginning that establishes the tone for the rest of the paper by providing pertinent background information and stating the issue that needs to be discussed in great detail.


This is knowledge from the ability to understand or know something immediately based on feelings rather than facts. It is also described as instinctive knowing without the use of cognitive processes or emotionally charged judgments that result from quick, unconscious, and holistic associations.


The concept of fairness and the application of moral principles to ensure equitable treatment.

Literature Review

This is a critical evaluation and analysis of existing literature on a particular topic or research question.

Logic reasoning

This is a process of knowledge generation that requires the application of reasoning or logic. This is also known as rationalism.


This is the strategy or action plan that informs the choice and use of particular methods within the context of a particular research paradigm.

Mixed methods research

This is a research design that combines both quantitative and qualitative research methods in a single study to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon.

Multiphase design

In this approach, multiple projects with a common goal are conducted. This method requires multiple designs to be conducted over time with linkages in place to ensure that each phase builds on the previous one.

Narrative inquiry

This is a type of qualitative research method that seeks to understand how individuals make meaning of their lives and the world around them through studying their stories and experience.


This is the ethical principle that requires actions that avoid or minimize harm to others.

Null hypothesis

This hypothesis states that there is no statistical difference exists between two variables or in a set of given observations.


This method of data collection involves the researcher observing and recording the behaviour and interactions of individuals or groups in a natural setting.

Operational hypothesis

This is a more specific statement that provides a detailed description of how the variables in the study will be measured and predict how they will be related to one another.


This refers to a set of theories, assumptions, and ideas that contribute to one’s worldview and approach to engaging with other people or things. It is the lens through which a researcher views the world and examines the methodological components of their research to make a decision on the methods to use for data collection and analysis.


This is a research approach that seeks to understand the essence of a particular phenomenon through a detailed exploration of individual experiences. It is especially beneficial for exploring personal experiences such as emotions, perceptions, and awareness.


This is an epistemological stance that is grounded in the idea that knowledge can be gained through objective observation and measurement.


This is an epistemological stance that is focused on the practical application of knowledge. Researchers who adopt a pragmatic stance aim to create research that is both theoretically sound and applicable to real-world settings.

Primary research

This is original research published in peer-reviewed journals. It also includes reports, congress papers, dissertations and preprints.

Purposive sampling

This is a type of sampling technique that entails the deliberate, purposeful recruitment of individuals who can offer in-depth, precise details on the topic being studied. It is also known as purposeful or selective sampling.

Qualitative research

This is a research methodology that aims to uncover the meaning and understanding of phenomena that cannot be broken down into measurable elements.

Quantitative research

This is a type of research methodology that seeks to investigate and understand the relationship between different variables. It is concerned with employing numerical data to systematically examine the phenomenon under investigation.

Randomized controlled trial (RCT)

A type of experimental study in which participants are randomly assigned to the intervention or control arm of the study.


This refers to the extent to which the research findings are consistent and replicable.


This is defined as a thorough investigation of a topic or subject to learn new information or develop knowledge of it. It is a critical process that involves asking and attempting to answer questions about the world.


This refers to the degree to which a study is conducted in a systematic, thorough, and accurate way.

Sampling technique

The process of selecting participants for a research study.

Scientific method

This is an empirical method for systematically gathering and analysing data to test hypotheses and answer questions.

Semi-structured interview

This is a data collection method that relies on asking questions within a predetermined framework. It utilises a general interview guide which consists of key questions that help define the area to be explored. This approach allows the interviewer and/or respondent to diverge and explore ideas or responses in more detail.

Snowball sampling technique

This is a sampling technique used when it is hard to reach potential participants such as members of minority groups. The researcher initially contacts a few potential participants and asks them to provide contact details of people or refer people they know who meet the selection criteria.

Thematic analysis

This is a technique for finding, examining, classifying, and reporting themes in data collection. It involves identifying codes or units of analysis that emerge from the data. Thematic analysis is the most common form of qualitative data analysis.

Theoretical sampling

This is a data collection process controlled by a theory generation process. It involves the simultaneous collection, coding and analysis of data to identify the next stage of data collection and where to find the participants to develop the emerging theory.


This refers to the extent to which the findings of the study can be applied to other settings and contexts


This is also known as the integration of data. It refers to the process of linking multiple methods, data sources, or perspectives to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a research problem.


This is the degree to which the findings of a study can be trusted to be credible, authentic, and dependable.

Unstructured interview

This is also known as an informal conversational interview. It consists of questions that are spontaneously generated in the natural flow of conversation, reflect no preconceptions or ideas and have little or no organisation.


This refers to the accuracy of a measure. It is the extent to which a study or test accurately measures what it sets out to measure.


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An Introduction to Research Methods for Undergraduate Health Profession Students Copyright © 2023 by Faith Alele and Bunmi Malau-Aduli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.