RESEARCH RESEARCH METHODS + THEORY

QUANTITATIVE

QUALITATIVE

RESEARCH
PART1
RESEARCH PARADIGMS: The Basics

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

The Research Process Introduction

There are many ways to conduct a research. You often have to adjust your objectives to the field you’re working in and to the environments and  people you are working with. The field you’re working in could be “website  usability” and the specific environments and persons (informants) you are working with could be an office environment and its staff.  During this lesson you will work theoretically and practically with two main types of research processes:  The quantitative research process + the qualitative research process

Literature:  This lesson is based on Klaus Bruhn Jensen’s (et al) (2005): A Handboook of Media and Communication Research. Routledge. “The Quantitative Research Process” by Barrie Gunter (chapter 13, p. 209–234).  “The Qualitative Research Process” by Klaus Bruhn Jensen (chapter 14, p. 235–253). 

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Secondary Research

Desk Research Secondary data

Desk research relies on existing data and information published on the net,  in printed magazines or any other valid source (!) TIP: Reading economy articles, trend news, articles based on web surveys and  reports from cultural and national organisations gives you a good picture of your target group based on desk research ...

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Primary Research

Basic research is also referred to as field research.

Field Research Primary data

Field research refers to the collection of new data through primary research.  That means direct contact with people through interviews, focus groups and  surveys. Bigger and complex surveys are often done by bying this expertise from  companies specialized in conducting effective, reliable surveys.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research paradigms Introduction to the Basic  Concepts

Often there is a mix between the two paradigms:

PR I M A RY DATA Qualitative • Observations Data • Interviews (open questions)
• Movie recording (actively) • Think aloud test

S ECO N DA RY DATA
Documents Notes (from secondary source) Letters Sound and movie recordings (other’s material) • Artifacts (to be interpreted) • Articles and pictures, etc. (to be interpreted) • • • • • Statistics • Registrations

Quantitative • Closed questions Data • Surveys

• Clearly defined objectives in observations. • Page traffic

Artifacts like for example letters and movies etc. can be used to support  primary data for some purposes. Statistics can also support qualitative arguments i user research.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Paradigms Introduction to the Basic  Concepts

SCOPE Examples of investigations General approach General perspective The purpose of the research Criteria of methodology Design of method Level of structuration Key concepts of methodology Example of web research and possible methods/tools

QUANTITATIVE METHOD Surveys by mail, online or handout Precision: an exact mapping of the quantitative variation Width: seek information about as many quantifiable units as possible Average: seek common,  representative features Representative: Chosen informants  must represent the target group. Systematic: Survey with closed questions High: The possibilities of answers are laid out for response. Low flexibility. Explanation: How. How many.  Who does what. Causal explanations. How many are using the site? What are the user patterns?:  Google analytics combined with a survey designed for representative users.

QUALITATIVE METHOD Casestudy with interview Empathy: the best understanding of the qualitative variation Depth: seek as much information as  possible on a few qualitative units Specific: find out what can be said to be unique and special. Relevanse: Informants are relevant in  relation to problems and meaning Fleksibilitet: Interview with no clear  answers, dialogue, interaction. Low: Open answers and a variety of  interpretations. High flexibility. Understanding: Why. Who thinks what about ... Meanings and attitudes What motivates the target group to visit  the website and buy products? What are their preferences for colour, menus etc?:  Think aloud tests and focus groups.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH

Research Paradigms Introduction to the Basic Concepts

The Basic Concepts in Quantitative Research
The Quantitative approach to research is based on the scientific tradition  of studying aspects of human reality with empirical proof.  Research in anthropology, economics, geography, linguistics, history, polital science etc. can often be done by initially measuring hard facts. Quantitative research often aims at closed questions—questions your respondents can answer yes or no to; questions that are very narrow defined.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH

Quantitative Research Introduction to the Basic Concepts

Examples
Numbers: You can measure how many women there are in a room and you can measure how many men there are.  Specific actions: You can measure people’s actions (but not why they do it!)  Opinions: You can measure people’s opinions by asking closed questions:  “Do you think our prime minister will win the next election?”  This question would be followed up by additional (anonymous) information  from the informant: gender, age, city etc. You can use these data as valuable information in your research objective. Assignment See usibilia.com … What is this? See surveymonkey.com … What is this?

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Research Paradigms Introduction to the Basic  Concepts

The Basic Concepts in Qualitative Research
The qualitative approach to conducting research has for many years been the ‘soft’ area of science.  The qualitative aspects deals also with observable facts, but not always the  same ‘hard’, measurable emperical facts that is the focus for quantitative research. 

