Research Methods Portfolio Term Paper

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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 perspective."

(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 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: 7)

‘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 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.



‘Questionaires rely on written information supplied directly by people in response to questions asked by the researcher. In this respect, the kind of data is distinct from that which could be obtained from inteviews, observations or documents. The information from questionaires tends to fall into two broad categories - facts and oppinions - and it is that at all stages of using questionaires the researcher is clear about whether the information being sought is to do with facts or to do with opinions.

Factual information does not require much in the way of judgement or personal attitudes on the part of respondents. It just requires respondents to reveal (accurately and honestly) information: their adress, age, sex, merital status, number of children etc.

Opinions, attiudes, views, beliefs, preferances etc. can also be investigated using questionaires. In this case, though, resondents are required to reveal information about feelings, to express values, to weigh up alternatives etc., in a way that calls for a judgement about things rather than the mere reporting or facts.

There are many types of questionaires. They can vary enourmously in terms of their purpose, size and appereance. To qualify as a research questionaire, however, they should:

* Be designed to collect information which can be used subsequently as data for analyses.

* Consist of a written list of questions.

* Gather information by asking people directly about the points concerned with


the research.’ (Denscombe 1998: 87-9)

I will use questionaires as a part of my survey.



‘Interviews are an attractive proposition for the project researcher. Interview data can be used in a variety of ways and for a variety off specialist purposes, depending on the background of the researcher and the context in which the interview occurs. For project researchers, by far the most comman use will be as a source of information. Interviews can be a very effective method used in this way. For this purpose, the contents of the interview are more or less taken at face value for what they have to tell the researcher about the particular toping being discussed. Although the interviewer will want to cross-check for accuracy, the data themselves consist of the information conveyed in the informant’s words.

As an information gathering tool, the interview lends itself to being used alongside other methods as a way of supplementing their data - adding detail and depth. It is, indeed, frequently used by way of:

* Preperation for a questionaire. To fine-tune the questions and concepts that will appear in a widely circulated questionaire, researchers can use interviews to supply the detail and depth needed to ensure that the questionaire asks valid questions.

* Follow-up to a questionaire. Where the questionaire mightt have thrown up some interesting lines of enquiry, researchers can use interviews to pursue these in greater detail and depth. The interview data complement the questionaire data.

* Triangulation with other methods . Rather than interviews being regarded as competing with other methods, they can be combined in order to corroborate facts using a differnt approach.

Types of research interview:

* Structured interviews; involve tight control over the format of the questions and


answers. In essence, the structured interview is like a questionaire which is administrated face to face with a respondent. The researcher has a predetermined list of questions, to which the respondent is invited to offer limited option responses.

* Semi-structed interviews; the interviewer still has a clear list of issues to be adressed and questions to be answered. However, with the semi-structed interview the interviewer is prepared is prepared to be flexible in terms of the order in which the topics are considered, and, perhaps more significantly, to let the interviewee develop ideas and speak more widely on the issues raised by the researcher. The answers are more open-ended, and there is more emphasis on the interviwee elaborating points of interest.

* Unstructed interviews; go further in the extent to which the emphasis is placed on the interviewee’s thoughts. The researcher’s role is to be as unintrusive as possible - to start the ball rolling by introducing a theme or topic and then letting the interviewee develop his or her ideas and pursue his or her train of thought.

* One-to-one interviews; involves a meeting between one researcher and one informant. Only two people’s diaries need to concide. Opinions and views expressed through out the interview stem from one source: the interviewee. The researcher has oly one person’s ideas to grasp and interrogate, and one person to guide through the interview agenda.

* Focus group; consist of a small group of people, usually between six and nine in number, who are brought together by a trained moderator (the researcher) to explore attitudes and perceptions, feelings and ideas about a topic.’

(Denscombe 1998: 112-15)

* ‘Group interviews; have several advantages over individual interviews. In


particular, they help to reveal consensus views, may generate richer responses by allowing participants to challenge one another’s views, may be used to verify research ideas of data gained through other methods and may enhance the reliability of ... responses.’ (Lewis 1992: 413)

I am going to interview people within the industry as well as the ones who are affected by. It is an important method for me to collect and merge previously gatehered information with now day issues.



‘Observation offers the researcher a distinct way of collecting data. It does not rely on what people say they do, or what they say they think. It is more direct than that. Instead, it draws on the direct evidence of the eye to witness events first hand. It is based on the premise that, for certain purposes, it is best to observe what actually happens.

There are essentially two kinds of observation research used in the social sciences. The first of these is systamatic observation. Systamatic observation has its origins in social psychology - in particular the study of interaction in sttings such as classrooms (Flanders 1970; Simon and Boyer 1970; Croll 1986). It is normally linked with the production of quantitative data and the use of statistical analysis. The second is participant observation. This is mainly associated with sociology and anthropology, and is used by researchers to infiltrate situations, sometimes as an undercover operation, to understand the culture and process of the groups being investigated. It usually produces qualitive data.

