Most Common Questions about Research in ELT

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Let’s explore the Q&A below to find out more information about Research in ELT

What is research?

According to Nunan (1992), research is a process of formulating questions, collecting data relevant to these questions, and analyzing these data.

What makes research different from other types of inquiry?

Research different from other types of inquiry can be seen from the systematic process involved. Research is a systematic process consisting of three elements: a question, data, and analysis. While other types of inquiry maybe lack one of the elements, for example, data.

Mention the three major components of research?

Nunan (1992) states that three major components of research are: (1) a question, (2) data, and (3) analysis and interpretation of data.

How does research relate to theory?

Kaplan in Runcie (1980) suggested that a good set of concepts is needed to arrive at a good theory, while a good theory is needed to arrive at a good set of concepts. Feedback systems between the method and theories of any science are essential and must never be overlooked.

Based on the explanation above, a theory has an essential effect on the result of research because a good theory is needed to get good results in research.

What is the general purpose of research?

The general purpose of research is to further the knowledge of the subject matter claimed by the discipline (Runcie, 1980).

What may be the purpose of research in English or English teaching?

The purpose of research in English teaching is to develop further English education knowledge.

What are the characteristics of the research process, and describe (in one sentence) each one of them!

The characteristics of the research process, according to Tuckman (1978), are:

  1. Systematic; research follows system / rules.
  2. Logical; research must follow logic.
  3. Controlled; research is free from distractions/biases
  4. Empirical; research is based on experiments, reality, real data, or evidence.
  5. Reductive; research must reduce the complexities of the word.
  6. Replicable and transmittable; research process and procedure are transmittable, enabling others to replicate and assess their validity.

What is the difference between primary and secondary research!

Secondary research consists of reviewing the literature in giving area and synthesizing the research carried out by others. At the same time, primary research is subdivided into case studies and statistical studies.

What are the two “pure” research paradigms? And how do you distinguish them in terms of the method used, the type of data, and the data analysis techniques? 

There are two kinds of pure forms of research paradigm, namely exploratory-interpretive and analytical-nomological.

  • In terms of the method used, exploratory-interpretive uses non-experimental design meanwhile analytical-nomological uses experimental or quasi-experimental design.
  • In terms of data type, exploratory-interpretive uses qualitative data. Meanwhile, analytical-nomological uses quantitative data.
  • In terms of the technique of data analysis, exploratory-interpretive uses interpretive analysis. Meanwhile, analytical-nomological uses statistical analysis.

Why is the distinction between qualitative and quantitative research approaches considered an oversimplification?

Grotjahn in Nunan (1992) the distinction between qualitative and quantitative approaches to research considered to be an oversimplification because it is necessary to take into consideration the method of data collection (whether the data have been collected experimentally or non-experimentally); the type of data yielded by the investigation (quantitative or qualitative); and type of analysis conducted on the data (whether statistical or interpretive)

Explain how the quantitative and qualitative approaches differ in their assumption about “facts.”

Quantitative approaches are obtrusive and controlled, objective, generalizable, outcome-oriented, and assume the existence of a fact which are somehow external to and independent of the observer or researcher. Qualitative approaches, on the other hand, assume all knowledge is relative, that there is a subjective element to all knowledge and research, and that holistic, ungeneralisable studies are justifiable (Nunan, 1992).

From the explanation above, it can be concluded that quantitatively assume the fact using numerical data. Meanwhile, qualitative assumes the knowledge by interpretation.

Which one of the approaches is referred to as “objective,” and why?

Quantitative is referred to as objective because the data is analyzed using numerical data, not from interpretation or belief.

Which one is often termed “soft,” and for what reasons?

Qualitative is referred to soft because the data is analyzed by interpretation and depth process-oriented.

In what way do the quantitative and qualitative approaches supplement each other? Provide examples!

The quantitative and qualitative approaches supplement each other when testing hypotheses. When we want to test the hypothesis with a quantitative method, we have derived them from a qualitative conceptual framework. Before we count, we have to decide what categories to count.

For example, I conduct research about “Using the Role Play to Improve the Students’ Speaking Skills,” I will use a quantitative approach to count the students’ speaking scores numerically after using Role Play. Then I will use a qualitative approach to know why the students’ speaking ability is improving (if it does).


  • Nunan, D. (1992). Research methods in language learning. Cambridge university press.
  • Runcie, J.F. (1980). Dynamic Systems and the Quality of Work Life. Personnel, 57(6), 13– 24
  • Tuckman, B. W. 1978. Conducting Educational Research: Second Edition. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.
Tenry Colle
Tenry Colle

Hi! My name is A. Tenry Lawangen Aspat Colle. I am a motivated and resourceful English educator. In addition, as the owner of @rymari.translation17 has shaped me to be a punctual and dependable translator of Indonesian to English and vice versa.

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