1. Define the term logistics
2. Discuss logistical issues in research
1. Explain the concept internal validity
2. Discuss the following threats to internal validity and illustrate how a researcher can control each threat
• Statistical Regression
1. Explain the concept internal validity
2. Discuss the following threats to internal validity and illustrate how a researcher can control each threat
• Experimenter Bias
1. Define external validity
2. Discuss the following threats to external validity and illustrate how a researcher can control each threat
• Demand Characteristics
• Hawthorne Effect
• Order Effects
• Treatment Interaction Effects
1. Define the term ethics
2. Discuss ethical issues in research
1. Using relevant examples, Discuss the following:
• Dependent and independent variables
• Extraneous variables
• Confounded relationship
2. Define the term hypothesis
• Outline qualities of a good hypothesis
1. Using relevant examples, briefly distinguish between the following:
• Null and alternative hypothesis
• Type 1 and type 11 errors
2. Discuss the functions of hypothesis
A questionnaire is developed to address a specific objective, research question or hypothesis of the study.
Types of questions used in questionnaires
1 Close ended questions
They are questions, which are accompanied by a list of possible alternatives from which respondents select the answer that best describes their situation.
? They are easier to analyse since they are in an immediate usable form
? They are easier to administer
? They are economical to use in terms of time and money
Disadvantages closed-ended questions
? They are more difficult to construct
? Responses are limited and the respondent is compelled to answer questions according to the researcher’s choices
2 open – ended questions
They refer to questions, which give the respondent complete freedom of response. The amount of space provided is always an indicator of whether a brief or lengthy answer is desired.
Advantages of open – ended questions
? They permit a greater depth of response
? They are simple to formulate
? There is a tendency of the respondents providing information, which does not answer the stipulated research questions or objectives.
? The responses given may be difficult to categorize and hence difficult to analyze .
? Responding to open ended questions is time consuming, which may put some respondent off.
3 Contingency questions
In particular cases, certain questions are applicable to certain groups of respondents. In such cases, follow-up questions are needed to get further information from the relevant sub-group only.
These subsequent questions, which are asked after the initial questions, are called ‘contingency questions’ or ‘ filter questions’. The purpose of these kinds of questions is to probe for more
information. They also simplify the respondent’s task, in that they will not be required to answer questions that are not relevant to them.
Rules for constructing questionnaires and questionnaire items
1. List the objectives that you want the questionnaire to accomplish before constructing the questionnaire.
2. Ensure clarity –
3. If a concept has several meanings and that concept must be used in a question, the intended meaning must be defined.
4. Construct short questions.
5. Leading and biased questions should be avoided.
6. Very personal and sensitive questions should be avoided.
7. Avoid psychologically threatening questions.
8. Include enough information in each item so that it is meaningful to the respondent.
Tips on how to organize or order items in a questionnaire
1. Begin with non-threatening, interesting items.
2. It is not advisable to put important questions at the end of a long questionnaire.
3. Have some logical order when putting items together.
4. Arrange the questions according to themes being studied.
Presentation of the questionnaire
1. Make the questionnaire attractive by using quality paper. It increases the response rate.
2. Organize and lay out the questions so that the questionnaire is easy to complete.
3. All the pages and items in a questionnaire should be numbered.
4. Brief but clear instruction must be included.
5. Make your questionnaire short.
Pretesting the questionnaire
The questionnaire should be pretested to a selected sample, which is similar to the actual sample, which the researcher plans to study. This is important because:-
? Questions that are vague will be revealed in the sense that the respondents will interpret them differently.
? Comments and suggestions made by respondents during pretesting should be seriously considered and incorporated.
Pretesting will reveal deficiencies in the questionnaire.
Ways of administering questionnaires
Questionnaires are mainly administered using three methods:
i. Self administered questionnaires
Questionnaires are sent to the respondents through mail or hand-delivery, and they complete on their own.
ii. Researcher administered questionnaires
The researcher can decide to use the questionnaire to interview the respondents. This is mostly done when the subjects may not have the ability to easily interpret the questions probably
because of their educational level.
iii. Use of the internet
The people sampled for the research receive and respond to the questionnaires through their web sites or e-mail addresses.
The letter of transmittal / Cover letter
The letter of transmittal / Cover letter should accompany every questionnaire.
Contents of a letter of transmittal
? It should explain the purpose of the study.
? A brief assurance of confidentiality should be included in the letter.
? If the study is affiliated to a certain institution or organisation, it is advisable to have an endorsement from such an institution or organisation.
? In a sensitive research, it may be necessary to assure the anonymity of respondents.
? The letter should contain specific deadline dates by which the completed questionnaire is to be returned.
? Sending a follow-up letter which should be polite, and asking the subjects to respond
It refers to the percentage of subjects who respond to questionnaires. Many authors believe that a response rate of 50% is adequate for analysis and reporting. If the response rate is low, the
researcher must question the representativeness of the sample.
An interview is an oral (face to face) administration of a questionnaire. To obtain accurate information through interviews, a researcher needs to obtain the maximum co-operation from
respondents. Interviews are particularly useful for getting the story behind a participant’s experiences. The interviewer can pursue in-depth information around a topic. Interviews may be useful
as follow-up to certain respondents to questionnaires, e.g., to further investigate their responses. Usually open-ended questions are asked during interviews.
