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Stages in Research Process

Stages in Research Process

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TRINITY UNIVERSITY OF ASIA

Stages in Research Process
Selection and Development of a Problem

Veralynn P. Palileo 12/2/2011

SELECTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF A PROBLEM

The previous presentation made it clear to us that the research process starts with the identification of a problem. But what is a problem? More importantly, what is a valid problem? Or a ´researchableµ problem? The Research Problem According to Fisher & others (1991), a problem is ´a perceived difficulty, a feeling of discomfort with the things are, a discrepancy between what someone believes should be and what is.µ Ardales (2008) said, ´without a problem, no research can be undertakenµ. And as Leey (1980) put it, ´the problem is the heart of every research project because it is paramount in importance to the success of the research effort, thus the situation is simple: no problem, no research.µ Selltiz (1959) even contends that ´the formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution.µ Factors in Problem Selection So what are the characteristics of a researchable problem? While a research begins with a problem, bear in mind that not all problems are researchable. So how do we identify which is and which is not? On his book Basic Concepts and Methods in Research (2008), Dr. Venacio Ardales said that a problem is researchable when any of the following five conditions is true: 1. When there is no known answer or solution to the problem such that gap in knowledge exists; 2. When there are possible solutions to it but the effectiveness of which is untested or unknown yet; 3. When there are answers or solutions but the possible results of which may seem or factually contradictory; 4. When there are several possible and plausible explanations for the undesirable condition; and 5. When the existence of the phenomenon requires explanation.

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Keep in mind that there are problems that can be solved merely on the basis of opinion and application of rationality and personal values. Feasibility of the Problem Or the potential researchability of the problem. The concept must be clear enough so that one can specify in words exactly what the question is. Crestita Barrientos-Tan in her book A Research Guide in Nursing Education is noteworthy for nurses: 1. the novelty and practical value of the study.Selltiz & others (1976) said that a problem is researchable when it meets three conditions: 1. 3. which can be established when it meets the following criteria: Page 2 . the nature and scope of which are specific and well defined. Significance of the Problem Research focuses on an existing or prevailing problem. the solution of which can contribute knowledge to the field of nursing. You may ask. Example: ´Should nurses join unions?µ ´Is family planning moral?µ 3. The research problem must be manageable. 2. Is this problem critical enough to prove the difference between what is ´idealµ and what is ´realµ? Will its solution improve the practice of nursing and bring about change in nursing practitioners? What contributions or meaning will it give to the different sectors or beneficiaries of the study? 2. The phenomenon which is the focus of the problem must be observable. The concepts must be such that they can be represented by some sort of evidence which is obtainable through direct observation or other less direct activities. The following Criteria for Choice of Research Problems as identified by Dr. quantifiable and measureable. Problem Researchability Not all problems can be investigated scientifically for researchability. It must be feasible to carry out such operations or activities. The problem must be subjected to empirical testing to identify specific variables and determine the relationships of those variables. and can be solved through debate.

The researcher should project needed expenses before finalizing the selection of a problem. vi. Ethical considerations ² a research problem is feasible if it does not make any undue impositions on the respondents. and analyzed. Fiscal resources ² there must be sufficient available funds to pursue the study through completion. Administrative control and group support ² the problem is likely to be endorsed by the approval board concerned. Experience of the researcher ² the problem must represent the researcher·s specialized field to ensure knowledge of the phenomenon under study. 4. by defining the major concepts or terms and Page 3 . Availability of subjects ² available population size is adequate enough for sampling purposes. This can be done thru first. and rationalizing the implications of the results of the study to its target population. Simply put. They can be used by other people in other places because the answers are valid no matter who asked the question or where the answer was found. v. vii. Research requires the researcher·s experience in the field being investigated or subject matter under inquiry. and that will yield useful new information. examined. using available space. not opinion. Potentials of the researcher ² there must be a genuine interest and curiosity about the particular problem on the part of the researcher. iv. Research resources ² the problem must be of such nature and structure that solution is possible. This is the critical feature of research findings ² they must be facts. ii. communication and other facilities. A limited budget could be a constraint in the effective pursuit of the research. Defining the Research Problem A research problem must be clearly defined so as not to make I too broad that it may overwhelm the researcher and leave him with a predicament on where to start. Time ² the problem is projected to be solved within a given time frame. interpreting. anticipated benefits from the study must justify its cost. iii. and skill in analyzing. Answers to research questions add to our general knowledge. Hence.i. a research question is an explicit query about a problem or issue that can be challenged. computers and other equipment. transportation.

(2) area coverage. or subjects. (3) target population and/or sample population. Example: Page 4 . (4) source of data or respondents. concerns. and (6) data requirements ² qualitative or quantitative or both. (5) time allotment. Second is limiting the scope of the study in terms of (1) issues.variables in the study.

