Guidelines for Good Practice
Focuses on the key ideas and practices that underlie good research and provides guidelines to newcomers and experienced researchers alike. This book includes chapters on research design and research philosophy. It contains material relating to the internet and online research.
"Ground Rules for Social Research" is a user-friendly resource for people doing small-scale social research projects. It focuses on the key ideas and practices that underlie good research and provides clear guidelines to newcomers and experienced researchers alike. The book is written for undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students in the social sciences, business studies, health studies, media studies and education who need to undertake research projects as part of their studies. Key features of the book include: the identification of 12 ground rules for good social research; checklists to help researchers evaluate their approach and avoid fundamental errors; and, a clear and jargon-free style. This new edition of the book builds on the features that made the first edition so successful, adding: new chapters on research design and research philosophy; an increased focus on mixed methods research; more examples and illustrations; and, updated material relating to the internet and online research.
Acknowledgements Introduction I Topic 1 PURPOSE The ground rule: Research should have clearly stated aims and questions. The need for clarity of purpose Suitable purpose Different types of purpose Personal interest in the choice of topic Aims Research questions Outcomes from the research Describing the purpose of research How precise can statements of purpose be at the start of the research? Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist 2 RELEVANCE The ground rule: Research should be related to existing knowledge and needs. The need for clarity about the relevance Links with existing knowledge Significance in terms of practical needs Timeliness of the research Personal interests of the researcher The literature review Critically reviewing the literature Completing the literature review The literature search Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist 3 FEASIBILITY The ground rule: Research should be tailored to fit the resources available. Money Time Access to data Co-operation by participants obligation incentives intrinsic rewards trust and good will Researcher's self as a resource physical and psychological danger emotional involvement Research quality and low budget research Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist II Approach 4 ETHICS The ground rule: Researchers need to protect the interests of participants Moral and legal acceptability Codes of ethics Ethics approval Researcher integrity No misrepresentation or deception Protection of the interests of participants avoiding stress and discomfort avoiding undue intrusion confidentiality of data protection of identities Security of the data Informed consent consent forms adequate information consent from children and vulnerable members of society power, authority and consent renewable consent and the right to withdraw boundaries of consent Internet research privacy, intrusion and deception confidentiality legislation Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist 5 OBJECTIVITY The ground rule: Researchers need to be open-minded and self-reflective. Objectivity as detachment Objectivity as open-mindedness Bias sponsorship personal obligation Considering alternative explanations Taking sides partisan research Relativism and postmodernism being explicit about values Reflexivity Seeing things from a different point of view the stranger's viewpoint the film critic Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist III Design 6 DESIGN The ground rule: Research designs should be coherent and fit for purpose. What is a research design? Key decisions time-frame number environment data theory Evaluating research designs validity and reliability pilot studies established good practice limitations Qualitative research designs Descriptions of the research design Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist 7 PHILOSOPHY The ground rule: Research should be aware of its underlying philosophical foundations. Why are philosophical foundations important? Understanding the social world: ontology and epistemology. Positivism Interpretivism Critical realism Pragmatism Research paradigms quantitative research qualitative research mixed methods research Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist IV METHODS 8 ACCURACY The ground rule: Research should produce valid data using reliable methods. Accuracy: the basic concerns Validity and reliability Asking the right questions The precision and detail of data The truth of information gathered The normality of the setting The neutrality and consistency of the research tools Validity and reliability: an illustration of the concepts Accuracy, truth and reality: a cautionary note Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist 9 ACCOUNTABILITY The ground rule: Research should include an explicit description and justification of the methodology. Checking up on the research authenticity verification audit Self-evaluation in the research account justification limitations Writing an account of research Example of an account of research Research project web-sites Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist V FINDINGS 10 GENERALIZATIONS The ground rule: Research should produce findings which can be applied to other situations. Criteria for the selection of samples and case studies Generalizations from a representative sample Generalizations from examples chosen for their particular qualities Generalizability and transferability Idiographic research Theory relevance How far can you generalize? Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist 11 ORIGINALITY The ground rule: Research should contribute something new to knowledge. New knowledge Originality as 'difference' New topic New method New information New analysis Plagiarism and false claims to originality ideas, theories and information words Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist 12 PROOF The ground rule: Researchers need to be cautious about claims based on their findings. Verification Falsification Testing theories Robust theories Limits to falsification Causation multiple causes Uncertainty and probability Alternative theories Guidelines for good practice Further reading Checklist References Index