Unit 25


Areas of research

• Health, i.e. treatment, health policy, practices in health care

• Social care, i.e. interventions, social care policy, practices in social care

• Childcare, i.e. child development, early years and childcare policy, practices in early years and childcare

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Purpose of research

• to improve outcomes for individuals 

• to establish an evidence-base for treatments/interventions

• to improve practice

• to identify gaps in provision

• to identify the needs of groups or individuals

• to inform policy

• to increase knowledge and understanding 

• to measure impact

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Research methodologies

• Quantitative 

• Qualitative

• Multi-methodology (mixed methods)

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Quantitative methodology assumes that things can be measured reliably. It involves using objective measurements and analysing statistical or numerical data. The aim is to either build evidence for theories / hypotheses or to disprove them. 

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Qualitative methodology recognises that some things can’t be measured.  Data collected is usually words rather than numbers. The aim is to achieve in-depth understanding of the aspects studied.

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Mixed methods

Multi-methodology acknowledges that qualitative and quantitative methodologies are complementary and can be used together in a research study to gain a holistic understanding. Quantitative methodologies are best for finding out what is happening. Qualitative methodologies are best for exploring why and how things are the way they are.

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Primary Methods

* Experimental method (Randomised Controlled Trial) 

* Survey/questionnaire 

* Observation, i.e. formal and informal 

* Interviews, i.e. structured, semistructured, unstructured, focus groups 

* Case study 

* Action research

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Secondary Methods

* Literature review, i.e. journals, books 

* Other documentary sources, i.e. government organisations 

* Published statistics, i.e. census data, government statistics, e.g. ONS, DH, DfE

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Experimental Method

establish cause and effect; control over variables; pre-test and post-test; careful measurement of results. 

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Representative sample; closed questions, use of Likert scales; open questions; administered by post/email/telephone/face-to-face.

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Structured (standardised, checklist)

Unstructured (natural behaviour, field notes).

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Structured (closed question, schedule)

Unstructured (open questions, tape recorded and transcribed).

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Case Study

In-depth study of individual, group, organisation, variety of methods and sources of data, study over a period of time. 

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Action research

Research into practice, practitioner as researcher, solves problems, in real settings

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Participants in research

• Individuals

• Groups

• Practitioners/professionals

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Sampling strategies

* Whole population

* Random sample

* Stratified sample

* Opportunity sample

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Research ethics

* Provide benefit (i.e. health research)

* Cause no harm

* Obtain informed consent

* Protect anonymity or confidentiality

* Avoid deception

* Allow the right to withdraw 

* Ensure transparency and integrity

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importance of ethics

* Human Rights Act

* Data Protection Act

* Organisational procedures, i.e. ethical review boards

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ethical issues

* independence of research (i.e. who has commissioned it? what is the purpose of the research?

* access to information  

* who the research may affect i.e.vulnerable adults, children

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ethics in practice

* Keeping participants informed (i.e. information sheets, sessions)

* Obtaining informed consent from participants

* Maintaining anonymity (i.e. pseudonyms, no identifying information)

* Confidentiality when anonymity is not possible, with informed consent 

* Responsible use of research findings

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Locating sources

• Library search

• Internet search

• Use of key term

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Selecting sources

• Appropriate 

• Relevant

• Trustworthy

• Complementary

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Using sources

• Developing a focus/theme/topic for research

• Writing good research questions/hypotheses, i.e. relevant, manageable in scope, original/Interesting, answerable, clear

• Making accurate notes i.e. avoiding plagiarism, appropriate acknowledgment of sources

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Presenting research

• link research ideas together

• compare and contrast methods, results or findings

• acknowledge source

• avoid plagiarism

• evaluate research, i.e. strengths and limitations of research methods

• draw conclusions i.e. in relation to research question/hypothesis, makes judgements on evidence/findings,  discusses implications

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Ways of evaluating research

* assess validity, reliability and generalisability, i.e.trustworthiness of source (i.e. journal articles/books are more trustworthy than media reports)

* bias 

* strengths or limitations of research methods used

* ethics of the research 

* representative samples

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Implications of findings

* individuals 

* groups 

* practitioners/professionals 

* practice

* settings 

* government policy

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areas for further research

* questions that have not been answered 

* areas where further evidence is needed 

* alternative research methods that could be used

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Validity, Reliability and Generalisability

validity, i.e. did the research methods used measure what they were intending to measure?

• reliability, i.e. how trustworthy is the research? Would the same results be achieved if the research was repeated?

• generalisability, i.e. how relevant is the research to other settings? How representative was the sample used in the research?

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