RESEARCH METHODS BOOKS PDF
Research Methods: The Basics is an accessible, user-friendly introduction to the different book is an essential text for anyone coming to research for the first. PDF Drive is your search engine for PDF files. As of today we have 78,, eBooks for you to download for free. No annoying ads, no download limits, enjoy . The applications of research. Types of research. The research journey . The research process. The chapters in the book in relation to the.
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What is this book about? This book provides an introduction to the reader to a whole range of research methods. It aims to introduce a toolkit of methods, explain. PDF | The book is essential for student, scholars, Researchers, teachers and professionals in all fields of study where research is required for academic. This well-organized book deals with the variety of research methods used in management and social sciences, with particular emphasis on the.
Overall, however, the topics seemed to be presented in a straightforward, accessible manner. The textbook includes links to informative videos and walk-throughs where appropriate, which seem to be potentially beneficial for student comprehension. The textbook includes tools designed to aid learning, namely "Key Takeaways" and "Exercises" sections at the end of most modules, but not all. Lastly, many modules of the textbook were text-heavy and visually unappealing. While this is superficial, the inclusion of additional graphics, example boxes, or figures in these text-heavy modules might be beneficial.
Consistency The textbook appeared to be internally consistent with its approach and use of terminology. Modularity rating: 4 The textbook had a tendency to 'throw out' big concepts very briefly in earlier modules e.
This would have been less problematic if the text would explicitly inform the student that these concepts would be elaborated upon later. Beyond this issue, the textbook seems to lend itself to being divided up and used on module-by-module basis. The fact that correlation followed experimental research, and that descriptive research was the second-to-last module in the sequence was confusing.
Let's say an idea for some research begins with an interest in alcohol use by male college students. You might formulate a rough question for research, such as: What is the relationship between college and drinking among American males? This rough statement already shows elements of refinement. It has been limited to consideration of only American males. The next step is to visit the library to get started on a literature review.
To begin, you can consult any of a number of available cumulative indexes. These indexes contain many thousands of journal and monograph references, indexed by both authors' names and subject topics. In some cases, you will find these as bound texts in the reference section of the library. In other cases, these indexes may be computer based and require both some assistance and a small charge to use.
In many larger public libraries and in a growing number of colleges and universities, these cumulative indexes have been placed in CD-ROM format. K you have never used one of these indexes or are unfamiliar with the use of computers, you might want to consult the reference librarian at your library.
For the example above, you might make a list that includes "alcohol use," "collegiate alcohol use," "alcohol on campus," "drinking," "males and alcohol," "Americans and alcohol," "social drinking," "substance abuse in college," "campus problems," and so forth. It is important to develop a number of different subject areas to search. Some will be more fruitful than others, and perhaps some will yield little information. This is because both the print versions and computer-based versions of indexes are created by humans.
Because of this, indexes unavoidably suffer from the problem of terminological classification bias. In other words, even though these indexes are cross-referenced, if you do not use the same term or phrase used by the original indexer, you may not locate entries he or she has referenced. For instance, several years ago, I became interested in the idea of doing research about women in policing. More directly, I was interested in the effect of policing on female officers.
I asked my graduate student to see if she could locate some material about female police officers. When she returned the next day, she reported that there was virtually nothing in any of the index databases on the topic "female police officers.
The next time she returned to my office, she carried a list of literally dozens of references for me to consider. The lesson to be learned from this is that you must not be too restrictive in your topics when searching for reference materials in indexes. Avoid becoming too computer dependent during your literature search. Again, since computer listings are limited by the way they have been indexed, not all the information that is relevant for a study may be recognized in a computer-based search.
While revising this book, I asked another graduate assistant, a bright, first-year doctoral student, to locate some recent material on "active informed consent. My graduate assistant is very well versed in computers and surfing the Internet.
