The following are the key areas of research guidance and support that KENPRO offers: Identification of Research Problem, Guidance and Support in Developing Research Background, Literature Review Guidance, Research Design and Methodology Guidance, Designing Data Collection Instruments and Data Coding and Analysis guidance and support.
1. Identification of Research Problem
The identification of research problem is the first and foremost step that every researcher has to undertake. At times, it becomes rather difficult for an inexperienced researcher or a novice/beginner in research to conceptualize a research problem. In general, a research problem should be understood as some difficulty, unclear situation which a researcher experiences in practical or theoretical context and wants to obtain a tangible explanation, clarification or offer solution to it. For students, this problem may be as a result of theoretical encounter in the area of specialization. As such, before embarking on any research, you should identify the major research area of your interest, mostly the area of your specialization. For instance from: Education, Social sciences, Humanities, Business administration among others.
Once you have the broad area, you narrow down the area by selecting a particular topic. This should be done after going through most of the literature related to the area. The topic should further be narrowed down to a specific researchable problem.
Components of a Research Problem
For a research problem to exist, there are a number of core elements that have to be inherent. There must be:
- An individual or community or an organization/institution to whom the problem could be attributed. These occupy a certain geographical area.
- Some Objectives for pursuing the problem. There must be some objectives pursuing the problem, otherwise it would be repugnant to reason and common understanding to undertake the research.
- Some lines of action to be taken. There must be at least two lines of action to be taken to attain the objective. For example, poor academic performance may be attributed to negative teacher and parental factors. Thus altering negative teacher factors and parental factors become the lines of action to be pursued. Here, the underlying question is “what is the cause of this problem – poor academic performance?” It is in answering this question that you must pursue some lines of action through stating some variables (teacher factors and parental factors).
2. Guidance and Support in Developing Research Background
We at KENPRO take our clients through the following introductory parts of chapter one of most of research projects undertaken by college and university students:
- Background of the Study
- Statement of the Problem
- Objectives/ Questions/Hypothesis
- Significance of the Study
- Scope of the Study
- Limitation of the Study
- Conceptual OR Theoretical Framework
- Operational Definition of Key Terms
Note: It should be noted that there are a little variations on this outline depending on individual requirements of various colleges and universities. However, these outline constitutes the key parts of introduction in essence.
We assist our clients in developing background to the study. We have access to hundreds of thousands of the most current, authoritative and scholarly online resources to build the most comprehensive up-to-date background to any education and social sciences research.
There are other critical parts of introduction that students of research find difficulties. These include coming up with good research questions or objectives to guide the study. Other parts include drawing up a good conceptual framework while taking into account both dependent and independent variables or constructs.
3. Literature Review Guidance
We support our customers by providing literature resources that may be required for both theoretical and empirical review. We have access to hundreds of online international journals and digital libraries.
A literature review is an evaluative report of information found in the literature related to your selected area of study. The review should describe, summarize, evaluate and clarify this literature. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the researcher) determine the nature of your research. Works, which are irrelevant, should be discarded and those, which are peripheral, should be looked at critically.
In general, the literature review should:
- Provide a context for the research
- Justify the research
- Ensure the research hasn’t been done before
- Show where the research fits into the existing body of knowledge
- Enable the researcher to learn from previous theory on the subject
- Illustrate how the subject has been studied previously
- Highlight flaws in previous research
- Outline gaps in previous research
- Show that the work is adding to the understanding and knowledge of the field of study
- Help refine, refocus or even change the topic
This chapter is generally divided according to the specific research objectives guiding the study. Each research objective / question should be reviewed. Such review helps in identifying knowledge gaps in the previous related studies and in the discussion of the findings.
4. Research Design and Methodology Guidance
We assist our clients in coming up with Research Design and methodology.
We assist our clients in coming up with Research Design and methodology.
The most common sections of methodology include the following:
- Research Design
- Target Population
- Sample and Sampling procedure
- Description of instruments
- Validity of the Research Instruments
- Reliability of the Research Instrument
- Data collection procedure
- Data analysis procedure
- Ethical Considerations
Research Design: The most commonly used research designs in education and social sciences research include survey research design, the case study and naturalistic research designs. As a student of research, be ware of confusion between research designs and research approaches (qualitative and quantitative research approaches or paradigms).
