The planning of educational research is not an arbitrary matter, the research itself being an inescapably ethical enterprise. The research community and those using the findings of research have a right to expect that research be conducted rigorously, scrupulously and in an ethically defensible manner. All this necessitates careful planning, with thought being given particularly to the consequences of the research. It is no accident, therefore, that we place the chapter on ethical issues at an early point in the book, for such matters must be a touchstone of acceptable practice. In addition, the parameters of the research need to be considered and made explicit by researchers at this initial stage; subsequent chapters in this part indicate how this might be achieved. A new chapter on planning educational research is intended to give novice researchers an overview of, and introduction to, planning issues, the intention being deliberately practical, for educational research has to work!
In planning research and identifying its parameters, we need to consider the issues of sampling, reliability, and validity at the very outset. We regard these factors as so important that in this edition we have included new chapters to address them. All are complex in nature, for there is no singular or exclusive version of reliability, validity, or what constitutes an acceptable sample. However, we believe that it is essential for planners to embark on research ‘with their eyes open’ so that they can consider what avenues of approach are open to them. What follows in this part of the book sets out to do just this: to make clear the range of possibilities and interpretations in these respects so that the eventual selection of sampling procedures and versions of reliability and validity will be made on the basis of fitness for purpose rather than caprice. The intention is that by the end of this part of the book researchers, however inexperienced, will be able to make informed decisions about the parameters and conduct of the research.