Naturally, he sought an answer to my request by diving right into the Internet. I waited several days before asking him if he had located any recent articles or chapters on this subject. He informed me that there were none. I asked if he had gone to the library and looked up "informed consent," "passive consent," "active consent," or any similar topics. With a note of anger in his tone he informed me that he had done better.
He had checked with various Internet information sources. I then asked if he had gone to the library and physically looked through the last several years of such journals as Journal of Ethics, or Social Problems, or any educational, nursing, or medical journals.
With even more anger, because I was questioning his work, he informed me he had not. He also naively insisted that if he couldn't find it through the computer, it wasn't there! In fact, I literally took him by the hand and walked him to the library.
Together we scoured the library, and within fifteen minutes had located about four potentially usable items. My graduate assistant admitted that these items had not shown up in any of his computer searches. The moral to this story is simple.
Computer searches and the vast information available via the Internet are wonderful places to begin. They can provide enormous amounts of information. Frequently, however, there is no absolute replacement for simply physically thumbing through journal indexes. You have now presumably located the relevant reference indexes for the research idea and have used cryptic subject terms to locate a list of references. The next task is to locate several of these pieces of literature and begin reading about the topic.
You also will need to continue trying to expand this literature search. You can do this by locating several fairly recent articles and consulting their reference pages. Frequently, this search will yield additional pieces of information that were not generated by the original index search.
As you are doing this literature searching, keep records on which pieces of literature you have obtained and notes about what each one says. There are numerous ways you can keep records and notes during a literature review.
What follows is the two-card method, a long-standing albeit very time-consuming strategy. Inexperienced writers and researchers may want to try using it fairly precisely. More experienced investigators may decide to make variations on it. In any event, it provides a means for developing an extremely systematic literature review. The Two-Card Method As indicated by the name, this strategy requires you to create two types of 4 x 6-inch index cards. The first is the author card. Annotate each with the reference information for every article of literary material you locate and examine.
Whenever possible, you should also include the library call numbers. Several of my students in recent years have preferred to use electronic index cards, as provided in some computer software packages.
Although any entry format on the card or electronic card can be used, I recommend that you use a consistent entry style see Figure 2. Author cards should be kept in alphabetical order to ensure that you will always have complete information for citations and the ability to locate the document at a later time.
Even fairly experienced writers have misplaced a document or returned it to the library, only to find they need it or the citation material later.
Often, even with considerable effort, these writers are unable to locate the necessary information. Author cards provide a kind of insurance against n ot having the correct information when you need to write up references or check up on information. Also, should you continue researching in this area, you will have a head start on future literature reviews. An Introduction to Police in Society.
Boston, Mass.: Topic cards also should follow a consistent pattern and include the author's name, the date of the publication, a brief topical label, and a short verbatim excerpt see Figure 2.
Since the author cards contain the title and publication information, duplicating those details on the topic cards is not necessary. Many students have either been taught or have developed similar notetaking strategies. In some cases, these other strategies call for the use of legallength note pads.
This technique, however, inhibits your ability to sort through or organize the excerpts, short of cutting sheets into pieces. The central function of early detective work in police organizations was apprehension. Certainly, paraphrasing is somewhat less tedious to accomplish than the verbatim annotation of excerpts, as promoted in my plan.
However, there are several critical reasons why I recommend the use of verbatim quotes on these topic cards. First, it reduces the physical amount of material you will ultimately use when you get down to writing reports about the research. Anyone who has undertaken a large writing project, even a term paper, should relate to the problem of having stacks of photocopies and piles of books cluttering the room.
Trying to find some specific piece of information under such circumstances is quite burdensome. Second, you can very quickly sort the topic cards into their categories e. In this manner, you can assemble the piles into an organized sequence that will reflect how you plan to write the report or paper.
This allows you to read through the relevant materials for each section rather than repeatedly reading through all the material in order to write a single section. Third, topic cards allow you to assess whether multiple authors actually have made similar statements about issues or situations. In turn, you are able to make strong synthesized statements regarding the work or arguments of others.
