The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-11-25
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
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This highly readable text guides the reader through each stage of their research project, from getting started to writing up, with each chapter clearly explaining a step along the way. Based on the author's hugely popular The Essential Guide to Doing Research , this new book retains the warmth, wit and grounded nature of the first, while providing tools to help students through the ins and outs of their own projects, and addressing the key questions students need to tackle.This is an inspiring book full of down-to-earth advice, illuminating figures, and diagrams and engaging real life examples. With this book as your personal mentor, a successfully completed research project is well within reach.

Table of Contents

Taking the Leap into the Research World
The challenge of tackling a research project
So what is this thing called research and why do it?
The need for research knowledge
The potential of research knowledge
Delving into the 'construct' of research
Ontology and epistemology
Competing positions
The position of the reflexive researcher
Getting help along the way
The structure of the book
How to get the most out of the book
Getting Started
On your mark, get set, go!
Navigating the process
Understanding your programme
Getting set up
Getting the right advice
Managing the workload
Staying on course
Finding a balance
Dealing with 'crisis'
Striving For Integrity in the Research Process
Power, politics, ethics and research integrity
Understanding the power game
Credibility: Integrity in the production of knowledge
Working with appropriate indicators
Managing subjectivities
Capturing 'truth'
Approaching methods with consistency
Making relevant and appropriate arguments
Providing accurate and verifiable research accounts
Ethics: Integrity and the 'researched'
Legal obligations
Moral obligations
Ethical obligations
Ethics approval processes
Integrity indicators and checklist
Developing Your Research Question
The importance of good questions
Defining your topic
Curiosity and creativity
Looking for inspiration
From interesting topics to researchable questions
Narrowing in
The need to redefine
The hypothesis dilemma
Hypothesis defined
Characteristics of good questions
Crafting a Research Proposal
The role of the proposal
Demonstrating merits of the research question
Demonstrating merits of the proposed methods
Demonstrating merits of the researcher
Elements of the proposal
Writing a winning proposal
Following guidelines
Writing purposively
Drafting and redrafting
Obstacles and challenges
When your design doesn't fit proposal requirements
When your design is emergent
When want to or need to change direction/method
Working with Literature
The importance of literature
The role of literature
Sourcing relevant literature
Types of literature
Calling on 'experts'
Honing your search skills
Managing the literature
Assessing relevance
Being systematic
Annotating references
Writing a the formal 'literature review'
The writing process
Designing a Research Plan
Methodology, methods and tools
The relationship between methodology and methods
Moving from questions to answers
Finding a path
Hitting the target
Getting down to the nitty gritty
Fundamental questions
Emergent methodological design
Understanding Methodologies: Quantitative, Qualitative and 'mixed' Approaches
Understanding the quantitative/ qualitative divide
The quantitative tradition
Scientific/ hypothetico-deductive methods
Experimental design
Exploring a population
The qualitative tradition
Credibility in qualitative studies
Understanding feminist approaches
Mixed methodology
Arguments for mixed methodology
Perspectives and strategies
Challenges and obstacles
Understanding Methodologies: Evaluative, Action-Oriented and Emancipatory Strategies
Research that attempts to drive change
Evaluation research
Summative/outcome evaluation
Formative/process evaluation
The politics of evaluative research
Negotiating real-world challenges of evaluative research
Action research
The scope of action research
Key elements of action research
Challenges associated with action research
Emancipatory research
Participatory action research
Critical ethnography
Issues in emancipatory research
Seeking 'respondents'
Who holds the answer?
Samples: Selecting elements of a population
Opportunities in working with a 'sample'
Sample selection
Random samples
Non-random samples
Key informants: Working with experts and insiders
Opportunities in working with key informants
Informant selection
Cases: Delving into detail
Opportunities in working with cases
Case selection
Direct Data Collection - Surveys and Interviews
The challenge of getting data directly from the source
Options and possibilities
Issues and complexities
The survey process
The survey instrument
Options and possibilities
Issues and complexities
The interview process
Conducting your interview
Indirect Data Collection: Working with Observations and Existing Text
The challenge of gathering indirect data
Options and possibilities
Issues and complexities
The observation process
Receiving, reflecting, recording, authenticating
Working with existing 'text'
Options and possibilities
Issues and complexities
The process of textual analysis
Delving into documents, history, artefacts, and secondary data
Analysing Quantitative Data
Moving from raw data to significant findings
Keeping a sense of the overall project
Doing statistical analysis
Managing data and defining variables
Data management
Understanding variables - cause and effect
Understanding variables - measurements scales
Descriptive statistics
Measuring central tendency
Measuring dispersion
Measuring the shape of the data
Inferential statistics
Questions suitable to inferential statistics
Statistical significance
Understanding and selecting the right statistical test
Presenting quantitative data
Analyzing Qualitative Data
The promise of qualitative analysis
Keeping the bigger picture in focus
From raw data to significant findings
QDA software
The logic of QDA
Balancing creativity and focus
Moving between inductive and deductive reasoning
The methods of QDA
Identifying biases/ noting impressions
Reducing and coding into themes
Looking for patterns and interconnections
Mapping and building themes
Developing theory
Drawing conclusions
Specific QDA strategies
Presenting quantitative data
The Challenge of Writing up
The writing challenge
Research as communication
Knowing and engaging your audience
Finding an appropriate structure and style
The writing process
Writing as analysis
Constructing your 'story'
Developing each section/ chapter
From first to final draft
The need for exposure
Attending conferences
Giving presentations
Writing and submitting articles
The final word
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