There are two main types of primary research methods: Quantitative and Qualitative Research.
Many times when writing a thesis or conducting a large amount of research, both the research methods are used to create a mixed-methods research. Many people decide which research to conduct depending on their strengths and backgrounds. Most people from the sciences and mathematics conduct quantitative research whereas people from an arts and humanities background prefer qualitative. Most of the scientific thesis with a scientific background, rely more on quantitative research.
Whichever research method you use, here are some tips on what is needed when you conduct primary research:
1) Analyse your field site: If you are conducting primary research, especially in geography, architecture or city planning, you will have a field site or a physical location where you need to conduct your research. You have to become familiar with this site and landscape before you can conduct research on it. So spend as much time as you need in the field site and visit as regularly as possible to get a feel for the site.
2) Become familiar with research methods: After looking at the field site, decide which research method you want to use to conduct the research. You can ask your faculty or lecturer to decide or learn more about the research methods and what the site needs. For instance, you can conduct an observational research or record the flow of numbers, but whatever you do, if you are conducting research then you will need to decide on a research method. There is a lot of information on both quantitative and qualitative research methods online and in books.
3) Structure your report: Once you decide on the research methods, you will need to see how you can use it for your specific report or thesis or project. Write a small proposal for the research and send it to your department for them to look at it. They will give you feedback and if you need to read more books or do secondary research then you can search for more information and read it.
4) Read books and find gaps: One of the main ideas for conducting a big research project is for you to fill the gaps that have not already been done in your field of study. For this, you need to read a plethora of books and also familiar your self with the writing style of authors. You need to analyze how they have conducted the previous research and you need to decide on what you can add to the research that has already been conducted. To do this, you need to know what is going on in the field, who the main researchers are and who is on top of the field. You might need to replicate their findings and also start a new finding on a different field site.
5) Get a good grasp of writing skills: This mostly applies to qualitative research as it needs more writing than quantitative. But both research reports need writing more than an essay or a general report. You need to become more familiar with your writing skills and improve it as much as possible so that the examiners can easily understand your writing and it is legible. The ways you describe the concepts, in the type of words and functions are also important. To do this you need to also get a lot of feedback from your advisor who is supervising you on the research.
The above are just a few tips for conducting research methods. It is a long journey and it cannot be done in a few days or a week like most assignments and essays. This means you will have to work on your research throughout the year or a few years and it will take a lot of your time. So you need to think about whether this is what you really want to do and if you want to dedicate so much time to conducting research on your topic. Picking a topic that you are really passionate about is also a good way of getting into the research. Many people change their topics and supervisors through time, but this is usually not a good thing if you want your research to be stable.
Research is a serious issue and so you will need to really think about it and have a good knowledge of the issue before you embark on a new research. For me personally, research is very fulfilling and helps me understand the world a bit better. Mostly, research is for postgraduate students and people in the undergraduate study do not involve in much research methods. So, take your time and think about whether research is for you. Use the above tips to help you gain a better grasp of your research!
Note: The above methods have been shared based on the experience of the author while doing her M.Plan thesis. She also conducted a mixed-methods research by using some numbers to calculate the foot measurements on the public spaces. Used quantitative research to draw graphs and tabulate findings. But for qualitative research, she had to code the interviews conducted with key stakeholders in her area of research and analyze the findings, which was not as straightforward as the quantitative method she used.