Research Methods for the study of religion

An online training resource

Research Design

Well-designed research can benefit from the creative use of different research methods, including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The choice of methods should be made with close reference to a project's research questions and the nature of data generated by different methods should be reflected upon. Thought also needs to be given as to when different methods are best used in the process of conducting a particular study.


Linda Woodhead explores key issues in designing research, including how to choose and combine specific methods.


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Key Reading

Alan Bryman (2008) Social Research Methods. 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

A good introduction to key elements of research design, and includes a section on mixed methods research.

Jennifer Mason (2002) Qualitative Researching. London: Sage.

This widely-used qualitative methods text again provides another good overview of key elements of research design.

John Cresswell and Vicki Clark (2010) Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. 2nd edition. London: Sage.

Discusses different models of mixed methods research, as well as how to present and evaluate mixed methods research.

(ed.) Linda Woodhead (2012) Innovative Methods in the Study of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Contains chapters discussing a wide range of methodological issues and approaches in the study of religion, with reflective accounts by authors about the implications of these in relation to their own research.

Andrew Sayer (2000) Realism and Social Science. London: Sage.

A sophisticated introduction to epistemology from a critical realist perspective.

Ole Riis and Linda Woodhead (2010) A Sociology of Religious Emotion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. 

Makes the case for taking issues of emotion more seriously in research on religion, and includes a methodological appendix on studying religious emotion.


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Last Updated: 12/09/2011