Methodological Review

Methodological Review and research methods


A research method refers to the systematic plan utilized in conducting research study. There are numerous varieties of research methods which can be broadly classified as either qualitative or quantitative. Examples of research designs include experimental, participant observation, survey, secondary data, case studies, and interviews. A research design enables the researcher to effectively address the research problem in the most logical manner (Research Guides, 2017). In ISIS Propaganda study, the research designs applied included surveys (quantitative), case studies (qualitative) and Secondary data. Notably, each of these research designs played a crucial role in understanding and working on the research question at varying degrees.

Case studies

A case study design refers to an in-depth study of a specific research problem. Case studies are employed in narrowing down broad fields of research into more specific researchable examples. Case studies also are applied in testing application of particular theories and models. Case studies have numerous strengths. First, they enable a researcher to understand complex issues by analyzing only a limited number of conditions and how they relate to each other (Research Guides, 2017). Case studies also enable the detailed description of rare cases. Case studies allow a researcher to apply multiple methodologies as well as use many sources in investigating the research problem in question. Despite these numerous strengths, case studies have limitations (Zainal, 2017). They fail to assess the effect and cause relationships. Another limitation is that vital information might be missing thus making it difficult to interpret. Additionally, the intense exposure to case studies might end up biasing the researcher’s view and interpretation of findings (Research Guides, 2017). Lastly, since this design relies on a small number of cases, its results might not reflect or be typical of the broader population.


Survey research design is a broad area that encompasses data collection by including respondents. A survey can range from a short paper to an intensive interview involving one-on-one dialogue. A survey might involve brief discussions, series of written questions and spoken questions (Nardi, 2015). Surveys have many strengths which include low costs, convenient data gathering, high statistical significance, precise results and limited observer subjectivity. Additionally, surveys enable large representativeness due to the many people who answer the survey questions. A survey has some limitations as well including inflexible design and potential inappropriateness of questions. Also, surveys may not be ideal or effective for controversial issues.

Secondary data

Secondary data refers to the type of data which had been previously collected and is available from various sources. This kind of information is easy to acquire and does not consume much time to gather as compared to primary data (Research Guides, 2017). Additionally, it can be instrumental when primary data is unavailable or cannot be obtained. Secondary data has many advantages such as being economical, time-saving and improves the researcher’s understanding. Additionally, secondary data enables the researcher to compare the data he or she has collected with the secondary data available. However, secondary data has its downsides. For instance, it lacks specificity, it might be outdated, and the information may be lacking due to lack of prior primary research.


Use of research designs in ISIS and their Propaganda

Case studies were employed to collect qualitative data on ISIS and their Propaganda. This was achieved through in-depth studies of the research problem. Although many studies have been conducted on terrorist groups such ISIS, there are limited studies which have focused on the propaganda aspect. Notably, with the use of case studies, it was made possible to get a detailed description of the Propaganda aspect of ISIS by applying multiple methodologies and using multiple sources. Additionally, use of case studies enabled acquisition or rare information which would not have been acquired using the other research designs (Research Guides, 2017).

Survey was among the research designs used; however, it was the least used. The limitation was attributed to the lack of enough respondents who are directly connected to ISIS, or who may have previously been close to the terrorist group. Most of the survey was conducted by giving respondents questions on a short paper whereby they were required to write their answers on blank spaces or choose from multiple answers provided (Research Guides, 2017). Other survey approaches used, although at a limited rate, were brief discussions with the respondents and one-on-one questions. Use of survey research design made it possible to acquire primary data which played a crucial role in research (Schuurman & Eijkman, 2013). The application of survey was efficient due to its convenience and credibility of the acquired data. Additionally, the acquired data was precise. Moreover, there was limited respondent’s subjectivity. The survey research design was also cheap compared to the case studies.

Secondary data was by far the most used research design in the ISIS and their Propaganda research topic. Many types of research on terrorist groups and how they function had been conducted and the results documented online and in books. Other statistical information and facts can also be accessed from online databases such as from the Central Intelligence Agency website (CIA, 2017). The main advantage of using this research design was the availability of adequate information from different sources. This enables one to choose multiple data, compare it and select the most appropriate. The data was also easy to acquire. It helped save time since the information did not require traveling or scheduling interviews. It also led to understanding of the entire concept of ISIS and their propaganda in a more comprehensive way.

Limitations of using the research designs in ISIS and their Propaganda

The research designs used in the ISIS and their Propaganda research problem had various limitations. For instance, since case study uses qualitative approach, only a small number of cases was relied upon. Therefore, it was not entirely possible to determine whether the acquired results reflect the typical nature of ISIS and their propaganda as a whole, or just some few subgroups within ISIS. The survey research design also faced challenges. The survey lacked enough participants with a close or direct connection to ISIS. Additionally, since many preferred written questions, there was a limitation of what the questions entailed thus leading to a possible inappropriateness or ambiguity. The use of secondary data also had its limitation, that is, the ISIS and their Propaganda research problem. This research design is usually extensive broad as there are numerous past studies on terrorist groups such as ISIS. It was, therefore, difficult to filter the information specific to the research problem (Research Guides, 2017).


In ISIS and their propaganda research problem, case studies, survey, and secondary data were the primary research designs used. These methods were not chosen for being perfect, but rather for having the highest potential of assisting in collecting adequate and quality data effectively. Each specific research design had its strengths as well as limitations based on its data collection approach and methodology. The limitations led to time wastage and interruptions, but appropriate mitigation strategies were applied. It would, therefore, be of much important to improve these research designs and reduce or completely get rid of the limitations to enhance their efficiency as credible research methods.



CIA. (2017). CIA Releases Nearly 470,000 Additional Files Recovered in May 2011 Raid on Usama Bin Ladin’s Compound — Central Intelligence Retrieved 2 December 2017, from

Nardi, P. (2015). Doing survey research. Routledge.

Research Guides. (2017). Research Guides: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Types of Research Retrieved 2 December 2017, from

Schuurman, B., & Eijkman, Q. (2013). Moving terrorism research forward: the crucial role of primary sources. ICCT Background Note, 1-11.

Zainal, Z. (2017). Case study as a research method. Jurnal Kemanusiaan5(1).

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