The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects

By Martyn Denscombe | Go to book overview

Part II

Methods of social
research

Horses for courses

When it comes to selecting a method for the collection of data, certain research strategies will tend to be associated with the use of certain research methods. Surveys tend to be linked with questionnaires as experiments tend to be linked with observation. And such links are not just a matter of luck or the legacy of long research traditions. There are some sound theoretical reasons which explain the tendency of some strategies to be linked with some methods – but these need not detain us here. From the position of the project researcher, the crucial thing to recognize is that within the various strategies for social research there still remains some element of choice about which methods to use. This choice will be influenced by the strategy itself, but it will also reflect preferences about the kind of data that the researcher wishes to obtain and practical considerations related to time, resources and access to the sources of data.

Each of the methods has its particular strengths and weaknesses, and some guidance on these is contained in the following chapters. However, when it comes to choosing a research method, researchers should be aware that it is a matter of deciding which is the most appropriate method in practice, not of deciding that one data collection method is superior to all others in any absolute sense. They should ask themselves which method is best suited to the task at hand and operate on the premise that, when choosing a method for the collection of data, it is a matter of'horses for courses'.


Multi-methods and triangulation

In some senses the four research methods – questionnaires, interviews, observation and documents – can be seen as competing with each other. They vie

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The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Strategies for Social Research 3
  • 1: Surveys 6
  • 2: Case Studies 30
  • 3: Internet Research 41
  • 4: Experiments 61
  • 5: Action Research 73
  • 6: Ethnography 84
  • 7: Phenomenology 96
  • 8: Grounded Theory 109
  • Part II - Methods of Social Research 131
  • 9: Questionnaires 144
  • 10: Interviews 163
  • 11: Observation 192
  • 12: Documents 212
  • Part III - Analysis 231
  • 13: Quantitative Data 236
  • 14: Qualitative Data 267
  • 15: Writing Up the Research 284
  • Frequently Asked Questions 299
  • References 302
  • Index 307
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