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

not opinion. communication and other facilities. and that will yield useful new information. Ethical considerations ² a research problem is feasible if it does not make any undue impositions on the respondents. and rationalizing the implications of the results of the study to its target population. Time ² the problem is projected to be solved within a given time frame.i. Simply put. vi. Research resources ² the problem must be of such nature and structure that solution is possible. v. Administrative control and group support ² the problem is likely to be endorsed by the approval board concerned. Fiscal resources ² there must be sufficient available funds to pursue the study through completion. iii. transportation. Experience of the researcher ² the problem must represent the researcher·s specialized field to ensure knowledge of the phenomenon under study. computers and other equipment. Hence. by defining the major concepts or terms and Page 3 . Answers to research questions add to our general knowledge. 4. interpreting. Availability of subjects ² available population size is adequate enough for sampling purposes. using available space. Research requires the researcher·s experience in the field being investigated or subject matter under inquiry. and skill in analyzing. 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. The researcher should project needed expenses before finalizing the selection of a problem. a research question is an explicit query about a problem or issue that can be challenged. iv. This can be done thru first. vii. 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. examined. anticipated benefits from the study must justify its cost. Potentials of the researcher ² there must be a genuine interest and curiosity about the particular problem on the part of the researcher. A limited budget could be a constraint in the effective pursuit of the research. This is the critical feature of research findings ² they must be facts. and analyzed. ii.

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

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

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

analysis and reporting resources. Examples of different data collection methods are given below. The selection of a method for collecting information must balance several concerns including: resources available. credibility. or simply is not relevant to the questions asked. The ideal situation would be to collect from more than one source and/or to collect more than one type of information. Poor evidence is information which cannot be trusted. There are two general types of information: descriptive and judgmental. and the skill of the evaluator. Page 7 . is scant. 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. Good evidence is information that comes from reliable sources and through trustworthy methods that address important questions.What kind of data should be collected? The information you collect is the evidence you will have available to answer the evaluation questions.

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

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

 Random methods are used to produce samples that are.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. 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 . The purposive sample consists of individuals selected deliberately by the researcher. There are two general types of sampling methods: random and purposive. to a given level of probable certainty. When you 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. In a random sample. which in many cases might be quite large. free of biasing forces. each individual in the population has an equal chance of being chosen for the sample. The portion taken is known as the sample. you do so to learn something about a population without having to measure the whole group.  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.

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

The importance of exact wording in each question is very significant. A great deal of research has studied the effects of question wording and style on responses. At some point you will probably need to design your own instrument. While writing good questions may seem to be more of an art than a science. 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. Now you should start writing the specific questions that you will ask your target audience. as you wrote several critical questions your evaluation needs to answer. without accompanying questions to balance the emphasis?  Are you asking two questions at one time? Page 12 . 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.Writing Questions This section focuses on what questions to ask and how to write them. some basic principles for writing questions can serve as a guide for developing a written instrument. does it ask too much on the part of the respondent in terms of mathematical calculations. 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. At minimum.

They can be a cost-effective way to reach a large number of people or a geographically diverse group. you need to make sure that its use is valid for your evaluation. questionnaires are a widely used method of collecting information. The questionnaire should include the following key elements: Cover Letter: A questionnaire should always be sent accompanied by a cover letter. and addresses and phone numbers for these persons. While using an already designed instrument may save some development time. Instrument Construction An instrument is the tangible form on which you elicit and record information. or as single sheet of paper that is stapled together in the corner. why and how the participant was selected to receive the questionnaire. An option is to find an instrument that already exists. Sloppy or improper instruments can destroy an evaluation effort. and envelopes: Once the questions are written. Also included should be the names of the project sponsor and contact person. Instruments must be carefully chosen or designed. The format could be assembled as a booklet. Creating a Questionnaire Of all the data collection methods listed in Step 4. After writing the questions you want to ask.     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. Designing instruments is a complex process. The letter should include the title of the questionnaire. per acre. and adapt it to your evaluation effort. General guidelines for questionnaire format cover letter. and who is sponsoring the research. the purpose of the study. There are many types of instruments and in some cases. a few other items must be considered before creating your questionnaire. you may be the instrument. they must be organized into some type of structure. Page 13 . Remember to include a deadline for returning 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. After reading the cover letter explaining the purpose of the survey. Page 14 . who is sponsoring the research/the agency responsible for the questionnaire. a short recap of some of the information included in the cover letter. Instructions: Give clear instructions on how to answer the questions. ethnic group. Other Comments: Allow space on the questionnaire to ask respondents to share any other comments. state: ´Next we would like to ask you several questions about the vegetative filter strips used on your land.µ Demographic Questions: Place all demographic questions at the end of the questionnaire. etc. and the name and address of the person it should be mailed to. Demographic questions include asking a person·s age. 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. In essence. why it is being conducted. gender. repeat the deadline for returning the completed instrument. For example.Questionnaire Introduction: State the purpose of the questionnaire. amount of formal education. What to do with the questionnaire: At the end of the questionnaire. Ask only the demographic information you need to know for analyzing data. the first thing a respondent should find on the questionnaire is a question that relates directly to that purpose. Always include the ´mail toµ address in case the enclosed envelope is misplaced by the respondent. Use a transition statement when moving to a new topic within the questionnaire. Thank You: Remember to thank the respondent for completing the questionnaire. Arranging Questions The first rule in arranging questions is to put the most important question first. For example.

