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Research Methods

Research is the step by step process of

gathering information

Reasons for doing research:

1) To generate new knowledge
2) To solve a problem
3) To test a theory
4) To be able to predict an event or outcome

Can be

Descriptio Experimenta
n l


Historical research-describes the past

Descriptive research- describes records,

analyses and interprets conditions that
permanently exist.

Experimental research-focus on
variable--- and describes what happens
when the variables are carefully controlled
or manipulated.
usually takes the form of statistical or numerical

It can also be expressed in the form of a rate.

It is believed that the analysis of statistical data

can indicate both cause and correlation.

it is used in the Mainstream or conventional ideas

of research which are based on the scientific
Study easily replicable
Method saves time
It is cost effective
It collects standard data
Validity is enhanced by the use of large
Data is more objective
No indication about the respondents
personal state

Unrepresentative samples can lead to

inaccurate and invalid data

Generalization may not apply to all people

in all circumstances
There are 4 types of quantitative research

1. Surveys
2. Questionnaire
3. Structured interviews
4. Official statistics
usually large-scale research projects that collect
standardized data from a large cross-section of the
E.g. Government census.

There are three (3) types of surveys:

Descriptive - questions are close-ended and allow

the researcher to make correlations about social

Attitude - asks mainly close-ended
questions that attempt to find out peoples
feelings or opinions: e.g. a party, political
figure or brand of food.

Explanatory - seeks answers that require

more than a simple yes or no response.
They are given the opportunity to clarify
their feelings in greater depth
Valid due to data collected from a large cross-
section of the population

Data can be used to make generalizations

Statistical technique can be used to analyze data,

thus time-saving

An unbiased representative sample saves the

researcher the time of having to find all
individuals with relevant information.
Invalid data if sample not representative
A number of pre-set questions that can contain
open-ended and close-ended or a combination
of both type of questions.

Steps to constructing a questionnaire:

1. Operationalize key terms and concepts therefore
breaking up terms into sub-concepts.
2. Formulate questions based on each sub-topic.

1) Easy to administer
2) They can reach a large number of people
even if they are geographically disperse
3) It saves time
4) It is not costly
5) Data can be easily tabulated, measured
and analyzed
1) What is gained in reliability may be lost in terms
of validity. e.g.
The wording may intentionally or not, mislead
the respondent
Researcher bias
Respondents may lie or treat the issues lightly
Respondents may forget

2) Postal questionnaires have a low rate of return

and may be filled out by someone other than
the intended respondent.
Secondary source of data.

The researcher relies upon other people to

collect data.
Saves time as it is a readily available source
of data.
Conclusions drawn are objective because of
lack of interaction.
Generalizations can be made.
Researcher can understand the nature of
social change by comparing statistics from
different times.
Statistics could be used to gain a deeper
understanding of human relationships.
Producers may be biased in collecting the data.
The validity of some official reports (e.g. crime)
could be inaccurate because trivial crimes may
not be reported.
Technological developments make it appear that
more crimes are taking place, therefore
comparisons from past to present would be
Due to the fact that it is secondary data, there is
a low level of reliability
collects subjective data such as information about
peoples emotions, feelings and values.

The researcher usually interacts directly with the

respondents (i.e. face-to-face) or by actually joining in
their everyday activities

There are 4 forms of qualitative research:
Unstructured interviews
Participant observation
Case studies
Face-to-face interaction process in which the
researcher tries to get as much useful
information as possible from a respondent or a
number of respondents

It can take the form of a one-session interview

or a number of session

The respondents trust must be gained and

factors such as social class, sex or ethnicity can
influence the level of trust gained
1. The validity of the data is enhanced by the
Researcher can detect lies or inconsistencies by
observing facial reactions and body language
Misunderstanding can be clarified
The researcher can understand the world from the
point of view of the interviewee
Researcher can gain information that he never
thought about asking
2. It is a more practical research technique
for explaining specific issues, e.g. rape

2. Due to the small sample, it can be useful

for challenging or refuting already existing
1. Validity is reduced by the following:
Observer effect
Deliberate lies on the part of the interviewee
2. Time consuming
3. Large quantities of information can pose
problems for analysis
4. Some interviewees can have limited
knowledge of a particular topic
5. Not cost effective
Is regarded as a scientific tool because the researcher
studies people in their natural environment by joining
their daily activities

The researcher must remain as objective non-

judgemental and not overly involved as possible

Researcher can be overt letting the group members

know that they are being studied - or covert choose to
keep his identity secret

Unlike interviews, trust must be gained from the start

1. Validity is enhanced by the following:

The researcher witnesses the group first hand
Observer effect is minimized
Questions can be asked to clarify events and actions
of the group
Groups subjective point of view can be understood
Information can be used to formulate theories about
human behaviour

2. It is a practical method for studying deviant or

secret groups and activities, e.g. gangs,
1. Validity may be compromised by the
Covert observer may forget information
Covert observer may provide his own interpretation
because asking questions may reveal his identity
Overt observation may produce the ob server effect
There is no standardized way to study human

2. It is costly
3. It is time-consuming
Contains information usually qualitative form

There are 2 main types of documents historical and


Personal documents include letters, diaries,

biographies and autobiographies

Historical documents are usually information written

by people who lived during a particular era

Documents are a secondary source of data

Saves time and money

Practical method of studying past events

Provides insight in areas that otherwise one

may not have access to

Information could be used to measure the

extent of social change
Invalid because of producer bias

Information may be difficult to read and

may contain missing pages

Some documents may be difficult to access

Information may be limited in scope or

Conclusion Identify
of Findings Formulate
7 Question

Research 2
Interpretation Process
of Data
6 Review

Data Data
Analysis Collection

5 4
This is a sentence in which you clearly state what you
wish to find out.

Theme Sub Theme Problem

The Natural Statement?
Environment Disasters

E.g.. What is the level of hurricane preparedness of a

sample of households in Windy village, Barbados?
A statement which suggests the possible answer to your
problem statement. It mentions a variable or the
relationship between 2 or more variables.
A variable is a thing/concept that changes.

1. Windy Village, St Silas, Barbados is not prepared for
2. The level of preparedness amongst households in Windy
Village, St Silas is affected by their experiences of hurricanes.
Stage 1
Narrow down problems or

Impacts on human
development Identifies
makes problem manageable

One must be able to study the

problem. E.g. drug use

Create a hypothesis that

can either be accepted or Devise once main
rejected question or point


Devise a set of sub-

Focus on what the questions or concerns
researcher wants to be
informed about
3 Research must be
related to problem
being researched
e.g. books, journals,

Read as much as
possible on topic

Look at strategies and

methods of other
researchers and compare
Find info to
definition point

Questions must be sample
focused on what
he/she wants to

Choose a strategy
relative to study

Method used must bias


Design instruments
that will be reliable
and valid
5 Organizes the data
collected for
Use thin marginal
questions, concerns
or concepts as a

Analysis This presentation is
guided by research
question or

There must be at least 5

different ways of
The most popular formats
were pie charts, bar and
live graphs, flow
diagrams, maps,
photographs etc.
Stage States what the data
6 implies

Explains the Describes patterns

results and Interpretatio and trends
include n averages, ranges.
contradictions of Findings

Accounts for all the

findings presented
Consider the
Stage in relation to the
7 original questions

Ensures all Compares your

research Discussion findings with
questions of findings those presented
are in the Literature
answered Review

Identifies similarities
and differences in
the pattern and trend
of the studies

Summarize your States the

results and restate Conclusion limitation of
their educational research/
value Methodology.

Suggest at least three

(3) recommendations
that should be
practical solutions
which can be easily