Research Skills IT Diploma students


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Identifying a “research problem”
Refining a research aim and objectives
Selecting a data collection method
Conducting interviews
Critical review of data collection options

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Research Skills IT Diploma students

  1. 1. Research skills Dr Aleksej Heinze Salford Business School University of Salford Friday 2 nd October 2009 Based on earlier work of Frances Bell, Janice Whatley and Mark Jones
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Identifying a “research problem” </li></ul><ul><li>Refining a research aim and objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Selecting a data collection method </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Critical review of data collection options </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is research? <ul><li>The Oxford English Dictionary defines research as: “A search or investigation directed to the discovery of some fact by careful consideration or study of a subject; a course of critical or scientific inquiry” ( Oxford English Dictionary 1989). </li></ul><ul><li>Why do we need to develop research skills? </li></ul><ul><li>… </li></ul><ul><li>to become an independent thinking person </li></ul>
  4. 4. Where do we start? <ul><li>Identifying and refining a “research problem” </li></ul><ul><li>External </li></ul><ul><ul><li>an assignment topic given to you by a teacher </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>your friend is looking for a new mobile phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>something you read in an article </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>assessment requirements i.e. word limits etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You are looking for a new game console </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You want to increase your knowledge in an area where you would like to work or have a hobby or… </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Is this a valid research problem? <ul><li>Stopping global warming </li></ul><ul><li>Tonight’s dinner </li></ul><ul><li>Selecting the best mobile phone handset </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of context/research settings </li></ul><ul><li>Focus of the research aim: </li></ul><ul><li>Do the findings of this work help with our understanding? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Activity <ul><li>Working in pairs: </li></ul><ul><li>Define a “research problem” which you would like to solve </li></ul><ul><li>Share this “research problem” with your peer and decide: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a) whether it is of an internal or external nature … or is it both? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>b) does it fit within the requirements of your assignment? </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Break
  8. 8. What to consider before research starts <ul><li>Research problem </li></ul><ul><li>Research aim and objective </li></ul><ul><li>Relevance </li></ul><ul><li>Cost </li></ul><ul><li>Currency </li></ul><ul><li>Timescales and deadlines </li></ul><ul><li>Convenience/accessibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>finding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>re-use and referencing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Availability </li></ul><ul><li>Credibility/quality </li></ul>
  9. 9. How can we conduct research? <ul><li>“ Do” or “ borrow” ? </li></ul><ul><li>Primary sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unpublished data gathered by researcher from interviews, questionnaires, observations, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secondary sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Materials previously published </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Books, journal articles, web pages, reports, theses </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Information sources <ul><li>The Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>discussion groups </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Books </li></ul><ul><li>Academic journals </li></ul><ul><li>Conference proceedings </li></ul><ul><li>Trade journals/magazines </li></ul><ul><li>Newspapers </li></ul><ul><li>Popular magazines </li></ul><ul><li>Television </li></ul><ul><li>Conversations with friends/colleagues </li></ul><ul><li>May be paper-based or electronic </li></ul>
  11. 11. Assessing quality <ul><li>Audience of the publication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>academic (peer reviewed or not?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>trade </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>general public </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Potential for bias </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. vendor publications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Publication process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>open forum vs peer review process </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are articles from Wikipedia of good quality? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Primary data <ul><li>Collected by the researcher </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. through observation, surveys, interviews, focus groups </li></ul>
  13. 13. What to consider before research starts <ul><li>Research problem </li></ul><ul><li>Research aim and objective </li></ul><ul><li>Relevance </li></ul><ul><li>Cost </li></ul><ul><li>Currency </li></ul><ul><li>Timescales and deadlines </li></ul><ul><li>Convenience/accessibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>finding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>re-use and referencing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Availability </li></ul><ul><li>Credibility/quality </li></ul>
  14. 14. Smart Objectives <ul><ul><li>S pecific </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>M easurable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A chievable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>R elevant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>T imely </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Research Aim and Objectives <ul><li>Aim – broad statement of what needs to be achieved </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To establish the latest trends in school healthy eating </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Objectives – to reach the aim… </li></ul><ul><li>Specific – students from secondary schools in Greater Manchester area </li></ul><ul><li>Measurable - survey of at least 100 students to be undertaken </li></ul><ul><li>Achievable - you have the necessary resources to undertake this study </li></ul><ul><li>Relevant - links with the aim and is relevant to the assessment requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Timely - to be achieved by end of Semester 2, 2010 </li></ul>
  16. 16. Activity <ul><li>Working in pairs refine the “research problem” identified earlier and write down: </li></ul><ul><li>Research aim: </li></ul><ul><li>Research objectives: </li></ul><ul><li>S </li></ul><ul><li>M </li></ul><ul><li>A </li></ul><ul><li>R </li></ul><ul><li>T </li></ul>
  17. 17. Break
