Using material from Item C and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using structured interviews as a means of investigating substance abuse among homeless people. (15) (June 2012)
· The research characteristics of potential research subjects: eg gender, age, lifestyle differences between researcher and subjects; hostility to being researched; low literacy; language codes; street slang and intra-group language; hostility to authority; danger; participation in deviant acts; possibility of paying incentives; empowerment by being heard
· The research context and settings: open setting of hostels; variety of hostels; difficulty of recording data in street settings; difficulty of finding groups; danger; limited staffing of some hostels; gatekeepers
· The political and ethical sensitivity of researching substance abuse among homeless people: whether to inform police; betraying confidences.
· Strengths and limitations of the method: interviews overcome literacy problems; structure prevents drift from topic; easier to analyse than unstructured; overcomes ethical issues of consent; issues of confidentiality; may be distressing for participants; reliability; validity/insight; representativeness; generalisation; theoretical perspective; structured nature may limit flexibility.
Using material from Item C and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using covert observation as a means of investigating court proceedings. (15) (January 2012)
· The research characteristics of potential research subjects: opportunity for observation of accused, juries, judges, etc; power and status of legal profession, etc
· The research context and settings: open nature of court; situations where court is not open; private nature of chambers; inability to ask questions; complexity of court proceedings; processes that happen out of public court; length of trials
· The political and ethical sensitivity of researching covert proceedings: public accountability of actors; lack of informed consent; lack of access to jurors by law.
· Strengths and limitations of the method: validity; reliability; representativeness; generalisation; theoretical perspective; access; interpretation of meaning; cost; time; scale; flexibility; informed consent; participant/non-participant observation, etc.
Using material from Item B and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using unstructured interviews to investigate domestic violence. (15) (June 2011)
Strengths and limitations of the method: validity, reliability, representativeness, generalisation, theoretical perspective, grounded theory, interviews as interaction situations, interpretation of meaning, cost, time, scale, response rate, flexibility, ethics of researching sensitive subjects, privacy, informed consent, post-research effects on interviewees.
Research characteristics and issues: overcoming victim's reluctance to talk; their relationship to offender; the domestic setting; repressing the memory of victimisation; unawareness of being victimised; particular problems of interviewing child victims; dealing with traumatised interviewees; ethics of ‘guilty knowledge' acquired in interviews; reaction of agents of social control; lack of acknowledgement of guilt by perpetrators; ‘private’ nature of crimes etc.
Using material from Item B and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using written questionnaires as a means of investigating prisoners’ experience of imprisonment. (15) (January 2011)
• The research characteristics of potential research subjects: captive sample; problems of literacy levels of prisoners; prisoners’ hostility to authority; prisoners may want to give a good impression to officers…