CHAPTER 8 UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH METHODS, POPULATIONS AND SAMPLING
What sampling method was used in the above study? Could you write a short critique of that sam pling method? What population was used in the study? How well do you think the sample selected represents the population? Do you agree with the authors' claim that there was a close fit between the population of the study and the sample of that population included in the study?
What do the authors mean when they state that this close frt helped to confirm the robustness of findings from the data?
Dermody, J, and Scullion, R, (2004) 'Exploring the value of party political advertising for youth electoral engage ment: An analysis of the 2001 British General Election advertiSing campaigns', International Journal of Non profit and Voluntary Sector Marketing 9(4): 361-379.
DATA COLLECTION METHODS
The researcher is, as stated, a pragmatist when it comes to gathering data. The techniques that provide the most useful data, the most appropriate data, are the methods used. There are very many data collection methods at the disposal of the researcher, including those described in this chapter. In fact, the researcher is limited only by their own imaginations, and by the issue of validity, in terms of the data collection method(s) they use in their research project. Table 8.4 contains short descriptions of different data gathering methods. You will notice that some of the data gathering methods listed below are also listed in Tables 7.1 and 7.2 in Chapter 7 of this textbook. This is because these approaches to research can be used as research methodologies andlor as data collection methods. Some of them, such as discourse analysis, content analysis and narrative analysis can also be used as approaches to data analysis. We will encounter these terms again when we explore data analysis in later chapters of this textbook. Table 8.3
Observation PartiCipant observation Covert observation One-to-one interviews Telephone interviews Group interviews Postal questionnaires Drop and collect questionnaires Group administered questionnaires Online questionnaires Focus groups Internet research Secondary sources Case studies
list of data collection methods
Scales Projective techniques Content analysis Field diaries Visual methods Narrative analysiS Documentary evidence Discourse analysis Semiotics Oral history Archival research Experiments Unobtrusive methods Critical incident method
DATA COLLECTION METHODS
Table 8.4 Detailed data collection methods
Observation Observation is a data collection method used in order to record the observations of a phenomenon. The researcher engages in observation in order to gather data on the phenomenon under investigation. In conducting an observation, the researcher observes what is happening and records her or his observations. Observations can be carried out in an unstructured, semi-structured, or structured manner. In an unstructured observation the researcher has no pre-set criteria in terms of what it is that he/she is observing. This kind of observation is usually engaged in at the beginning of a study, when the researcher is not sure precisely what will happen, or what exactly he/she needs to be observing. Often, through unstructured observation, these things become apparent. In semi-structured observation, the researcher has a pre-prepared list of actions that he/she wishes to focus on through the observation. Generally this list will contain about eight points, each of which relates to the action to be observed. The researcher notes each time the action happens, and records, generally in field notes, his or her observations on and around the action. In structured observation, the researcher has a structured list of actions or points related to the action that he/she wishes to observe. A schedule designed for the recording of a structured observation can look like a highly structured...