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Literature Review on Research methods

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					                                LITERATURE REVIEW




       The research methods are divided into three broad categories; quantitative,

qualitative and participatory research method. These research methods have different

approach, techniques and tools to conduct a research (Collis et al, 2009). Quantitative

methods are the main focus in the development research while qualitative and

participatory research methods based on desirable outcomes. These traditional methods

are now considered as outdated ones. New tools and solutions are continuously

developed and integrated to mix these research methods (Creswell, 2003).


       Mayoux (2005) suggested that quantitative methods are derived from

experimental and statistical methods of research. They measure the objectivity of the data

to find out the truth or falsehood of a developed hypothesis. This method is based on the

measurement of what is happening to how many people. The tools used in these methods

are large scale surveys and analysis of the same with statistical techniques. The

hypothesis is formed before conducting the surveys and the questionnaires are developed

in the basis of those questionnaires.


       The qualitative research methods originated from sociology, anthropology,

history, and geography. These methods widely differ from the quantitative research

methods. The qualitative research techniques focuses on developing understandings about

the real time environment and processes involved. The questions and hypothesis is

developed on the basis of these understandings. The qualitative research methodologies

focus on the selection of small scale cases that are investigated by using a combination of
formal and informal methods like interviews, observations, and the newly introduced

tools like photography and video footages (Grunow, 1995). The questions developed in

this research are open ended in nature and are subject to change over time to fill the needs

of research due to the variability of reality. Different sampling methods like purposive

sampling techniques are used in this type of research. This research needs long term

involvement of the researcher based on his skill to collect data and analyze it (Porter &

Desai, 2005).


       Johnson and Mayoux (1998) indicated that the participatory methods originated

from the development activism like NGO’s and social movements in the various fields of

life. This research is conducted not to find out the knowledge base about the particular

subject but to investigate social change and empowerment in the society and culture. The

participatory research methods emphasizes on the investigation of a subject and voicing

over the issues of the social groups who lacks the abilities and opportunities to speak up

in the development and implementation of decisions. They further identified that this type

of research involves small focus groups, participatory workshops and individual diaries

that are used in their discussions.


       The larger groups are further divided into small homogeneous groups. This type

of research uses the diagram tools from farmer-led research, system analysis as well as

oral and visual tools. These tools help in the efficient discussion among the ill-literate

group participants and cross language groups. Sharing allows the participants to discuss

their issues more efficiently in this research method. The understanding is developed
from their discussion and the decisions are then formulated and implemented (Johnson &

Mayoux, 1998).


       Various organizations use research especially market research to stay fine tuned

in the markets. The market research helps the organizations to identify the potential

markets to penetrate, the needs and wants of the customers and the methods of how to

meet those needs and want more efficiently and effectively. The market research also

allows the organizations to find out new ideas of marketing their products and services to

make them more accessible to the customers. Another most important advantage or focus

of market research is to find out who your competitors are and how to position yourself in

order to remain competitive in the markets. The market research can be conducted by the

organizations without having advanced skills.


       The organizations employ questionnaires, survey and checklist methods in their

market research when they need to quickly find out lots of related information from the

people and interpreting that information in the best interest of the company. These

methods are usually inexpensive to administer, easy to analyze and interpret, the

organization can reach large number of people in a small time frame and there are

number of tools available in the market which are ready to use by these organizations.

But these tools have drawbacks as well. Among them are the lack of interest by the

participants, biased answers of the participants and these research tools might not convey

the full story to the researcher (McNamara, 2011).
       The companies also use interviews for direct interactions with the participants.

This research tool is used when the organization wants to develop full understanding

about the perceptions, experiences and impressions of someone about a particular subject

or to learn about their experiences and answers to questionnaires. Interviews are

beneficial when the researching organization or a researcher wants to obtain full range

and in depth information on the subject of interest. Interviews allow the researchers to

develop a relationship with the participants to soothe their expressions to give moral

support to them. Interviews are no doubt very effective way of collecting information but

it can take too much time to get the data and then interpret it. The answers are sometime

hard to interpret and costly. Moreover the interviewer can add the personal biasness to

the responses received from the clients (Bryman, 2004).


