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.
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