GATHERING OF MATERIALS AND/OR DATA There is a wide array of data collection methods from which the researcher can choose. By source. Other factors to consider are research design that has been selected for the study. time and trained personnel. the latter made explicit in the specific objectives and hypotheses. Research data can be classified on the basis of their source and their form. the nature and area dispersion of the target population. and the type of data that should have been specified as early as in the formulation of specific objectives and hypotheses of the study. data refers to the results of the study from which inferences are based (Kerlinger. the availability of resources which includes money. The major consideration is the nature of the research problem and general objective. CLASSIFICATIONS OF RESEARCH DATA In research. Primary data are those which are gathered directly from the informants of the study. Those which are generated by a field researcher in a face-to-face interview with a Page 5 . the data are either primary or secondary in type. the operational feasibility. Which method or methods he will select for his particular study is determined by a number of factors. 1986).

particularly if analyses require statistical summaries. Data are quantitative form when they are numerical in nature and have the property of measurability. like the National Statistics Office (NSO). Page 6 . you must think about the questions to be answered and the information sources available. others may need secondary data only. you must begin to think ahead about how the information could be organized. the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). and correlations. however. Culture. academic grade. Many data of this type are found in government agencies. while still others may stipulate the use of both the primary and the secondary data. Statistics on age. the Department of Agriculture (DA). distance and the like are examples of quantitative data. On the basis of form the data are either qualitative or quantitative. color of the hair or eyes. Other researches may be restricted o utilizing quantitative data. analyzed. They are qualitative when they are descriptions of the basic nature or characteristics of the people or objects under investigation. Similarly. that a study may require both the qualitative and the quantitative forms of data. interpreted and then reported to various audiences. The most important issue related to data collection is selecting the most appropriate information or evidence to answer your questions. income. active or inactive participation. There are many methods available to gather information.respondent are primary in type. and a wide variety of information sources. It is possible. compiled and stored somewhere and may be made available to the researcher who finds them useful to his particular study. and Sports (DECS). Examples are descriptions of people on basis of complexion. some researches may require primary data. and the Commission on Population (POPCOM). comparisons. Schools and non-government agencies (NGOs) may also have collections of information useful to the investigation being undertaken. the Department of Education. To plan data collection. and so on. attitudes. Also. A research may just require qualitative information as in the case of qualitative researches like an ethnographic study on the beliefs and rituals of a tribe. Secondary data are those which have been previously gathered. the Department of Health (DOH). METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION Data collection means gathering information to address those critical evaluation questions that you have identified earlier in the evaluation process. height.

Poor evidence is information which cannot be trusted. The selection of a method for collecting information must balance several concerns including: resources available. There are two general types of information: descriptive and judgmental. The ideal situation would be to collect from more than one source and/or to collect more than one type of information. analysis and reporting resources. and the skill of the evaluator.What kind of data should be collected? The information you collect is the evidence you will have available to answer the evaluation questions. credibility. is scant. Page 7 . Examples of different data collection methods are given below. or simply is not relevant to the questions asked. Good evidence is information that comes from reliable sources and through trustworthy methods that address important questions. Descriptive information can include the following examples:  Characteristics of the project  Reports of project accomplishments  Current skill or knowledge levels of project personnel and the target audience  Amount of participation by the target audience  Rates of use of an agricultural chemical  Rates of production of a specific crop  Policies concerning cost share  Rules regarding livestock waste application  Types of participants  Demographic data Judgmental information can include the following examples:  Opinions from experts or consultants  Consumer preferences  Target audience·s beliefs and values  Technical agency personnel·s interpretation of laws  Stakeholders perceived priorities  Individual·s interpretation of guidelines What methods should be used to collect data? There are multiple ways to collect information to answer most questions.

A tally is kept for each behaviour or action observed. Page 8 . Group Interviews: small groups· responses. Q-sorts: a rank order procedure for sorting groups of objects. or attitudes. weekly.                        Behaviour Observation Checklist: a list of behaviours or actions among participants being observed. Self-Ratings: a method used by participants to rank their own performance. daily. Wear and Tear: measuring the apparent wear or accumulation on physical objects. monthly. Simulations: a person·s behaviour in simulated settings. opinions. and views. Panels. Advisory. opinions. Hearings: opinions and ideas. Delphi Technique: a method of survey research that requires surveying the same group of respondents repeatedly on the same issue in order to reach a consensus.e. Logs. and views. or receipts. i. annually. Advocate Teams: ideas and viewpoints of selected persons. Judicial Review: evidence about activities is weighed and assessed by a jury of professionals. Journals: a person·s behaviour and reactions recorded as a narrative. files. knowledge. o Participant Observation o Non-Participant Observation Knowledge Tests: information about what a person already knows or has learned. Opinion Surveys: an assessment of how a person or group feels about a particular issue. Physical Evidence: residues or other physical by-products are observed. Time Series: measuring a single variable consistently over time. Performance tests: testing the ability to perform or master a particular skill. Participants sort cards that represent a particular topic into different piles that represent points along a continuum. Case Studies: experiences and characteristics of selected persons involved with a project. Individual Interviews: individual·s responses. Records: information from records. such as a display or exhibit. Questionnaire: a group of questions that people respond to verbally or in writing.

