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Social Science Research - Seamus Morrissey NUI Galway 2017

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Seamus Morrissey

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Transcript of Social Science Research - Seamus Morrissey NUI Galway 2017

Research in the
Social Sciences

Dr. Seamus Morrissey
This Module - Five Units
Material within Presentation
Intro to the process of Social Research
Literature Review
Intro to Qualitative Research Methods
Quantitative Research Methods
Mixed Methods Research

Unit Five
This unit explored 'mixed-methods research'
Define what is meant by ‘mixed-methods research’
• Explain some of the main reasons why people choose a mixed method approach
• Identify the main advantages and disadvantages of mixed-method research
• Describe what it means to integrate qualitative and quantitative data and methods
• List the advantages and disadvantages of integration
• Describe the main strategies for integration
• List barriers to integration
Unit Three - Qualitative Research
This Unit Explore
When you have completed this unit, you should be able to:
• Define what is meant by ‘qualitative research’ and explain the similarities and differences between various types of qualitative research techniques
Draft interview guidelines for an in-depth interview/focus group
Explain the main benefits and challenges of completing qualitative research
Analyse and interpret qualitative research materials such as field notes, interview and focus group transcripts

Introduction and Ground Rules

The Usual Ground Rules Apply
Your participation is key
Research Proposal and Research Project
Explain the different steps in the writing process
- Describe why writing is such an important topic and why you
should devote especial attention to it
- List some of the differences in writing for an academic audience
compared to other audiences
- Draft a proposal for a research dissertation and explain its purpose
- State some of the specific arguments that should be made in each
chapter of your thesis/report
- Describe what your research dissertation should look like at the
end of Year 4
This is where you discuss and analyse your findings. You must answer the ‘So what?’ question. What do the data mean? Interpret the findings for the reader, consider and analyse them in the light of your research objectives and the literature review.
While analysing and commenting on individual components of the findings is important and necessary, it is imperative that a holistic picture is presented.
Data should be analysed and discussed in the light of theories discussed in the literature review, research data and findings. Relate findings to previous research. New revelations should be highlighted

Conclusions and Recommendations
Draw conclusions from the main findings of your
research and propose recommendations that result from
the research.

Mixed-Methods can be defined as:
Tashakkori and Creswell (2007, pp.3-4) state that mixed methods can be defined as the joint collection of qualitative and quantitative data.

However, we can also think of it as the integration of two approaches to research (qualitative and quantitative).
Johnson & Onwuegbuzie (2004, p.17) also adopt a very comprehensive
definition of mixed-methods.This also draws attention to some of the
complexity of this type of research.They define mixed-methods as:
"The class of research where the researcher mixes or combines
quantitative and qualitative research techniques, methods, approaches,
concepts or language into a single study".
There are basically two schools of thought on mixed-method
research: epistemological and technical
Epistemological commentators state that researchers should not conduct mixed-method inquiry, as qualitative and quantitative methods constitute two opposing ‘paradigms’ or ‘worldviews’ and that they should never be combined on account of this.
Other authors have increasingly challenged this approach. Indeed, advocates of technical approaches to research have consistently argued that we should disregard these epistemological issues at least to some degree, and that there is little to prevent researchers from applying qualitative and quantitative methods in their projects if they wish to do so (cf. Bryman, 1988).

Advantages of Mixed Methods

Disadvantages of Mixed Methods

Mason (2006) argues that doing mixed-methods can be very important as it encourages researchers to think ‘outside the box’ and to enhance the explanations for certain events that they are putting forward in
their data.

There are some drawbacks to using mixed-methods.When
deciding on the approach that you wish to take, you need to consider how mixed-methods can enhance your learning and skills and if it can benefit your research project.
Some of the main approaches to combining qualitative and quantitative research are follows (cf. Bryman 1988):
1. Triangulation: Two or more methods are employed in order to study or measure the same variables.The researcher focuses on comparing and contrasting the findings that are gathered through qualitative and quantitative techniques.
2. Qualitative research work facilitates quantitative research: In this case, the interviews and/or ethnographic research are used to guide the quantitative research. In other words, the findings from the interviews guide the questions and themes that are used in the survey questionnaire.
3. Quantitative research work facilitates qualitative research: In this case, the main data and findings from the survey or content analysis etc. guide the themes and topics that are explored in the interviews.
Based on Previous Module and Current Module:
Who are you proposing to use methodology?
Qual, Quan or

Steps involved in carrying out Mixed Method Research
1. Determine suitability of mixed method research design
2. Choose your methods
3. Issues of research design - In particular,
you need to think about which method you intend to use first, second, third etc. and devise appropriate reasons why you are choosing to do your research like this.
4. Administering the survey, doing the interview etc
5. Generating and analysing results
6. Writing-up: Some people choose to keep their qualitative and quantitative results separate from each other in the write-up while others prefer to ‘integrate’ or ‘mesh’ them.

