The purpose of this part of your project is to design a study to investigate the research questions identified in Part 1 of this EMA. The strategies that you devise and the methods you choose must be appropriate for the task of answering your specific research questions. Ask yourself what you want to achieve. Are you trying to evaluate something, explain something, deepen understanding of something or bring about change? What do you need to find out in order to answer your questions, and what methods will you use to collect this information? Whom do you need to obtain the information from, and where are these individuals to be found? What are the ethical considerations? How long will it realistically take to gather the information, analyse it and write up the report?
In developing your methodology proposal there are several issues that you need to consider. These are set out in the following subsections.
2Finding the right method(s)
Since the range and scope of research methods is extensive, you should give due consideration to the most appropriate, given your research questions: to help with this, you may want to revisit Block 2 of the module. You could also reflect on some of the research studies described in Section 3 of the Module Reader and in the Research Articles Collection
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] , and try to imagine doing the same study using a different method.
For example, would it have been more or less appropriate for Christou and Spyrou (2012) to have carried out and video-recorded group interviews with Cypriot children in school, rather than individual mapping, drawing and talking methods in their homes? What would have been the advantages and disadvantages of Holland et al. (2010) undertaking their study with 25 looked-after young people, rather than eight? Would increasing or decreasing the length of the data-collection period have made any significant difference to the results of either of these studies? In a similar manner, consider the different ways in which you could explore the questions that you have identified. Is one approach more appropriate than another? Are different approaches likely to offer different information? Should you consider using several approaches or just one? Once you have decided on a particular approach or approaches, make sure you can justify it/them.
You may find it helpful to organise your methodology proposal according to the following structure. You will probably find that you need to write more in some sections than in others.
Explain how you will select your sample and why the number of participants you choose is appropriate to your research question(s). Describe where you will find your sample and how you will approach negotiating access to these participants. Discuss whether the proposed sample elicits any ethical issues, either in relation to the participants\’ age or status, or in terms of access arrangements. Discuss any implications that the location/context might impose on your study.
Data collection tools
Discuss the methodological tool(s) you propose to use to collect your data, and provide a rationale for why these are particularly appropriate, given your research question(s). This could usefully include reference to other studies in the literature that you have read for your project, or to module material in which similar methods have been used successfully or unsuccessfully. It is important to discuss methods that you considered and rejected, since this will strengthen your rationale. Describe how you would adapt (if necessary) any of these tools to suit the participants in your sample. If you are using multiple methods, it is important to state how and why these methods will relate to each other. Is your choice of method ethically problematic in any way?
Although you will not actually collect any data, you should outline how you would need to process and analyse the data required to answer your research questions. You must explain how analysing the data in this way would enable you to answer your research questions. For example, if you are gathering quantitative data, will you use descriptive statistics (as in Camfield\’s use of quantitative data that you examined in Unit 16), or will you need to use inferential statistics to investigate relationships between variables (as discussed by Rolleston in Chapter 14 of the Module Reader)? For qualitative research projects, you ought to explain how you would code your data, and what sort of analytical techniques you might use (e.g. the \’grounded theory\’ as used by Smith in Chapter 11 of the Module Reader, or the life history and thematic analysis techniques used by Hearn and Thomson in Chapter 9).
You may find it useful here to review your notes from Units 7.
Indicate how long you anticipate the different stages of the research will take. This might include the time for selecting and/or developing and piloting materials, identifying participants and arranging access and consent, familiarisation, and collecting and analysing the data. You should bear in mind that it is very easy to underestimate how long it will take to collect and analyse data in a research project.
You may prefer to deal with ethical issues as you write each section, or you may prefer to address them in a separate section. At every stage of the research process, however, you should consider the implications of what you plan to do and the effect that it might have on the research participants. You need to include clear and specific details on what ethical issues might arise and how you will deal with them. You may find it helpful to reread Alderson\’s chapter in the Module Reader (Chapter 5) before planning your project in detail, as well as review the questions that you completed for Unit 5 Activity 3, which are repeated below.
Ethics in research Key points
When might research be regarded as unethical?
Research which causes harm or deception.
Research for which children and/or young people do not give their consent.
Why are ethical checks important?
To protect children and young people.
To ensure ethical issues are addressed throughout the research process.
Is age an important consideration when addressing ethical issues in research with children and young people? It is important that all research participants, regardless of age, are fully aware and have all the information they require in order to make decisions about their level of participation in research practice.
Add a list of references in the OU Harvard style (as specified in the Assessment Guide
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] ). The list of references is not counted in the 2000 words suggested for Part 2 of the EMA. The literature review section of your project is not the only place you are expected to make reference to relevant literatures. In the methodology section you would be expected to refer to appropriate texts, primarily from the module materials (but also from the wider literatures covered in your literature review), in order to demonstrate that your proposed method is not only appropriate and ethical but also grounded in the literature.
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