if you as a supervisor are administering an opinion survey about a specific project.  Pilot Testing: You will need to test the information collection instrument or process you design. will people interpret your questions the same way each time?  Validity: Will the information collection methods you have designed produce information that measures what you say you are measuring? Be sure that the information you collect is relevant to the evaluation questions you are intending to answer. you need to obtain appropriate permission or clearance to collect information from people or other sources.  Availability: You may have information already available to you that can help answer some questions or guide the development of new guidelines.Below are some issues to remember when choosing a data collection method. the more likely that it will be unreliable or possibly sabotaged by those who feel they have more important things to do. rather than being picked randomly by the researcher). You will have to allow time to work through the proper channels. settings. For example.  Need for Training or Expert Assistance: Some information collection methods will require special skill on the part of the evaluator. rather than based on their true feelings. Bias can enter the evaluation process in a variety of ways. and summaries. no matter the form or structure. if you use a self-selected sample (when a person decides to participate in a study. Page 9 .  Interruption Potential: The more disruptive an evaluation is to the routine of the project. the responses your employees give may be influenced by their desire to please you as their supervisor. or perhaps staff will need to be trained to assist with the evaluation. will they consistently measure the same thing each time? If you design an instrument. Reactivity may also be a concern if your presence during data collection may possibly alter the results.  Reactivity: You do not want ´howµ you ask something to alter the response you will get. or observers. For example. Review information in prior records. reports. You will need to plan time for this step and for any revisions that may result from this testing.  Bias: Bias means to be prejudiced in opinion or judgment.  Protocol Needs: In many situations. how might these respondents be different from the people that chose not to participate?  Reliability: Will the evaluation process you have designed consistently measure what you want it to measure? If you use multiple interviews.

which in many cases might be quite large. The portion taken is known as the sample. The purposive sample consists of individuals selected deliberately by the researcher. to a given level of probable certainty. you do so to learn something about a population without having to measure the whole group. each individual in the population has an equal chance of being chosen for the sample. Purposive methods are used to produce a sample that will represent specific viewpoints or particular groups in the judgment of those selecting the sample.How much information should you collect? Sampling refers to selecting a portion of subjects in order to learn something about the entire population without having to measure the whole group. There are two general types of sampling methods: random and purposive.  Here are some questions to consider when deciding whether to sample:  Should you use a sample of a population or a census (an entire population. In a random sample.  Random methods are used to produce samples that are. such as all people living in the watershed)?  Should you use a random or purposive sample?  How large a sample size do you need?  Is your sample likely to be biased? Page 10 . When you sample. free of biasing forces.

Page 11 .000 under the Population column: to the right is the sample size of 382). you may want to understand how all of the residents in a city feel about a particular issue. For example. If the city population is 70.000 people.The following table tells you the number of people you must survey to accurately represent the views of the population under study. That·s the number of people you·ll have to include in order to make generalizations about the entire city population. then the sample size will be 382 people (find the number 70.

In Step 1 you began the process of developing your questions. or having to look up records?  Is the question biased in a particular direction. Now you should start writing the specific questions that you will ask your target audience. are they really necessary?  Can they be deleted?  Is the question too vague? Does it get directly to the subject matter?  Can the question be misunderstood? Does it contain unclear phrases?  Is the question misleading because of unstated assumptions or unseen implications?  Are your assumptions the same as the target audience?  Have you assumed that the target audience has adequate knowledge to answer the question?  Is the question too demanding? For example. as you wrote several critical questions your evaluation needs to answer. At some point you will probably need to design your own instrument.Writing Questions This section focuses on what questions to ask and how to write them. does it ask too much on the part of the respondent in terms of mathematical calculations. some basic principles for writing questions can serve as a guide for developing a written instrument. While writing good questions may seem to be more of an art than a science. A great deal of research has studied the effects of question wording and style on responses. Below is a checklist you can use when forming your questions:  Is this question necessary? How will it be useful? What will it tell you?  Will you need to ask several related questions on a subject to be able to answer your critical question?  Do respondents have the necessary information to answer the question?  Will the words in each question be universally understood by your target audience?  Are abbreviations used? Will everyone in your sample understand what they mean?  Are unconventional phrases used? If so. you will have to modify an existing instrument. At minimum. without accompanying questions to balance the emphasis?  Are you asking two questions at one time? Page 12 . The importance of exact wording in each question is very significant.