Sample and sampling procedure: This is another tricky part of methodology which can pose a great challenge to a student of research or even a practitioner. There are a number of approaches that are used to arrive at the sample size. Some maintain that at least 10% (Gay, 1996) of the total population is representative; Others 30% (Gall, Borg and Gall, 2003). However, this is disputed. As such, use of Krejcie, and Morgan, table of determining sample size which is formula based is encouraged. One may also opt to use the formula to determine the sample size.
Reliability: Determining reliability of data collection instruments is also tricky. We encourage students to validate and determine the reliability of the instruments. To determine the reliability of research instruments, one must conduct a pilot test using related target population which does not form part of the final sample. Correlations (Spearman’s rank correlation, Pearson’s correlation or Cronbach’s apha may be used to determine reliability). IBM SPSS is a valuable tool in computing reliability.
5. Designing Data Collection Instruments
We assist our customers in developing research instruments. This MAINLY include Questionnaires and Interview guides. However, there are other instruments that we assist our clients to develop like observations guides among others depending on varied research designs:
One method which can be used to ask questions is to use a questionnaire. This is a set of written questions on a sheet with spaces provided for respondents to reply to the questions. Questionnaires are frequently self-administered or they may be used during an interview. A questionnaire is most useful when you want to collect a small amount of clearly defined facts from a large number of people. Although very useful, there are two important disadvantages of self-administered questionnaires: Only people who can read and write can answer them (many street children are not literate); Less opportunity exists for street children to explain confusing answers.
Interviewing is one of the commonest method of collecting information from individuals. It is not surprising, then, that interviewing takes several forms:
Structured interviews, in which the wording of the questions and their sequence is the same from one interview to another; the respondents must choose from a limited number of answers that have been written in advance.
Semi-structured interviews, in which the interviewer asks important questions in the same way each time but is free to alter the sequence of the questions and to probe for more information; respondents can answer the questions in any way they choose.
Unstructured interviews, in which interviewers have a list of topics they want respondents to talk about but are free to phrase the questions as they wish; the respondents are free to answer in any way they choose.
Some important points to remember about the focus group as a means of collecting information:
- This method is frequently used to explore a new issue in monitoring and evaluation studies and to discover what a group of people or project workers might think or feel about a question or problem.
- The goal is to provide an opportunity for participants to talk to one another about a specific topic.
- The facilitator is there to guide the discussion but should avoid intervening in the discussion.
It is, perhaps, the technique most closely related to everyday life. It involves watching and recording the behaviour of individuals or groups, or the events that occur in a particular place. One of the advantages of using this approach is that you may choose when and where to carry out the observation procedure and so ensure that you will have a good chance of seeing the people or the behaviour you wish to observe.
The biggest advantage of this method is that a large amount of reliable information can be obtained without questioning many people.
6. Data Coding and Analysis Guidance and Support
a) Data coding
We assist our customers in entering the data into the Computer: Data from questionnaires is coded and logged in the computer using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). This involves coding both open and closed ended items in order to run simple descriptive or inferential analysis to get reports on data status. The transcribed data is also keyed in the computer.
b) Data analysis
Quantitative Analysis involves checking the data for accuracy. After receiving data from the field, WE screen it for accuracy so as to ensure no major errors. In screening, KENPRO research team seeks to establish whether: the data is legible, the major items have been answered, the responses are complete.
Data from the interview guide (if recorded) is analyzed qualitatively. It involves the process of transcribing. The data is first transcribed into written form for closer investigation. Although transcribing appears to be a straightforward technical task, it involves judgments about what level of detail to choose, Thus it our team to be keen and in a quiet environment. After transcribing the recorded data, the team reads through to remove ambiguity and repeated items (to make sense), organizes into themes and patterns following the major research questions or objectives.
Quantitative data analysis on the other hand involves both descriptive and inferential analysis (where applicable). Descriptive analysis such as frequencies and percentages, means and standard deviation are used to present quantitative data in form of tables and graphs. This is done in order to describe what the data shows. Inferential Analysis is used to test the hypothesis and relationships. This involves t-tests, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), regression, factor analysis among other inferential analysis.