Qualitative reseach investigates the concept of meaning, its embedding in and orientation of social actions. It is the connection between meaning and  action—for example as performed inside media contexts—that tells us how we are, how we think and act in a realistic context.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Qualitative Research Introduction to the Basic Concepts

Examples: Designing Qualitative Research: Interviews
To design an emperical study is to identify and delimit a portion of reality  (Jensen 2005: 237). Ask into why instead of what. Respondent interviews: The informant is percieved as a representative of   a social and cultural category. This can be a key to the decoding of the user‐ pattern in relation to user behaviour (think aloud test for example). Group interviews: In order to explore what goes on in a more or less naturalistic social setting, a group can form the basis for discussions, that explore aspects of a product credibity, of lifestyles, advertisements etc. Focus groups: Gathering a specific type of users, this kind of interviewing is  often based on the strategy of getting to know attitudes toward a product or  political and ethical issues. Again, it’s why instead of what.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Qualitative Research Introduction to the Basic Concepts

Designing for Research

Assignment See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_focus_group … What is this? What are the pros and cons in online and offline qualitative surveys? Is a think aloud test a qualitative or a quantitative survey method?  Or can it be both? Why?

RESEARCH
PART2
RESEARCH PARADIGMS: Variables and Concepts

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Variables and Concepts

Variables
The basic part of the research process is the notion of the variable.   Variables are in this context the emperical representation of a concept. Man, woman, number of …, high/low, happy, not happy etc. Variables provide operational measures that can be quantified and manipulated by researchers. The concepts of gender, age, economics, and personal behaviour are variables that you can measure. These variables must be described in  further detail as concepts and/or constructs (see the next slides)

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Variables and Concepts

Variables and Concepts
A concept represents an abstract idea that embodies the nature of  observable phenomenon, or an interpretation of why such phenomea occur. For example, individuals may be differentiated in terms of their use of  media: What you define as a “active user” could be distinguished from what you define as a “passive user” (in questions based on how often a specific media or an application is used).

Media usage can be linked to explain different behavioual patterns:  Media usage becomes an explanatory concept (Jensen 2005: 210).

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Variables and Concepts

Single‐Concept Example (Media Usage as Behavioural Patterns)
The observable phenomenon:  More and more people over the age of 65 use FaceBook (FB).
source/desk research:  http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/12/11/facebook‐a‐top‐destination‐for‐users‐over‐65/

The concept I want to use: What is it to be “user”—it’s a bit too vague a concept! Just because you have a  FB account you’re not always active. I find it interesting to investigate the  single concept of the “active user” in the age group 65+.  First, I define the concept of a “user” by describing precisely what this implies in relation to skills in the use of FB. Second, I suggest the number of visits on FB per day in order for one to be a “active user” of FB.  Objective: How many “active users” in the age group 65+ are there on FB in  Denmark alone. I base this on my concept, my problem statement and on a  sampling of informants (say, 1000 FB‐users in the age group 65+)

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Variables and Concepts (Constructs)

Constructs (Combined Concept Example)
A construct comprises a combination of concepts. This term can be used as a way of defining characteristics or actions  of individuals that are associated with their personality type.  For example, one personality type is defined as  a range of sensation‐ seeking individuals: High‐sensation seekers generally need higher levels of  environmental stimulation than low‐sensation seekers.  High‐sensation seekers may be described by a series of other concepts as: sociability, tolerance for strong stimulation, risk‐taking etc.  Constructs have a dimensional quality, so that individuals may be classified (in this example) as high or low on the personality dimension  of sensation‐seeking (Jensen 2005: 210).

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Variables and Concepts (Constructs)

Variables, Concepts and Constructs: Example
In other words: The variables get more substantial when they are applied to a) a concept and b) a construct. Example: Gender is interesting because of the construct of  the differences  between certain actions of men and women, say, buying actions. It’s not just a  single concept you can establish without any goals for your research.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Variables and Concepts

Independent and dependent variables
Variables can be further defined in terms of their relationship with each other.   Before the research: The independent variable (concept/construct) can be manipulated by the researcher—it is meant to produce some measurable response or outcome. You design your variables (concept/construct/attributes) to fit your objective, for  example light user, active user etc. After the research: The dependent variable is the measure of the response or outcome. It is the obtained data which is treated as information.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Variables and Concepts

Reliability and validity
Another important aim of a research is to determine its reliability. To meet the demands for reliability and validity, you can …  repeate evidence/tests to show similar results over time  or in another context.  differentiate between the respondent (age, gender, education, etc.)  explain accurately how and why you conduct your research.   use good internal validity: the design of the research process must be free from theoretical and methodological errors. Use validated theory.

The reliability concerns the dependability and consistency of the relationship in one or between more variables. The validity indicates whether a measure properly captures the meaning of the concept or construct it represents.  (Jensen 2005: 212).