Grounded Theory has been defined as a ‘methodology
for developing theory that is grounded in data systematically gathered
and analysed’ (Strauss and Corbin, 1994, p.273).
Defining Grounded Theory
History of GT
In essence, applying a Grounded Theory approach means that
the researcher begins with the collection and analysis of the
empirical data.This is done before the Literature Review.The
empirical data that you collect then guides the readings that
you will choose and the theory that you will develop.
Module Assessment

Assignment Overview
As outlined with Assignment Brief
Date Due
Access to people’s social worlds:
Linkages between theory and method
Role of the researcher
A systematic approach to data collection
Leads and hunches
Advantages of GT
Research Question
Challenges of GT
Group Activity
See page 5 - Paper 3
Probability sampling means ‘that the people or events are chosen as the sample because the researcher has some idea that this will be representative of a cross-section of people or events in the population being studied’ (Denscombe 2007: 13). In other words, using probability sampling means that you are trying to build up a picture of people’s opinions which will be broadly representative of other people’s opinions in the population. These sampling techniques are more often associated with quantitative research although some qualitative researchers also apply this approach.
Theoretical Sampling is a sampling technique which is widely
associated with the GroundedTheory approach. It means that
you continuously sample as the project progresses and that
you make decisions about the types of people that you want
to include through a deep analysis of your findings
Theoretical Sampling
Non-probability sampling

Qualitative researchers frequently use other types of sampling techniques, such as non-probability sampling. The main sampling methods here are purposive sampling, snowball sampling and theoretical sampling.

The word ‘I’
The Issue of Audiences:Writing For
Literature Review
1. Was the research logical?
2. Was the project undertaken in an appropriate manner?
3. Does the author justify why s/he has completed the research in this way?
4. Is this justification appropriate?
5. Is the author aware of the main limitations of her/his study?
6. Which sampling method did the researcher employ, and was this appropriate?
7. Which method(s) of analysis did the researcher employ, and was this appropriate for the project?
8. Did the researcher encounter any other challenges with methodology during the project? How did this affect the types of decisions that the researcher made during the study?
Defining Mixed Methods
Overall Aim of Workshop
To provide a strong grounding in the principles and practice of social research
Provide a foundation on which a research project can be developed
Areas of Knowledge
Other related areas

Questions to Ask
How would you define .....?
Who funds.....?
What are the benefits.....?
What are the current challenges.....?
What are your recommendations for future developments......?
Any other thoughts on ...?
One interviewee
One interviewer
Rest of Group - Takes Notes and Identify Any Key/ Interesting Data
What I need you to do
As the title of the chapter suggests this is about reviewing relevant literature to the topic.
This chapter should provide the reader with further background information to your topic. Review relevant academic literature – books, journals, reports etc to establish a rationale for your research
Utilise academic material to discuss the topic and the key concepts/ variables - Explore different/ contradictory views on the topic
It is wise to take a critical stance and build an argument to justify and support the research question or statement.
Point, Evidence, Analysis and Refer to Research Question (PEAR)

This chapter presents the data you have collected.
Include a justification for the data included/ excluded
Presentation of data typically involves utilising tables and graphics but this depends on the type of date you have collected.
Tabulating quantitative data is useful as it presents an easy to interpret profile of a situation.
Make the presentation clear and interesting.

Thank You
Questions or comments

• Critically evaluate what is meant by ‘the social research process’ and explain some of the main reasons why people do research;
• Describe some of the approaches to social research that are frequently mentioned in the literature and account for their development;
• Describe some of the principal ethical issues that researchers face such as confidentiality, anonymity and informed consent ;
• Define what is meant by the ‘evolving research question’ and why this is pivotal to research design.

Social research can be describes as focusing on people’s interactions, and cultural mores and values that underlie people’s practices.

