Research Methods Portfolio Essay

This essay has a total of 4150 words and 29 pages.

Research Methods Portfolio


WHAT IS REEARCH? .............................................1

* Surveys .........................................................3
* Case Studies ..................................................5
* Experiment ....................................................6
* Action research .............................................7
* Ethnography ..................................................9

* Questionaires ................................................11
* Interviews .....................................................13
* Observation ...................................................16
* Documents ....................................................17

* Quantitative data ............................................18
* Qualitative data ..............................................19

REFERENCES ......................................................20

‘Research can be considered as a structured investigation into a subject, the aim of which
is to add knowledge to that subject and/or to illuminate the subject from a different

(Oxford English Dictionary).
‘Rummaging through books and magazines and journals for tidbits of information and
acknowledging where you found these scraps of knowledge must not be confused with the
interpretation of the data and the discovery of their meaning.

* Research originates with a question or a problem.
* Research requires a clear articulation of a goal.
* Research follows a specific plan of procedure.
* Research usually divides the principal problem into more
manageable sub-problems.
* Research is guided by the specific research problem,
question or hypothesis.
* Research accepts certain critical assumptions. These
assumptions are underlying theories or ideas about how the
world works.
*Research requires the collection and interpretation of data in
attempting to resolve the problem that initiated the research.’
(Leedy 1993, 10)
‘Research - as systematic enquiry or examination, especially a critical and exhaustive
experimentation, having for its aim the

discovery of new facts, and their correct interpretation, the revision of accepted

conclusions, theories or laws in the light of newly discovered facts..
Re-searching – identifying important questions/problems and searching for possibe insights/solutions.
Functions within a paradigm or ‘world-view’ –
The systematic, positivist or scientific approach – relies on data-gathering, measurement,
experimentation, quantifiable observations [eg experiments, surveys, case study]

Ethnographic, naturalistic, interpretative appraoches – investigate meaning, explore and
analyse experiences, rely on interpretation and researcher-participant collaboration [eg
grounded-theory, phenomenography, case study]

Critical approaches, - explore and analyse social context/culture and experience in
relation to that context, researcher as change-agent [eg action research, socio-cultural
approach].’ (

My research will be based on color psychology; the use of color in advertising - design and marketing.
- That an advertisement or promotion could fail to succeed if colors are not used effectively -
‘Marketing psychologists state thet a lasting impression is made within
ninety seconds and that color accounts for 60% of the acceptance or
rejection of an object, person, place or circumstance. Because color
impressions are both quick and long lasting, decisions about color are a
critical factors in success of any visual appereance.’
(Dr. Morton Walker)

‘In one sense the word “survey” means “to view comprehensively and in detail”. In another
sense it refers specifically to the act of “obtaining data for mapping”.

The survey aproach is a research strategy, not a method. Researchers who adopt the
strategy are able to use a whole range of methods within the strategy: questionaires,
interviews, documents and observation. What is distinctive about the survey approach is
its combination of a commitment to a breadth of study, a focus on the snapshot at a given
point in time and a dependence on emperical data.

Surveys come in wide variety of forms:
* Postal questionairs; probably the best known kind of survey is that which involves
sending “self-completion” questionaires through the post or via e-mail.

* Face-to-face interviews; involves direct contact between the researcher and the respondent.
* Telephone interviews
* Documents; all too often in writing about social surveys, the attention is focused
solely on surveys of people. Yet, in practice, the strategy of the survey can be applied
to documents as well as living people. The researcher can undertake emperical research
based on documents which incorporates as wide and as inclusive data as possible, and which
aims to “bring things up to date”. The literature survey, of course, is a prime example.
It is the basis for good research and it involves the use of survey principles appllied to
documents on the topic of the research.

* Observations; classic social surveys involved observations of things like poverty and
living conditions. Such observation followed the tradition of geographical and ordanance
surveys, with their emphasis on looking at the landscape. Although the

practice of conducting a survey through observing events and conditions is less comman it
serves to remind us that the survey strategy can use a range of specific methods to
collect data.’ (Denscombe 1998: 6-11)

I will use surveys for my thesis with companies and individuals who create and design
advertisement. I will analyse the results to find about things like sales statistics and
target customer groups of participants related with the use of color on their products in
various ways and level-of-knowledge. I believe these will help me to conclude whether if
a method or theory is working within the industry about use of color in advertisement.

‘Case study research is a matter of research strategy, not research methods. As Hammersley
(1992: 184-5) makes the point:

The concept of case study captures an important aspect of the
decisions we face in research. It highlights, in particular, the
choices we have to make about how many cases to investigate
and how these are to be selected.

