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What is Research?
Transcript of What is Research?
Selecting A Research Approach
Think about your likes & dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses.
Are you good with people?
Will they confide in you or provide sensitive information?
Do you like to conduct research over the internet?
Would you be more comfortable researching from a distance?
Do you love or hate maths?
Are you interested in statistics and graphs?
Qualitative, Quantitative & Mixed Approaches
Research Methodologies & Worldviews
All methodologies are influenced by philosophical worldviews, that is
'a basic set of beliefs that guide action'
(Guba 1990: 17).
They are general philosophies that the researcher brings to the study, based on discipline orientation, tutor inclinations and past experience.
research explores attitudes, behaviours & experiences through methods such as
interviews and focus groups
. It attempts to get in-depth opinion from participants and as a result, fewer participants are necessary. Many
are encompassed by this term.
What does a researcher do?
Understanding the 5 'Ws'
Spot the Proposal Problems
'This research aims to find out what people think about television.'
'My project is to do some research into Alzheimers disease, to find out what people do when their relatives have it and what support they can get and how nurses deal with it.'
'We want to find out how many of the local residents are interested in a play scheme for children during the summer holiday.'
What are you researching? Answer as specifically as possible. Try to sum up your research project into one sentence!
Why do you want to do this research? Is there a purpose? You may be conducting coursework because you have to, but are there other reasons? Are you interested in the subject? Is there a gap in the literature?
Who are your participants or respondents? What type of people will you need to, or like to, contact in order to conduct your research?
Where are you going to conduct your research? Thinking geographically allows you to narrow the research topic. Will time and budget limitations affect your choice? Will you feel safe and comfortable?
When are you going to do your research? Think about a time-scale, is the project possible? Will participants be available?
Use the 5 'Ws'
'This research aims to find out what primary school teachers think about the eductional value of "The Teletubbies" TV show.'
'The aim of this research is to find out how many relatives of Alzheimer's patients use the Maple Day Centre, and how to ascertain whether the service is meeting thier needs.'
'This research aims to find out how many people from our estate are interested in, and would use, a children's play scheme in the school summer holiday.'
through the use of large-scale surveys using
questionnaires or structured interviews
. This type of research requires many more participants but the contact time with them is much quicker.
'Social research is
, meaning that much of it is concerned with developing, exploring or testing the theories or ideas that social researchers have about how the world operates. But it is also
, meaning that it is based on observations and measurements of reality -- on what we perceive of the world around us. You can even think of most research as a blending of these two terms -- a comparison of our theories about how the world operates with our observations of its operation' (Trochim 2006).
refers to laws or rules that pertain to the general case (nomos in Greek) and is contrasted with the term "idiographic" which refers to laws or rules that relate to individuals (idios means 'self' [...] in Greek). In any event, the point here is that most social research is concerned with the nomothetic -- the general case -- rather than the individual. We often study individuals, but usually we are interested in generalizing to more than just the individual' (Trochim 2006).
'The inferences that we make in social research have
associated with them -- they are seldom meant to be considered covering laws that pertain to all cases. Part of the reason we have seen statistics become so dominant in social research is that it allows us to estimate probabilities for the situations we study' (Trochim 2006).
means that most social research is interested (at some point) in looking at cause-effect relationships. This doesn't mean that most studies actually study cause-effect relationships. There are some studies that simply observe -- for instance, surveys that seek to describe the percent of people holding a particular opinion. [...] So why am I talking about causal studies? Because for most social sciences, it is important that we go beyond just looking at the world or looking at relationships. We would like to be able to change the world, to improve it and eliminate some of its major problems. If we want to change the world [...] we are automatically interested in causal relationships -- ones that tell us how our causes (e.g., programs, treatments) affect the outcomes of interest' (Trochim 2006).
& Many more...
+ Deterministic - causes determine effects or outcomes
+ Reductionistic - ideas are reduced into a set to test, e.g variables
+ Based on empirical observation and measurement of the world
+ Uses theory verification to test ideas
+ Seeks understanding
+ Multiple participant meanings - complex perspectives
+ Social & historical negotiation of meaning
+ Theory generation
+ Political - confronts oppression of marginalised persons
+ Power & justice oriented
+ Collaborative - prevents further marginalisation
+ Change oriented - reform systems of oppression
+ Arises out of actions rather than histories
+ Pluralistic - draws on both Q&Q approaches
+ Real-world practice oriented
Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
moves from the general to the specific.
Uses a "top-down" approach.
moves from the specific to the general.
Uses a "bottom-up" approach.
Instrument based questions
Performance, attitude, observational and census data
Statistical analysis & interpretation
Open ended questions
Interview, observation, document & audio-visual data
Text & image analysis and interpretation
Both pre-determined & emerging methods
Both open & closed questions
Multiple forms of data drawing on all possibilities
Statistical & textual analysis & interpretation
provides numeric descriptions of trends, attitudes or opinions of a population by studying a sample. Uses structured interviews or questionnaires for data collection.
seeks to determine if a specific treatment influences an outcome. The researcher provides a treatment to one group of participants, and deprives it from the other.
is where the researcher
studies the lives of individuals and asks one or more participants to provide stories. This information is re-told by the researcher in a narrative chronology.
is where the researcher describes a phenomenon as informed by the experiences of participants.
Grounded theory, ethonographies and case studies are examples of this form of research.
Convergent parallel mixed methods
is where the researcher converges both qualitative and quantitative data to provide a detailed analysis. Data is obtained simultaneously.
Explanatory sequential mixed methods
the researcher first conducts quantitaive data, analyzes the results and then explains the outcome using qulitative information.
Exploratory sequential mixed methods
is the opposite.