1/8 2. The research process

What comes before

Before you collect your data, let's just reflect on what goes before. To get to this stage in your study, you will have undertaken the following activities:

Identifying research problems/purpose

Research problems need to be researchable and can be generated from practice, but must be grounded in the existing literature. They may be local, national or international problems that need addressing in order to develop the existing evidence base.

Identifying research design and strategy

You will need to be able to identify the most appropriate research design and strategy for your research, which is closely linked to the purpose of your study.

Searching the existing literature base to create a critical appraisal

A thorough search of the literature using data bases, internet, text and expert sources should support the need to research the problem. This should be broad and in depth, showing a comprehensive search of the problem area. A critical appraisal framework should be employed to review the literature in a systematic way.

The research may employ a theoretical base to examining the problem, especially seen in masters level research and in many research studies. In the health and social care field this might come from the social sciences, psychology or anthropology.

Sampling strategies

Sampling is the method for selecting people, events or objects for study in research. Non-probability and probability sampling strategies enable the researcher to target data collection techniques. These may need to be of a specific size (sometimes determined by a power calculation) or composition.

Data collection techniques

These are the tools and approaches used to collect data to answer the research question /hypothesis. More than one technique can be employed, the commonest are questionnaires and interviews.

You can read more about research problems, strategies, design and sampling voer the next few pages.

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