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TheThe Research

Research Process:
Process:
A Quick A
Glance
Quick Glance

Lecture 2: The Research Process &


Formulating A Research Problem
Chapters 2&3

Prof. Dr. Isaac Otchere| Spring Term3 2017/18


At the end of this chapter, you should
have an understanding of:

• The research process and its operational steps

• The relationship between the research process


and the theoretical knowledge needed

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Topics covered
• The Research Process: 3 Main Tasks/Phases – An eight
step model:
• Phase I: DECIDING what to research
– Step I: Formulating a research problem (guided by review of the
related literature)

• Phase II: PLANNING a research study


– Step II: Conceptualising a research design
– Step III: Constructing an instrument for data collection
– Step IV: Selecting a sample
– Step V: Writing a research proposal

• Phase III: CUNDUCTING a research study


– Step VI: Collecting data
– Step VII: Processing and displaying data
– Step VIII: Writing a research report
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Figure 2.1 The research journey

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The research process

• The process is the same for quantitative and


qualitative research (See table 1.2 at page 18 of the text book)

• Methodologies differ due to underpinning philosophy

• Each approach uses different research methods for


data collection, data processing, analysis and style
of communicating the findings

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Table 1.2: Differences between qualitative, quantitative & mixed
methods approaches
The Research journey

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Phase I
Phase II Phase III

Prof. Dr. Volker Kuppelwieser | Spring Term 2016


Phase I: DECIDING what to do
Step I: Formulating a research problem
Formulating the idea of what needs to be investigated
• Most important step, influences the later steps (to be
guided by literature Review)

• Involves identifying variables and hypotheses


• What do you want to find out about?
 Have you got sufficient funds to do the research?
 Have you got the time available to conduct the study?
 Have you got knowledge of relevant disciplines?
 Do you have sufficient knowledge of skills needed?

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Phase II: PLANNING a research study
Step II: Conceptualising a research design
What you find depends on how it was found
• Select an appropriate research design:
– Quantitative
– Qualitative
– Mixed methods

• The design has to be


• Valid
• Workable
• Manageable

• Be aware of its strengths and weaknesses

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Phase II: PLANNING - continued
Step III: Constructing an instrument for data
collection
How will you collect your data?

• Construct a research instrument/tool to collect data


(interview schedules, questionnaires, observations
notes, diaries, interview guides, etc.)

• Or use secondary data (information already collected


for other purposes)

• Do a pre-testing of your research tool (pilot study)

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Phase II: PLANNING – continued
Step IV: Selecting a sample
Who will take part in your research?

• Select appropriate sample/participants to represent


the study population
• Avoid bias
• Random / probability samples
• Non-random / non probability samples
• Be aware of strengths and weaknesses of different
sampling methods
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Phase II: PLANNING - continued

Step V: Writing a research proposal


Write a detailed plan about your research:

• What are you proposing to do?

• How you plan to proceed?

• Why you select the proposed strategy?

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CONTENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL
1. An introduction, including a brief literature review
2.1. Theoretical framework that underpins the study
2.2. Conceptual framework which constitutes the basis of the study
3.1. Objectives or research questions of the study
3.2. Hypotheses to be tested
4.1. Study design that is proposed to be adopted
4.2. Setting for the study
5. Research instrument(s)
6. Sampling design and sample size
7. Ethical issues involved and how they will be dealt with
8. Data processing procedures
9. Proposed chapters of the report
10. Problems and limitations of the study
11. Proposed time-frame for the project

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Phase III: CONDUCTING a research study
Step VI: Collecting data
Doing the data gathering using one or more data
collection method, such as:
• conducting interviews
• mailing out questionnaires
• conducting focus groups discussions
• making an observation
• Downloading data from secondary source

Be aware of ethical issues!

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Phase III: CONDUCTING - continued
Step VII: Processing and displaying data

What did you find how?

• Analysing the data depends on the type of


information and how to communicate the findings

• Distinguish between
• Descriptive
• Quantitative (statistical procedures)
• Qualitative (narrative, content analysis)

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Phase III: CONDUCTING - continued

Step VIII: Writing a research report


What have you done? What conclusions have you
drawn from the findings?

• Different format for quantitative and qualitative


research
• Structure using main themes of study (See next
slide for generic structure )

• Use academic conventions

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Structure of report outline - generic
1. Introduction and rationale for the study
2. Literature review
3. Objectives of the study
4. Methodology
5. Findings and discussion
6. Problems and limitations
7. Conclusions and possible explanations /
recommendations

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FORMULATING A RESEARCH PROBLEM
The Reviewing the literature

Chapter 3
Topics covered

• Function of literature review


• How to review the literature
• Searching for existing literature
• Reviewing selected literature
• Developing theoretical and conceptual
frameworks
• How to write a literature review

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Function of literature review
• A literature review is an integral part of the
research process
• Providing a theoretical background to a study:
– Bringing clarity and focus to the research problem
– Improving research methodology
– Broadening knowledge base in the research area of
interest
– Contextualising findings by integrating with the
exiting body of knowledge

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How to review the literature
• Start with broad area of interest if research problem is not
known and narrow down

• Focused around the research problem


– What is already known in the area?
– What is not known or what are the gaps in the existing body of
knowledge?
– What questions have remained unanswered?