Guidelines for preparation for Interview
1. Choose a setting with little distraction. Avoid loud lights or noises, ensure the interviewee is comfortable (you might ask them if they are), etc. Often, they may feel more comfortable
at their own places of work or homes.
2. Explain the purpose of the interview.
3. Address terms of confidentiality. Explain who will get access to their answers and how their answers will be analyzed. If their comments are to be used as quotes, get their written
permission to do so.
4. Explain the format of the interview. Explain the type of interview you are conducting
and its nature. If you want them to ask questions, specify if they’re to do so as they have them or wait until the end of the interview.
5. Indicate how long the interview usually takes.
6. Tell them how to get in touch with you later if they want to.
7. Ask them if they have any questions before you both get started with the interview.
8. Don’t count on your memory to recall their answers. Ask for permission to record the interview or bring along someone to take notes.
Types of Interviews approaches
(a) Informal, conversational interview – no predetermined questions are asked, in order to remain as open and adaptable as possible to the interviewee’s nature and priorities; during the
interview, the interviewer “goes with the flow”.
(b) General interview guide approach – the guide approach is intended to ensure that the same general areas of information are collected from each interviewee; this provides more focus
than the conversational approach, but still allows a degree of freedom and adaptability in getting information from the interviewee.
Standardized interview – here, the same open-ended questions are asked to all interviewees this approach facilitates faster interviews that can be more easily analyzed and compared
Sequence of Questions
1. Get the respondents involved in the interview as soon as possible.
2. Before asking about controversial matters (such as feelings and conclusions), first ask about some facts. With this approach, respondents can more easily engage in the interview before
warming up to more personal matters.
3. Intersperse fact-based questions throughout the interview to avoid long lists of fact-based questions, which tends to leave respondents disengaged.
4. Ask questions about the present before questions about the past or future. It’s usually easier for them to talk about the present and then work into the past or future.
? The last questions might be to allow respondents to provide any other information they prefer to add and their impressions of the interview.
Wording of Questions
? Questions should be as neutral as possible. Avoid wording that might influence answers, e.g., evocative, judgmental wording.
? Questions should be asked one at a time.
? Questions should be worded clearly. This includes knowing any terms particular to the program or the respondents’ culture.
? Be careful asking “why” questions. This type of question infers a cause-effect relationship that may not truly exist. These questions may also cause respondents to feel defensive, e.g.,
that they have to justify their response, which may inhibit their responses to this and future questions.
? While Carrying out Interview occasionally verify the tape recorder (if used) is working.
? Ask one question at a time.
? Attempt to remain as neutral as possible. That is, don’t show strong emotional reactions to their responses. Act as if “you’ve heard it all before.”
? Encourage responses with occasional nods of the head, “uh huh”s, etc.
? Be careful about the appearance when note taking. That is, if you jump to take a note, it may appear as if you’re surprised or very pleased about an answer, which may influence answers
to future questions.
? Provide transition between major topics, e.g., “we’ve been talking about (some topic) and now I’d like to move on to (another topic).”
? Don’t lose control of the interview. This can occur when respondents stray to another topic, take so long to answer a question that times begins to run out, or even begin asking
questions to the interviewer.
Immediately After Interview
? Verify if the tape recorder, if used, worked throughout the interview.
? Make any notes on your written notes, e.g., to clarify any scratchings, ensure pages are numbered, fill out any notes that don’t make senses, etc.
? Write down any observations made during the interview. For example, where did the interview occur and when, was the respondent particularly nervous at any time? Were there any
surprises during the interview? Did the tape recorder break?
Increasing the participant’s receptiveness
The first goal in an interview is to establish a friendly relationship with the participant. Three factors will help increase participant receptiveness. The participant must:
? Believe that the experience will be pleasant and satisfying
? Believe that answering the survey is an important and worthwhile use of his or her time
? Dismiss any mental reservations that he or she might have about participation.
The technique of stimulating participants to answer more fully and relevantly is termed probing. Since it presents a great potential for bias, a probe should be neutral and appear as a natural
part of the conversation. Appropriate probes should be specified by the designer of the data collection instrument. There are several probing styles e.g.
? A brief assertion of understanding and interest e.g. comments such as “I see” “yes”.
? An expectant pause
? Repeating the question
? Repeating the participant’s reply
? A neutral question or comment
? Question clarification.
Problems likely to be encountered during personal interviews
(a) Sampling error
In statistics, sampling error or estimation error is the error caused by observing a sample instead of the whole population. The likely size of the sampling error can generally be controlled by
taking a large enough random sample from the population, although the cost of doing this may be prohibitive.
It occurs when the researcher:
? Cannot locate the person to be studied
? Is unsuccessful in encouraging that person to participate
Solutions to reduce errors of non-response are
? Establishing and implementing callback procedures
? Substituting another individual for the missing non-participant.
(c) Response error
Occurs when the data reported differ from the actual data. Participant-initiated error occur when the participant fails to answer fully and accurately either by choice or because of inaccurate or
incomplete knowledge. Can be solved by using trained interviewers who are knowledgeable about such problems.