For example, "According to Babbie , Frankfort-Nachmias and Nachmias , and Leedy , design is a critically important element in the development of a research project.
Without intending to, you might have misread, misinterpreted, or poorly paraphrased material. When you go through the topic cards looking for agreement among authors, you might find paraphrased statements that seem to represent similar ideas but that actually do not accurately represent the sentiments of the original authors.
Using verbatim excerpts ensures that this will not occur. Either the authors did say similar things or they did not. The obvious question at this juncture is: How much should you annotate on the topic cards? While there are no hard and fast rules, I recommend only about two to four paragraphs.
The purpose of these cards is to reduce the amount of material ultimately necessary for the writer-investigator.
Download Free Ebook Research Methods in Applied Linguistics Zoltan 2007 PDF
To completely transcribe works tends to defeat this purpose. Bear in mind that you might find three or four different topics in a short article, or you might find six or seven. Likewise, you might find 10 or 12 topics to excerpt from a book, or you might find only a single topic worthy of excerpting. Usually the excerpt will fit on a single card front and back. However, on occasion, you might find it necessary to use a second or even a third card.
In the event that you find an enormous cache of simply Wonderful material, you can make a note of this on the card. Simply excerpt the usual three or four paragraphs and then write something like "more great material! Excerpting on topic cards can be fairly tedious.
You should not plan on spending many hours at a time writing topic cards. Instead, plan to spend only an hour or so at each topic card writing session. Even small amounts of time, such as or minute intervals, can be successfully used for this purpose. Remember, what this strategy loses in excitement, it gains tenfold in organization and effective writing later. This strategy also is very portable. You can slip index cards into your pocket, bag, briefcase, or backpack along with a book or photocopy of some article.
While waiting for a doctor's or dentist's appointment, you can easily be reading and excerpting material.
Or you might do topic cards while riding a train or bus. The important thing to remember is that as you are reading and creating topic cards, you also should be thinking about the material. As mentioned previously, the two-card method is especially effective for the inexperienced researcher.
For those more experienced—at least at library based literature review endeavors—various alternatives are certainly available. Some of these involve abstracting, or excerpting material, or various paraphrasing techniques. However, even fairly systematic paraphrasing strategies move one further away from the verbatim excerpting of material. This, in turn, runs the serious risk of misinterpretation, misuse, or misapplication of the original author's intended meaning.
I would encourage students to experiment with the two-card method, and to make various modifications, such as, perhaps, placing the material on a computer creating electronic cards. Alternatively, one might create a systematic listing or a kind of index of the topics and abbreviated versions of the topic card contents.
The basic idea of the two-card method is to cut down on the physical volume of material necessary for writing a comprehensive or exhaustive literature review. In addition, while undertaking the review of literary materials, the researcher's thoughts should begin to turn toward refinement of the original research idea or question. What are some specific research questions that need to be considered in the eventual research?
How have others theorized about the topic? How have others researched the topic? What have others found in previous research?
Is there an interesting angle or approach that would set your research apart from that of others or refine findings offered by past research? You also should begin to consider exactly how you will frame your research questions or problems. It is important, therefore, to frame or formulate a clear research problem statement. Remember, the research process begins with an idea and only a rough notion of what is to be researched.
As you read and collect information from the literature, these rough questions must become clearer and theoretically more refined. Let us return to the original research idea: After reading through some of the literature, you might begin to refine and frame this idea as a problem statement with researchable questions: Problem Statement.
This research proposes to examine alcohol drinking behaviors in social settings among college-age American men. Research Questions. A number of questions are addressed in this research including although not limited to the following: What are some normative drinking behaviors of young adult American men during social gatherings where alcohol is present? How do some young adult American men manage to abstain from drinking e. How do young adult American men define appropriate drinking practices?
How do young adult American men define alcoholism? These questions did not just happen spontaneously. They were influenced by the literature about drinking practices among Americans.
They resulted after the investigator began thinking about what issues were important and how those issues might be measured. This required the researcher to consider various concepts and definitions and perhaps to develop operationalized definitions.