why and how the participant was selected to receive the questionnaire. and adapt it to your evaluation effort. Instrument Construction An instrument is the tangible form on which you elicit and record information. Designing instruments is a complex process. and addresses and phone numbers for these persons. Page 13 . Creating a Questionnaire Of all the data collection methods listed in Step 4. and who is sponsoring the research. the purpose of the study. you may be the instrument. The letter should include the title of the questionnaire. they must be organized into some type of structure. Also included should be the names of the project sponsor and contact person. An option is to find an instrument that already exists. The format could be assembled as a booklet. or as single sheet of paper that is stapled together in the corner. While using an already designed instrument may save some development time. questionnaires are a widely used method of collecting information. After writing the questions you want to ask. Remember to include a deadline for returning the questionnaire. Instruments must be carefully chosen or designed. Sloppy or improper instruments can destroy an evaluation effort. There are many types of instruments and in some cases. per acre. a few other items must be considered before creating your questionnaire.     Does the question have a double negative? Is the question wording likely to be objectionable to the target audience in any way? Are the answer choices mutually exclusive? Is the question technically accurate? Is an appropriate referent provided? For example: per year. you need to make sure that its use is valid for your evaluation. The questionnaire should include the following key elements: Cover Letter: A questionnaire should always be sent accompanied by a cover letter. and envelopes: Once the questions are written. They can be a cost-effective way to reach a large number of people or a geographically diverse group. General guidelines for questionnaire format cover letter.

is the question written so that the respondent needs to answer with more than a ´yesµ or ´noµ response? Are there clearly written instructions that tell the respondent to skip to a particular section on a designated page? Grouping Questions: Group questions with similar topics together in a logical flow.µ Demographic Questions: Place all demographic questions at the end of the questionnaire. Ask only the demographic information you need to know for analyzing data. and the name and address of the person it should be mailed to. etc. What to do with the questionnaire: At the end of the questionnaire. For example. Always include the ´mail toµ address in case the enclosed envelope is misplaced by the respondent. Other Comments: Allow space on the questionnaire to ask respondents to share any other comments. In essence. Use a transition statement when moving to a new topic within the questionnaire. ethnic group. the first thing a respondent should find on the questionnaire is a question that relates directly to that purpose. repeat the deadline for returning the completed instrument. why it is being conducted. a short recap of some of the information included in the cover letter. Page 14 . For example. After reading the cover letter explaining the purpose of the survey.Questionnaire Introduction: State the purpose of the questionnaire. Arranging Questions The first rule in arranging questions is to put the most important question first. Thank You: Remember to thank the respondent for completing the questionnaire. gender. amount of formal education. state: ´Next we would like to ask you several questions about the vegetative filter strips used on your land. Instructions: Give clear instructions on how to answer the questions. Demographic questions include asking a person·s age. who is sponsoring the research/the agency responsible for the questionnaire. will the answers be circled or will a check mark be used? Will the respondent be expected to fill in a blank? If there are open-ended questions.

) Page 15 . Put the answer choices underneath. For example: Do you own a no-till drill? 1) Yes 2) No  If using yes/no or other repeated answers. instead of next to the questions. if you did not participate in the program circle DP. For example: 1) Yes 2) No Do not switch to: 1) No 2) Yes  Use multiple columns to conserve space and make the question less repetitious. This way the respondent moves down the page rather than side to side. Never force respondents to turn a page in the middle of a question or flip pages back and forth to answer a question.  Provide instructions on how to answer each question. Place directions in parentheses using lower case letters.Here are some additional tips on ways to arrange questions so they are clear and easy to answer. For example: How much of an effect did the watershed programs have on your farming operation? (circle the response that best represents your feelings. For example: Since attending the workshop.  Make each question fit on the same page. always keep answer categories in the same order from question to question.  Arrange questions and the space for answers in a vertical flow. which of the following management practices have you used? (circle each answer that applies).

Suppose you were constructing a questionnaire that asked questions about three topics such as vegetative filter strips.  Instructions are brief. one section contains questions that relate specifically to grass water ways.  Instructions are provided for each question or series of very similar questions. and conservation practices.  Instructions are clear.  Initial items are applicable to all members of the survey population.  Introduction is concise and relevant.  Initial items are non-threatening. You should organize the questions so that one section contains questions that relate specifically to vegetative filter strips.  Print quality is clear and legible.  All questions are essential and relevant to the objective of the survey.  Questionnaire looks easy to complete.  Adequate space is provided for respondents to write answers.  A self-addressed stamped envelope is included for each respondent.  Initial items are interesting.  Each question fits within the boundary of the page.  Instructions for mailing the questionnaire are included at the end. and one section contains questions that relate specifically to conservation practices.  Wording is at an appropriate literacy level for the survey population. Group questions of similar subject matter together.  All questions are arranged in a vertical flow.  A ´thank youµ is included at the end of the questionnaire.  Demographic questions are at the end. Page 16 .  Items with similar content are grouped together. grass water ways. Checklist for Evaluating Your Questionnaire:  A cover letter accompanies the questionnaire.  Title of questionnaire will appeal to respondents.