? Interviewer error can be caused by:-
– Failure to secure full participant cooperation
– Failure to consistently execute interview procedures
– Failure to establish appropriate interview environment
– Falsification of individual answers or whole interviews
– Inappropriate influencing behaviour
– Failure to record answers accurately and completely
– Physical presence bias.
Advantages of Personal interviews
? Good cooperation from the respondents
? Interviewer can answer questions about survey, probe for answers, use follow-up questions and gather information by observation.
? Special visual aids and scoring devices can be used.
? Illiterate and functionally illiterate respondents can be reached
Interviewer can prescreen respondent to ensure he / she fits the population profile.
Disadvantages of Personal interviews
? High costs
? Need for highly trained interviewers
? Longer period needed in the field collecting data
? Follow-up is labour intensive
? Not all respondents are available or accessible
? Some respondents are unwilling to talk to strangers in their homes
? Some neighbourhoods are difficult to visit
? Questions may be altered or respondent coached by interviewers.
People selected to be part of the sample are interviewed on the telephone by a trained interviewer.
Advantages of Telephone interviews
? Lower costs than personal interviews
? Expanded geographic coverage without dramatic increase in costs
? Uses fewer, more highly skilled interviewers
? Reduced interview bias
? Fates completion time
? Better access to hard-to-reach respondents through repeated callbacks
Disadvantages of Telephone interviews
? Response rate is lower than for personal interview
? Higher costs if interviewing geographically dispersed sample
? Interview sample must be limited
? Many phone numbers are unlisted or not working, making directory listings unreliable
? Some target groups are not available by phone
? Responses may be less complete
? Illustrations cannot be used.
? Respondents may not be honest with their responses since it is not a face to face situation
Rules pertaining to interviews
The interviewer must
? Be pleasant
? Show genuine interest in getting to know respondents without appearing like spies.
? Be relaxed and friendly.
? Be very familiar with the questionnaire or the interview guide.
? Have a guide which indicates what questions are to be asked and in what order.
? Interact with the respondent as an equal.
? Pretest the interview guide before using it to check for vocabulary, language level and how well the questions will be understood.
? Inform the respondent about the confidentiality of the information given.
? Not ask leading questions
? Remain neutral in an interview situation in order to be as objective as possible.
An interview schedule
It’s a set of questions that the interviewer asks when interviewing. It makes it possible to obtain data required to meet specific objectives of the study.
Note taking during interviews
It refers to the method of recording in which the interviewer records the respondent’s responses during the interview.
? It may interfere with the communication between the respondent and the interviewer.
? It might upset the respondent if the answers are personal and sensitive.
? If it is delayed, important details may be forgotten.
? It makes the interview lengthy and boring.
The interviewer’s questions and the respondent’s answers are recorded either using a tape recorder or a video tape.
? It reduces the tendency for the interviewer to make unconscious selection of data in the course of the recording.
? The tape can be played back and studied more thoroughly.
? A person other than the interviewer can evaluate and categorize responses.
? It speeds up the interview.
? Communication is not interrupted.
? It changes the interview situation since respondents get nervous.
? Respondents may be reluctant to give sensitive information if they know they are being taped.
? Transcribing the tapes before analysis is time consuming and tedious.
Advantages of interviews
? It provides in-depth data, which is not possible to get using a questionnaire.
? It makes it possible to obtain data required to meet specific objectives of the study.
? Are more flexible than questionnaires because the interviewer can adapt to the situation and get as much information as possible.
? Very sensitive and personal information can be extracted from the respondent.
? The interviewer can clarify and elaborate the purpose of the research and effectively convince respondents about the importance of the research.
? They yield higher response rates
Disadvantages of interviews
? They are expensive – traveling costs
? It requires a higher level of skill
? Interviewers need to be trained to avoid bias
? Not appropriate for large samples
? Responses may be influenced by the respondent’s reaction to the interviewer.
Data can be gathered as the event occurs. Observation includes a variety of monitoring situations.
The observer-participant relationship
? Interrogation presents a clear opportunity for interviewer bias. The problem is less pronounced with observation but is still real.
Guidelines for the qualification and selection of observers
? Concentration: Ability to function in a setting full of distractions
? Detail-oriented: Ability to remember details of an experience
? Unobtrusive: Ability to blend with the setting and not be distinctive
? Experience level: Ability to extract the most from an observation study
Advantages of observation
Enables one to:
? Secure information about people or activities that cannot be derived from experiment or surveys
? Avoid participant filtering and forgetfulness
? Secure environmental context information
? Optimize the naturalness of the research setting
Limitations of observation
? Difficulty of waiting for long periods to capture the relevant phenomena
? The expense of observer costs and equipment
Observation forms, schedules or checklists
The researcher must define the behaviours to be observed and then develop a detailed list of behaviours. During data collection, the researcher checks off each as it occurs. This permits the
observer to spend time thinking about what is occurring rather than on how to record it and this enhances the accuracy of the study.
A hypothesis is a researchers prediction regarding the outcome of the study. It states possible differences, relationships or causes between two variables or concepts. Hypothesis are derived
from or based on existing theories, previous research, personal observations or experiences. The test of a hypothesis involves collection and analysis of data that may either support or fail to
support the hypothesis. If the results fail to support a stated hypothesis, it does not mean that the study has failed but it implies that the existing theories or principles need to be revised or
retested under various situations.
