Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-Time Researchers in Education, Health and Social Science / Edition 5

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Worldwide bestseller - over 250,000 copies sold

Step-by-step advice on completing an outstanding research project.

Research can be daunting, particularly for first-timers, but this indispensable book provides everything you need to know to prepare for research, draft and finalise a methodologically sound and well-written report or thesis, plus it warns you of potential pitfalls to prevent you wasting time on false trails.

This new edition of Doing Your Research Project has been thoroughly updated and includes:

  • Wider coverage of research ethics
  • Clear guidelines on the differences between different types of research project
  • New coverage of "Research diaries"
  • New sources in further reading plus more information on internet research and the use of electronic resources
  • Coverage of the latest information on plagiarism
  • More examples to highlight key issues

This bestselling book is an essential resource to help establish good practice for beginner researchers embarking on undergraduate or postgraduate study, and for professionals in such fields as social science, education, and health.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780335235827
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Bell has worked as a university lecturer, head of department and vice principal in colleges of further education; as a senior counsellor and course team writer for the Open University; and as one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools specializing in continuing education. In 1997 she was awarded the MBE for services to educational research and in the same year was awarded the degree of D.Univ by the Open University, for services to adult education and to the University.
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Table of Contents

PART ONE Preparing the ground

Approaches to research
Action research and the role of practitioner researchers
Case study
Critics of case study
The experimental style
Ethnography and the ethnographic style of research
The grounded theory approach
Narrative inquiry and stories
Which approach?
Further reading

Planning the project
Selecting a topic
Getting started
Hypotheses, objectives and researchable questions
Working title and the project outline
Student-supervisor relationships
Codes of practice for supervision
Change of supervisor
Keeping records of supervisory tutorials
The research experience
Writing as you go along and the research diary
Planning the project checklist
Further reading

Ethics and integrity in research
Research contracts, codes of practice, protocols and the principle of informed consent
Ethics committees
Confidentiality and anonymity
Safeguarding confidentiality and anonymity if disseminating information by computer
Ethical research in practice and the problems of 'inside' research
Codes of ethical practice relating to intellectual ownership/property
The ethics and integrity in research checklist
Further reading

Reading, referencing and the management of information
Note taking and guarding against plagiarism
For books
For journal articles
For chapters in books
Citing journal articles and other materials taken from CD-ROMs or the Internet
The card index
The management of information
A lot of fuss about nothing?
Reading, note taking, guarding against plagiarism, referencing and the management of information checklist
Further reading

Literature searching
Defining the parameters of your search (search limiters) and keywords
Focusing, refining an grouping your keywords
Passwords, user names and working from home
Libraries, librarians - and of course books
Scanning books into digital format
Citing sources from the Internet
Evaluating sources
Copyright and licensing restrictions when downloading items from web pages
Time to move on
The top ten guide to searching the Internet
Literature searching checklist
Further reading
Appendix to Chapter 5
Search Engines and Internet Gateways

The review of the literature
The 'critical review' of the literature
Theory and theoretical (or conceptual) frameworks
The 'critical review' in practice
The Gilbert Fan review
The Richardson and Woodley review
Reviewing the reviews
The review of the literature checklist
Further reading

PART TWO Selecting methods of data collection
Reliability and validity
Thinking about computer data analysis?
Not thinking about computer data analysis?
A reminder
Further reading

The analysis of documentary evidence
Approaches to documents
The location of documents
The nature of documentary evidence
Primary and secondary sources
Deliberate and inadvertent sources
Witting and unwitting evidence
The selection of documents
Content analysis
The critical analysis of documents
External criticism
Internal criticism
Fact or bias?
The analysis of documentary evidence checklist
Further reading

Designing and administering questionnaires
Exactly what do you need to find out?
Question type
Question wording
Ambiguity and imprecision
Double questions
Leading questions
Presuming questions
Hypothetical questions
Offensive questions and questions covering sensitive issues
Appearance and layout
Drawing a sample
Piloting the questionnaire
Distribution and return of questionnaires
Respondents' and your rights and responsibilities
Analysis of data
Designing and administering questionnaires checklist
Further reading

Planning and conducting interviews
The ethics of conducting interviews
Advantages and disadvantages of the interview
Question wording
The interview schedule
Structured and semi-structured interviews
Unstructured interviews
Group interviews and focus groups
Tape-recording interviews
Bias - the old enemy
Planning and conducting interviews checklist
Further reading

Diaries, logs and critical incidents
The diary-interview method
Piloting returns forms and instructions to participants
The primary pupils' food diaries
The supply teachers' diary and time log
The general practitioners' time log
The asthma treatment diary
The heads of department critical incidents and problem portfolio logs
Personal research diaries
The ethics of diary use
A final word of warning
Diaries, logs and critical incidents checklist
Further reading

Observation Studies
Unstructured observation
Participant observation
Structured observation and keeping records
Recording behaviour
A few words of warning - again
After the event
Observation checklist
Further reading


Interpreting the evidence and reporting the findings
List questions
Quantity and category questions
Measures of central tendency
Verbal questions
Interpreting the evidence and reporting the findings checklist
Further reading

Writing the report
Getting started
The final writing task
Structuring the report
The need for revision
Any possibility of plagiarism?
Evaluating your own research
Writing the report checklist

Further reading

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