  18. 18. Interviews <ul><li>“ An interview is a purposeful discussion between two or more people” (Saunders, et al 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Like a verbal questionnaire </li></ul><ul><li>Can be structured, unstructured and semi-structured </li></ul><ul><li>Dangers of getting false consensus: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>interviewee can be telling the researcher what they think she/he wants to hear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>interviewer steers participants by asking leading questions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But </li></ul><ul><ul><li>opportunity to ‘probe’ more deeply and develop a dialogue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>possibility of revealing other areas to investigate further </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Interviews <ul><li>What do you want to find out? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Views on school lunches from students. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you think about the school lunches? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Closed questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) rate your experience of school lunches </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Data: interview notes, sound recording or video recording </li></ul>
  20. 20. Interviews <ul><li>Structured </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You have a specific set of questions that you want answers for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is your typical lunch meal? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Semi-structured </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You have some vague idea of what you want to ask </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. you said that you like salad, please can you tell me more about the salads that you like? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unstructured </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You are not sure of the situation and would like to explore an issue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g.: Tell me what you think about school lunches </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Observations <ul><li>Purposeful note taking of a certain situation/behavior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Observing the number of people who choose a healthy meal for their school lunch </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You have a framework of themes or issues you are looking for and you are making notes of these </li></ul><ul><li>Data: Making notes, video recording, pictures </li></ul>
  22. 22. Observations <ul><li>Covert </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the participants are not aware of your observation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CCTV, user website behavior … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overt </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The participants are fully aware of your presence and your activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Census checking points </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What are the drawbacks/ advantages to both? </li></ul>
  23. 23. Activity <ul><li>In groups of three: </li></ul><ul><li>Roles: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewer : Decide on the research objective and three questions that you can ask of your interviewee </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewee : answer the questions of the interviewer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Observer : observe the way in which the questions were asked – what worked and what could be improved? </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Break
  25. 25. Secondary data sources <ul><li>Already exist and have been collected and published by other people </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. official statistics e.g. Social Trends survey, Census </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>books, journal articles, electronic journal articles etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mass media e.g. videos, newspapers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>diaries and letters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>company documents </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Quantitative vs Qualitative data <ul><li>Quantitative: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily concerned with numbers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Qualitative: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… includes all non numeric data – words, images, sounds and so on – found in such things as interview tapes, researchers’ diaries, company documents, websites and developers’ models.” (Oates 2006) </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Questionnaires <ul><li>Often used for surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Printed lists of questions answered either personally by the respondent or by the interviewer </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing popularity of online surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Strengths </li></ul><ul><ul><li>relatively cheap and quick </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>comparisons can be easily made </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>free online options allow for wide geographic reach and large sample size </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis is usually much quicker and inbuilt in some of the online data collection tools </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>cannot guarantee honesty of responses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>possibility of interviewer influence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>response rates often very low (about 5% - 10%) </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. example analysis
  29. 29. Research: Critical success factors: <ul><li>Identifying and scoping a “research problem” </li></ul><ul><li>Reviewing critically existing literature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Establishing the latest knowledge position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identifying similarities and differences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Justifying and designing data collection tools </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting and recording primary data collection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research logbook etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Analysing and discussing primary data in relation to secondary data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identifying similarities and differences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Drawing conclusions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recommendations, identifying limitations of the study and proposing further work in the area </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Practical advice <ul><li>Students should </li></ul><ul><ul><li>make a note of all the details needed for the reference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include citations as they write the essay/report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learn Harvard referencing style </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More information here: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Summary <ul><li>Identifying a “research problem” </li></ul><ul><li>Refining a research aim and objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Selecting a data collection method </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Critical review of data collection options </li></ul>
  32. 32. ?
  33. 33. References <ul><li>Oates, B. J. (2006). Researching Information Systems and Computing. London: Sage Publications. </li></ul><ul><li>Oxford English Dictionary, (1989), Oxford University Press, Oxford. </li></ul><ul><li>Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2007). Research methods for business students. Harlow, Essex, UK: Pearson Education. </li></ul>