USE OF AVAILABLE DATA The researcher·s study may not call for the use of methods discussed above in generating data. These materials. or influence public opinion. it may only require locating and examining: 1) Data which have been previously gathered by other researchers or those which were accumulated through a regular and systematic system. Page 17 . the data being collected repeatedly and regularly allow determination of trends over time and collecting them does not involve the help of many persons nor the cooperation of individuals who are the subject of the investigation. and emergency operations like providing aid to victims of fire. or if not. 2) Materials about introspection. Advantage of using Statistics: Use of these available data offers advantages including much savings on the part of the researchers who will be spared from spending thousands of pesos if the study population is so large and so widely distributed over the province or region. and service statistics (as in health. flood. official statistics (as on population. vital records (as of births. and 3) They focus on the author·s personal experiences. diaries. Instead. development of interventions. it is well for researchers to ensure that the methods used in obtaining them were scientific and appropriate. Personal Documents Materials about personal introspection refer to personal documents which include autobiographies. or 3) Those which were written to inform. family planning. administration. and that they are accurate. should meet the following criteria: 1) They should be tangible (either written or recorded) 2) They were produced on the writer·s own initiative. typhoon. letters. In using the said data. their introspective content has been determined by the author. housing. and morbidity). deaths. and other natural calamities. Statistics Data which have been previously gathered by other researchers or and those which were accumulated regularly and systematically for purposes of planning. to be useful to a research undertaking. or for historical reason. essays and the like. entertain. censuses. economy and education). These statistics include those of surveys.

television and motion pictures. while they produce materials for information. label cassette tapes with name of interviewee. CRITICIZING. They also reflect broad aspects of the social conditions in which they are produced. record the date received. You do not want to discover after all data are Page 18   . Proper organization and planning will help insure that the data will be kept secure and organized for the analysis. As data are received. interpret. one person on the project team should be in charge of handling all incoming mail. analyze. etc. Content analysis is the appropriate method for obtaining data from materials produced by mass communications. radio. Since they were not produced for the benefit of the researcher. Tips for organizing your evaluation data:  Set up a protocol on how to receive and record the information as it comes in. For example. For example. and any other pertinent information. it is time to start developing your plan to handle the information you will collect. and report your results. Organize Before you being to collect the first piece of information. If you are receiving questionnaires returned by mail. that interviewers have used the proper questioning route. code and number. entertainment and persuasion are good sources of information for research use. Finally. they are free of the researcher·s theoretical and personal bias. Label all data immediately as you collect or receive it. interviewer. This is an important process. EVALUATING AND ESTABLISHING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AND AMONG THEM Evaluation is like a pinwheel because it revolves and your project should revolve around evaluation. This is also the point where you may need the help of a consultant. Once the instrument development and testing process is underway. they allow the researcher to view and to examine the historical past as well as the contemporary society. check them off. you must develop a system to organize your data. At this point. you should develop the process that will organize. magazines. check to be sure that the participant has completed the entire instrument correctly. and add any other information needed. therefore. summarize.Mass Communications Mass communications in the form of newspapers.

Frequency: How often a particular response was given. data cannot be replaced. With quantitative data the analysis does not begin until all data are collected. Definitions: Mean: The average score of the sample. Mode: The response given most often. and frequency. Analyze The first step in analyzing data is to determine what method of data analysis you will be using. you could use a spreadsheet program to enter the raw data. or does not have access. If data are being transcribed or transferred in some way. then descriptive statistics can be used to characterize your data. Set up a protocol for accessing the data including who has. Back up all computer disks containing data. If data are confidential they should be stored in a locked place so that only the staff member working with the data has access. Standard Deviation: The distance from the mean in which 66% of the responses can be found. check to be sure that this is done accurately throughout the process. Develop a format for storing and organizing your data prior to the analysis. most qualitative data analysis begins as data are collected. then the data is qualitative data. the transcripts are analysed as soon as possible in order to generate additional questions for follow-up interviews. If most of the information you collected contains numbers. Establish a secure place and way to store all data. In contrast. If the information you collect consists of words. For example. mode. Median: The score halfway between the high and low score. If destroyed or lost. standard deviation. then the data is quantitative data. Quantitative Data Analysis If most of the information you collected contains numerical (quantitative) data. when conducting interviews. Set up a system to track all data.     collected that there are errors. Page 19 . For example. Some of the more commonly used descriptive statistics are mean. This will be your system to check that data are not lost or overlooked as analysis and summarizing are completed.