       Another method adopted by the organizations is the review of documentation. The

documentation reviews are used when the organization wants to figure out the impact of

program operating in the organization without interrupting the program and its functions.

This involves the review of applications, finances, memos etc. this method is used when

one wants to develop understanding about the history of a particular subject or things.

This method is highly feasible when the organization don’t want to engage into the

client’s daily routine matters. In this type of research, the researcher don’t have to collect

the data, the data already exists in the databases with fewer biases of the people. But it

too have some limitations, among them is the irrelevancy of data or incomplete

information present to the researcher (Duane, 1996).


       Focus groups are useful when the researcher wants to explore the topic of concern

via group discussions. This method allows the researcher to explore the topic in depth
and find reactions, experiences, suggestions, understanding and complaints of people

about the particular topic. This method is highly useful in the evaluation of a problem and

marketing of a particular subject. This method is highly reliable and quick in nature

which provides the large amount of information in a short period of time. The responses

may be hard to interpret sometimes (Abrams, 2001).


   The historical research method aims to provide the useful insights about the

background and growth of the chosen field of study. These insights may include the

organizational structure, culture, current trends and the future implications of the subject

or process. This method is applicable to all the fields of study as it contains the origin,

theories, growth, maturity, development of theories, personalities etc. For the collection

of data for this type of research can be done either through qualitative research methods

or by quantitative research methods. Busha and Harter explain that once the researcher

decides to conduct historical research then he or she will follow a pattern of steps to

conduct the research efficiently and effectively. These steps may include the following:


      Problem identification which requires the use of historical knowledge

      Collection of relevant information about the problem or topic.

      Formation of hypothesis to discuss the relationship between the historical factors.

      The collection of evidence, its verification, authenticity of resources from the

       organization

      The arrangement of the collected evidence and the analysis of information.
   The historical information about the subject or the organization can be collected

through primary and secondary data sources. The primary sources are said to be the first

hand collection of data. It involves detecting the historical data by the researcher himself.

It includes perception, logic, intuition, persistence (Tuchman, 1998). The primary sources

may include personal memos, eye witnesses, databases of events and oral histories. The

secondary sources of information is said to be the information that is not primary; the

information is collected, analyzed and interpreted by someone else who observed the

events or occasions and their occurrence. These resources are very useful for the

researcher to grasp the in depth information about the subject and are not very costly as

compared to the primary sources of information (Tuchman, 1998).


   A very important methodology used in the organizations these days is the use of

Appreciative inquiry. Appreciative inquiry provides useful leads to the organizational

development, training and the development of employees and processes within the

organization to solve the problem at hand. Appreciative inquiry asserts that the problems

are the products of our own perceptions and perspectives about something. It consists of

variety of models, tools and techniques that are derived from philosophy. For instance, if

Appreciative Inquiry is used in the strategic planning, it will include the identification of

the successful decisions took in the past and their outcomes. It will also include the vision

of the company; where it wants to head and implementing from what has been considered

to be the best solution in a particular situation. This approach has a significant impact on

the organizational planning and development in the organizations (McNamara, 2011).
   The research technique which is used for the objective, systematic and quantitative

description of manifest content of communications is called Content Analysis (Berelson,

1952). It is a type of research tool that focuses on the actual content and internal features

of the problem or situation. It determines the presences of concepts, themes, phrases,

texts etc. to quantify their presence in the objective manner. The sources may involve

books, essays, interviews, discussions, articles, historical documents, formal and informal

conversations etc.




