1179916515 Yvette Solomon

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Published on December 5, 2007

Author: Gabrielle

Source: authorstream.com

The research process: Practicalities and pitfalls :  The research process: Practicalities and pitfalls Yvette Solomon Department of Educational Research Lancaster University What I’m going to talk about:  What I’m going to talk about Planning your research Recruiting participants Actually doing the research itself and handling the timing Dealing with institutions Dealing with the unexpected Working through the analysis process I’ll try to talk about these from my own experience But mostly I hope to respond to your specific issues and experiences My main message is probably that educational research is messy BUT that you need to work out WHAT you are doing and WHY at the very beginning of your project. But you also need to be flexible - it’s impossible to predict how things are going to work out Planning your research: How much time do you need for the various bits? :  Planning your research: How much time do you need for the various bits? Working out what you will do exactly Literature review Generating/refining research questions Deciding on a method Getting your participants Where and when and at what point in your study? What sort of timing is best for them? Whose permission do you need? Who are the gatekeepers? Collecting the data How much can you reasonably expect to do in a week/month? What other things do you need to do alongside data collection? How do you monitor if it is going OK? Processing the data Transcribing Inputting/coding Analysing the data What sort of analysis? How long will it take? An example:  An example Collecting the data:  Collecting the data Everyone has problems with recruitment and drop-out – think about: Some sort of incentive – what can you give them back? (payment in kind, vouchers, an opportunity to talk, help with something they are doing) Using contacts creatively to find participants Using participants you already have to get others Chasing people by e-mail and phone – be persistent It all takes time, patience, persistence and flexibility Processing and analysing the data:  Processing and analysing the data Transcription Takes time and effort – and it’s boring Approximate calculations: 1-hour interview  4-6 hours to transcribe  30 pages of A4 script. You need to do something else as well Inputting data depends on your skill with this and the size of the data set but again it’s boring and you need to timetable something else in Analysis This takes much longer than you think – if your data is qualitative you need time to mull it over in order to get on to more interpretive levels of analysis. You will need to be on top of the literature to do it and you will need to be clear about your research questions You need to keep your focus – it’s easy to lose sight of what your research questions are An real example of PhD planning:  An real example of PhD planning Dealing with the unexpected:  Dealing with the unexpected The data collection You might well have to do something other than you had planned – eg deciding that you don’t have the resources for an ethnographic study, or that you aren’t getting the information you wanted with your chosen method You might find that you still can’t get the sample you originally wanted – now what? Processing and analysis You just can’t get through the sheer quantity of it all – transcription/inputting takes longer than you thought Your analysis doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and you don’t really know how to go about it anyway! Your analysis is throwing up things that you hadn’t expected and you wonder if you ought to get more data You wish you’d asked different questions…. From a PhD student research journal:  From a PhD student research journal “My worst dream was a reality today. I went and talked to the second year […] students about my research and invited them to participate. Nobody wanted to take part. They all filled in the questionnaire- which is something I guess- but not one student out of 23 said they would take part in the study. It was such a strange feeling, at first panicky and then curiosity wondering why they didn’t want to take part. All the other students had, even the third years who have an awful lot on at the moment. Does my research not sound interesting to them? Or maybe the incentive of the book vouchers which can be spent in HMV as I always tell them wasn’t enough. I’m not sure what I’m going to do now, the data set won’t be complete, there will be a whole seminar group missing. I need to think about what this will mean for the design of the study. But at least they did fill out the questionnaires.” From bad to worse…:  From bad to worse… “Today I’ve spent the whole day wasting time and worrying about the consequences of people not turning up. I went to […] today to run a focus group and no one turned up, not even one of the 10 people. .. So much time and effort goes into organising one one and a half hour focus group and then nobody turns up. All that effort seems like a waste of time now- organising when it was best for the students (they even chose the day and time!), contact someone about booking a room, phoning all of the students the day before to double check they were all OK for it and getting the vouchers from Waterstones and then not one of them turns up. I really do rely on these students a lot. I’m realising today how out of my control this whole thing is. Possibly the most important aspect of the thesis, generating and collecting the data and I have little, if any control over it!” Success at last:  Success at last “[…] didn’t turn up again today. This is the second time that she’s not turned up for the interview. And when I tried to contact her asking where she was or if she had forgotten, her phone was switched off! .. I spent a long time preparing the schedule. Even though it’s semi- structured I had to go through the focus group transcripts again and again thinking about what to ask her. Can I be bothered to re arrange? .. Why are people so annoying? How can people justify letting others down? It’s so out of my control! The first time it’s possible that she could have forgotten but the second time? But I think she’d be a really good student to interview- I think I’ll get in touch with her again and see if she wants to re schedule….. ….I’m so pleased [ …] has agreed to be interviewed! Hopefully she’ll turn up…. ….Good things really do come to those who wait (well, who have no other choice in my case)! I’ve just got back from interviewing […]. we had a great discussion about her experiences …. We talked for ages and what she was saying is excellent! I think it’s helped me to get to where I wanted to be. I’m so pleased I waited and waited and finally got to interview her. I’ve got some good contrasting student stories now to compare in the analysis, this is going to be exciting.” When the going gets tough… http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=47:  When the going gets tough… http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=47 Useful references:  Useful references Bell, J. (1993). Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education and social sciences. Buckingham: Open University Press. Cohen, L. Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education. 5th Edition. Routledge Knight, P. (2001) Small-scale Research. London. Sage Publications Mason, J. (2001) Qualitative Researching 2nd Edition. Sage Robson, C. (1993) Real World Research. Oxford: Blackwell. Scott, D. and Usher, R. (2000) Researching Education. London: Cassell. Wellington, J. J. (2000) Educational Research: contemporary issues and practical approaches. London: Continuum. http://tony-quick.blogspot.com:80/2006/08/four-pillars-of-phd.html http://www.phdcomics.com:80/comics/archive.php?comicid=47

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