7). Coding is simply attaching some alpha-numeric symbol to phrases. and then identifying. or strings of words that follow a similar theme or pattern. the challenge is how to organize the information you have collected.  The median for this data set is 3. 3. There are several strategies that can be employed to help with content analysis. open-ended questions. Unlike being able to use a hand calculator or computer program to analyze your numerical data. How the data is ordered. One example from Bogdan and Biklen contains ten different coding categories as a method for sorting qualitative data. the qualitative data of words need to be analyzed initially by reading and sorting through the data. how would you rate the overall quality of the workshop? Answers from 10 respondents: 4.7 (the total 37 divided by 10 scores).95 (in this data set a majority of the scores were close to the mean of 3. where 1=poor and 5=excellent. focus group interviews. 3. 4.  The frequency for each response is as follows: 1: no responses 2: one response 3: three responses 4: four responses 5: two responses Qualitative Data Analysis If most of your data collection was done using individual interviews. With qualitative data. and or patterns in the information.  The standard deviation for this data set is . See note below. sentences. 5. topics. then your data will be in the form of words (qualitative data). consider the data set for the following question: Question: On a scale of 1 to 5. 2. 3. coding. This process allows you to then place these phrases of similar themes into a category for further analysis. categorized. Researchers who specialize in qualitative analysis use a method called Content Analysis. or case studies.5 (this is the score halfway between the lowest score of 2 and the highest score of 5)  The mode for this data set is 4 (this is the score reported most often). 5. 4. This process will include carefully reading the information.For example. and categorizing the main themes. and arranged is important because most qualitative data are words that must be interpreted for content. These categories are: Page 20 . 4  The mean for this data set is 3.

discovering what is important and what is to be learned. mentors. Analysis involves working with data. Activities: codes include behaviours that occur on a regular basis. and other materials that you accumulate to increase your own understanding of them. Strategy: these are the methods and techniques that people use to accomplish various tasks. Subjects· ways of thinking about people and objects: this category is more detailed than the previous one. or in the lives of the people interviewed. for example. etc. searching for patterns. Perspectives held by subjects: the information focuses on ways of thinking. such as shared ideas held by the participants. and deciding what you will tell others. Relationships and social structures: this type of information focuses on friendships. adversaries. organizing them. Events: the information in this category of data is categorized in relation to specific activities in the evaluation setting. and of their world. the codes include data that focus on people·s understanding of each other. dilemmas. What·s important to understand from this discussion of quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods is that the analysis methods used will differ from one evaluation setting to another. field notes. breaking them into manageable units. and changes that occur over time. and to enable you to present what you have discovered to others. Bogdan and Biklen (1992) describe qualitative data analysis with the following definition: Data analysis is the process of systematically searching and arranging the interview transcripts.          Setting/Context: these are data related to the evaluation setting. When conducting an evaluation you need to recognize this and base your data analysis methods on the nature of your data. or define the topic. enemies or other individual relationships. Methods: data in this category are related to project or evaluation procedures. successes. Definition of the situation: these types of data tell how the people in the study define the setting. problems. romances. Processes: these data include codes and phrases that categorize sequences of events. what is their worldview about their work. synthesizing them. There is no single prescription for conducting analysis that fits every situation. barriers. Page 21 .

with 1=not being familiar with the program. the evaluator must interpret the information so that the stakeholders will understand the results and know how to use them. ´What does it all mean?µ When interpreting the data you must sift through the mass of results and identify trends. and 5=being very familiar with the program. commonalties and testimony that will help answer the critical evaluation questions that were generated in Step 1. If the evaluation is to be useful. Emerald Lake users were asked to rate their familiarity with several programs on a scale of 1 to 5. Page 22 . interpretation is the process of bringing meaning to the data. You may ask yourself. it is time to interpret the results. Below is an exercise in data interpretation. Put simply. The table below lists the programs and the average score each received.Interpret After the data have been analyzed.