   The content analysis involves coding or breaking down the required information into

small manageable categories on the basis of their occurrence and importance. The results

obtain from these categories are used to make inferences about the messages within the

texts, writers, the culture, time etc. content analysis is the product of computer age. It

dates back to 1940 when it became very credible and frequent research method. The

researchers started to focus the concepts rather than the words or the relationships

between them. (de Sola Pool, 1959). Since this research method can be applied on

various recorded communications in writing, content analysis can be used in the large

number of fields that ranges from marketing, media, literature, cultural studies, gender

and age issues, social environment, political sciences, psychology, cognitive science, and

many other fields. The following list (adapted from Berelson, 1952) offers more

possibilities for the uses of content analysis:


      Reveal international differences in communication content

      Detect the existence of propaganda
      Identify the intentions, focus or communication trends of an individual, group or

       institution

      Describe attitudinal and behavioral responses to communications

      Determine psychological or emotional state of persons or groups




   The content analysis is further categorized into two broad categories; conceptual

analysis and relational analysis. The conceptual analysis is used to establish the existence

and the frequency of concepts in a written text where as relational analysis examines the

relationships between the concepts in the text.


   In conceptual analysis, one concept is chosen for the examination and the frequency

of occurrences in the writings. Like other research methods, it starts with identifying the

questions related to research and choosing the samples. Then the text is coded into small

bits and pieces to reduce the data amount. The certain characteristics of message is then

analyzed and interpreted. The relational analysis involves investigating the relationship

between the characteristics and concepts in the written communications. Relational

analysis starts with identifying the required concept and comparing its occurrences with

respect to the others (Berelson, 1952).


       The way to which problem is approached or understood is characterized as critical

Analysis or Discourse analysis. It is difficult to give the hard and fast definition to this

research method. It is neither qualitative nor quantitative research method. It uses such a

manner of questioning whose basic assumptions are the mixture of qualitative and
quantitative research methods. It do not provide an absolute answer to the problems on

the basis of scientific research but it tends to provide access to the ontological and

epistemological assumptions for the project, the problem statement, and method of

research. It unveils the hidden motives behind the particular problem or the method of

research to interpret the topic. This research method is merely a deconstructive reading

and interpretation of the problem (Bernd, 1992).



       Discourse Analysis enables the researcher to identify the problem and the causes

of problem. The researcher makes several assumptions about the problem that then serve

as a guideline for the resolution of the problem. Discourse Analysis is the like the old

wine in a new bottle that employs the critical thinking which is an ancient philosophy and

involves no theory or methods. This analysis does not provide the particular views about

the problem or situation (Bernd, 1992).


       The research methods such as content analysis and discourse analysis employ the

use of texts or written communications for the identification of the problem and their

analysis to reach the conclusions. There are other methods available to the researchers

where the problem is reconstructed to find out its functionality to analyze it and reach the

conclusions.


       The Structural Analysis due to the limited literature on this method, according to

the dictionary of concepts in Literary Criticism and Theory, is provides definition about

the structural analysis to develop understanding of what Structural Analysyis is about.

Barthes (1963) defines structural analysis as:
       "The goal of all structuralist activity, whether reflexive or poetic, is to reconstruct

       an 'object,' in such a way as to manifest thereby the rules of functioning (the

       'functions') of this object. The structure is therefore actually a simulacrum of the

       object, but it is a directed, interested simulacrum, since the imitated object makes

       something appear which remained invisible or, if one prefers, unintelligible in the

       natural object"


For Jean-Marie Benoist (1978);


       "An analysis is structural if, and only if, it displays the content as a model, i.e., if

       it can isolate a formal set of elements and relations in terms of which it is possible

       to argue without entering upon the significance of the given content"




       The structural analysis is not related to the text or content of anything or system.

It explores and analyzes the structures of a problem to make the inferences after analysis.

