The scientific research process involves several main consecutive stages:
Identify a research problem and formulate research question(s)
Review the existing literature (secondary research)
Formulate hypothesis about the researh problem
Collect data to test the hypothesis (primary research)
Analyse and interpret the data collected
Correctly identifying the problem to be analyzed and defining specific research questions are essential steps of the research process. However, the most important part is deciding upon the research approach, which will set up the research design and choice of research methods. The research approach refers to the next steps in the research process, i.e. data collection and data analysis.
The research approach is only a part of the research process. Specifically, it refers to the steps data collection and data analysis.
The research approach represents the general plan of conducting the investigation (i.e. how am I going to study – to approach - this problem?...):
Sample – who, why, how?
How will data be collected?
How will data be analyzed?
There are three main research approaches: qualitative research, quantitative research and mixed methods research.
Babbie, E. (2011). The Basics of Social Research. 5th edition. Belmont, USA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Bhattacherjee, A. (2012). Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices. Textbook Collection. Book 3. Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=oa_textbooks
Creswell, J.W. (2012). Educational Research. Planning, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research. 4th edition. Boston, USA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Creswell, J.W. (2014). Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches. 4th edition. USA: SAGE Publications, Inc.