|The criterion||The description of methods|
|The definitions of methods of collecting data in sociology||Questionnairesare a method of collecting social information about the object under study through direct or indirect communication between the sociologist and the interviewee by recording the respondent’s answers to questions posed by the sociologist. |
Interviewsare a method of data collection in which the interviewer asks the respondent the questions provided by the program of applied sociological research.
Covert observationsis a type of research, which is conducted incognito, the observed do not know that they are the object of study.
Overt observationis a type of research in which the observers are aware that they are the object of study.
Official statisticsis a type of study in which researchers refer to official data from scientific tests.
|The example of the study||The chosen study includes the method of questionnaires and interviews (Achter & Racharman, 2020).|
|The strengths of the methods||The advantages of questionnaires include the simplicity of their application, the ease of processing and interpreting the data obtained, the clarity of the data obtained, the validity of the obtained schemes, as well as a high level of ethics. |
The advantage of the interview comes down to the personal contact of the interviewer with the respondent, which ensures the completeness of the questionnaire, i.e., provides a high level of validity.
The main advantage of covert observation is the high level of practicality since this type of research requires less time to conduct and prepare.
The advantages of open-ended observation also include its time economy.
The main advantage of official statistics is the high level of validity.
|The weaknesses of the methods||The disadvantage of questionnaires comes down to the high risk of falsification of data, i.e., a low level of validity. |
Interviews can be an unsuccessful way of research because the risk of subjective factors is high and the criterion of ethics is not always respected. Conducting interviews is time-consuming.
Covert observation does not always meet the criterion of validity, as it does not guarantee the correct interpretation of the data.
Open-ended observation does not meet the criterion of ethics, as it can embarrass research participants.
In the study chosen for analysis, the key method is the questionnaires that researchers administered to students (Achter & Racharman, 2020). Respondents were asked questions about their academic performance and learning difficulties. The surveys included open-ended and closed-ended questions. Additionally, the interview method was used. The methods used in this study were ethical because the questionnaires were designed to examine student performance and were not intended to affect respondents’ emotions in any way. During the interviews, the researchers needed to find out how students assessed their level of difficulty in mastering the program. This interview was conducted in a subordinate manner while respecting students’ personal boundaries.
The preference for one or another method or approach depends on the chosen research methodology and the nature of the problem being investigated (e.g., to assess job satisfaction, questioning techniques are used, while studying relationships within a subculture requires the use of participant observation). Qualitative methodology reveals a specific way of cognition – through understanding, i.e., establishing the connection between the actions of the subject and his/her intentions, needs, values. Qualitative methods are applied with other purposes in comparison with quantitative methods, and, therefore, they have some features connected with requirements of organization of a field stage, check of the quality of the data, and presentation of the received results. The choice of methods of collecting information depends on the object of the study. A researcher should describe and justify the chosen methods. The main tools and mechanisms of working with the given data are also taken into account.
The analytical work consists of various important stages. It is necessary to determine the range of background information needed for the analysis, as well as how to obtain it. Then it is important to interpret the information, to identify the true meaning of this or that information. First of all, information received verbally needs interpretation, as a statement is often misunderstood due to foreign speech, intonation, gestures, slang, phrases taken out of context or misunderstood.
The extraction of extraneous information is one of the most difficult and responsible stages. An excess of information, as well as a lack of it, is a serious problem, making it difficult and slowing down the analytical work. In practice, focusing on a few key details is more effective than scattering among many disparate data. However, it is precisely at this stage that there is a danger of discarding important information. As a rule, this happens in case of incorrect interpretation of information at the previous stage.
Information evaluation is the stage when the sources of information, the information itself, and the means of obtaining it are ranked according to their reliability and trustworthiness. The source of information can be specific people, newspapers, television, Internet sites, etc. When evaluating information, there is necessarily subjectivity, which should be minimized.
Source evaluation includes the following criteria:
- 1 – reliable source;
- 2 – usually reliable source;
- 3 – fairly reliable source;
- 4 – not always reliable source;
- 5 – unreliable source;
- 6 – source of unspecified reliability.
In order to identify distorted information in a timely manner, as well as to prevent misinformation, it is necessary to distinguish between facts and opinions, take into account the subjective characteristics of the information source, and his or her perceived attitude towards the message being given out. It should be clearly understood whether the source is capable of having access to the reported facts by his or her position.
It is necessary to have duplicate sources, to use duplicate channels of communication, and try to eliminate unnecessary intermediate links in the transmission of information for insurance purposes. In addition, it should be remembered that disinformation is especially easily perceived if it corresponds well to a previously accepted version, the one that is assumed or desired. The construction of preliminary versions is the stage of analytical work, which explains the place of the main received facts in the chain of events. Here it is necessary to highlight the key points and separate them from the less important ones that do not play a major role. The information obtained must be clearly classified according to the credibility of the source, the information itself and the method of obtaining it. The most recent and complete information should be considered first. Material marked “source of uncertain reliability” and “reliability cannot be determined” should not be used unless absolutely necessary.
Next, it is necessary to identify all possible hypotheses that can explain key events, and rank them in order of probability and check them one by one for consistency with all data. If a significant discrepancy between the preliminary hypothesis and the obtained data is found, and the latter have sufficiently high estimates of reliability, the next hypothesis should be moved on. Thus, the most likely assumptions are selected.
At this stage, one of the most serious problems of the analysis arises – contradictions in the information. To overcome it, it is necessary to compare the estimates of the information and the source, and the dates of the disputed information. The knowledge, experience, and intuition of the person doing the analysis are crucial. Contradictions in the information must be resolved in the process of analysis, for this purpose, additional information is collected.
Determining the need for additional information means deciding what kind of information is needed is a vial process that helps to determine the appropriate methods. At this stage, gaps in information are identified. It should be taken into account that some of the gaps are detected quite easily because they are the result of insufficient research. Other gaps may not be detected because they were missed during the preliminary data collection stage. Obviously, they are more dangerous.
When information gaps are identified, their importance for further analysis is determined. If additional information is deemed necessary, all of the above steps are repeated. Although this can happen many times, at some point, you will have to limit yourself to the available data and formalize the findings in the form of a report. On the basis of analytical reports, references, reviews of various kinds, top managers make important decisions, a significant part of which is directly related to management activities.
It is also worth noting that the researcher should, as a result of preparatory work, structure the information about the object and subject of the study, analyze it and decide which of the methods is more appropriate to the specific conditions of the work. At first, when preparing a decision on the choice of research method, it is recommended to single out those methods that can be used under the conditions of the problem being solved, as well as those that cannot be used. The latter are excluded from the number of alternatives under consideration.
According to Serrano (2022), the combination or combination of the three groups of reasons for choosing a method generates the following influences on the choice of research method:
- the substance of the practical problem to be solved;
- the type and nature of the available information, the typical representation of the object and subject of research;
- the combination of the phases of the life (market) cycle, the product and the organization that produces it;
- supposed type of management (traditional, system, situational, social and ethical management)
- requirements for the results of the study and other circumstances of a particular problem.
Thus, the choice of research methodology involves assessing the ability to access the most reliable source, the need for additional information, the risk of misinformation. The methodology for obtaining data will also include filtering the data into important and unimportant ones. External factors such as financial conditions, management features, and the location of the study play an important role in choosing how to obtain information for the study.
Achter, R., & Racharman, S. (2020). Factors affecting academic performance of university students: A study among the students of MBSTU. Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development, 11(20), 16–25. Web.
Serrano, J. P. (2022). Scientific methodology: Methods and techniques for legal research. Our Knowledge Publishing.