Purpose of hypothesis.
According to Mugenda and Mugenda (2003), the purpose of hypothesis in research are:
1. It provides direction by bridging the gap between the problem and the evidence needed for its solution.
2. It ensures collection of the evidence necessary to answer the question posed in the statement of the problem.
3. It enables the investigator to assess the information he or she has collected from the standpoint of both relevance and organisation.
4. It sensitizes the investigator to certain aspects of the situation that are relevant regarding the problem at hand.
5. It permits the researcher to understand the problem with greater clarity and use the data to find solutions to problems.
6. It guides the collection of data and provides the structure for their meaningful interpretation in relation to the problem under investigation.
7. It forms the framework for the ultimate conclusions as solutions.
Characteristics of a good hypothesis
A good hypothesis should have the following properties:
? Hypotheses should be constructed in such a way that they lend themselves to the Scientific Method.
? They should be empirical statements; never normative or value statements about what should or should not be.
? A hypothesis should describe a general phenomena not a particular occurrence.
? A good hypothesis should be plausible. There should be some logical reason for thinking it possible.
? A good hypothesis is specific. The concepts used are clearly defined. An example of a bad hypothesis is to say that there is a relationship between personality and political attitudes.
Which personality type? What attitudes? A good hypothesis is more specific, e.g., People who feel alienated are not likely to have a strong trust in government.
? A good hypothesis is testable. There must be evidence that is obtainable which will indicate whether the hypothesis is correct or not.
? The type of product produced and sold determines the inventory control technique used by a firm.
? Instability of demand and Supplier unreliability inhibits the effective application of Just in time technique.
Types of hypotheses
? Null hypothesis (Ho): The null hypothesis is a statement that there is no significant difference between ……………”. There is no significant relationship between ethnicity and academic
? Alternate Hypothesis (HA): The alternate hypothesis is a statement that is accepted if sample data provide enough evidence that the null hypothesis is false. There is a significant
relationship between ethnicity and academic performance.
Type I and type II errors
Over time, the notion of these two sources of error has been universally accepted. They are now routinely known as type I errors and type II errors.
Type I errors (the “false positive”): the error of rejecting the null hypothesis given that it is actually true; e.g., A court finding a person guilty of a crime that they did not actually commit.
• Type II errors (the “false negative”): the error of failing to reject the null hypothesis given that the alternative hypothesis is actually true; e.g., A court finding a person not guilty of a
crime that they did actually commit.
These examples illustrate the ambiguity, which is one of the dangers of this wider use: They assume the speaker is testing for guilt; they could also be used in reverse, as testing for innocence; or
two tests could be involved, one for guilt, the other for innocence.
The following tables illustrate the conditions.
result Positive Condition Present + Positive result = True Positive Condition absent + Positive result = False Positive
Type I error
Negative Condition present + Negative result = False (invalid) Negative
Type II error Condition absent + Negative result = True (accurate) Negative
Example, using infectious disease test results:
Infected Not infected
Test result Test shows “infected” True Positive False Positive (i.e. infection reported but not present)
Type I error
Test shows “not infected” False Negative (i.e. infection not detected)
Type II error True Negative
Example, testing for guilty/not-guilty:
Guilty Not guilty
Test result Verdict of “guilty” True Positive False Positive (i.e. guilt reported unfairly)
Type I error
Verdict of “not guilty” False Negative (i.e. guilt not detected)
Type II error True Negative
Example, testing for innocent/not innocent – sense is reversed from previous example:
Innocent Not innocent
Test result Judged “innocent” True Positive False Positive (i.e. guilty but not caught)
Type I error
Judged “not innocent” False Negative (i.e. innocent but condemned)
Type II error True Negative
ETHICS IN RESEARCH
Ethics are norms or standards of behaviour that guide moral choices about our behaviour and our relationship with others. Ethics differ from legal constraints, in which generally accepted
standards have defined penalties that are universally enforced. The goal of ethics in research is to ensure that no one is harmed or suffers adverse consequences from research activities.
As the research is designed, several ethical considerations must be balanced e.g.
? Protect the rights of the participant or subject.
? Ensure the sponsor receives ethically conducted and reported research.
? Follow ethical standards when designing research
? Protect the safety of the researcher and team
? Ensure the research team follows the design
Ethical treatment of participants
In general, the research must be designed in such a manner that the respondent does not suffer physical harm, discomfort, pain, embarrassment or loss to privacy. To safeguard against these,
the researcher should follow the following guidelines:
? Explain the study benefits
? Obtain informed consent
? Explain respondents rights and protection
Whenever direct contact is made with a respondent, the researcher should discuss the study benefits, being careful to neither overstate nor understate the benefits. An interviewer should begin
an introduction with his or her name, the name of the research organisation and a brief description of the purpose and benefits of the research. This puts the respondent at ease, lets them know
to whom they are speaking and motivates them to answer questions truthfully. Inducements to participate, financial or otherwise, should not be disproportionate to the task or presented in a
fashion that results in coercion.
Deception occurs when the respondents are told only part of the truth or when the truth is fully compromised. The benefits to be gained by deception should be balanced against the risks to
the respondents. When possible, an experiment or interview should be designed to reduce reliance on deception. In addition, the respondent’s rights and well-being must be adequately
protected. In instances where deception in an experiment could produce anxiety, a subject’s medical condition should be checked to ensure that no adverse physical harm follows.