It enables the researcher to analyze the structure of a text or system to determine the

nature of the message they carry and information is retrieved from them. It analyzes how

the communication took place and how it was transferred to the others. Structural

Analysis can be used to study any kind of system, text, or material. It applies equally to

the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as to the "hard" Sciences, though with

different connotations. The methods of Structural Analysis might be different in each

discipline.
       The use of Interviews is of great importance to get the in depth knowledge about

the situation and experiences of the participants regarding a problem or situation. The

interviews are useful further investigate the responses of participant via other techniques

like questionnaires. Interviews contain open ended questions to let the participants speak

their views, stories and experiences to the interviewer. Before designing the interview

questions and the entire interview process, it is necessary to understand the what the

problem is and the extent to which it is necessary to address the problem by using the

information gathered through interviews. (Joseph et al, 2006).



       The interviewer prior to the interview must prepare for the interview session

which involves certain steps that must be followed. These steps starts at identifying the

objectives of the meeting, developing the relative questions, planning how to conduct the

interview and sending follow up invitations to the members. The most important step in

the interviewing method is to remind the members of the upcoming interview (Joseph et

al, 2006). Once the preparation for interview is done the researcher develops the relative

questions that are to be asked during the interview to the members. ( Cavana, Delahaye,

Sekaran, 2001). The interviews are further planned as with the reference to their

scheduling, settings and rules are developed.




       Abrams (2001) explained the use of case studies her book. According to her, in

the small and medium businesses or SME’s case studies methodology is applied to

develop full understanding or to depict the experiences of the client in a program and

examine the processes and procedures through cross comparison of various other cases.
This method is widely used in the organizations now a days due to its ability to fully

depict the organization’s internal processes, functions, employee engagements,

experiences etc.


       Zonabend (1992) explained that the case study requires special attention to the

observations, reconstruction of situation and the analysis of cases under the present study.

The case study uses the views of people in the study.


       The case study research is associated to the field of sociology and it took rise in

the period of 1935. Many researchers give rise to criticisms against this method of

research. They argued to provide quantitative measurement to the research design and

analysis. This resulted in the dis-engaging of this research as methodology. In 1935 a

dispute comes between the opponents and the proponents of the study. The outcome was

in the favor of opponents which resulted in the decline in the use of case study.


       Hamel et al. (1993) rejected the criticism against the case study methodology as it

the criticism was poorly backed by the opponents. He asserted that instead of explaining

the drawbacks of the case study techniques, the opponents were trying to veil the limited

and immature concepts of sociology. In 1960, there was a renewed interest in this

methodology. The concept of grounded theory (Strauss & Glaser, 1967) along with other

studies gave rise to the renewed use of this methodology.


       Much has been written in the literature which gives examples of the case study

applications. Those examples started from the fields of law and medicine where cases

were presented to give proper understanding of a problem and draw inferences according
to them. Another application of case study methodology is in the government to find out

about the effectiveness and efficiency of a particular project or program and in the

situations where evaluation of a problem or subject is required; it was usually carried out

to find out the educational evaluation of the students.


       Yin (1994) explained that the case study research tends to be limited and

primitive in nature. The case studies may be of single or multiple designs. He further

explained that the analysis of those single or multiple design case studies is made through

theory not from the populations. The literature lists down various examples about the use

of case studies. Yin (1993) gave several working examples along with the research design

in each case. He suggested about the general case design and the use of exploratory,

explanatory and descriptive case studies. These approaches can follow both single and

multiple case study designs.


       In exploratory case studies, the important data is collected prior to the formulation

of research questions and hypothesis. The exploratory cases are used in case when the

researcher wants to conduct research on social issues or perspectives. The pilot study is

conducted to determine the final protocols. The questions are formulated on the basis of

the results achieved from the pilot study. The selection of cases is a bit difficult process

(Yin, 1989) but the selection gives opportunities to maximum learning and knowledge in

a limited period of time (Stake, 1995).