If, however, someone were to ask, "How would you define a delinquent?
In other words, there are a number of possible definitions for the concept delinquent. If you, as a researcher, are interested in studying the behavior of delinquent girls, you will first need to clearly define delinquent. Because humans cannot telepathically communicate their mental images of terms, there is no way to directly communicate which possible meaning for delinquent you have in mind. To ensure that everyone is working with the same definition and mental image, you will need to conceptualize and operationalize the term.
This process is called operationally defining a concept. In operatively defining a term or concept, you, as a researcher, begin by declaring the term to mean whatever you want it to mean throughout the research. While it is important for your readers to understand what you mean when, for example, you use the concept delinquent, they need not necessarily agree with that definition.
As long as they understand what you mean by certain concepts, they can understand and appraise how effectively the concept works in your study Once defined, the concept needs some way to be measured during the research process. In quantitative research, this means creating some index, scale, or similar measurement indicator intended to calculate how much of or to what degree the concept exists. Qualitative investigators also need agreement over what a concept means in a given study and how that concept is to be identified and examined.
How will the researcher gather empirical information or data that will inform him or her about the concept? Consider, for example, the concept weight.
As a researcher, you might define the concept weight as the amount of mass an object possesses in terms of pounds and ounces. Now everyone holds the same concrete meaning and mental image for the concept weight. How shall this concept be measured? Operationally, weight can be determined by placing an object on a scale and rounding to the nearest ounce.
This operational definition clearly tells others what the concept is designated to mean and how it will be measured. Unfortunately, not all concepts are as easy to define as weight or as easy to measure.
Polit and Hungler , for example, suggest that many concepts relevant to research in nursing are not operationalized simply. For instance, in nursing research, the quality of life for chronically ill patients may be defined in terms of physiological, social, and psychological attributes.
If, on the other hand, quality of life for chronically ill patients is defined socially, the operationalized elements of the definition would need to measure family or social support, living arrangements, self-management skills, independence, and similar social attributes. Likewise, if the nurse researcher uses a more psychological conceptualization, the operationalized measures would be directed along the lines of the patients' emotional acceptance of chronic illness.
Let's try another illustration of defining and operationalizing. Say you are interested in studying to what degree or extent people are religious. To begin, you must define the concept religious. For this example, religious will be defined as how actively one is involved with his or her religion.
Next, you must decide what kinds of information inform others about someone's active involvement in religion. After consulting the literature, you decide that you know how religious someone is by knowing whether that person believes in a divine being, attends organized religious services on some regular basis, prays at home, reads religious materials, celebrates certain religious holidays, readily declares membership in a particular religion, participates in religious social organizations, and contributes to religious charities.
In effect, you, the researcher, are saying, "I can't immediately apprehend a person's religiousness. But I can think about what elements seem to go into making up or representing observable behaviors I understand to mean religious. Again, as you are thinking about what observable attributes might make up some concept, you should be perusing the literature.
By spiraling back into the literature stage, you can seek ways of how others have examined the concept of religious.
You may borrow some of these previous attributes for religious, or you may create others. In some forms of qualitative research, the investigator is not as rigorously concerned with defining concepts in operational terms as outlined here. This is because some forms of interpretative and phenomenological research seek to discover naturally arising meanings among members of study populations.
However, in many cases of qualitative research, failure to define and operationalize concepts will spell disaster. If, as a researcher, you have not made clear what your concepts mean, your results may be meaningless in terms of explanatory power or applicability. If you have not thought about how data will be collected to represent attributes of the concept, it will be very difficult for you to determine answers to research questions.
And if you have not worked with the literature in developing relevant meanings and measurable attributes, it will be impossible for you to see how eventual results fit into this extant body of knowledge. As you reach this point, you move one foot forward toward the design stage of the research enterprise.
