Theses and Dissertations: A Guide to Planning, Research, and Writing

By R. Murray Thomas; Dale L. Brubaker | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Data Collection Techniques and Instruments

"I need a test for evaluating the level of people's tolerance for ethnic diversity. Is such a test available? If not, how do I go about creating one?"

This chapter describes five procedures and instruments useful for collecting data in research projects. The five are observations, content analyses, interviews, questionnaires, and tests. Each is portrayed in terms of its definition, types, advantages, limitations, and sources of additional information.


OBSERVATIONS

Gathering information by observing involves watching and/or listening to people and events, then recording what has been discovered.


Ways of Observing

As noted in the discussion of case studies in Chapter 7, an important feature of observation procedures is the relationship that different procedures represent between the observer and the observed. This observer/observed association can range from the very remote to the very intimate. The following five examples of observation types progress from the most removed association to the most immediate.

Inconspicuous television cameras at four locations in a conference room were used for videotaping the activities of 12 members of a political candidate's support group as they planned campaign strategies. The researcher later scrutinized the tapes (a) to discover dominant and submissive roles displayed by the participants in their interactions and (b) to estimate the characteristics of individuals that determined the roles they adopted.

A PhD candidate in sociology used a videotape camera to photograph confrontations between labor-union strikers and nonunion workers who were crossing

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