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Unit 4: Research Methods in Sport and Exercise Science

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Starr Smith

on 26 April 2016

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Transcript of Unit 4: Research Methods in Sport and Exercise Science

By Starr Smith
Unit 4: Research Methods in Sport and Exercise Science
Qualitative Data
Qualitative data is a form of research that is well detailed and therefore can explain why there is differences and relationships in data. This type of research is very in depth and therefore takes into consideration peoples opinions and behaviors.

Quantitative Data
Quantitative data is data in numerical form that can be easily measured. This type of research is usually used in order to test a hypothesis as it can explain relationships, differences and causality in data.
Key Issues in Sports Research
Techniques List
Types of Data
Classification of Data
Research Design
Case Study
Cross Sections
Techniques List
Primary Data
Secondary Data
There are many different types of techniques used to collect data however it depends on the type of data that needs to be collected as to what techniques list is used. For qualitative data the most common techniques lists are
focus groups
Focus Groups
Interviews are a key technique for qualitative data, this is where a researcher will ask individuals a number of questions in order to collect information. In order to get effective research their needs to be trust between the interviewer and the client.
Ordinal data is data that can be put into an order of measurements. For example rank positions in a 100m sprint final.
Ordinal data does not take into account the differences between the scores for example you would have 1st 2nd and 3rd however it would not give the exact score in between.
Structured Interview
A structured interview occurs when the interviewer has set questions to ask, however these questions can be slightly altered depending on the participants responses. When in an interview the interviewer can view a persons body language and their attitudes to particular subjects.
Unstructured Interview
An unstructured interview is an interview where questions are not set and new questions are developed throughout. This can be due to a persons reaction to particular questions and therefore in order to get a more in depth answer the interviewer would ask for further details.

A focus group is similar to an interview style of qualitative data however it is a group of people instead of just one individual. These people discuss their beliefs, opinions and attitudes towards a particular subject.

Observations include watching an individual or a group of people to see how they react in particular situations. Observations are high in validity as you can see what is actually happening rather than relying on other sources of information.

In order to analyse an individual or a group of people you need to collect data. Data can be collected in two ways and these primary and secondary.
Primary data is information that you collect for yourself. For example if you wanted to measure an athletes heart rate before and after exercise you would have to undergo these tests yourself on the athlete.
Secondary data is information that you get from somebody else, this could be a set of results from another person, research from the internet and sports magazines/ newspapers.
For example if you wanted to find out who won the 100m sprint in the 2012 olympics you would have to research on the internet to find this data.
Validity is all about whether you measured the information that you was originally supposed to be measuring. For example if a football coach wanted to measure the fitness levels of the players he might get them to complete 100m sprint races. This would mean that the results would be reliable as they would state who is the fastest however they would not be valid as 100m sprint is not an accurate measure of fitness levels in footballers.
Reliability refers to having reliable results and therefore if you repeated an experiment you would gain the same or a very similar outcome. For example if you was to measure your blood pressure every morning the outcome should not change.
There are two ways in which may get in the way or reliable results, these include errors and day to day differences. For example if a person is measuring their heart rate however they are keeping track of their blood pressure then this will effect their results making them unreliable. Also day to day differences include what a person eats, how intense their activity is, how much sleep they got etc therefore this is a lot harder to keep track of . For example if a person did intense exercise in the week but no exercise on the weekend then their results would vary.
Reliable Results
Laboratory Based Data
Field Based Data
A coach may use qualitative data to research the fluctuations in performance levels of an athlete. Therefore the coach would conduct interviews and observations in order to view the athletes behavior and conclude the research.
A structured interview would be most likely to occur in a situation where a new manager is needed for example a football coach. Therefore set questions would be put into place to see if the person being interviewed would be effective.
Strengths of Interviews
Weaknesses of Interviews
An example of an unstructured interview would be if a football player was being questioned after a match. This would be unstructured as the interviewer would not know the result of the match and therefore would ask general questions about the individual.
For example if a football team wanted a new stadium they may come together with a focus group from that community to discuss how they would feel having a new stadium in their area.
There are two types of observations, these include participant observations and non-participant observations. A participant observation is when the observer is involved for example if they was studying how effective a coach was they could go to coaching sessions and therefore have their own opinion. Non-participant observations is when the observer is not involved and stands back to observe others. For example if the observation was looking at how effective a coach was, the observer could stand at the side of the session and view how the coach acted in certain situations.
Strengths of Observations
Weaknesses of Observations
Strengths of focus groups
Weaknesses of focus groups
A coach may use quantitative data in order to measure the heart rate and blood pressure of athletes before and after exercise.
When collecting qualitative data there are many methods to use, these include questionnaires, laboratory based data and field based data.
Easily reachable to a large sample of people.
Enables the interviewer to see the participants physical response for example how they react to certain questions in terms of body language.
Questions are able to be fully justified if misunderstood as the participant is able to ask the interviewer.
Interviews contain in depth analysis.
Questionnaires are a self report technique which collects data from a set of questions asked to participants.
The two types of questions asked in questionnaires are open questions and closed questions.

