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Research Question design

There are a number of ways that survey questions may be problematic. You should not ask questions that your respondents are unlikely to know the answers to, or imply a demand for an unreasonable degree of precision.

  • If you provide a set range of answers for participants, make sure that they are clear about whether you are requesting that they select only one answer from the set, or that they should indicate all that apply. Be careful that the language you use to express the question is not leading, or loaded.
  • Avoid value-laden language which might imply what you expect to be the ‘correct’ answer. Only ask one question at a time. If you find that the text of a closed question (one for which you have provided a series of possible answers for the respondent) contains words like ‘and’ or ‘or’ you may be asking your survey participants to give one answer to two or more different questions. Avoid complex constructions, such as double-negatives, in your wording.
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Thinking of research methods in homeopathy research

Reflecting on the Starting to think about research methods material, I start to think about which methods I’d like to explore in the next two weeks.

So, considering the first question, which is: “What kind of topics are you interested in researching?”- I’m interested in homeopathy research.

  • What initial research questions might be starting to emerge for you?

As a question of research in homeopathy, it would be:

“How people with chronic conditions react to hemopathic treatment?”

What are you interested in researching – people, groups, communities, documents, images, organisations? The answer is: people, groups, communities.

  • Do you have an initial ideas for the kinds of methods that might help you to gather useful knowledge in your area of interest? No. The research involves a number of components, which in combination constitute a research design.
  • What initial questions do you have about those methods? What don’t you understand yet? I do not yet understand what type of design to use in my future research.
  • Do you perceive any potential challenges in your initial ideas: either practical challenges, such as gaining access to the area you want to research, or the time it might take to gather data; or conceptual challenges; such as how the method you are interested in can produce ‘facts’, ‘truths’, or ‘valuable knowledge’ in your chosen area?

The answer is: practical challenges, such as gaining access to the area I want to research.

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Research Methods and Methodologies in Education. London, Sage

If your interest in primarily in educational research, we recommend the following textbook:

Arthur, J., Waring, M., Coe, R. and Hedges, L. (eds) (2012). Research Methods and Methodologies in Education. London, Sage.

There are two main reasons this book has been chosen. First, it is structured in a helpful way, divided into three ‘dimensions’: research designs, data collection tools, and analysis. This is really useful for getting a handle on the stages in which particular approaches or ideas are appropriate.

Second, it introduces a very wide range of approaches. By necessity, this means it cannot go very deeply into any one approach. However, it does give you signposts for the sorts of questions and projects that can be tackled using each, and suggestions about further reading. It addresses several aspects of online research. Importantly, each chapter is written by a researcher experienced with the approach they are writing about. This means you get ‘first hand’ accounts from researchers who have ‘been there and done that’.

For clarification, we are not requiring you to buy this book, or suggesting that it is necessary to complete this course. However, if you are primarily interested in educational research and want to take research methods seriously, using this book will serve as a good accompaniment to the next few weeks, and allow you to develop your understanding of different approaches.