It was a sunny afternoon and hot as well, when I decided to chill off at the nearest eatery within the computer village at Ikeja in Lagos State, Nigeria, where I had been gathering relevant intelligence for my research project all morning. After a few minutes of settling down with a cold drink in front of me, here came Bob walking straight to where I was seated to join me as that was the only seat unoccupied at the moment. It was as though we had earlier arranged to meet, when he began to talk about the activities and opportunities in the area.
Oh not again, as I felt disturbed with his engagement; but he was so quick to notice that I was uninterested and asked if everything was okay, I had some few issues with my research project today and that’s all, I responded. As he pressed further to find out what issues there were, I reluctantly told him I was at the data mining stage and I had been in the area all morning gathering the required intelligence, with very serious resistance from my sample population. He laughed for a while as though I was making a fool of myself when he quickly stopped and started sharing very important thoughts with me, which I also intend to share with you, through this piece of article before you launch into your research project.
As he began to put me through the challenges around intelligence gathering and data acquisition, I quickly interfered to ascertain the quality of information I was getting from him and how applicable they were in the real world. He pointed to the Identity card hanging on his neck which I previously cared less to see what was written on it. Wow! I exclaimed. He was a top staff of a renowned research agency in the country (Organization’s name intentionally with-held). He also has been in the area for some days, though for a slightly different research purpose.
I became very interested in what he had to say, when he started with the issue of resistance/non co-operative attitude of the sample population and many more which I will begin to share shortly. We shall also review other important and relevant issues to the effectiveness of a research project, quality of data acquired and evaluation strategies as they all formed part of the discussion.
The aim of this article is to help you prepare, organize your work, strategize and have a great experience when handling your next research project.
These are the key areas Bob drew more emphasis on, which should help you:
1. Prepare for the tasks ahead
2. Review your strategies and project materials
3. Turn your weaknesses to strengths (Dealing with sample population issues, research challenges, data acquisition resistance, data integrity etc.)
PREPARING FOR THE TASKS AHEAD:
This is a very broad topic, but we shall begin to disintegrate the heap one by one with emphasis on the very relevant subjects. If you are familiar with the internet as regards this sub-topic “Preparing for your research project”, you would have seen dozens of articles with over-hyped statements like “Design a quality questionnaire for your work”, “Research to see how others have done theirs”, “Engage the right set of sample population” bla bla bla.
All those articles are great, but are more details short of the reality on ground. Much of the question have been around the how, quality guidance on developing those templates, making excellent review of where to administer your survey and effective strategies of determining quality of data gathered during the process. Now let’s talk about:
Designing Your Questionnaire:
Your approach should be unique and at the same time effective to addressing the problem you intend to fix; new processes you want to develop; or whatever might be the reason for your research. The purpose of your research should play as a major guide to developing great questionnaires that would help you gather the right amount, and quality of data necessary for your work. You should consider an addition of the following to your list and they include. Who are
a. The end users of my research work?
b. The people I need to provide the required data?
c. How best can I extract that data from them?
The above should guide you to develop something great and efficient as you carefully evaluate your end users to know what would interest them from your findings, how important and relevant your report would be to them. Who should be involved in the data gathering process, what are the roles they would be playing, the required and relevant data they would provide. The extraction process should not be tedious or else they may walk away without providing those data, give less quality or falsified data. The process, especially of giving and retrieving questionnaires from them, should be made easy through well thought out strategies for simplicity.
Previous Research Works:
In as much as this is great to do, it should be done with caution. Reason is because you would need to find out if those research work you intend using as your guide are indeed successful for their own very purpose, are applicable to the situations for which they were intended, also who have applied it and what testimonials are attached to it. Don’t just do things because it’s the norm or order of the day; be unique, improved and effective with your approach.
Those research works should provide clues and not serve as perfect guide to your research, as there is no one size fit for the task. In fact that’s the reason, major part and purpose of your project. You are not only determined to provide results/solutions but to improve processes and provide quality starting points for the next generation. At this stage, it’s important to hire the services of a research counselor or professional to help you with the required guide for your work, before you can be sure of the right steps to take.
How to determine the right set of sample population for your project would be perfect if dealt with at the planning stage. This will ensure that you have the right and quality data needed for your work. Right and quality data in this context means to know who exactly is needed to provide —- and —- data (e.g. professionals, artisans, business men, students, politicians etc.), the required age range, experience, gender, status, locality, ethnicity, etc.
Quality has so much to do with the data gathering approach, structure and pattern; which in turn would determine if what you have at the end of the day is sufficient, consistent and adequate for an acceptable research work. You should be more concerned here, since this is one of the majors that would directly affect your finished reports. You should consider the already listed to help you in the process of determining who your sample population should be comprised of. You can get research assistance from us, if you have issues about how to begin working on your research project by visiting this link.
Let’s take a break here and continue with the rest of our thought sharing in PART II
We shall continue with:
1. Reviewing your strategies and project materials
2. Turning your weaknesses to strengths with regards to the subject (Dealing with sample population issues, research challenges, data acquisition resistance, data integrity etc.).