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Selecting Appropriate Data Collection Methods

Selecting Appropriate Data Collection Methods

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Selecting Appropriate Data Collection Methods

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  1. Selecting Appropriate Data Collection Methods Chapter 6

  2. ‘It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.’ -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as Sherlock Holmes O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  3. Data Collection Options • Data collection possibilities are wide and varied with any one method of collection not inherently better than any other • Each has pros and cons that must be weighed up in view of a rich and complex context O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  4. The Data Collection Process • All methods of collection require rigorous and systematic design and execution that includes • thorough planning • well considered development • effective piloting • weighed modification • deliberate implementation and execution • appropriate management and analysis O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  5. Surveys • Surveying involves gathering information from individuals using a questionnaire • Surveys can • reach a large number of respondents • generate standardized, quantifiable, empirical data - as well as some qualitative data • and offer confidentiality / anonymity • Designing survey instruments capable of generating credible data, however, can be difficult O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  6. Survey Types • Surveys can be • descriptive or explanatory • involve entire populations or samples of populations • capture a moment or map trends • can be administered in a number of ways O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  7. Survey Construction • Survey construction involves • formulating questions and response categories • writing up background information and instruction • working through organization and length • determining layout and design O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  8. Interviewing • Interviewing involves asking respondents a series of open-endedquestions • Interviews can generate both standardized quantifiable data, and more in-depth qualitative data • However, the complexities of people and the complexities of communication can create many opportunities for miscommunication and misinterpretation O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  9. Interview Types • Interviews can range from • formal to informal • structured to unstructured • can be one on one or involve groups O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  10. Conducting Interviews • When conducting your interviews you will need to • question, prompt, and probe in ways that help you gather rich data • actively listen and make sense of what is being said • manage the overall process O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  11. Observation • Observation relies on the researchers’ ability to gather data though their senses - and allows researchers to document actual behaviour rather than responses related to behaviour • However, the observed can act differently when surveilled, and observations can be tainted by a researcher’s worldview O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  12. Observation Types • Observation can range from • non-participant to participant • candid to covert • from structured to unstructured O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  13. The Observation Process • The observation process is sometimes treated casually, but is a method that needs to be treated as rigorously as any other • The process should include planning, observing, recording, reflecting, and authenticating O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  14. Unobtrusive Methods • Unobtrusive methods involve researchers and research processes that are removed from the researched • Unobtrusive methods are ‘non-reactive’ and capitalize on existing data • But researchers need to work through data not expressly generated for their proposes that may contain biases O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  15. Unobtrusive Methods • Unobtrusive methods include • the exploration of official data and records • corporate data • personal records • the media • the arts • social artefacts O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  16. The ‘Unobtrusive’ Process • In order to gather data by unobtrusive means you need to • know what you are looking for • where you can find it • whether it can be trusted • what you can do with it O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  17. Experimentation • Experimentation explores cause and effect relationships by manipulating independent variables in order to see if there is a corresponding effect on a dependent variable O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  18. Experimentation • Pure experimentation requires both a controlled environment and the use of a randomly assigned control group • This can be difficult to achieve in human centred experiments conducted in the real-world O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.

  19. Real-World Experiments • There are many experiments that can only be carried out in the messy uncontrolled environments of the real-world, so the search for cause and effect will require tradeoffs between real-world contexts and a controlled environment O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 6.