evaluating and establishing relationship between and among them Reporting of facts observing carefully the accepted rules and mechanics HONESTY IN YOUR WORK Honesty is essential. above-board communication.). the analysis you carried out. TV programmes etc. journals. ideas and works of others without acknowledging their source. distorting your data or results knowingly is a serious lapse of honesty. and letting it be assumed that it is your own. to be free from bias. INTELLECTUAL OWNERSHIP AND PLAGIARISM Unless otherwise stated. it is worth focusing here on several of the most important issues. Although there are several well established citation methods. and a list of references at the end of the text that give the full publication details of the source material. but to engender a level of trust and credibility in the outcomes of the research. conferences. You should also indicate the assistance of others and any collaboration with others. Scientific objectivity should be maintained as much Page 23 . DATA AND INTERPRETATIONS Although it is difficult. they all consist of brief annotations or numbers placed within the text that identify the cited material. what you write will be regarded as your own work. You can avoid accusations of plagiarism by acknowledging the sources of these features and their originators within your own text. Using the thoughts. respondents. These methods of reference cater for direct quotations or ideas etc. no matter what subject they are investigating. thesis etc. Although honesty must be maintained in all aspects of the research work. RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE RESEARCHER Apart from correct attribution. concepts and theories. how you have done it. This is called citation. Equally serious is claiming sole authorship of work which is in fact the result of collaboration or amanuensis (µghosting¶). the ideas will be considered your own unless you say to the contrary. even if you paraphrased into your own words. interviews. talks. and should be meticulously used. Accurate descriptions are required of what you have done. This applies to all researchers. and the results of experiments ± a myriad of details concerning every part of your work. the public and the academic community. not only to enable straightforward. in no field of research can you rely entirely on your own ideas. The worst offence against honesty in this respect is called plagiarism: directly copying someone else¶s work into your report. the information you obtained. usually in the form of a written acknowledgement at the beginning or end of the report. and some maintain that it is impossible. is unethical. from the work of others gathered from a wide variety of sources (such as books. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND CITATION Obviously. You do have responsibilities to fellow researchers. the techniques you used. honesty is essential in the substance of what you write.y y y Gathering of materials and/or data Criticizing.

researchers must be aware of necessary ethical standards which should be observed to avoid any harm which might be caused by carrying out or publishing the results of the research project.as possible. Student-researchers should present themselves as just that. discrimination. The theoretical approach will influence the type of data collection and analysis used. One of the principal functions of doing background research is to explore just this aspect. of the researcher should be made clear at the outset of the research so that the µground rules¶ or assumptions that underpin the research can be understood by the readers. PRESENTATION This relates to how you present yourself in the role of the researcher which might influence the attitude and expectations of the people you involve in your project. the basis for these should be given. the subjects of the research. The sources of financial support for the research activities should be mentioned. prejudice. and their use within the particular context. RESEARCH AIMS Although research aimed merely at gaining greater knowledge and understanding of a phenomenon has little or no ethical consequences ± the expansion of scientific knowledge is generally regarded as a good thing ± applied research is more easily subjected to ethical investigation. WHERE DO YOU STAND? The theoretical perspective. SITUATIONS THAT RAISE ETHICAL ISSUES Social research. and what they do. USE OF LANGUAGE How you use language has an important influence when doing and writing up research. These methods are not ethically neutral so they will raise ethical issues. If the study involves personal judgements and assessments.You will notice that acceptable terminology changes with time. need to be particularly sensitive about issues of ethical behaviour. so be aware that terms used in some older literature are not suitable for use now. You need to be constantly aware of the real meaning of terms. and to come to decisions on theory that will form the basis of your research approach. Normally you will have to argue that the aims of your research are in accordance with the ethical standards prescribed by your university or organization. and avoid bias. and other forms of research which study people and their relationships to each other and to the world. Will the results of the research benefit society. Silently rejecting or ignoring evidence which happens to be contrary to one¶s beliefs. or epistemology. and pressure and sponsorship from sources which might influence the impartiality of the research outcomes should be avoided. it should be acknowledged and explained. and in some instances. You should aim be as neutral as possible in the way you use terminology involving people ± who and what they are. intolerance and discrimination. As this kind of research often impinges on the sensibilities and rights of other people. Guard against being patronizing or disparaging. and give the correct impression that they are doing the research as an academic exercise which does not have the Page 24 . or at least not harm it? Will there be losers as well as gainers? The research aims and their consequences must be clearly stated. or being too selective in the data used and in presenting the results of the analysis constitutes a breach of integrity. stereotyping. If you can see any reason for a possibility of bias in any aspect of the research.