Naturally, your other foot will remain in the literature stage. Or, as Valerie Janesick metaphorically describes it, design is the choreography that establishes the research dance. The design stage of research is concerned with a series of important decisions having to do with the research idea or question s.
What types of information or data will be gathered and through what forms of data-collection technologies? Where will the research be undertaken, and among what group or groups of people questions of site, setting, and sample? In doing research, you must decide whether to use one data-collection strategy alone or to combine several strategies data triangulation.
Will you undertake the study alone or with the assistance of others multiple investigators triangulation? You must consider whether the study will be framed by a single overarching theory or by several related theories theoretical triangulation. How much will the project cost in time and money, and how much can you actually afford? Are the data-collection strategies appropriate for the research questions being asked? What will the data look like once they have been collected? How will the data be organized and analyzed?
In effect, during the design stage, you, the investigator, sketch out the entire research project in an effort to foresee any possible glitches that might arise. If you locate a problem now, while the project is still on the drafting board, there is no harm done.
After the project has begun, if you find that concepts have been poorly conceived, that the wrong research questions have been asked, or that the data collected are inappropriate or from the wrong group of people, the project may be ruined.
Researchers in the social sciences typically conduct research on human subjects. The design stage is the time when you, the researcher, must consider whether ethical standards and safeguards for subject safety are adequate. You must make certain that subjects will be protected from any harm. Chapter 3 discusses issues of research ethics in detail. For now, regard the design stage as the time when ethical proprieties such as honesty; openness of intent; respect for subjects; issues of privacy, anonymity, and confidentiality; the intent of the research; and the willingness of subjects to participate voluntarily in the research are appraised.
Also, a decision must be made regarding who will serve as the researcher and the research study population. The study site or setting should be a location where: Entry or access is possible. The appropriate people target population are likely to be available. The research can be conducted effectively by an individual or individuals during the data collection phase of the study e.
For example, if the researcher's question s has to do with why some battered women remain with their battering spouses, the data collection site will have to be some place related to battered women and some place that is safe. This might be a shelter for battered women and children. If the research question has to do with the formation of informal cliques in high schools e.
In this case, the setting would need to be one where high-school aged youths are likely to gather, and may actually involve several locations e. In many cases, the decision to use a particular research site is tied closely to obtaining access to an appropriate population of potential subjects. One must be careful to identify an appropriate population, not merely an easily accessible one. For instance, let's say you wanted to conduct a study investigating the opinions or practices of Native Americans.
One easy way of locating a site and population might be to turn to college students. After all, college students are easy to locate on college campuses. They are likely to be willing to take part in an interview—either out of curiosity or to help out another student.
But, one must ask the question: What pertinent information will the average non-Native American college student have regarding how Native Americans think, perceive their social world, or practice their particular life styles? In other words, if you want to know about Native Americans, then you need to locate a setting where Native Americans can be accessed.
For example, several years ago, I had a student interested in conducting a study about fear of crime among the blind. On the surface, this sounds like a pretty good research topic. The problem arose when I asked him how and where he planned to access such a population of potential subjects.
He thought for a while and made a trip to the library before returning to me to announce that he wanted to conduct interviews.
I agreed that that might be an acceptable way to collect data on peoples' perceptions of their fear of crime. I next asked the student: Where are you going to locate subjects? This question created a new problem for the student, who was so proud that he had determined a means for data collection that he had not thought about where he would locate subjects to interview.
Several days later the student returned with a plan and a story of his own. The student told me that he had discussed his need to access blind people to conduct a study of their perceptions of fear of crime with another faculty member. The faculty member—who was obviously not terribly versed in methods—suggested that the student simply go to one of the large introductory classes and divide the class in half.
Then, he suggested that the student have half the class place blindfolds over their eyes, and spend a period of time walking around campus ushered by one of the other non-blindfolded students.
Following this experience, the students could switch off, so both groups experienced blindness. Next, the class could be administered a pencil and paper survey about their fear of crime, having now experienced the precariousness of not being able to see.