RESEARCH
PART3
RESEARCH PARADIGMS: More on Methods

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Survey Methods

The Survey: Field Research
A descriptive survey simply attempts to document current conditions.  Public opinion polls, for example, can rovide information about people’s present attitudes on a specified topic. The concept of “fear of terrorism” can be constructed through a variety of constructs from “no fear” to “very afraid,”  and the survey can gain answers from different age groups. The outcome is  descriptive and can of course be used as an initial research narrowing down a  target group. Analytical surveys also collect descriptive data, but attempt to go on to  examine relationships among variables in order to test research hypotheses.  A survey may assess the impact of an advertising campaign on public  awareness of a brand and changes in the market’s share of a product. Such explantory surveys can also research social effects in‐ and because of media. 

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Survey Methods

The Survey: Field Research, Observing and Coding
Thick description: The thick description means that when you observe a  situation, you use means of gathering data that accounts for everyhing.  You could use movie‐recording devices and then later describe artefacts as  well as actions. This can lead to a very detailed description of an  environment and the interpretation of the actions. Coding: The coding means fixating and capturing certain qualities of the  units, i.e. person/persons, texts, events (or other unit), you are observing. For example can the thematic coding (concept variable) function as an  important objective to make way for interpretations and for applying abstract theory of culture and perception.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research Survey Methods

The Survey: Field Research
Telephone interviews: You can accomplish the data very quickly and directly. It is cheap to conduct The respondents can be reached globally. Face‐to‐face interviews: Short interviews as well as longer interviews can be conducted,  i.e. in a shopping mall or in a home. Video‐ and audio techniques can be used. Better personal credibility can be achieved by personal interview. Web‐/mail‐/online‐ or paper questionnaire: Simple forms can be filled out by respondents. By using web or mail the  statistical answers will be easy to monitor quickly afterwards.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Quantitative Research The Survey

Describing Data 
Links: See more on percentage calculation here … http://www.math.com/everyone/calculators/calc_source/percent.htm http://www.easycalculation.com/statistics/statistics.php http://www.euromonitor.com/  Don’t panic!   If you use an online survey tool all the calculations are done for you.

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research An Overview

1. The hypothesis Propose that if an independent variable is assumed to have a certain strength, it may be expected to exert a measurable impact on a designated dependent variable. Then it can be tested, if this hypothesis can be proved or disproved. (Jensen 2005: 212). Qualitative and/or quantitative research design 2. The Variable … is gender, age, nationality etc. … is the empirical representation of a phenomenon (like trends) …

Before the research

3. Independent Variables … can be manipulated by the  researcher.  … means the way the research  process is constructed to measure  a response. (Jensen, 2005) 4. Dependent Variables … is the measure of the  outcome of the research  based on its construct and its dependent variables, i.e. it is  the information created by the  variables and the hypothesis. (Jensen, 2005)

Concept

and a…

Construct (combination of concepts) A combination of concepts used to define the  characteristics of the individual users as  grouped in concepts (in the example). Heavy users may be described by such concepts as sociability, tolerance for strong stimulation, risk‐taking etc. (Jensen, 2005).

After the research

A concept represents an abstract idea that embodies the nature of  observable phenomena,  or an interpretation of  why such phenomea occur. (Jensen, 2005) Example: Individuals are defined in terms of  their use of a media.  You define the notions of a “light user” and a  “heavy user” based on  media types, levels of  defined usage etc. (Jensen, 2005)

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Research The Survey

Example
Let’s visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFbmHDs7TmI … … and have a talk about this type of survey and its components. Variables? Concepts? Independent variables/dependent variables? Qualitative, quantitative, mix, goal, interpretation? 

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Assignment

USABILITY TESTS—design a survey of a user experience TESTING
1. 2. 3. Make a test of a website or a mobile application: Heuristics. What is your hypothesis as a media designer, based on your initial test,  on usability in relation to the concepts: navigation, readability and design? Work with these valid concepts in relation to: the attitudes toward the visual design (qualitative method)  the ability to read the text (quantitative method). Interview two, three or more people (Who? / why?) Record, write down, observe etc. (how? / why?)

4.

Present according to the template on the next slide →

RESEARCH

METHODS AND THEORY

Assignment

USABILITY TESTS—design a survey of a user experience
Source: Munk & Mørk (2002): Brugervenlighed på internettet.. Samfundslitteratur.

R E P O R T I N G   (validating your results)
1. 2. 3. Summary of the main results with conclusion. Introduction: hypothesis, problems and research questions, concepts in use. Describtion of method/methods: A mix of quantative and qualitative approaches? How? Focus? Independent and dependent variables? Your unique research design? Observations and results, focus points.  Pie chart templates may be used. Conclusion (short, recap on 1) Recommendations for improvements of media.

4. 5. 6.

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