– Are there any areas of professional conflict?


– What theories have been put forward relevant to the area of research?
– What suggestions have been made for further research?
– What research strategies have been employed by others undertaking
similar research?

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Four steps of doing a literature review

• Searching for the existing literature in the


area of interest

• Reviewing the selected literature

• Developing a theoretical framework

• Developing a conceptual framework

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Step 1: Searching for existing literature

• Set parameters for the search

• Compile a reading list

• Start with:
– Books
– Journals
– Conference papers
– The Internet

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Step 2: Reviewing selected literature
• Read existing literature and examine critically:
– Note whether the knowledge relevant to a theoretical
framework has been confirmed beyond doubt
– Note the theories put forward, the criticisms of these and their
basis, the methodologies adopted (study design, sample size
and its characteristics, measurement procedures, etc.) and
the criticisms of them
– Examine to what extent the findings can be generalised to
other situations
– Notice where there are significant differences of opinion
among researchers, giving an opinion about their validity in
addition to putting forward a position with reasons
– Ascertain the areas in which little or nothing is known – the
gaps that exist in the body of knowledge

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Step 3&4: Developing theoretical and
conceptual frameworks
• Read with focus in mind
• Sort information into main themes and
theories
• Literature fits in two categories:
– Universal or general
– More specific
• Conceptual framework is the basis of enquiry
and stems from the theoretical framework

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How to write a literature review
Write about the literature reviewed to provide a theoretical
background and contextualise findings to existing body of
literature:
• Describe various theories
• Specify gaps in the existing knowledge area
• Write about recent advances in the area of study
• State current trends
• Refine own methodology
• Quote findings from existing studies

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Writing a literature review

• Thematic, based on the main theme of enquiry

• Following a logical order

• Arguments referenced with supporting evidence


from the existing literature

• Use academic referencing style (APA style)


https://www.city.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/77030/portsmouth_harvard_guide.pdf

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Creswell’s 5 steps to Conduct a
Literature Review
Step 1: Identify Key Terms or “Descriptors”
• Extract key words from your title (remember, you may
decide to change the title later)
• Use some of the words other authors reported in the
literature

• Scan both electronic and library journals from the past 10


years and look for key terms in the articles

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative

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Research
Creswell’s 5 steps to Conduct a Literature
Review (cont’d)
Step 2: Locate Literature
• Use academic libraries, do not limit your search to an
electronic search of articles
• Use primary and secondary sources. A “primary source” is
research reported by the researcher that conducted the
study. A “secondary source” is research that summarizes
or reports findings that come from primary sources

• It is “best to report mostly primary sources” (p. 82)


• Search different types of literature: summaries,
encyclopedias, handbooks, statistical indexes, etc.

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative
Research
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Creswell’s 5 steps to Conduct a
Literature Review (cont’d)
• Step 3: Critically Evaluate and Select Literature
• Rely on journal articles published in national journals
• Prioritize your search: first look for refereed journal
articles, then, non-refereed articles, then books, then
conference papers, dissertations and theses and then
papers posted to websites

• Look for research articles and avoid as much as


possible “opinion” pieces
• Blend qualitative and quantitative research in your
review
Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative
Research
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Creswell’s 5 steps to Conduct a Literature
Review (cont’d)
• Step 4: Organize the Literature
– Create a “file” or “abstract” system to keep track of what
you read. Each article you read should be summarized in
one page containing
• Title (use APA to type the title so that you can later copy-paste this
into the References section of your paper)
• Source: journal article, book, glossary, etc.
• Research problem: one or two lines will suffice
• Research Questions or Hypotheses
• Data collection procedure (a description of sample characteristics
can be very handy as well)
• Results or findings of the study
– Sort these abstracts into groups of related topics or areas
which can then become the different sections of your review

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Creswell’s 5 steps to Conduct a
Literature Review (cont’d)
• Step 5: Write a Literature Review
– Types of Reviews:
• Thematic Review:
– a theme is identified and studies found under this theme are
described. Major ideas and findings are reported rather than
details.

• Study-by-study Review:
– a detailed summary of each study under a broad theme is
provided. Link summaries (or abstracts) using transitional
sentences. Must be organized and flow coherently under various
subheadings. Avoid string quotations (i.e., lengthy chunks of text
directly quoted from a source)

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Task/Assignment

• Review 1 International Publication (Journal,


Conference paper, etc.) related to your
group’s research area.
Note: Make sure to identify: the Title of the motivation for the study,
research problem, Research Questions or Hypotheses, Data
collection procedure, and its findings.

• Be prepared to present your review

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