The student immediately recognized that this would not be an appropriate setting or sample for his study. Wisely, however, he did not argue with the faulty member, but rather thanked him, and explained that he wanted to conduct a more qualitative study.
The student then explained his actual plan to me. He indicated that he intended to attend a summer camp for the blind sponsored by several nonprofit agencies. He had learned that the population of the camp came from the entire state, and that no one who wanted to attend was ever turned away those who could not afford to pay were awarded camp scholarships.
Thus, the camp contained a population from various socioeconomic strata, races, ages, and both men and women. The student spent the summer and was able both to conduct nearly 60 interviews and some limited participant observation Rounds, Sampling Strategies The logic of using a sample of subjects is to make inferences about some larger population from a smaller one—the sample.
In quantitative research, the investigator is keenly concerned with probability sampling. The parameters required for creating these probability samples are quite restrictive but allow the investigator to make various inferential hypothesis tests using various statistical techniques. The most commonly discussed probability sample is the simple random sample. The simple random sample most closely approximates the ideals in probability sampling. To accomplish a simple random sample, each element in the full population must have an equal and independent chance of inclusion in the eventual sample to be studied.
Simple random sampling typically begins with a full listing of every element in the full population to be investigated. Once this list of all of the elements has been constructed, the size of the sample must be determined.
Once this has been accomplished, a random numbers table, computer, or other procedure for randomly selecting elements from the list will be applied see Figure 2. The social sciences often examine research situations where one cannot select the kinds of probability samples used in large-scale surveys, and which conform to the restricted needs of a probability sample.
In these situations, investigators rely upon nonprobability samples. In nonprobability sampling, the investigator does not base his or her sample selection on probability theory. Typically, this procedure is intended to produce a representative sample. The process draws subjects from an identified population in such a manner that every unit in that population has precisely the same chance iprobanilitvi of being included in the sample. The use of a systematic sample provides a con- venient way to draw a sample from a large identified population when a printed list of that population is available.
In systematic sampling, every nth name is selected from the list. Usually the interval between names on the list is determined by dividing the number of persons desired in the sample into the full population. For example, if a final sample of 80 was desired, and the population list contained 2, names, the researches would divide 2, by It is important, however, to begin the list at some random starting place.
Frequently, researchers select a number between 1 and 20 usually taken from a random numbers table and begin at that location on the list and then stop at ewry nth name—in our example, at every thirty-second name on the list. A stratified sample is used whenever researchers need to ensure that a certain segment of the identified population under examination is represented in the sample.
The population is divided into subgroups strata ,. Within each stratum, a particular sampling fraction is applied in order to ensure representativeness of propors in the full population. Nonprobability samples offer the benefits of not requiring a list of all possible elements in a full population, and the ability to access otherwise highly sensitive or difficult to research study populations.
For example, it would be very difficult to undertake a study of active prostitutes, since it would be virtually impossible to create a list of all of the prostitutes even in a given area. At best, one might create a listing of all the known prostitutes. Thus, frequently in the social sciences, a researcher is presented with interesting and potentially important research questions that cannot be answered by a probability sampling technique.
From the perspective of qualitative research, nonprobability sampling tends to be the norm. The following sections describe the four most common types of nonprobability samples. Convenience Samples. This category of sample relies on available subjects—those who are close at hand or easily accessible. For example, it is fairly common for college and university professors to use their students as subjects in their research projects.
This technique is used all too frequently and has some serious risks associated with it. Specifically, often a researcher is interested in studying characteristics or processes that college students simply are not equipped to offer information about.
Consider again, for example, the suggested use of blindfolded students to study fear of crime among the blind. Under certain circumstances this strategy is an excellent means of obtaining preliminary information about some research question quickly and inexpensively. For example, if an investigator were interested in examining how college students perceive drinking and drunkenness, he or she could easily make use of a convenience sample of college students.