The literature on social research often mentions the reasons why people typically carry out social research, what are these?
Purposes of research
Enhances knowledge: One of the main aims of any kind of research is to enhance existing knowledge on a particular topic or subject area.
Informs policies: Most of the major political parties, NGOs and government departments across the globe employ researchers whose work informs how they draft political speeches, statements, policy documents and/or press releases.
Improves the literature: Some people have a genuine love of research and when they see a ‘gap’ in the literature, they want to overcome this by undertaking further research on it

Unit One - Introduction to Social Research Process
Reasons (contd)
Developing and testing theory
Improve Employment Opportunities: Some people might welcome the chance to complete research in order to hone their skills which are necessary for their personal development and improve their employment opportunities.
Academic Requirements

When carrying out a piece of research, it is essential that you plan effectively and that you are meticulous about research design.
1. Sourcing an Idea
2. Arriving at research theme/idea
3. Developing the research question
4. Designing a methodology
5. Theory/Literature search
6. Carrying out fieldwork
7. Linking theory to method
8. Writing-up
Sourcing an Idea
Work related
Adult Learning and Development related
Exploration of ideas is required
Annual Reports
Government Reports
Appropriate Websites
Bryman (2008) emphasises the advantages of secondary analysis for students: Cost and time, High quality data, Opportunity for longitudinal analysis

Higher Education Authority (HEA)
Irish Government Sites
Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA)
National Adult Learning Organisation (AONTAS)
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)
James Hardiman Library www.library.nuigalway.ie
Central Statistics Office (CSO)
Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI)
European Centre for the Development of Vocation Training (CEDEFOP)
European Commission: Education and Culture

Pick something that is relevant to the course (training and education related) and something you find interesting!
One of the objectives of today’s workshop is that you will have identified a topic you are interested in

Into Small Groups
Each person to outline a potential they are interested in researching?
Rationale for selecting this idea?
Is it education or training related?

Ethical Considerations
Why is ethics important in research?

British Educational Research Association www.bera.ac.uk

Explain why the literature review is central to research and how it shapes decisions on research methodology
Describe what social theory is and evaluate theoretical perspectives
Identify sources of literature that are appropriate for researching a Research Project

Unit Two - The Literature Review
Literature review should include:
Policy contexts,
Legislative Frameworks
Relevant Theorist and Theories
National and International research
The Literature Review is a critical analysis of literature which relates to your research and research question . It is vital to complete a comprehensive analysis of other research completed on the topic.
Critical Theory is one such framework. Critical Theory as an investigation of the structures and processes of power and oppression that lie masked behind the common realities of everyday life. Furthermore, Critical Theory tries to reveal how these structures and processes continue to predominate what we need to change to achieve greater social equity and justice (Ward, 2010).
PEAR approach to writing
P - Make a clear, valid point
E - Support this with apposie evidence from the text
A - Analyse this point and evidence, looking at key issues in a critical way
R - Refer back to the question which has been set, making sure that your paragraph deals with the key terms under consideration.
Types of Research Question
Descriptive: 'What’ research questions are about exploring a topic, about providing description, about evaluating and predicting. This approach can be referred to as descriptive research.
Relational: ‘Why’ research questions are seeking to understand and explain aspects of a topic, such as relationships, processes or experiences. This approach can be referred to as relational research.
Causal: ‘How’ research questions are about seeking out ways in which interventions or policy changes have an impact on existing practices. This approach can be referred to as causal research.

Individual Activity - Develop a research question for your topic of interest
Research Question
In advance of developing a literature review a research question should be developed.
Why is a research question important?

From Topic to Research Question
After choosing a topic and gathering background information, add focus with a research question.
• Determine and evaluate your research question.
- What aspect of the more general topic you will explore?
- Is your research question clear?
- Is your research question focused?
(Research questions must be specific enough to be well covered in the space available.)
- Is your research question complex?
(Questions shouldn’t have a simple yes/no answer and should require research and analysis.)
Activity - Relating to your research topic
Source a key policy document
Source a key theorist
Source a recent and relevant research paper
Competing definitions of qualitative research have been put forward in the literature. For example, Bryman (2001: 264) states that it is as a type of research that usually deals with words instead of figures and statistics.

Essentially, qualitative research could be defined as an approach to research that aims at uncovering concealed aspects of people’s social interactions and practices; how people talk, move and interact in everyday life and how the social context affects this.
Defining Theory and the Centrality of Theoretical Approaches to Research

In the literature, there are numerous definitions of the word term ‘theory’. For example, Bryman (2001: 5) defines it as ‘an explanation of observed regularities’. In other words, a theory is designed by someone who wants to explain how certain events occur in the ways that they do.