Information is easily collected from a large sample size.
Data can be easily analysed, especially when using closed questionnaires.
Easily repeatable.
Cheap and quick.
Participants may feel more comfortable completing questionnaires compared to having an interview.
A closed question is one where the respondent has a choice of answers to choose from. This could be a tick box or For example if you was asking how many sporting activities do they participate in per week, they could answer 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7+.
An open question is a question that can be given any response and is usually qualitative data as it is more detailed.
An example of an open question would be 'what is your favorite sport and why?'. This is an open question as people can respond differently due to their own preferences.
Results may not be reliable as people may lie about their opinions of a certain topic in order to be socially desirable.
Interviews are very time consuming.
It is difficult to generalise results.
If there is a small sample, due to how time consuming interviews are then the results may be unrepresentable.
Contains in depth, qualitative information.
You are able to see how others react to one another for example seeing what a person thinks of anothers point of view.
Useful to explore new ideas.
Can be expensive.
Time consuming.
Investigator effects could occur if participants feel that they are being watched.
Dominance of certain participants may occur. For example one person could take the lead, meaning that others would stand back even if they did not agree.
Focus groups may give too much unnecessary information.
In depth analysis .
More natural as it is conducted outside of a lab.
More realistic.
High in ecological validity.
Investigator effects may occur.
Large populations are less likely to be observed meaning the results are less generaliseable.
Time consuming.
No control over extraneous variables.
The observer may be bias.
There may be ethical issues if the participant does not know that they are being observed.
Questions may be misunderstood meaning that they may not be answered.
Response rates may be low.
Not everyone will answer truthfully.
The sample may be bias if the same people do not respond to the questionnaire.
Laboratory based data includes collecting data in a controlled environment. This is the most effective way to collect data as you are able to measure the variable you intended too.
In a lab experiment, participants know that they are being studied.
High in internal validity.
High level of control meaning that it is easy to infer cause and effect.
Often cheap and less time consuming to set up.
Reliable as it is easy to replicate.
Demand characteristics may occur if participants change their behavior as they know they are being studied.
Low realism as it is an artificial environment.
Low ecological validity and therefore it would be hard to generalise to real life.
The experimenter may show signs of being bias.
Less experimenter bias as there is low levels of control.
Higher in realism as participants are more likely to act naturally.
Greater ecological validity as it is more true to real life.
Low reliability meaning that it is difficult to replicate accurately.
Low level of controls over the extraneous variables.
Can be time consuming and costly.
May be ethical issues for example consent if participants do not know that they are in the study.
Field based data is conducted in a more natural environment for example on a football pitch. Participants however are not aware that they are involved in a study. During a field experiment, the independent variable is still manipulated however extraneous variables cannot be controlled.
In order to get appropriate research there are many key issues involved, these include accuracy, precision,reliability and validity.
Precision is similar to accuracy as it refers to how exact you are about a measurement. This also refers to how repeatable a set of results is for example if results are repeatable then they will have high levels of precision. You can also use precision to measure two or more sets of results. For example if you was measuring your heart rate at rest and you got similar results 3 times then this would be very precise.
Accuracy refers to how close measurements are to what you originally intended to measure.
For example if measuring the weight of a long distance runner who weighs 80kg on one pair of scales and on a different pair of scales weighing 85kg then this would be inaccurate.
Discrete data is either numeric for example how many athletes are competing in a race, or it can be categorized for example male runners or female runners.
Continuous data is data with any numerical value with meaning at all points for example decimals. A 100m would be an example of continuous data as Usain Bolts record is 9.58.
Interview Techniques
In order to gather important information, interviewers need to have effective techniques. It is vital that the interviewer asks the right questions in order to get the correct information, this is because if the wrong questions are asked then no information will be gained. In order to get correct information the interviewer should begin by forming a relationship with the participant by having a friendly chat for example. Also interviewers should aim to only ask questions that are based on the research, this is so that the participant does not get put off topic and therefore become confused.
