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Doing Your Research Project


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Table of Contents

PART ONEPreparing the ground Approaches to research Action research and the role of practitioner researchers Case study Critics of case study Survey The experimental style Ethnography and the ethnographic style of research The grounded theory approach Narrative inquiry and stories Which approach? Further reading Planning the project Selecting a topic Getting started Hypotheses, objectives and researchable questions Working title and the project outline Timing Supervision Student-supervisor relationships Codes of practice for supervision Change of supervisor Keeping records of supervisory tutorials The research experience Writing as you go along and the research diary Planning the project checklist Further reading Ethics and integrity in research Research contracts, codes of practice, protocols and the principle of informed consent Ethics committees Confidentiality and anonymity Safeguarding confidentiality and anonymity if disseminating information by computer Ethical research in practice and the problems of 'inside' research Codes of ethical practice relating to intellectual ownership/property The ethics and integrity in research checklist Further reading Reading, referencing and the management of information Reading Note taking and guarding against plagiarism Referencing For books For journal articles For chapters in books Citing journal articles and other materials taken from CD-ROMs or the Internet The card index The management of information A lot of fuss about nothing? Reading, note taking, guarding against plagiarism, referencing and the management of information checklist Further reading Literature searching Defining the parameters of your search (search limiters) and keywords Focusing, refining an grouping your keywords Passwords, user names and working from home Libraries, librarians - and of course books Scanning books into digital format Journals Citing sources from the Internet Evaluating sources Copyright and licensing restrictions when downloading items from web pages Time to move on The top ten guide to searching the Internet Literature searching checklist Further reading Appendix to Chapter 5 Search Engines and Internet Gateways The review of the literature The 'critical review' of the literature Theory and theoretical (or conceptual) frameworks The 'critical review' in practice The Gilbert Fan review The Richardson and Woodley review Reviewing the reviews The review of the literature checklist Further reading PART TWO Selecting methods of data collection Introduction Constraints Reliability and validity Thinking about computer data analysis? Not thinking about computer data analysis? A reminder Further reading The analysis of documentary evidence Approaches to documents The location of documents The nature of documentary evidence Primary and secondary sources Deliberate and inadvertent sources Witting and unwitting evidence The selection of documents Content analysis The critical analysis of documents External criticism Internal criticism Fact or bias? The analysis of documentary evidence checklist Further reading Designing and administering questionnaires Exactly what do you need to find out? Question type Question wording Ambiguity and imprecision Assumptions Memory Knowledge Double questions Leading questions Presuming questions Hypothetical questions Offensive questions and questions covering sensitive issues Appearance and layout Drawing a sample Piloting the questionnaire Distribution and return of questionnaires Respondents' and your rights and responsibilities Non-response Analysis of data Designing and administering questionnaires checklist Further reading Planning and conducting interviews The ethics of conducting interviews Advantages and disadvantages of the interview Question wording The interview schedule Structured and semi-structured interviews Unstructured interviews Group interviews and focus groups Tape-recording interviews Bias - the old enemy Remember! Planning and conducting interviews checklist Further reading Diaries, logs and critical incidents Representativeness The diary-interview method Piloting returns forms and instructions to participants The primary pupils' food diaries The supply teachers' diary and time log The general practitioners' time log The asthma treatment diary The heads of department critical incidents and problem portfolio logs Personal research diaries The ethics of diary use A final word of warning Diaries, logs and critical incidents checklist Further reading Observation Studies Unstructured observation Participant observation Structured observation and keeping records Recording behaviour Content A few words of warning - again After the event Observation checklist Further reading PART THREE Interpreting the evidence and reporting the findings Introduction List questions Quantity and category questions Measures of central tendency Coding Grids Scales Verbal questions Conclusions Interpreting the evidence and reporting the findings checklist Further reading Writing the report Getting started The final writing task Structuring the report The need for revision Any possibility of plagiarism? Evaluating your own research Writing the report checklist Further reading References Index

About the Author

Judith Bell has worked as a university lecturer, head of department and vice principal in colleges of further education; as a senior counsellor and course team writer for the Open University; and as one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools specializing in continuing education. In 1997 she was awarded the MBE for services to educational research and in the same year was awarded the degree of D.Univ by the Open University, for services to adult education and to the University.

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