QUALITATIVE RESEARCH SOCIAL
Formulating a research question.
Research aim and objectives
Doing the literature review
Ethical approval/proposal form
RESEARCH QUESTION- AIMS
Overall aim encapsulates point of
More specific objectives relate to
areas for exploration.
Relate to theory and policy literature
A Research Question is a statement
that identifies the phenomenon to be
„What resources are helpful to students studying
How you phrase the question partly determines
your research design.
Think about other ways you might frame the
Is your question „do-able‟?
Not too wide not too narrow.
Things to consider
Do I know the field and its literature well?
What are the important research questions in my field?
What areas need further exploration?
Could my study fill a gap? Lead to greater understanding?
Has a great deal of research already been conducted in this
Has this study been done before? If so, is there room for
Is the timing right for this question to be answered? Is it a hot
topic, or is it becoming obsolete?
If you are proposing a service program, or policy, is the target
Most importantly, will my study have a significant impact on the
SO WHAT? WHY? HOW?
A strong research idea should pass the “so what” test. Think
about the potential impact of the research you are proposing.
What is the benefit of answering your research question?
Who will it help (and how)? You need to be able to formulate
a definitive statement about the purpose of your research.
Your research focus should be fairly narrow, not broad-
based. For example, “What can be done to help students
study research methods?” is too large a question to answer.
It would be better to begin with a more focused question
such as “What is the relationship between practice based
learning and successful outcomes in research methods
Formulating a hypothesis
A well-thought-out and focused research question leads
directly into your hypotheses. What predictions would you
make about the phenomenon you are examining? This will
be the foundation of your research proposal.
Hypotheses are specific predictions about the nature and
direction of the relationship between two variables. For
example, “Those students who learn research methods
through conducting primary research will achieve higher
grades than those who learn through lectures and tutorials.”
Give insight into a research question;
Are testable and measurable by the proposed methods;
Relate logically to the experience of the informants;
Normally, no more than three primary hypotheses should be
proposed for a research study. A proposal that is hypothesis-
driven is more likely to be „do-able‟, and more focused, than
a “fishing expedition” or a primarily descriptive study.
Make sure you:
Provide a rationale for your hypotheses—
where did they come from, and why are
Provide alternative possibilities for the
hypotheses that could be tested—why did
you choose the ones you did over others?
If you have good hypotheses, they will lead
into your Specific Aims. Specific aims are
the steps you are going to take to test your
hypotheses and what you want to
accomplish in the course of your research.
Specific aims are the steps you are going to take to test your
hypotheses and what you want to accomplish in the course
of your research. Make sure:
Your objectives are measurable and focused;
Each hypothesis is matched with a specific aim.
The aims are feasible, given the time and word limit.
Two examples of specific aims would be;
1). “Conduct a rigorous empirical evaluation of student
experiences of research methods training at undergraduate
2) Compare the experiences of two groups—
a). Those who undertake their own research project.
b). Those who learn through lectures and tutorials.
Aims and Objectives . General
Why are you doing this research?
What are the long-term implications?
What other avenues are open to explore?
What is the ultimate application or use of the
These questions all relate to the long-term goal of
your research, which should be an important
undercurrent of the proposal. Again, they should
be a logical extension of the research question,
hypotheses, and specific aims.
Does the research you are proposing relate to any
personal long term aims or goals?
THE PROCESS OF DESIGNING A
WHY IS MY RESEARCH QUESTION
WHAT HAVE OTHER
WHAT HAVE THEY
SPECIFIC AIMS- THE STEPS YOU ARE
GOING TO TAKE TO TEST HYPOTHESIS.
DOING A LITERATURE
Relate to research aim and objectives
From general to specific
Substantive, theoretical and policy
Follow up references in books/articles
Use library catalogue
SEARCH FOR LITERATURE (1)
Broadening your search criteria.
Look in unlikely places.
Don‟t forget methods literature.
General web sites
General search engines, „sociological
links‟ on web page
Electronic journals & resources on
library web page
Make use of secondary data and
Useful Sociology Links
Sociosite Sociological Research Online
Socioweb Reviewing Sociology
SOSIG (Social Science Information
http://sosig.ac.uk/ British Sociological Association
The SocioLog http://www.britsoc.org.uk/
Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace
World Sociology Lecture Hall
http://wnt.cc.utexas.edu/~wlh/ American Sociological Association
WWW Virtual Sociology Library http://www.asanet.org/
http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/w3virtsocli Australian Sociological
REGARD - database for social science http://www.tasa.org.au/
http://www.regard.ac.uk/regard/home/i International Sociological
The Question Bank http://www.ucm.es/info/isa/
Office for National Statistics
What you ask
How you ask
Involving interviewees in your research
BASIC ETHICAL PRACTICE
Letter of consent
Advise people where to get help.
IN THE RESEARCH - at what
Clarifying aim and objectives
Finalising sample (week 4)
Designing topic guide (week 6)
Analysing results (week 8)
Commenting on findings
Helping to formulate policy implications
Check salient Time and effort
points Interviewee bias
Clarify analysis Negative reactions
Type of people to be interviewed
Method of finding people
Informed written consent
Formal permission required?
Hand in by March 14th.