So – welcome to the world of research! Whatever level you are working at, you are joining a community of people who are crucial to our knowledge and understanding of contemporary hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism. In our increasingly complex and diverse society, research knowledge is the lifeblood on which those engaged in these fields depend. Whether working professionally, engaged voluntarily, or seeking personal understanding, innumerable organisations, agencies and individuals need and use research. The existence of this wider research community has a number of important implications for your own research. Research is a collective and cumulative enterprise: researchers learn from each other and build on each others’ findings, techniques, arguments and theories. Your study, however modest, is part of this tradition - and this offers you great benefits!! There is great value to you in looking at published research to see: •
how research is USED – i.e. what is the point and purpose of it all? Who uses research, and what for? Understanding the outcome of research is important: it helps you see the purpose in your own research and will allow you to embark on your own project with a firmer sense of what you are doing – and why. what is already KNOWN – what have previous studies found out about your topic? What is the current state of knowledge? Are you, in fact, researching something which has been studied extensively before? Are you filling a gap or providing more detail? Or is your research topic so staggeringly innovative that no-one has thought of studying it before? If not, what HAVE other researchers been concerned with? HOW has past research been carried out – what methods have been used? What types of data have previous researchers decided to collect, to develop understanding of the topic they were researching? What choices were available to them and how did they reach their decision about which to use? Which data collection techniques produce the type of knowledge and understanding you hope to generate from your own study? How is research REPORTED – how does it become knowledge available to a wider audience? If researchers do not tell others their findings, their new knowledge may as well not exist! So reporting of research is a critical, central element of the whole research process – it is what makes new knowledge visible and real.
Previous research therefore offers you a rich source of information, data, techniques and examples of immediate relevance to your own work. This section of the Gateway gives us a chance to introduce you (in section 1.4) to some of this material! We recommend that you embrace this opportunity with WILD enthusiasm!
1.2 Student research in Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism It is very common for students taking qualifications in Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism to carry out research at some stage in their studies. Doing research offers the opportunity for students to focus on personal areas of interest within these diverse subject areas, either complementing or adding to the coverage of their taught modules. Doing research can also offer a special opportunity to combine academic study with real-life experience, and many students use their research project as an opportunity to work closely with their preferred sector of the industry. Student research varies in scale and scope between institutions and courses, and in the way in which it is organised. For some it is compulsory, for others an option – one that many choose to take. It may take the form of individual projects, small-group exercises, or even whole-class work. Some student research focuses on just part of the research process: for example, many research methods courses include some practical experience of designing and implementing data collection methods, such as conducting questionnaire surveys or in-depth interviews, or carrying...