The case study tends to opt for studying things as they naturally occur, without
introducing artificial changes or controls. Case studies focus on one instance (or few
instances) of a particular phenomenon with a view to providing an in-depth account of
events, relationships, experiences or processes occuring in that particular instance. Case
study research characteristically emphasizes, depth of study rather than breadth of study,
the particular rather than the general, relationship/process rather than outcomes and
end-products, holistic view rather than isolated factors, natural settings rather than
artificial situations, multiple sources rather than one research method.

The main benefit of using case study approach is that the focus on one or a few instances
allows the researcher to deal with the subtleties and intricases of complex social
situations.’ (Denscombe 1998: 32-9)

I don’t think I am going to use case study as a strategy for my thesis. I will depend on
the information collected by the previously finished studies and from people and companies
via Surveys and Interviews.

‘Experimental design occurs when the subjects (people or social systems) and conditions
(events or situations) to be studied are manipulated by the investigator.’ (Spector 1981:

‘The point of conducting an experiment is to isolate individual factors and observe their
effect in detail. The purpose is to discover new relationships or properties associated
with the materials being investigated, or to test existing theories. There are three
things that lie at the heart of conducting an experiment:

* Controls. Experiments involve the manipulation of circumstances. The researcher needs to
identify factors which are significant and then introduce them to or exclude them from the
situation so that their effect can be observed.

* The identification of casual factors. The introduction or exclusion of factors to or
from the situation enables the researcher to pinpoint which factor actually causes the
observed outcome to occur.

* Observation and measurement. Experiments rely on precise and detailed observation of
outcomes and changes that occur following the introduction or exclusion of potentioally
relevant factors. They also involve close attention to the measurement of what is
observed.’ (Denscombe 1998: 43)

I am not going to conduct an experiment but I will depend on some previously done
experiments for explaining and proving various aspects of my project.

‘Action research [rejects] the concept of a two stage process in which research is carried
out first by researchers and then in a separate second stage the knowladge generated from
the research is applied by practitioners. Instead, the two process of research and action
are integrated.’ (Somekh 1995: 34)

‘Action research is aimed at dealing with real-world problems and issues, typically at
work and in organizational settings. Both as a way of dealing with practical problems and
as a means of discovering more about phenomena, change is regarded as an integral part of
research. Research involves a feedback loop in which initial findings generate
possibilities for change which are then implemented and evaluated as a prelude to further
investigation. Practitioners are crucial people in the research process, their
participation is active not passive.

Action research quite clearly is a strategy for social research rather than a specific
method. It is concerned with the aims of research and the design of the research, but does
not specify any constrains when it comes to the means of data collection that might be
adopted by the action researcher.’ (Denscombe 1998: 58)

‘Action research can use different techniques for data collection... Action researchers
with a background in psychology tend to prefer questionaires for such purposes... while
action researchers with a background in applied anthropology, psychoanalysis or
socio-technical systems tend to prefer direct observation and/or

in-depth interviewing... Action researchers with any of these backgrounds may also
retrieve data from the records, memos and reports that the client system routinely
produces.’ (Susman and Evered 1978: 589)

‘Action research directly addresses the knotty problem of the persistent failure
of research in the social sciences to make a difference in terms of bringing
about actual improvements in practice.’ (Somekh 1995: 340)

I am not going to use action research for my thesis. I don’t have the budget nor the
experience to apply this type of research within Color Psychology and Marketing.


‘One of the first conditions of acceptable Ethnographic work certainly is that it should
deal with the totality af all social, cultural and psychological aspects of the community,
for they are so interwoven that not one can be understood without taking into
consiederation all the others.’ (Mallinowski 1922: xvi)

‘The term ethnography literally means a description of peoples or culltures.
As a researh strategy it is based on direct observation via fieldwork, rather than
relying on second hand data or statements made by research subjects. It is essantialy
grounded in empirical research involving direct contact with relevant people and places.
It can be used as a means for developing theory, and also for testing theories. It
provides data which are relatively rich in depth and detail. Potentially, it can deal with
intricate and subtle realities. Ethnography aspires to holistic explanations which focus
on process and relationships that lie behind the surface events. Potentially, it puts
things in context rather than abstracting specific aspects in isolation. There is an
element of contrast and comparisson built into ethnographic research in the way the
distinct culture of events being studied are “anthroplogically strange” - different from
other cultures or events which the researcherand his or her audience to some degree share.
Ethnographic research is particularly well suited to dealing with the way members of a
culture see events - as seen through their eyes. It describes and explores the “actors”
perceptions. It has an open an explit awareness of the role of the researcher’s self in
the choice of topic, process of research and construction of the findings/conclusions. It
acknowladges the inherent reflexivity of social knowladge. It is strong in terms of
ecological validity, to the extent that the act of researching should have relatively

little impact on the setting - retaining things in their “natural” form.
(Denscombe 1998: 78-9)

I won’t personally put an etnographic study. I will deal with them as I go on with my
research because colors and their effects on people can purely be undertsood by previously
done etnographic studies.

Continues for 15 more pages >>

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