(b) Informed consent
Securing informed consent from respondents is a matter of fully disclosing the procedures of the proposed survey or other research design before requesting permission to proceed with the
study. There are exemptions that argue for a signed consent form. When dealing with children, it is wise to have a parent or other person with legal standing sign a consent form. If the
researchers offer only limited protection of confidentiality, a signed form detailing the types of limits should be obtained. For most business research, oral consent is sufficient.
In situations where respondents are intentionally or accidentally deceived, they should be debriefed once the research is complete. Debriefing involves several activities following the collection
of data e.g.
? Explanation of any deception.
? Description of the purpose of the study.
? Post study sharing of results.
According to Neuman and Wiegand (2000), a full blown consent statement would contain the following: –
? A brief description of the purpose and procedure of the research, including the expected duration.
? A statement of any risks, discomforts or inconveniences associated with participation.
? A guarantee of anonymity or at least confidentiality, and an explanation of both.
? The identification, affiliation and sponsorship of the research as well as contact information.
? A statement that participation is completely voluntary and can be terminated at any time without penalty.
? A statement of any procedures that may be used.
? A statement of any benefits to the class of subjects involved.
? An offer to provide a free copy of a summary of the findings.
(c) Rights to privacy
All individuals have a right to privacy and researchers must respect that right. The privacy guarantee is important not only to retain validity of the research but also to protect respondents.
Once the guarantee of confidentiality is given, protecting that confidentiality is essential. The researcher can protect respondent’s confidentiality in several ways, which include: –
? Obtaining signed nondisclosure documents
? Restricting access to respondent identification.
? Revealing respondent information only with written consent.
? Restricting access to data instruments where the respondent is identified.
? Nondisclosure of data subsets.
Researchers should restrict access to information that reveals names, telephone numbers, address or other identifying features. Only researchers who have signed nondisclosure, confidentiality
forms should be allowed access to the data. Links between the data or database and the identifying information file should be weakened. Individual interview response sheets should be
inaccessible to everyone except the editors and data entry personnel.
Occasionally, data collection instruments should be destroyed once the data are in a data file. Data files that make it easy to reconstruct the profiles or identification of individual respondents
should be carefully controlled. For very small groups, data should not be made available because it is often easy to pinpoint a person within the group. Employee-satisfaction survey feedback in
small units can be easily used to identify an individual through descriptive statistics.
Privacy is more than confidentiality. A right to privacy means one has the right to refuse to be interviewed or to refuse to answer any question in an interview. Potential participants have a right
to privacy in their own homes, including not admitting researchers and not answering telephones. They have the right to engage in private behaviour in private places without fear of
observation. To address these rights, ethical researchers can do the following:-
? Inform respondents of their right to refuse to answer any questions or participate in the study.
? Obtain permission to interview respondents
? Schedule field and phone interviews.
? Limit the time required for participation.
? Restrict observation to public behaviour only.
2.1 Ethics and the sponsor.
There are ethical considerations to keep in mind when dealing with the research client or sponsor. Whether undertaking product, market, personnel, financial or other research, a sponsor has the
right to receive ethically conducted research.
Sponsors have a right to several types of confidentiality including sponsor nondisclosure, purpose nondisclosure and findings nondisclosure.
? Sponsor nondisclosure: Companies have a right to dissociate themselves from the sponsorship of a research project. Due to the sensitive nature of the management dilemma or the
research question, sponsors may hire an outside consulting or research firm to complete research projects. this is often done when a company is testing a new product idea, to avoid potential
consumers from being influenced by the company’s current image or industry standing. If a company is contemplating entering a new market, it may not wish to reveal its plans to competitors.
In such cases, it is the responsibility of the researcher to respect this desire and device a plan to safeguard the identity of the sponsor.
? Purpose nondisclosure: It involves protecting the purpose of the study or its details. A research sponsor may be testing a new idea that is not yet patented and may not want the
competitor to know his plans. It may be investigating employee complaints and may not want to spark union activity. The sponsor might also be contemplating a new public stock offering,
where advance disclosure would spark the interest of authorities or cost the firm thousands of shillings.
? Findings nondisclosure: If a sponsor feels no need to hide its identity or the study’s purpose, most sponsors want research data and findings to be confidential, at least until the
management decision is made.
(b) Right to quality research
An important ethical consideration for the researcher and the sponsor is the sponsor’s right to quality research. The right entails:
? Providing a research design appropriate for the research question.
? Maximizing the sponsor’s value for the resources expended
? Providing data handling and reporting techniques appropriate for the data collected.
From the proposal through the design to data analysis and the final report, the researcher guides the sponsor on the proper techniques and interpretations. Often sponsors would have heard
about sophisticated data handling technique and will want it used even when it is inappropriate for the problem at hand. The researcher should propose the design most suitable for the
problem. The researcher should not propose activities designed to maximize researcher revenue or minimize researcher effort at the sponsor’s expense. The ethical researcher should report
findings in ways that minimize the drawing of false conclusions. He should also use charts, graphs and tables to show the data objectively, despite the sponsor’s preferred outcomes.