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

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

These statistics include those of surveys. economy and education). Personal Documents Materials about personal introspection refer to personal documents which include autobiographies. to be useful to a research undertaking. 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. or influence public opinion. or 3) Those which were written to inform. These materials. housing. or if not. In using the said data. 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. Instead. essays and the like. letters. entertain. and other natural calamities. and service statistics (as in health. administration. deaths. 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. and emergency operations like providing aid to victims of fire. development of interventions. family planning. Statistics Data which have been previously gathered by other researchers or and those which were accumulated regularly and systematically for purposes of planning. and morbidity). censuses. Page 17 . diaries. flood. it is well for researchers to ensure that the methods used in obtaining them were scientific and appropriate. official statistics (as on population. their introspective content has been determined by the author. and 3) They focus on the author·s personal experiences.USE OF AVAILABLE DATA The researcher·s study may not call for the use of methods discussed above in generating data. or for historical reason. vital records (as of births. typhoon. 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. 2) Materials about introspection.

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

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

Unlike being able to use a hand calculator or computer program to analyze your numerical data. the qualitative data of words need to be analyzed initially by reading and sorting through the data. categorized. 3. consider the data set for the following question: Question: On a scale of 1 to 5. This process will include carefully reading the information. 3. and then identifying. the challenge is how to organize the information you have collected. focus group interviews.  The median for this data set is 3. One example from Bogdan and Biklen contains ten different coding categories as a method for sorting qualitative data.7). 4  The mean for this data set is 3. or strings of words that follow a similar theme or pattern. 4. and arranged is important because most qualitative data are words that must be interpreted for content. 5. These categories are: Page 20 . coding. Researchers who specialize in qualitative analysis use a method called Content Analysis.  The standard deviation for this data set is . 3. and or patterns in the information.For example. topics. and categorizing the main themes. This process allows you to then place these phrases of similar themes into a category for further analysis. where 1=poor and 5=excellent.  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.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). or case studies. There are several strategies that can be employed to help with content analysis. then your data will be in the form of words (qualitative data). Coding is simply attaching some alpha-numeric symbol to phrases. With qualitative data. how would you rate the overall quality of the workshop? Answers from 10 respondents: 4. open-ended questions. How the data is ordered. sentences. 4.7 (the total 37 divided by 10 scores). 5. See note below.95 (in this data set a majority of the scores were close to the mean of 3. 2.

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

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

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

and to come to decisions on theory that will form the basis of your research approach. the subjects of the research. As this kind of research often impinges on the sensibilities and rights of other people. Will the results of the research benefit society. the basis for these should be given. discrimination. USE OF LANGUAGE How you use language has an important influence when doing and writing up research. You should aim be as neutral as possible in the way you use terminology involving people ± who and what they are. so be aware that terms used in some older literature are not suitable for use now. 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. and in some instances. The sources of financial support for the research activities should be mentioned. The theoretical approach will influence the type of data collection and analysis used. If the study involves personal judgements and assessments. These methods are not ethically neutral so they will raise ethical issues. 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. or epistemology. 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. or at least not harm it? Will there be losers as well as gainers? The research aims and their consequences must be clearly stated. Student-researchers should present themselves as just that. SITUATIONS THAT RAISE ETHICAL ISSUES Social research. need to be particularly sensitive about issues of ethical behaviour. 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. and give the correct impression that they are doing the research as an academic exercise which does not have the Page 24 . WHERE DO YOU STAND? The theoretical perspective. intolerance and discrimination. You need to be constantly aware of the real meaning of terms.You will notice that acceptable terminology changes with time. or being too selective in the data used and in presenting the results of the analysis constitutes a breach of integrity. One of the principal functions of doing background research is to explore just this aspect. 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. and other forms of research which study people and their relationships to each other and to the world. it should be acknowledged and explained.as possible. Guard against being patronizing or disparaging. and what they do. stereotyping. prejudice. and avoid bias. and pressure and sponsorship from sources which might influence the impartiality of the research outcomes should be avoided. and their use within the particular context. Silently rejecting or ignoring evidence which happens to be contrary to one¶s beliefs. If you can see any reason for a possibility of bias in any aspect of the research.

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

ignoring vocal inflections. could do damage to the participants or to other people. but only with the proviso that the content is kept confidential. Further distortion can be introduced by being governed by one¶s own particular assumptions. it is unwise to get personally involved. 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. repetitions. you can start to impose your own interpretation. RECORDING DATA There is a danger of simplifying transcripts when writing up data from interviews and open questions. When you clean up and organize the data. particularly as it is not ready for publication and dissemination at this stage. and avoiding making any revelations that could in any way be harmful to the reputation. If you need to transmit data. dignity or privacy of the subjects. 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. and in some cases even dangerous.of the chosen research methods and their outcomes for causing harm or gain. They spell out the rights of the subjects and responsibilities of the compilers and holders of the data. for example. 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. The data that you have collected may well contain confidential details about people and/or organizations. it must be presented in such a way that individuals are not damaged by assuring confidentiality and anonymity. and the participants. trade union or ombudsman. SENSITIVE MATERIAL Information can be thrown up that is of a sensitive nature which. It is therefore important to devise a storage system that is safe and only accessible to you. unfairness. thereby loosing some the meanings. This involves recognizing what the risks might be and choosing methods that minimize these risks. and subtleties of humour. victimization or bullying. In cases of. CHECKING DATA AND DRAFTS It is appropriate to pass the drafts of your research report on to colleagues or supervisors for comment. asides. such as a school tutor. Neither should you raise unrealistic expectations in order to ingratiate yourself. the researcher. 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. if revealed. 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. but if this information is relevant to the research. take measures that the method of transmission is secure and not open to unauthorized access. 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 . HONESTY. Every case will have to be judged individually. but it may be possible to give advice to the participant about who to contact for help. PARTICIPANT INVOLVEMENT Questions about rapport are raised if your research entails close communication between you.

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