Theoretical accounts of the social world both compare and conflict with one another in interesting ways. Social theorists are continually searching for new ways of understanding the world and a significant amount of contestation often emerges among them about how particular phenomena should be studied.
Approaches to Research -
Inductive and Deductive:
Exploring the Differences

Theory → Hypothesis → Test Hypothesis →Assess if and how findings corroborate hypothesis

Positivism is usually associated with deduction as it involves testing theory. It can be characterised by the following:
1. They generally consider that scientific methods should be used in social science research
2. They advocate that the role of the social scientist is to produce valid, objective and independent data that is factual
3. Positivists also state that theories should give rise to hypotheses that are tested through rigorous scientific investigation
Observation → Pattern → Hypothesis → Theory

Interpretivism is more often allied with induction and is characterised by the following ideas:
- They focus more on how people (re)-construct cultural meaning system in everyday life through their discourse and practices.
- Instead of testing theory, interpretive theorists also place emphasis on developing theory from their empirical findings.
- Interpretivists also say that there are little or no connections between social phenomena and the things which scientists study (like atoms, molecules, biological properties). Therefore, they advance that social science should have its own method of empirical investigation.

A literature Review needs to be planned thoroughly with a clear focus and structure. Develop key points and arguments which relate to the research question. A comprehensive lit review provides a strong basis for the completion of the primary data collection process.
Key Readings in relation to Social Research
Bell, J
Bryman, A
Creswell, J
Denscombe, M
Silverman. D
All material used within a literature review must be appropriately and properly referenced.
See assignment brief on Blackboard.
Outline some of the Advantages
and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

Focus Groups
Observation/ Ethnographic
In small groups What are the key considerations when using these methods?

Unit Four - Quantitative Research
When you have completed this unit, you should be able to:

● Explain what is meant by quantitative research;
● Describe some of the main advantages and disadvantages to quantitative research;
● Elucidate when it is may be more appropriate to use a questionnaire instead of interviews and ethnography;
● Draft an appropriate survey questionnaire that answers your research question;
● Understand how to link your theory/literature review to the questionnaire

Quantitative research has been defined in very interesting ways throughout the literature. For example, Bryman (2001) describes it as a form of research that uses numbers more than words. quantitative research is often associated with the following:

The survey questionnaire: Although there are other methods of quantitative inquiry besides teh questionnaire, it is viewed as the main method of quantitative investigation.

What are the advantages/ disadvantages?

Planning a questionnaire

Research question is:
What are the key factors which cause drop out from 3rd level distance education courses?
Sample group - Adults, dropped out of 3rd level distance edcation within the past five years

What are the key questions to include in a questionnaire?
Door to Door
Face to Face

Key Consideration - Consent

Sampling - Probability and Non-Probability

Probability sampling means ‘that the people or events are chosen as the sample because the researcher has some idea that this will be representative of a cross-section of people or events in the population being studied’ (Denscombe 2007: 13).
Within probability sampling - Random, systematic and quota
Non probability
Purposive sampling: The sample is ‘hand-picked’ for the research. It is used most often in situations where the researcher already knows something about the events or people that s/he is trying to investigate because they believe that they will yield the most worthwhile data (Hammersley 2007: 17).
Using MS Excel to Analyse Survey Data.
In general, SPSS is a much better analytical tool when dealing with a larger sample. However, for a small number of respondents, Excel generally works fine also. When analysing the survey, you need to load the data into Excel so click on the Excel icon on your desktop.

Coding the Answers
There are numerous tutorials online on how to use MS Excel for the purposes of data analysis. Try to access some of these if you are planning on using a survey.


Word Count for Proposal
As outlined within Assignment Guidelines
Policy and legislation can be critically analysed using a theortical framework.
What theories have you engaged with as part of the course?
Theoretical Approaches in Social Research

The literature mentions that there are two types of approaches to understanding the interaction between theory and method. These are called induction and deduction. Some studies maintain that there are strict distinctions between these positions and that they constitute two opposing ‘worldviews’. In other words, people who are indicative theorists do research in a very different way compared to those who adopt a deductive stance.
Concepts within a Literature review

When you are taking notes, pay great attention to the ways that key concepts are defined in different theories and publications. In some ways, concepts can be described as organising principles for your research/ thesis. In essence, they are key ideas or notions that you will be describing and exploring in your study. Some examples of concepts that are often alluded to in social theory include disability and class.
Principally, qualitative researchers are interested in the following matters;
1. Discourse: Qualitative researchers are interested in discourses.
2. Behaviours: From a qualitative viewpoint, people’s practices and behaviours are also viewed as indicative of the social context.
3. Negotiation: Qualitative researchers are interested in how people negotiate particular events with each other; how and why they form certain opinions, reject and/or adopt certain argumentative positions and conventions when in conversation with others.

Qualitative Data Analysis
Thematic Analysis and Coding

Particularly in the early stages of the analysis, it is important that you pick out as many themes and ideas as possible that strike you as interesting. However, you will probably be able to disregard some of them later on. Remember that even when you are writing up your findings, you will not include every piece of data that has been generated. Once again, you need to include only the themes and ideas that are most relevant to your work and your research question.
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