(c) Sponsor’s Ethics
Occasionally, research specialists may be asked by sponsors to participate in unethical behaviour. Compliance by the researcher would be a breach of ethical standards. Some examples to be
? Violating respondent confidentiality
? Changing data or creating false data to meet a desired objective
? Changing data presentations or interpretations.
? Interpreting data from a biased perspective.
? Omitting sections of data analysis and conclusions.
? Making recommendations beyond the scope of the data collected.
The ethical course often requires confronting the sponsor’s demand and taking the following actions: –
? Educating the sponsor on the purpose of research
? Explain the researcher’s role in fact finding versus the sponsor’s role in decision-making.
? Explain how distorting the truth or breaking faith with respondents leads to future problems
? Failing moral suasion, terminate the relationship with the sponsor.
Researchers and team members
Researchers have an ethical responsibility to their team’s safety as well as their own and also protecting the anonymity of both the sponsor and the respondent.
It is the researcher’s responsibility to design a project so the safety of all interviewers, surveyors, experimenters, or observers is protected. Several factors may be important to consider in
ensuring a researcher’s right to safety e.g. some urban areas and undeveloped rural areas may be unsafe for research assistants, therefore a team member can accompany the researcher. It is
unethical to require staff members to enter an environment where they feel physically threatened. Researchers who are insensitive to these concerns face both research and legal risks.
(b) Ethical behaviour of assistants
Researchers should require ethical compliance from team members just as sponsors expect ethical behaviour from the researcher. Assistants are expected to carry out the sampling plan, to
interview or observe respondents without bias and to accurately record all necessary data. Unethical behaviour such as filling in an interview sheet without having asked the respondent the
questions cannot be tolerated. The behaviour of the assistants is under the direct control of the responsible researcher or field supervisor. If an assistant behaves improperly in an interview or
shares a respondents interview sheet with unauthorized person, it is the researcher’s responsibility. All researchers’ assistants should be well trained and supervised.
(c) Protection of anonymity
Researchers and assistants protect the confidentiality of the sponsor’s information and the anonymity of the respondents. Each researcher handling data should be required to sign a
confidentiality and nondisclosure statement.
1. DEFINITION OF LOGISTICS
Scientific research is a process that needs careful planning. This is very necessary considering that research is a very expensive undertaking in terms of time, financial and human resources.
Careful planning before starting the research process minimizes the problems often encountered by the researcher in the field as well as enhances the reliability and validity of data.
Logistics in research refers to all those processes that a researcher must address or carry out to ensure successful completion of a research project. The researcher must be aware of the
logistical issues before starting the research as such awareness and subsequent preparation will save the researcher a great deal of resources and will also ensure high quality research.
2. LOGISTICAL ISSUES IN RESEARCH
a) Pre-field work logistics
This encompasses those activities that a researcher must carry out before embarking on data collection in the field. The main items to consider in pre-field work logistics are:
i. Terms of reference; These are necessary when a consultant is to be contracted to carry out a research project. The client, an individual or firm, draws up the term of reference and may
either invite bids from several consultants or negotiate the cost of the project with one consultant. The terms must be comprehensive as they define the scope of the research and document in
detail what the client expects the consultant to do. The first section of the terms of reference should describe the research project including the background, purpose and objectives while the
second section should enumerate specific activities that the consultant should carry out.
ii. Obtaining a research permit; As soon as the research proposal is ready, or if necessary, a formal agreement between the researcher and the client is drawn, the researcher must obtain
authority to conduct research from the Office of the President. However this requirement may not apply to some institutions particularly those engaged in research on a regular basis or where
the client is a donor or a government institution. If the client is a donor or a government institution, it is always advisable to request a letter of approval from the institution or government
department certifying that the researcher has approval to carry out the research. It is a government requirement that once the researcher has completed writing the report, a copy of that
report should be deposited with the office of the president.
iii. Establishing a work plan; a work plan refers to a plan of action and gives details of various tasks that need to be done during the research process as well as the time frame for each
task. The work plan should specify other parties that might be involved in the project and what their tasks should be.
iv. Training research assistants; It is often impossible for one person to collect all the data required in a research project and as a result the researcher relies greatly on research
assistants. The quality of collected data depends to a great deal on the ability of the enumerators to collect accurate data. It is therefore very important to identify good enumerators and
train them on the use of instruments. The training will also help standardize data collection so as to minimize variations in data collection procedures that may bias the results.
A researcher can identify good enumerators by asking other known researchers to recommend enumerators those researchers have used in similar studies. Alternatively, the researcher might
have several enumerators from prior acquaintances or he/she could approach private or public institutions that often have enumerators on the ground to assist in identifying good enumerators.
Depending on the scope of the research project, the researcher should engage enough enumerators to collect data within the specific period. An interview with each enumerator is always
recommended before making the decision to engage that person. A contract must then be drawn with each of the enumerators identified.