        When the researcher aims to conduct causal studies then explanatory cases come

handy. Explanatory cases help to develop a pattern of matching techniques in the

complex cases. The descriptive cases investigate the descriptive theory or draw
probability to face the problems. Pyecha (1988) used this type of study to conduct special

education research using pattern matching procedure. Several objects were studied and

their results were compared to the other objects this helped to reach the final inferences

by the formation of hypothesis of cause and effect relationships. Case studies help to

develop critical thinking (Alvarez et al, 1990)


       Case study is one of the valuable methods available to the researcher which offers

distinctive characteristics to the researcher to investigate an issue or problem. It uses the

combination of various methods to draw inferences. Its use and reliability should make it

a more widely used methodology, once its features are better understood by potential

researchers. Another method that can help the researchers is the survey method which

involves surveying the people to find out the answers to the questions of research.




       Duane (1996) suggested that the most common method employed by the

organizations and researchers for the collection of data is the observations method. This

method is used when the organization or a researcher seeks to obtain the accurate

information about something, program and the process. This method calculates how the

program, process or subject actually operates. This method is beneficial for varying

reasons. The prime one is that this method allows the researcher to investigate the

operations as they are occurring. The interpretations of this method can be difficult as the

behavior of particular operations vary to the people and situations. This method is

desirable when the factual information is required.
       There are many types of studies that employ the observational research methods

for the analysis and interpretation of the problem. The studies that employ observational

research methods may include case studies, ethnographic studies, etc. The main focus of

this research methodology is to observe the situation or a problem and record the

inferences with reference to the behaviors of the participants. Often these studies are of

qualitative nature. For instance, a case study of the psychological behavior of people

requires the observations of the participants and recording the results in order to draw

conclusions. Another example of ethological study is given where the behavior of wild

animals is observed with respect to the time and occurrence. The surveys are often

categorized in the observational research methods (Webster, 2011).


       Surveys are the non experimental and descriptive research methods employed by

the researchers when they want to collect the data on something that cannot be directly

observed. This method of data collection is used extensively to assess the attitudes and

characteristics of wide range of subjects. When conducting the surveys, researchers

sample a population. According to Basha and Harter (1980) population is a group of

people or objects that form, possess or have a common characteristic. Since the size of

population is usually quite large therefore the researchers collect sample from the

population to question them directly. Sample is a small representative part of the

population.



       The data collected in the surveys is done by the questionnaires method. The

surveys can employ qualitative measures such as asking open ended questions or it can

use quantitative measures like using forced choice questions in the questionnaires. The
surveys are divided into two main categories; cross sectional surveys and longitudinal

surveys. (Babbie,1973). The cross sectional surveys include collection of data from the

population at a single point in time. These surveys usually employed when the researcher

wants to explain the relationship between two factors while the longitudinal surveys are

used to gather data over a period of time. These surveys provide the researcher with the

useful information about the changes occurred in the population and attempts to explain

the reasons of changes. These surveys are further categorized into trend studies, cohort

studies and panel studies respectively.



       The focus of trend studies lies on a particular population which is sampled and

changed repeatedly. These studies can be conducted over a long period of time. The

researcher can use the combination of various studies conducted on the same population

in order to show the trend. The Cohort studies also focus on the particular population but

with the different perspective. The sample selected will be used repeatedly by the

researcher. This study uses same sample over the time to conduct the analysis. The Panel

studies too use the same sample of people every time. This study helps the researcher to

find out why the changes occur in the population. The sample selected is called panel.

The panel studies can be difficult to conduct because they are usually expensive to

conduct and needs lot of time (Babbie, 1973).



       The observational research is divided into three main categories; participatory and

non participatory research. In participatory research, the researcher take part in the given

process or situation to observe the situation or problem and the reason of its occurrence.
The non participatory research is the opposite of participatory research. The researcher

does not take part in the observation actively. The researcher may stay out of the process

or situation to observe the occurrence of situation. The researcher can also hire some

external observer to observe the given situation (Gay, 2005).



