Qualitative research and quantitative research are two approaches that are usually used by researchers to conduct research. The concept of a ‘mixed method’ approach is to combine the two approaches together. But the concept applies to using more than one qualitative method to conduct a research since each brings a particular kind of insight to a study (Ritchie and Lewis, 2003, p38). This paper aims to examine whether the three approaches---observation, interview and questionnaire, are appropriate to conduct the food preference research and whether there is a food preference based on gender by conducting the three approaches at Sheffield Hallam University. This paper discusses the three approaches separately. In each part, this paper firstly introduces the approach, then reviews the approach the author used to conduct the research at Sheffield Hallam University and has a reflection to illustrate the problems occurred when doing research based on the theory; meanwhile discusses the advantages and disadvantages and highs the notices when conducting the method; finally demonstrates the appropriate of the three methods to conduct the research about food preference and suggests some improvements of the three approaches. 1. Observation
a) Introduction of observation
Observation is a fundamental and important approach of doing qualitative research and be used to ‘discover complex interactions in natural social settings’ (Marshall and Rossman, 1999, p107). Most of the times, the subjects of the research do not know they are being observed, the researchers could be able to study people under a natural environment and put forward issues from their own perspectives (Collis and Hussey, 2009; Baker, 2006), the result gathered from observation could be more reliable and real to reflect the society. Through the process of observation, researchers need to record and analysis behavior and interaction as they occur naturally (Marshall and Rossman, 1999 ), so, the ability of understanding non-verbal words in the correct way is really important to researchers to have a precise result (Ritchie and Lewis, 2003 ). For example, if the subjects are from different countries and with different cultural background, the researcher must clearly understand the gestures and facial expressions may indicate different meaning in different culture in advance. In addition, another disadvantage of observation is that it is a time-consuming approach which needs researcher to spend considerable time to make the result more comprehensive (Baker, 2006). Also, there are also some ethical problems such as getting the permission of the subjects that plan to observe, but this may cause them to change their behavior (Adams et al., 2007), and as a result, influence the objective of observation. Overall, observation is a useful approach to obtain the most real information, but the ethic problem have an passive impact on the validity and reliability of the result because people will know they are observed and change their behavior when asking for permission. b) Description of observation practice
The author firstly conducted an observation at Chef Hallam on 16th November; the observation time was twenty minutes, from 12.20a.m to 12.40a.m. Observation was conducted in a group of six, each group member responsible for one kind of food, so the total number of observed food is six, that are pizza, cracker, herby diced potatoes, pasta, rice, pie. At the beginning of observation, all observers stood near the table which is used to list food, but that disturbed the work of the staff and the customers expressed they were uncomfortable to choose food under observation, so observers changed the position stood near the checkout counter to observe and record the food the customer choose and meanwhile record the gender of the customer. After observation, group member shared record information to conduct each own research. The result shows a light food preference of...