Here are a some notes I have been taking whilst reading the 'Doing your research book'. Its a really helpful and structured book which teaches you to investigate your study in a methodically planned way.
Consider these questions:
- Can I improve my practice so that it's more effective?
- Can I improve my understanding of this practice?
- Can I use my knowledge and influence to improve the situation?
Action research is an approach which is appropriate in any context when 'specific knowledge is required for a specific problem in a specific situation' - It is not a method or technique.
- Action research almost inevitably affects others.
- It's important before the research begins, everyone involved must know why the investigation is taking place, who will see it, who will se the final report, and who will have responsibility for implementing any recommended changes.
The case study approach can be particularly appropriate for individual researchers, provides opportunity for one aspect of a problem to be studied in depth.
- The more the study contains specific propositions, the more it will stay within reasonable limits.
- Evidence has to be collected systematically.
- The relationship between the variables studied and the investigation methodically planned.
- Observations and interviews mostly used.
When it comes to subject matter, all one can say is that surveys are concerned with the demographic characteristics, the social environment, the activities or the opinions and attitudes of some group of people.
- Consider what total characteristics of a population
- Surveys can provide answers to to the questions What? Where? When and How? However not to easy to find out Why?
Reading, referencing and management of information
Note taking and plagiarism
- Always make it clear in your notes which is the quotation and which are paraphrase
- If you are making an exact copy, add inverted commas at the beginning and end of the extract. Record the chapter and page numbers, if you leave out any words in the text add three full stops.
- Can you trust what you read? (research/report/document) is there evidence to support?
Planning the project
- Are you clear about the purpose of the study?
- Have you decided on the focus of your study?
- Have you been through all the key questions?
- Have you considered what information you might need?
- Are you in a position to answer your questions?
- Have you considered how you will obtain information?
- Think about time and planning
- Consider plans and lists
- Devise a schedule
- Check progress periodically
- Produce a list or a chart to record what stage you are at
- Collect/ analyse/ produce
- Ask for help and advice
Planning the project checklist
1. Draw up a shortlist of topics
2. Decide on a short list of two
3. Make a list of first and second thought questions or reduce a chart of ideas, thoughts, possible problems - anything you can think of
4. Select the precise focus of your study
5. Make sure you are clear about the purpose of your study
6. Go back to your chartist. questions and delete any irrelevant
Reading, referencing and management checklist
1. Read as much as you can about your topic, and keep a record of what you have read.
2. Decide on a system of referencing sources.
3. When recording your sources always note (authors name, forename or initials, date of publication, title of publication, place of publication and publisher) Keep a record!
4. Make notes of what seem to be important, keep a 'first thoughts' list of categories and keywords.
5. Ask yourself whether you can true what you read.
6. Establish a system of indexing and cross-referencing.
7. If you record your sources accurately you will have begun to establish good research habits.
8. Draw up an initial project outline. Check that you are clear about the purpose and focus of your study, identified questions, know what information you will need.
9. Consult with tutor.
10. Keep a brief record of what has been discussed.
11. From the start of for research get into the habit of writing everything down.
The review of literature
- Theory has been explained as 'a set of interrelated abstract propositions about human affairs and the social world that explain their regularities and relationships'.
- A proposition about the relationship about things.
- Theoretical framework is an explanation device 'which explains either graphically or in narrative from, the main things to be studied - the key factors, constructs or variables and the presumed relationships between them'.
- Summarising accumulated facts.
Critical review in practice
- Any research involving humans beings has to take off the inevitably large number of variables involved.
- Establish any common patterns of behaviour of experience.
Selecting methods of data collection
- What do I need to do and why?
- What is the best way to collect information (methodology)
- When I have this information what shall I do with it?
Writing the report
- Allow time for writing and re-writing
- Writing is a process of various stages
- Record all stages at the time
- Disipline to complete in time
- Principle of thinking on paper
- Setting days aside for writing (whole days lead to bad practice)
- Designate time slots
Structure the report
Title of your study, your name and date. The title should accurately reflect the nature of your study.
You may wish to acknowledge the help given to you in the preparation of your report.
In few words 'what your investigation is set out to do'.
Aims of the study
A brief explanation of the purpose of your research, exam plain the research problem in a few sentences. State aims/ objectives/ hypothesis. Provide any background to the study which is necessary.
Method of data collection
Heading may be 'some considerations of method'. This selection explains how the problem was investigated and why particular methods and techniques were employed.
Statement of results
The heart of the report will consist of text and if necessary tables and figures.
Analysis and discussion
If your research tests certain hypothesis, then you should demonstrate whether they were or were not supported by the evidence.
Summary and conclusion
Main conclusion should be summarised briefly and simply.
* Don't drop in an opinion for which no evidence is provided.
The final section should be clearly expressed to enable readers to clearly understand what research has been one and the conclusions that have been drawn from the evidence.
List of references
Justify and support your arguments.
Allow you to make comparisons with other research.
Demonstrate your familiarity with your field of work.
* Bibliography - Includes all sources consulted during preparation of the investigation.
* Reference systematically and in alphabetical order.
Generally double line spacing
Pages should be numbered
Text on one side of the page only
Leaving a left hand margin of one and a half inches
The need for revision
Work through you first draft section by section to ensure: Sense/ accuracy/ logical sequencing/ sounds/ expression.
Use a dictionary and thesaurus