Do not raise false expectations. This could occur almost inadvertently if you are not alert to people¶s situations and reactions. to produce some gain for the participants in the project and the wider field. deal with them personally and how you use the information they provide. Make it clear and get agreement at all levels about what issues are to be discussed.institutional or political backing to cause immediate action. old person delving into her personal history. Although verbal explanations may be sufficient in informal situations. but if you spend a lot of time with a. foreign language speakers and those who are illiterate. friends or relatives may feel that they have an obligation to help you despite reservations they may have and could result in a restriction of their freedom to refuse. participants choose freely whether to take part in a survey by simply responding to the form or not. a written résumé on a flyer could be useful. Pressure might be exerted on participants if they are left too little time for due consideration which might also result in them regretting taking part. making unrealistic and untrue promises. When working within organizations. It should be clear and easily understood so they can make a fair assessment of the project in order to give an informed consent. nurses or social workers. how confidentiality will be maintained. Practitioner researchers. Even more expectations can be raised if you are working in a context of deprivation or inequality ± will the subjects begin to expect you to do something to improve their situation? DEALING WITH PARTICIPANTS You should treat participants with due ethical consideration. you should avoid dishonest means of persuasion. CARRYING OUT THE RESEARCH POTENTIAL HARM AND GAIN The principle behind ethical research is to cause no harm and. Obviously. Be aware that there may be conflicts of interest between the management and employees so there must be some obvious form of protection for those making criticisms of the organization or systems of work or conditions. Particular attention is needed when getting consent from vulnerable people such as children. Stopping people in the street and asking a few standardized questions will not raise any expectations about actions. such as posing as an official. The form that this information takes will depend on the type of person. Therefore the researcher should assess the potential Page 25 . if possible. However. such as teachers. with the result that several layers of consent will be required. Participants will decide whether to take part according to the information they receive about the research. Questionnaires should always provide the necessary written information as an introduction. Participants must have the right to terminate their participation at any time. how the investigation will be conducted. have a professional status that lends more authority and possibly power to instigate change. and targeting people in vulnerable situations. the more intimate situation might give rise to a more personal relationship that could go beyond the simple research context. the nature of the research process and the context. In many cases. in the way you choose them. perhaps lonely. The research situation can also be influential. the elderly or ill. managers or other people with overall responsibilities may need to be consulted. being unduly persistent.

it is unwise to get personally involved. unfairness. If you need to transmit data. dignity or privacy of the subjects. ignoring vocal inflections. and subtleties of humour. SENSITIVE MATERIAL Information can be thrown up that is of a sensitive nature which. repetitions. how can you be sure of the benign consequences of the actions? The risks involved make the use of deception and covert methods extremely questionable. you can start to impose your own interpretation. for example. The data that you have collected may well contain confidential details about people and/or organizations. CHECKING DATA AND DRAFTS It is appropriate to pass the drafts of your research report on to colleagues or supervisors for comment. asides. HONESTY. it must be presented in such a way that individuals are not damaged by assuring confidentiality and anonymity. In cases of. Will those involved understand the motivation for your actions and do these conform to your own practice? You should not take familiarity so far as to deceive in order to extract information that the participant might later regret giving. Although you might argue that certain information of benefit to society can only be gained by these methods due to obstruction by people or organizations that are not willing to risk being scrutiniszed. take measures that the method of transmission is secure and not open to unauthorized access. but if this information is relevant to the research.of the chosen research methods and their outcomes for causing harm or gain. if revealed. could do damage to the participants or to other people. victimization or bullying. PARTICIPANT INVOLVEMENT Questions about rapport are raised if your research entails close communication between you. and the participants. DECEPTION AND COVERT METHODS Honesty is a basic tenet of ethically sound research so any type of deception and use of covert methods should be ruled out. and avoiding making any revelations that could in any way be harmful to the reputation. The intellectual independence of the findings of the report could be undermined if you allow sponsors to make comments on a draft and they demand changes to be Page 26 . RECORDING DATA There is a danger of simplifying transcripts when writing up data from interviews and open questions. but it may be possible to give advice to the participant about who to contact for help. thereby loosing some the meanings. They spell out the rights of the subjects and responsibilities of the compilers and holders of the data. the researcher. particularly as it is not ready for publication and dissemination at this stage. and in some cases even dangerous. trade union or ombudsman. but only with the proviso that the content is kept confidential. STORING AND TRANSMITTING DATA The Data Protection Act 1998 in the UK and equivalent regulations elsewhere cover the conditions regarding collections of personal data in whatever form and at whatever scale. such as a school tutor. Further distortion can be introduced by being governed by one¶s own particular assumptions. Neither should you raise unrealistic expectations in order to ingratiate yourself. This involves recognizing what the risks might be and choosing methods that minimize these risks. When you clean up and organize the data. It is therefore important to devise a storage system that is safe and only accessible to you. Every case will have to be judged individually.

This might entail shredding documents. data should be disposed of in such a way as to be completely indecipherable. formatting discs and erasing tapes. a website or other types of publication inevitably involves reducing the length of the material. so the decision will have been made much earlier. You must therefore be careful that the publication remains true to the original and avoid oversimplification. DISPOSING OF RECORDS A suitable time and method should be decided for disposing of the records at the end of the research project. Better still. the matter will have been agreed with the participants as a part of their informed consent. This can be done by removing all labels and titles that could lead to identification. Ideally. DISSEMINATION Dissemination of your results in the form of conference or journal papers. It is not practical to let respondents read and edit large amounts of primary data. bias towards particular results or even sensationalization. The basic policy is to ensure that all the data is anonymous and non-attributable. and perhaps changing the style of the writing. Page 27 .made to conclusions that are contrary to their interests.

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