If, on the other hand, the researcher was interested in studying self-images among blue collar workers, he or she could not use this convenience sample of college students and simply ask them to pretend that they are blue collar workers when answering the researcher's questions. In other words convenience samples must be evaluated for appropriateness of fit for a given study. Purposive Sampling. This category of sampling is sometimes called judgmental sampling. When developing a purposive sample, researchers use their special knowledge or expertise about some group to select subjects who represent this population.
In some instances, purposive samples are selected after field investigations on some group, in order to ensure that certain types of individuals or persons displaying certain attributes are included in the study.
Despite some serious limitations for instance, the lack of wide generalizability , purposive samples are occasionally used by researchers. Delinquent youths, for example, who might not appear in sufficient numbers to be meaningful under more traditional random techniques, might be purposively sampled Glassner et al. Another nonprobability sampling strategy, that some may see as similar to convenience sampling, is known as snowball sampling.
Snowballing is sometimes the best way to locate subjects with certain attributes or characteristics necessary in a study. Snowball samples are particularly popular among researchers interested in studying various classes of deviance, sensitive topics, or difficult to reach populations Lee, The basic strategy of snowballing involves first identifying several people with relevant characteristics and interviewing them or having them answer a questionnaire.
These subjects are then asked for the names of other people who possess the same attributes as they do. If you wanted to learn about, say, drug use or theft by nurses, the use of some sort of probability sample would seem out of the question. But, through use of a few informants, field investigations, or other strategies, the researcher might identify a small number of nurses with these characteristics.
Quota Samples. A quota sample begins with a kind of matrix or table that creates cells or stratum. The quota sampling strategy then uses a nonprobability method to fill these cells. The researcher may wish to use gender, age, education, or any other attributes to create and label each stratum or cell in the table. Which attributes are selected will have to do with the research question and study focuses. Next, one needs to determine the proportion of each attribute in the full study population.
For instance, let's say a researcher wants to study perceptions of violence among people in the United States, with a special interest in people over the age of Census data would provide the researcher with reasonable estimates of people over the age of 65, as well as various categories under the age of Will raw data be audiotape cassettes that result from long interviews? Will data comprise dozens of spiral notebooks filled with field notes?
Will the data include photographs or video recordings? Could data actually be the smudges left on a polished counter or glass display case? Just what will the research data look like? Furthermore, what will you do with the data to organize them and make them ready for analysis? That many students fall down at this stage of the research process and find themselves lost, even after taking several research courses, is interesting to note. While most research courses and textbooks are excellent at describing the basic structure of research, few move the student into the areas of data organization and analysis.
Typically, the results are that students come up with excellent ideas for research, conduct solid literature reviews, produce what sound like viable research designs, and even collect massive amounts of data.
The problem arises, however, at this point: What do they do with the collected data? If you were doing quantitative research, there might be an easy answer to the question of organization and analysis. You would reduce the data to computerizable form and enter them into a database. Then using one form or another of packaged statistics for the social sciences, you would endeavor to analyze the data.
Lamentably, qualitative data are not as quickly or easily handled. A common mistake made by many inexperienced or uninformed researchers is to reduce qualitative data to symbolic numeric representations and quantitatively computer analyze them.
As Berg and Berg state, this ceases at once to be qualitative research and amounts to little more than a variation of quantitative data collection.
How qualitative data are organized depends in part upon what the data look like. If they are in textual form, such as field notes, or can be made into textual form, such as a transcription of a tape-recorded interview, they may be organized in one manner. If they are video, photographic, or drawn material, they will require a different form of organization and analysis. But regardless of the data form, you must consider this issue during the design stage of the process.
Again, this points to the spiraling effect of research activities. If you wait until data have actually been collected to consider how they are to be organized for analysis, serious problems may arise.
For example, you may not have planned for adequate time or financial resources. Or you might collect data in such a way that they should be systematically organized, coded, or indexed as they were collected and not after the fact. In any event, you must direct thought toward how data will be organized and analyzed long before you begin the data-collection process. Typically, the immediately collected raw data are not immediately available for analysis.
