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Research Methods Room

The constellations in this room are concerned with how you will be doing your research. There is a very wide range of research methods available to you, and you will have to spend some time deciding which method or methods are the most appropriate, both with regard to your topic and to the approach you have decided to take. If you are a student in the physical sciences then you will probably find you tend toward quantitative or positivist methods. If you are studying the social sciences then qualitative or interpretive methods may be more appropriate. But this is a generalization, and much of the really interesting and innovative research uses a blend of both qualitative and quantitative methods. As you study the constellations visible from this room, keep referring to the continuum on the left and see if you can spot your position on it, and if you might move along it.

Research methods > Generalisability

Research methods


What is generalisability?

“Generalisation is concerned with the application of research results to cases or situations beyond those examined in the study.”

Collis and Hussey 2003

What does this mean?

Put simply, generalisability asks: can the results of the research be applied more generally and more widely than the study itself or are they only relevant to the specific context of the study?

Generalisability is concerned with whether research findings can be generalised beyond the specific context in which the research was conducted. A study may be valid in one setting but not in another and in this instance the research results would not be generalisable.

Whether or not generalisation will be possible in each case is a product of the type of study, the research setting and specific characteristics of the study.




1. Do I need to generalise?2. Generalisability: some examples
3. Generalisability and the research paradigms4. Generalisability and your research

Author: Deborah Street, University of the West of England, Bristol.

Further reading