Petre & Rugg (2010). Research design.

Petre, M., & Rugg, G. (2010). Research design. In The Unwritten Rules Of PhD Research (pp. 95–112). McGraw-Hill International.

[“Designing empirical studies: three key steps” … 96]

[“1. What’s the question?” …]

“A good research question reduces the problem space in an area. This means that the answer, whatever it is, eliminates one set of plausible possibilities. … You also need to assess whether what you want to know is something that you can reasonably — and feasibly — study within your available (or acquirable) resources: time, materials, instruments and so [page break] on.” (p 96-97)

[“2. What evidence will answer the question?” …]

“The second step is deciding what sort of evidence will satisfy you in addressing the question (if not answering it). It’s also important to identify who else you’re trying to satisfy. Your supervisor, a reasonable, sympathetic colleague or a sceptical competing researcher might have very different criteria for what evidence would be convincing, so you need to consider evidence from different viewpoints. … This allows you to phrase your question in terms of things you can observe directly — in other words, to ‘operationalize’ your question.” (p 97)

[“3. Choose a technique that will produce the required evidence” (p 97)]

“Good research is about asking good questions, not about gambling on what the answers might be.” (p 100)

“A good pilot study is practical; it lets you work out the bugs. It provides a chance to test the feasibility of the protocol, to practise the procedures and actually use the equipment, to check the timing, to expose disparities in interpretation (particularly those between the researcher and the participants), and importantly to try out the analysis on genuine data.” (p 101)

[“Types of research and research focus: machetes and magnifying glasses” … 102]

“… whether you’d found a modest island or a mighty continent. Subsequent explorers would fill in the gaps with some basic surveying tools and produce moderately accurate maps; if someone decided to build a town or stake mining claims …” (p 102)

“… applied research … If you do this in just one setting it’s usually called a case study; if you do it with a sample of more than one, it’s usually called a field experiment.” (p 105)

“Identifying the things to measure, and the appropriate scale or equivalent on which to measure them, is technically known as ‘operationalizing your metrics’ …” (p 106)

[“Ethics” … 106 ]

“As a principled researcher, you owe a duty of care to a variety of parties, including your predecessors, your research community, your colleagues, your subjects and, interestingly enough, yourself. … If you remember nothing else, remember to ask yourself: to whom do I owe a duty of care, and what is it?” (p 107)

[“Principles for studies involving human participants” …]

  • “Principle 1, compliance with protocol …
  • Principle 2, informed consent …
  • Principle 3, openness and integrity …
  • Principle 4, protection from harm …
  • Principle 5, confidentiality …
  • Principle 6, professional codes of practice and ethics …” (p 107)

[“Tales of horror and how to avoid them” … 108]

“There are some simple useful questions you can ask yourself about your research. … ( … the answer to each question
should be ‘yes’.)

  • Are you trying to find something out, rather than prove something?
  • Do you ever find yourself being surprised by what you find in your data?
  • Do you ever decide, on the basis of your data, that your previous ideas about an area were wrong?” (p 111)

[“The three ignoble truths (with apologies to the three noble truths)” … 111]

[“Table 8.1 Finding the right question”]

“First, work out what you want to know (refine your question), then work out how you’ll know it (the evidence requirements), and _only then_ choose techniques.” (p 112)

“… significant absence.” (p 112)

“What ‘everyone knows’ is often wrong (let anecdote help shape your questions, but then seek independent evidence in order to find answers).” (p 112)

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