Rather, the raw data requires some sort of organizing and processing before it can actually be analyzed. Field notes, for example, may fill hundreds of pages of notebooks or take up thousands of megabytes of space on a computer disk.
These notes need to be edited, corrected, and made more readable, even before they can be organized, indexed, or entered into a computer-generated text analysis program file. The volume of pages of qualitative raw data can sometimes be quite daunting to the inexperienced researcher. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
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Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies
Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. Webb, E. Chicago: Rand McNally. Nonreactive Measures in the Social Sciences. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Weitzman, E. Computer Programs for Qualitative Data Analysis. It includes discussion of the relationships among ideas and theory, concepts—and what I have long believed is the most difficult facet of research—namely, operationalization.
This chapter further offers a strategy for conducting literature reviews and explains the importance of carefully designing and planning research in advance. Let's begin with some thoughts about ideas, concepts, and theory. There are no such laws found in the social sciences. This does not, however, mean that social life operates in a totally chaotic or completely irrational manner.
Rather, social life operates within fairly regular patterns and, when carefully examined, these patterns make considerable sense. One primary purpose of social scientific research is to make sense from these various patterns. This is accomplished by creating, examining and testing, and refining theory. What then is theory? Theory can be defined as a general and, more or less, comprehensive set of statements or propositions that describe different aspects of some phenomenon Babbie, ; Hagan, ; Senese, In an applied context, theories can be understood as interrelated ideas about various patterns, concepts, processes, relationships, or events.
Theory might also represent attempts to develop explanations about reality or Ways to classify and organize events, describe events, or even to predict future occurrences of events Hagan, Concepts, then, are symbolic or abstract elements representing objects, properties, or features of objects, processes, or phenomenon. Concepts may communicate ideas or introduce particular perspectives, or they may be a means for casting a broad generalization. In terms of ideas, concepts are important because they are the foundation of communication and thought.
Concepts provide a means for people to let others know what they are thinking, and allow information to be shared. An important part of developing social scientific theory is first to define relevant concepts that will be used in a given research project. As will be discussed later in this chapter, one of the most important reasons researchers turn to previous studies and relevant literature about a topic to be studied is to identify relevant concepts and their definitions.
Whenever a concept is used, it is important that the researcher makes clear what meaning is being attached to that term; in other words, what ideas are being attached. For example, a researcher may undertake a research project that intends to examine alcoholism.
But what exactly does this researcher mean by the concept alcoholism? Without further specification, some readers may interpret this concept to mean someone who drinks until blacking out.
Others might understand the term to convey an image of someone who drinks to a point where he or she cannot hold a job.
Still other people might interpret alcoholism as referring to people who cannot maintain regular relationships with other people. In effect, without specification concepts may represent a number of diverse meanings. Later this will be discussed as operationalization.
Sometimes this idea originates because of a particular problem or situation one actually experiences. For example, a nurse might observe a coworker coming to work under the influence of alcohol and begin to think about how alcohol would influence nursing care.
From this thought, the idea for researching impaired nurses could arise. A counselor at a delinquency detention center might notice that many of her clients have been battered or abused prior to their run-ins with the law. From this observation, she might wonder how abuse might be linked with delinquency and how she could investigate this linkage.In this manner, you can assemble the piles into an organized sequence that will reflect how you plan to write the report or paper.
Of course, some qualitative research projects have been just as poorly conducted as have some quantitative studies, but one need not dismiss the entire qualitative school of thought just because some studies inadequately applied the paradigm and methods.
The basic idea of the two-card method is to cut down on the physical volume of material necessary for writing a comprehensive or exhaustive literature review. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: This may reflect the tendency of the general public to regard science as related to numbers and implying precision.
That said, textbook is written in such a way that an instructor easily assign the modules in the order that works best for their class. This does not mean, however, that all research ideas will be equally easy or interesting to research.
And, you wonder: Why didn't I realize what he was up to? Email or Customer ID. Garamond Press.
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