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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.
[6]

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. [8]

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.                                                  [16]

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.               [30]

				
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