Doing a Successful Research Project: Using Qualitative or Quantitative Methods / Edition 1

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Carrying out a research project is a daunting task. It presents you with deadline anxieties, unfamiliar language and practical dilemmas. This book is a straightforward guide that will help you manage your research project successfully.

Doing a Successful Research Project: offers all the guidance, support and advice you need when tackling a research project for the first time; like having a tutor permanently at your side, takes you through the entire research process from planning, through design and implementation, to completion and write-up, provides realistic and balanced advice at every stage of the process, enabling you to make sound decisions with confidence, includes extensive real-life examples of good and bad research practice, demonstrating the best way to succeed. Clear and easy-to-use, this no-nonsense textbook will prove indispensable as you learn about research methods and embark on your first research project.

About the Author:
Martin Brett Davies is Professor Emeritus at the University of East Anglia

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book contains all the advice a student needs to design a hands-on methods project, to reflect on the process and to acquire transferable skills for the future." - Ann Taylor, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Newcastle NSW, Australia
"This is an excellent guide for undergraduate students conducting research projects in the social sciences. It addresses many of the issues that students encounter and offers excellent practical advice. It is the best text on this topic I have seen." – Patrick White, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Leicester, UK

"Clearly-written and well-organized, this book is an excellent, introductory text covering a broad scope of research methods for beginning students." – Gerardo Marti, L. Richardson King Associate Professor of Sociology, Davidson College, USA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403993793
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 9.68 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Davies is Professor Emeritus at the University of East Anglia, UK. He has extensive social science research experience, having held research posts in the Home Office, the National Health Service and the Universities of Manchester and East Anglia, where he supervised the research dissertations of more than 750 graduate and undergraduate students.

Nathan Hughes is Director of Education and Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work at the Institute of Applied Social Studies, University of Birmingham, UK.

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Table of Contents

Preface     xiii
Acknowledgements     xiv
Planning your research project     1
So you're going to do a research project     3
The dominance of research findings in our lives     3
Becoming a researcher     6
The basic rules     8
Qualitative and quantitative research methods     9
Are you ready to be a good project manager?     11
Ten steps to get you off to a good start     12
Are you on message?     15
The nature of research     17
Exercise     18
Let's make a start     19
Choosing a topic and turning it into a question     19
Practicalities     22
Selecting your methodology     25
Fourteen ways of 'doing research'     27
Conclusion     35
Drawing up your personal project road map     36
Clarify your own ideas     36
Make time for an exploratory stage     37
Find out how people will react to your method     38
Do a literature review     38
Give thought to five additional issues     43
Prepare a final draft of your research instrument     46
Carry out a pilot study     47
Put it all together in a timed road map     48
Timed road map     49
Quantitative research     51
The principles of sampling     53
Types of sample     55
Probability samples     61
Non-probability samples     62
In defence of the convenience sample     63
Representativeness - and bias     63
The basic rules of sampling in a learning context     64
When you come to write your report...     67
A note about experiments     68
Carrying out your survey     70
Twenty quality questions for carrying out a successful survey     71
An exercise     76
An investigation into gender differences in the division of labour within married/cohabiting couples     77
Now it's your turn     79
Jo Kensit's project results     80
Questionnaires     82
Questionnaires are driven by the researcher's own agenda     82
The researcher has a professional obligation to maintain high standards     83
Rating the performance of job candidates     91
Twelve more things for you to think about     94
The art and science of survey interviewing      101
The initial encounter     101
Interviews should give respondents freedom to use their own words     102
The principles of good practice     103
The design of interview schedules     104
Examples drawn from six classes of interview data     105
Exercise     107
Preparing your interview schedule     107
Finally     110
Exercise     111
Analysing your survey data     113
Think design, think analysis     116
Living with your data     117
Data entry using SPSS     118
Don't despise your frequency distributions     119
At this point, life gets more complicated     121
Cross-tabulations     122
Third variable analysis     123
Comparing numerical values - measures of central tendency     125
Comparing numerical values - correlations and rank order     127
Probability     129
Dealing with open-ended questions     131
Drawing your analysis to a close     131
A note on inferential statistics     131
Qualitative research     135
Studying a small sample     139
Why study a small sample?      139
Identifying your research question     140
Qualitative research is dynamic and interactive     142
Strategic sampling     143
A hypothetical example of strategic sampling     144
Exercise     146
Gathering your core sample     146
What factors to take into account in gathering your sample     147
Majorities and minorities are equally important     148
The strategic approach to research planning     149
Exercise     150
Qualitative research interviewing     151
Introduction     151
How will you present yourself?     152
Having a base     154
Unstructured or semi-structured interviewing with a small sample     155
The impact of the research interviewer     156
Ten rules for running your interview     158
What kinds of questions are suitable for use with a small sample?     160
Exercise     161
The meaning of words     162
Recording your interview     162
Some of the ideas on offer     164
There is more to qualitative research than interviewing     168
Ethnography and the anthropological tradition     168
Participant observation      170
Insider research     172
Non-participant observation     174
Exercise     176
Learning a lesson from the novelist     177
Focus groups     178
The art of successful focus group management     181
Content analysis     181
Case studies     184
N = 1 explorations     186
Analysing qualitative data     187
Content analysis of the answers to open-ended questions     188
Interpretive content analysis of complete interviews     189
Being an only child     194
Sexual infidelity     195
A cautionary note     196
Observation     197
Observing behavioural dominance in children     199
Focus groups     202
Case studies     204
Triangulation and multiple (or mixed) methods     205
NUD*ist, NVivo and computer analyses     205
The last lap     207
Writing your report     209
How to produce a successful report     209
A note on word length     216
Presenting your findings in a quantitative research study     217
Presenting percentages      217
Producing a bar chart by using MS Excel     222
Presenting your findings in a qualitative research study     223
Postscript: Over to you...     228
Into more complex territory     229
A qualitative researcher's briefing sheet     231
Ten golden rules in qualitative research     231
The language of qualitative research     232
A concise glossary     233
A cautionary view     243
Testing for statistical significance     245
Eight useful ways of testing for statistical significance     247
Testing for significance in cross-tabs     248
Exercise     249
Comparing differences between means     253
When to use the Mann-Whitney test     254
When to use the t-test for unmatched or independent samples     255
When to use the t-test for paired or related samples     256
Comparing pairs of scores in matched samples     258
When to use the Wilcoxon test     258
When to use the sign test     259
Testing for significance in correlations     260
When to use Spearman's rho     261
When to use Pearson's product moment correlation     263
Some terms you need to know and understand     264
Bibliography     267
Index     270
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