Developing a Research Idea

In the next series of blogs I will run you through the process of developing a research idea and writing a project plan to execute it. This is one of the central focus points of the first year of the Master in Research degree.

To set up a survey, you have to go through 4 basis building blocks.

These are:

1.       Problem Definition

2.       Sample Selection

3.       Measurements

4.       Respondents

You probably will spend the most time on working out the problem definition. What is the survey going to answer? What doest the client want from the survey? Once you have that in focus you will need to find out what kind of key variables you want to explore and how big the survey is going to be.

That last point is reflected in the sample selection. Although census research is great, it is for most companies and clients practically impossible to perform due to the inherent costs related to it. With census research we mean that every individual is going to be interviewed for the research. For a survey you will interview a representative sample of the population (group of people).

For example you want to understand why some under aged children smoke / drink and why others don’t. To ask every single child in the United Kingdom will be very costly and time consuming. Therefore you will use measurements like age, region, and family situation, to set criteria on which you will select a representative group. 

Once you have defined your problem and found your sample, it is time to think about your respondents. Are the questions you want to ask painful or intrusive? Does the respondent want to talk about it and give you an honest answer? For example if you want to ask respondents about their income, some might not want to talk about it, some will lie about it. You will have to take this into account when defining your survey and consequently your questions.

master research

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