       The participatory research is further divided into two main techniques; formal and

informal observations. The formal observational techniques involve the usual techniques

employed by the researcher which might include checklists, evaluations, etc. on the basis

of which the researcher draws his or her observations about the given situation or

problem and draws inferences while the informal observational techniques involve

methods like hidden observations, video recording, picturing, cameras etc. (Best, 2002)



       In the non participatory research, the observer does not take part in the active

observations. He or she remains outside the observational situation and does not

intentionally interfere or take part in the situation, scenario or object. The non

participatory research is further classified into naturalistic and simulation observations.



       Agnew and Pyke (1990) reported that the certain types of behaviors can only be

best observed if they occur naturally. In the situations where the natural behaviors are

prime focus to the observer then the observer do not forcefully try to manipulate the

behaviors of the people and let them behave in a way they feel natural. The naturalistic

observations aim to record and study the behavior as it normally occurs. The insights
obtained from these observations helps to formulate the more control over the research

area.

         In the simulations observations method, the researcher creates a situation that is to

be observed and tells the objects to perform their roles by participating in the situation.

This method allows the researcher to develop understanding about the behavior of people

that are not naturally occurred in the situation. This type of observation is further divided

into individual role playing and team role playing. In individual role playing, single unit

performs the activities in the situations while in team role playing; a group of actors

performs different activities in the situation created by the researcher.



         The steps involved in conducting observational research are no different than any

other research. It starts with the selection and definition of the problem, then defining the

research variables and then recording of the observations. The reliability of observatory is

then assessed, training is given to the researcher, and after the training is given the

observatory is then monitored to remove any observations related biases involved (Gay,

2005).

         The researcher must clearly define the variables to be observed. These variables

derive the behaviors of the participants. If these variables are clearly defined then the

observation process would easy to conduct. The time limitation is defined. The number of

times when the observation is to be conducted is then defined in order to find out the

actual behavior of the people. The observations process requires high level of expertise in

order to effectively and efficiently conducts the observations.
       Once the variables are defined and time duration is set, the researcher will then

record the observations based on the behaviors of the participants. The again and again

observations will help the observer to identify and differentiate between the actual and

record behaviors. Single behavior can be recorded at one time. Once the behavior is

observed, the observer must change the pattern of observing the behavior of participants

to develop the clear understanding.



       The use of checklist is common for recording the observations of the participants.

The literature has indicated that the use of rating scale is also common for recording the

observations. The check lists help the observer to check the particular behavior on set

norms and variables.



       The reliability of observation is of great importance in the observational research.

The observations will only be reliable if the observer has undergone the observations

various times to develop the understanding about the behaviors of the participants. The

reliability is used to check the biasness of the observers and the observations in a

particular situation. Another way to access the reliability of observation is to cut down

the time period to observe the behaviors in shorter time period and to calculate the

reliability of the observations on the basis of agreements and disagreements on

occurrence and non occurrence of behavior.



       The training of observers is very important in order to have assurance that all the

observers are observing and recording the behaviors at the same time. They must be
instructed as to what behaviors are required to be observed. The training of observers

may be finished on the successful achievement of reliability. To ensure the continuous

level of reliability it is desirable to monitor the observers and their recording activities.

More the monitoring of the activities is done the better will be the performance of

observers (Best, 2002). The biases in the observations occur when the observers made

invalid observations that are product of the observer’s perceptions. Its best to make

observer aware of the problems that are to be observed in the most neutral method.



        The main advantage of observational research is the provision of exact facts and

figures. Since this research involves the observations of the researcher, which are mostly

non participatory in nature, the researcher will have little or no impact or involvement in

the behavior of the participants. The participants will tend to show their natural behavior

to the particular situation or objects. The observational research is often treated as the

most reliable research technique but this research has to face criticism of various people.

According to the opponents of this research type, observational research is based on the

observations of the researcher and these observations may get biased in order to get the

desired recordings of the participant’s behavior (Gay, 2005).
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