guidance and case studies in research techniques
This is an excellent companion volume to Judith Bell’s best-selling Doing Your Research Project. Here she teams up with Clive Opie to present detailed case studies of several types of research. In Learning from Research they cover the descriptive study, the evaluative and experimental study, the ethnographic study, and the survey – as well as research skills in general. Each section of the book contains instructions on how to tackle the project, the scope of the work involved, and how to review the literature.
There’s also a checklist of what to look for and a thoughtful bibliography, with notes on the significance of the items recommended. If you are embarking on research in the humanities or social sciences, this is offers a supportive and well-informed account of the approaches you might take. The book is based on case studies of five postgraduate students who were completing Master of Education or PhD degrees. They were researching part-time – and at a distance. All five faced sharp learning curves, and they discuss openly some of the mistakes they made, the lessons they learnt and how they might have done things differently.
They cover some of the standard tasks in research – defining the limits of a project, making a review of the literature, and obtaining permissions. The most interesting feature of this guidance manual is that it takes into account the fact that most postgraduates these days are part-time, and are often people holding down jobs.
They describe practical examples of collecting data, constructing questionnaires, and how to deal with the results. There’s also a realistic approach to the use of IT in research. Many people mistakenly believe that IT skills are highly developed in higher education – which is not true. So there is straightforward advice on data collection and analysis.
There are also plenty of suggestions for further reading, a helpful series of checklists, and a glossary of terms.
© Roy Johnson 2003
Judith Bell and Clive Opie, Learning from Research, Buckingham: Open University Press, 2002, pp.261, ISBN 0335206603