Implementing the research design
Chapters 10, 13 & 23
Doing your research and analysing your results
- Keep good records of what you do, e.g.:
- if doing a survey, keep good records of who has replied, so that you know who should be sent reminders. If you use software like Survey Monkey this can be easily tracked for you.
- if doing participant observation, remember to keep good field notes and not to rely on your memory
- Make sure that you are thoroughly familiar with any hardware you are using in collecting your data, such as tape recorders for interviewing (including recorders on your phone!), and make sure it is in good working order
- Do not wait until all your data have been collected to begin coding
- Remember that the transcription of tapes with recorded interviews takes a long time, in the region of 4-6 hours per one hour of recorded conversation
- Become familiar with any data analysis packages as soon as possible
- See Quantitative and Qualitative data analysis
Exercise: structured interviewing
A manufacturer of farm implements wished to find out why the response to a first design of animal drawn plough, specifically designed as a cheap but effective implement for developing country farmers, was rather poor. A combination of observation and exploratory research suggested the following factors played a role in shaping the negative attitude of farmers to the design:
- Does not ridge
- Does not work for inter-cropping
- Far too expensive
- New technology too risky
- Too difficult to carry
The company wanted to know which factors were the most important. If it solved these then the other factors may be of minor significance in preventing widespread adoption of the plough. The alternatives were to abandon the product's re-development or redesign it completely, in which case it may be expensive and face even further objections. The company decided to sample 200 farmers who used the plough.
Exercise: structured observation
A university is wishing to revalidate its Computing Masters Degree programmes, which had become rather 'tired' as a result of rapidly changing computing and allied technology. Falling enrolment numbers and student/employer feedback tended to reinforce the view that the current programmes had run their course. As part of the development process, the university decided to find out what programmes its competitors offered. This would help it to identify any gaps in the product/market provision which could be potentially plugged with a new programme. In addition, such information would help the university with its marketing effort. The university felt that, besides the programme content, other important but less 'physical' aspects of the university study environment, might also be contributing to falling numbers, for example, a 'research culture'.
The university identified four benchmark universities as its target competitors. Its task now is to:
- Identify the 'physical' competitive aspects of current and potential new programmes, for example, title, and price for the programme
- Identify the 'subjective' aspects of the programme, for example, 'research culture'
- Use the information to help develop new Computing programmes and market them.
Exercise: documents as sources of data
Take a book of old photographs of your city/town through the ages or annual reports from the last ten years of a public sector organization (commercial or non-profit organization).
From the portfolio of photographs answer the following:
From the annual reports answer the following: