Sample Answer Research Methods AS Jan 03 a) Quantitative data is a term used to describe data that is statistical in nature. Quantitative data is usually obtained using quantitative methods such as questionnaires or structured interviews that often contain pre defined answers. This means that patterns and trends can be identified. It is a method favoured by positivists who claim that it is a highly reliable method.  b) The first trend in the working situation of couples with dependent children between 1979 and 1997 is that there has been a marked increase in the number of couples where both parents work. For example in 1979 there was approximately 51 % and although this dropped temporarily between 83-84 there has since then been a continual increase reaching 60 % in 96-97. The second trend is in the percentage of couple where only the male is working. There has been a consistent decline between 79 and 97 from 42% in 79 to 255 in 97.  c) The first strength of the research design outlined in Item B could be the sampling strategy. Selecting two companies with a high proportion of female workers would not necessarily give you access to households in which both adults are working, Many women who are single parents work and many women work whose partners don’t and so this would not be guaranteed to give the researcher access to a suitable sample frame from which to select a sample. It would also be non representative of all women workers and the type of work done by both partners may have an impact on the division of household tasks. One strength of the design might be asking two men and two women to keep personal diaries for a week as this could provide rich and valid data about the division of household tasks. Ensuring that they indicate how much time is spent on each task performed should provide a valuable insight into what is otherwise a private institution often difficult to access. It could provide a good starting point for a more representative follow up research.  d) The first thing that I would do if I were intending to conduct a piece of research to collect information about the experiences of single parents with young children and their experiences is consider where I might access this group. I would approach my Local Authority to get a list of registered childminders and approved nurseries in my area. I would divide these into their geographical locations around the town and contact a random selection of 5 childminders and 1 nursery in each area. I would explain my purpose and ask them if I might visit them when parents are collecting their children so that I might ask for single parents to take part in my research. I consider this to be a more courteous way of identifying prospective interviewees than asking for a list of names which may cause ethical problems. This type of research could be quite personal and as such quite sensitive and as a result I would adopt an anti positivist approach. I would focus on “giving the respondents a voice” so I would use unstructured interviews as a data collection technique. I realise that asking for volunteers may result in a non representative sample, a problem that I would be forced to identify at the data analysis stage should this be the case. I would aim to interview respondents in a comfortable environment free from disturbances so that I could develop a rapport with the respondent and they would feel relaxed and secure enough to speak freely about their experiences of combining paid work with child care. I would follow the guidelines offered by the British Sociological Association ensuring confidentiality and anonymity for my respondents. I would of course seek their informed consent giving them the right to withdraw from the research at any time. This method is time consuming and it runs the risk of interviewer bias so I would have to be aware of this and do as much as possible to guard against it otherwise the validity of the results might be threatened resulting in the collection of data irrelevant to my central aims. It could also affect the reliability of the answers given in as much as the same questions asked by someone else might get quite different answers. I would try not to ask “leading questions” leaving the respondent as much as possible to talk freely on the topic. I would need to ensure that I collected significant information about each respondent such as their type of job and whether the child’s Father was involved in child care in any way. The problem with this strategy is that it ignores the many single parents who rely on family members for child care and so using places childminders and nurseries as a sample frame could result in a sample that is not representative of all single parents who combine paid work with child care. This means that I would not be able to generalise my findings to all single parents but only to those who use registered child care facilities. Recording and analysing the data collecting would also be time consuming. I would aim to record each interview so that I could make sure that nothing was missed in the analysis. I would also ask a colleague to cross validate my analysis.