The researcher should identify a few experienced researchers to help with training the assistants. During training, enumerators must cover a number of things which should include:
understanding the background, purpose and objectives of the study, population from which the sample is drawn, geographical location of the respondents and the methodology of data
collection. The enumerators must also be thoroughly drilled on the use of instruments. The training should also include other basic principles of data collection such as how to establish rapport
with respondents, checking through questionnaires to identify errors and omissions and how to handle completed instruments to avoid loss or misplacement. A researcher may engage as
supervisor to oversee data collection.
v. Pre-testing the instrument; This is done to ensure that items in the instrument are stated clearly and have the same meaning to all respondents. The respondents on which the
instrument is pre-tested should not be part of the selected sample. It is during the pre-testing of the instrument that the researcher is able to assess the clarity of the instrument and the ease
of use of the instrument as well as the time taken to administer the instrument. Also the researcher is able to identify sensitive or annoying items and items identified as sensitive, confusing or
biased in any way should be modified or omitted.
Information obtained during pre-testing should be used to revise the instrument. The data obtained during pre-testing is also important and should be analyzed.
vi. Sampling; There are various sampling techniques that a researcher may adopt when selecting a sample. Quantitative research relies heavily on the randomness of the sample. One
assumption in identifying a random sample is that a sampling frame exists or will be developed. The randomness of a sample affects the degree to which results from the sample can be
generalized to the population. The randomness of the sample is as accurate as the sampling frame from which it is drawn. Where no sampling frame exists, the researcher can construct one.
vii. Distribution of the instruments; Once instruments are pre-tested and revised, enumerators trained and a sample selected, the researcher is ready to go to the field. The researcher must
make arrangements for printing enough copies of the instrument. This is often very expensive and time consuming depending on the number of respondents in the sample and the size of the
instrument. It is therefore not wise to wait until the enumerators are going to the field before one makes copies of the instrument. It is also important to make good arrangements for the
transportation of the instruments to the field.
b) Field work logistics
This is the most important part of the research process. A researcher can develop a good proposal and instrument but if data collection is poor, the results of the study are inaccurate and
therefore of no use. It is therefore important for a researcher to ensure that all the mechanics of data collection are efficient. This can be achieved by sticking to guidelines during field work
i. The researcher, supervisor and enumerators should familiarize themselves as much as possible with the geographical area in which the research is to take place.
ii. Enumerators should create a rapport with the respondents. This helps the respondents to see themselves as contributing positively to the outcome of the study.
iii. Researchers should take precaution against common diseases such as malaria.
iv. Researchers and enumerators should be courteous.
v. Enumerators should not be over inquisitive; otherwise they will be viewed with suspicion.
vi. Enumerators must be familiar with the instruments so that they do not appear unsure and confused.
Researchers and enumerators may encounter problems while working in the field which could lead to inefficient data collection. These problems may include:
i. Suspicion from respondents as they may be viewed as strangers. If possible, data collectors should be from the study areas respondents are more likely to trust somebody they know
and therefore share information more freely.
ii. Diseases whereby many areas are prone to various diseases such as malaria, cholera typhoid which are all killer diseases.
iii. Harsh climate could at times make it difficult to collect data.
iv. High cost of transport which may lead to enumerators walking over long distances to get to respondents.
v. Language barrier as not all enumerators and researchers are conversant with local languages.
Post-field work logistics
This includes the process of getting the completed instruments from the field to the centre where data coding and analysis will be done. During data collection, the researcher must establish an
efficient system of collecting completed instruments on a regular basis. This may be done by setting up centres in the field where enumerators take completed instruments and the supervisor
checks through to ensure that instruments are completed properly before dispatching them to the main centre where data analysis and coding will be done
Data coding and entry should start as soon as completed instruments start coming in if this is possible. This reduces time needed to code and enter data. Complete instruments should not be
destroyed until a certain period of time has elapsed as they might be required for reference.
If a study is valid then it truly represents what it was intended to represent. Experimental validity refers to the manner in which variables that influence both the results of the research and the
generalizability to the population at large. It is broken down into two groups: (1) Internal Validity and (2) External Validity.
Internal Validity. Internal validity refers to a study’s ability to determine if a causal relationship exists between one or more independent variables and one or more dependent variables. In
other words, can we be reasonably sure that the change (or lack of change) was caused by the treatment? Researchers must be aware of aspects that may reduce the internal validity of a study
and do whatever they can to control for these threats. These threats, if left ignored, can reduce validity to the point that any results are meaningless rendering the entire study invalid. There
are eight major threats to internal validity that are discussed below and summarized in Table 1
History. History refers to any event outside of the research study that can alter or effect subjects’ performance. Since research does not occur within a vacuum, subjects often experience
environmental events that are different from one another. These events can play a role in their performance and must therefore be addressed. One way to assure that these events do not
impact the study is to control them, or make everyone’s experience identical except for the independent variable(s). Since this is often impossible, using randomization procedures can often
minimize this risk, assuring that outside events that occur in one group are also likely to occur in the other.
Maturation. While not a major concern in very short studies such as a survey study, maturation can play a major role in longer-term studies. Maturation refers to the natural physiological or
psychological changes that take place as we age. This is especially important in childhood and must be addressed through subject matching or randomization. For instance, an episode of major
depression typically decreases significantly within a six-month period even without treatment. Imagine we tested a new medication designed to treat depression. If our results showed that
subjects who took this medication showed a significant decrease in depressive symptoms within six months, could we truly say that the medication caused the decrease in symptoms? Probably
not, especially since maturation alone would have shown similar results.