Usually when doing interviews, a three-stage technique is used, this includes;
1. The main question about the research is asked for example how many times a week do you partake in exercise?
2. This can then lead to a more in depth question for example what type of exercise do you participate in?
3. This involves a follow up question where the researcher repeats what the participant has said in order to see if they have understood them properly.
Ratio data shows equal measurements in a quantitative form. For example in a football game one team could win 4-2 therefore this is ratio data as 4 is worth twice as much as 2.
Interval data is a set of data in which measurements are equal to one another. Therefore there is always a set distance between each measurement, for example the weight of an athlete.
When designing a research project there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.
A case study involves studying an individual or a group of people over a long period of time. Therefore this is good to see developments in certain athletes or subjects. For example if you wanted to study Mo Farrah during his training period up to the olympics, to see how he improves his stamina you would have to involve a case study.
A longitudinal study is similar to case study however instead of researching an individual/team you measure the variable itself. This type of study requires a lot of time, effort and resources.
An example of when a longitudinal study would be used is to measure factors that slow down recovery period of an athletes injury. It would therefore be effective to use a longitudinal study as you are able to focus on the injury completely.
Comparative data includes comparing two factors in order to aim to get an outcome from at least one of them. For example if you wanted to view opinions of sexism in sport then you could as both boys and girls and compare their views.
Experimental research is used in order to see how the independent variable is affected by the dependent variable. For example if an athlete is going through depression and they want to see how this affects their performance in sport then depression would be the independent variable and sports performance would be the dependent variable.
A cross-sectional research design includes people from all different backgrounds, races religions, ages and gender. Therefore this is an equal design as all types of people from the population are involved. For example if you were researching the most favorable sport in the UK you could do a cross-sectional study to enable you to see all opinions.
Analysis of key issues
For data to be useful it needs to be high in validity, precision, accuracy and reliability, this can vary depending on the sporting situation. In some circumstances the data collected is very valuable as they have the equipment and knowledge to ensure 100% accuracy, validity, precision and reliability. Furthermore they will have a team of professionals checking the work to guarantee the correctness of all data. For example in order for Usain Bolt’s world record in the 100m sprint to be accurate, precise, valid and reliable there are a group of professionals that work together using equipment to test this. At the London 2012 Olympics there were 450 timekeepers which were supported by 800 trained volunteers. They used equipment such as 390 scoreboards, 180km of cables and vital up to date time keeping and data handling technology.
When performing track events, the starting pistol in the London 2012 Olympics was electronic; this was combined with a quantum timing system. This allowed accuracy, precision, validity and reliability as the time could be calculated to the nearest one thousandth of a second. A video camera was also used in case of a photo finish which allowed the results to be correct.
Fitness testing in a lab is known to be most accurate as opposed to fitness testing in GCSE PE. This is because in a lab you are able to determine physiological measures that affect fitness for example heart rate, blood lactate concentrations, oxygen uptake and power output. Lab tests however are very expensive and therefore this is why only professionals use this type of fitness testing. They also need professional staff that have experience in which you are not able to get this in a school setting, this is why in GCSE PE they do simple fitness testing for example the bleep test.
High level of accuracy is not always possible, this is because the further away from professional sport; the less likely it is to be valid, precise, accurate and reliable. For example when recording results at a schools sports day they would not use specialized equipment. This is because the teachers would not have the knowledge on how to use this equipment and also they would not have the time and enough people to use it. Therefore in this circumstance, the use of specialized equipment is not needed.
The data collected is appropriate for each situation as a school would not need the technology that is used to determine speed of professional athletes in the Olympics.

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