Learning from Research: Getting More from Your Data

By Judith Bell; Clive Opie | Go to book overview

1.1
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
and CRITICS OF DESCRIPTIVE
STUDIES

The first study to be considered here is a Master of Education (MEd) dissertation, produced by Helen Stoneley who at the time of the research was a lecturer in Occupational Therapy (OT) in a British university (Stoneley 1995). She had not undertaken any major research before and she made it clear to her supervisor that she would not be competent to cope with complex or, she claimed, even simple statistics. However, she hoped that the use of appropriate statistical computer packages would help to remedy that deficiency. There was just one problem, which was that she had never owned or used a computer before. A computer was duly purchased, software installed and then began the process of learning how to make it all work. All that took far longer and was far more frustrating than could have been imagined. Computer manuals were incomprehensible, the original software proved to be unsatisfactory, new software had to be purchased and the whole learning process went on and on.

She quickly came to appreciate what she did not know and at first that seemed to be a great deal. She found she had to read widely, learn new techniques, try to get to grips with the mysteries of computer packages and change her mind about the progress of the research when barriers were put in her way. She made mistakes (don't we all?) but learnt from them and in the end produced a successful dissertation.

-7-

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