Testing. People tend to perform better at any activity the more they are exposed to that activity. Testing is no exception. When subjects, especially in single group studies, are given a test as
a pretest and then the same test as a posttest, the chances that they will perform better the second time due merely to practice is a concern. For this reason, two group studies with a control
group are recommended.
Statistical Regression. Statistical regression, or regression to the mean, is a concern especially in studies with extreme scores. It refers to the tendency for subjects who score very high or
very low to score more toward the mean on subsequent testing. If you get a 99% on a test, for instance, the odds that your score will be lower the second time are much greater than the odds
of increasing your score.
Instrumentation. If the measurement device(s) used in your study changes during the course of the study, changes in scores may be related to the instrument rather than the independent
variable. For instance, if your pretest and posttest are different, the change in scores may be a result of the second test being easier than the first rather than the teaching method employed.
For this reason, it is recommended that pre- and posttests be identical or at least highly correlated.
Selection. Selection refers to the manner in which subjects are selected to participate in a study and the manner in which they are assigned to groups. If there are differences between the
groups prior to the study taking place, these differences will continue throughout the study and may appear as a change in a statistical analysis. Addressing these differences through subject
matching or randomization is highly recommended.
Experimenter Bias. We engage in research in order to learn something new or to support a belief or theory. Therefore, we as researchers may be biased toward the results we want. This bias can
effect our observations and possibly even result in blatant research errors that skew the study in the direction we want. Using an experimenter who is unaware of the anticipated results
(usually called a double blind study because the tester is blind to the results) works best to control for this bias.
Mortality. Mortality, or subject dropout, is always a concern to researchers. They can drastically affect the results when the mortality rate or mortality quality is different between groups.
Imagine in the work experience study if many motivated students dropped out of one group due to illness and many low motivated students dropped out of the other group due to personal
factors. The result would be a difference in motivation between the two groups at the end and could therefore invalidate the results.
Table 1: Controlling for Threats to Internal Validity
Threat to Internal Validity Controlling Threat
History Random selection, random assignment
Maturation Subject matching, randomization
Testing Control group
Statistical Regression Omit extreme scores, randomization
Instrumentation Instrumental consistency, assure alternative form reliability
Selection Random selection, random assignment
Experimenter Bias Double blind study
Mortality Subject matching and omission
External Validity. External validity refers to the generalizability of a study. In other words, can we be reasonable sure that the results of our study consisting of a sample of the population
truly represents the entire population? Threats to external validity can result in significant results within a sample group but an inability for this to be generalized to the population at large.
Four of these threats are discussed below and summarized in Table.2.
Demand Characteristics. Subjects are often provided with cues to the anticipated results of a study. When asked a series of questions about depression, for instance, subjects may become wise
to the hypothesis that certain treatments work better in treating mental illness. When subjects become wise to anticipated results (often called a placebo effect), they can begin to exhibit
performance that they believe is expected of them. Making sure that subjects are not aware of anticipated outcomes (referred to as a blind study) reduces the possibility of this threat.
Hawthorne Effects. Similar to a placebo, research has found that the mere presence of others watching your performance causes a change in your performance. If this change is significant, can
we be reasonably sure that it will also occur when no one is watching? Addressing this issue can be tricky but employing a control group to measure the Hawthorne effect of those not receiving
any treatment can be very helpful. In this sense, the control groups is also being observed and will exhibit similar changes in their behavior as the experimental group therefore negating the
Order Effects (or Carryover Effects). Order effects refer to the order in which treatment is administered and can be a major threat to external validity if multiple treatments are used. If
subjects are given medication for two months, therapy for another two months, and no treatment for another two months, it would be possible, and even likely, that the level of depression
would be least after the final no treatment phase. Does this mean that no treatment is better than the other two treatments? It likely means that the benefits of the first two treatments have
carried over to the last phase, artificially elevating the no treatment success rates.
Treatment Interaction Effects. The term interaction refers to the fact that treatment can affect people differently depending on the subject’s characteristics. Potential threats to external
validity include the interaction between treatment and any of the following: selection, history, and testing. As an example, assume a group of subjects volunteer for a study on work experience
and college grades. One group agrees to find part time work the holiday before starting their first year and the other group agrees to join a football leaguer over the same holiday. The group
that agreed to work is likely inherently different than the group that agreed to play football. The selection itself may have placed higher motivated subjects in one group and lower motivated
students in the other. If the work groups earn higher grades in the first semester, can we truly say it was caused by the work experience? It is likely that the motivation caused both the work
experience and the higher grades.
Table 2: Controlling for Threats to External Validity
Threat to Internal Validity Controlling Threat
Demand Characteristics Blind study, control group
Hawthorne Effect Control group
Order Effects Counterbalancing treatment order, multiple groups
Treatment Interaction Effects Subject matching, naturalistic observation
Understanding how to manipulate variables and control for potential threats to experimental validity can be the difference between a solid research study and a near meaningless study.
Variables are the basis for all of the statistics you will perform on your data. If you choose your variables wisely and make sure to control for as many confounds and threats to experimental
validity as possible, your study is much more likely to add to the knowledge base in your area of specialty. Assuring that the measurement devices used are both valid and reliable will also add
a lot to significant results. When any of these is called into question, the entire study gets called into question. Once again, garbage in – garbage out.
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