The obvious connection is that they both rely on direct observation. In this respect they stand together, in contrast to methods such as questionaires and interviews, which base their data on what informants tell the researcher, and in contrast to documents where the researcher tends to be one step removed from the action.’ (Denscombe 1998: 139)

I am planning on observing the current advertisement strategies and material through the color variable in my own perspective. It will prove it’s effectiveness more clearly if they do or do not apply to studied standards and restritcions.



‘Documents generally provide a source of data which is permenent and available in a form that can be checked others. Documentary research provides a cost-effective method of getting data, particularly large-scale data such as those provided by official statistics. Vast amounts of information are held in documents. Depending on the nature of documents, most researchers will find access to the sources relatively easy and inexpensive.

All investigations that lay claim to being “research” should start off with a literature review. A literature review serves certain essential functions for research. It:

* shows that the researcher is aware of the available existing work already undertaken in the area;

* identifies what the researcher takes to be the key issues, the crucial questions and the obvious gaps in the current state of knowladge;

* provides signposts for the research about “where the research is coming from” - it allows the reader to see which theories and principles have been influential in shaping the approach adopted in the proposed research.

The types of documentary data are: books and journals, web site pages and the internet, newspapers and magazines, records, letters and memos, diaries, government publications and official statistics.’ (Denscombe 1998: 158-169)

I will mostly rely on documents for creating the structure and the hierarchy of my project. And also I will use a lot of help from previously done statistic documents to refine and construct the object of my thesis.



‘The use of quantitative data in research has its attractions. It carries with it an aura of scientific respectability. Because it uses numbers and can present findings in the form of graphs and tables, it conveys a sense of solid, objective research. Quantitative data lend themselves to various forms of statistical techniques based on the principles of mathematics and probability. The analysis appear to be based on objective laws rather than the values of the researcher. Statistical tests of significance give researchers additional credibility in terms of the interpretations they make and the confidence they have in their findings. The analysis of quantitative data provides a solid foundation for description and analysis. Interpretations and findings are based on measured quantities rather than impressions, and these are, at least in principle, quantities that can be checked by others for authenticity. Large amounts of quantitative data can be analysed relatively quickly, provided adequate preperation and planning has occured in advance. Once the procedures are up and running, researchers can interrogate their results relatively quickly. Tables and charts provide a succint and effective way of organising quantitative data and communicating the findings to others. Widely available computer software aids the design of tables and charts, and takes most of the hard labour out of statistical analysis.’ (Denscombe 1998: 204-5)

I will use quantitative data analysis to present my findings about sales and success results of products related to use of color.



‘Qualitatitive research is an umbrella term that covers a variety of social research, drawing on a variety of disciplines such as sociology, social anthropology and social psychology. It concerns with meanings and the way people understand things. Human activity is seen as a product of symbols and meanings of the social group to make sense of things. Such symbols and meanings need to be analysed as a text - to be interpreted rather like a literary critic interprets a book. Qualitative research concerns with patterns of behaviour. Here the focus is regularities in the activities of a social group, such as in rituals, traditions and relationships, and the way these are expressed as patterns of behaviour, cultural norms and types of language used.

A particular strength associated with qualitative research is that the description and theories such research generates are grounded in reality. This is not to suggest that they depict reality in some simplistic sense, as though social reality were out there waiting to be discovered. But it does suggest that the data and the analysis have their roots in the conditions of social existance. There is little scope for armchair theorizing or ideas plucked out of thin air. There is richness and detail to the data. There is tolerance of ambiguity and contradictions. There is prospect of alternative explanations.’ (Denscombe 1998: 220-21)

‘What is important about well-collected qualitative data? One major feature is that they focus on naturally occuring , ordinary events in natural settings, so that we have a strong handle on what real life is like.’ (Miles and Huberman 1994: 10)

I will use some qualitative data for my thesis. My observations about relations between the products and people will yield some qualitative data to analyse later.



Croll, P. (1986) Systematic Classroom Observation. London: Falmer.

Denscombe, Martyn (1998) The Good Research Guide. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Flanders, N.A. (1970) Analysing Teacher Behaviour. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Hammersley, M. (1992) What’s Wrong with Ethnography? The myth of theoretical description, Sociology, 24: 597-615.

Leedy, P.D. (1993) Practical Research: Planning and Design, 5th Ed., New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

Lewis, A (1992) Group child interviews as a research tool, British Educational Research Journal, 18: 413-32.

Malinowski, B. (1992) Argonauts of the Western Pacific. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Miles, M. and Huberman, A. (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Simon, A. and Boyer, G. (1970) Mirors of behaviour: an Anthropology of Classroom Observation Instruments. Philedelphia: Research for Better Schools

Somekh, B. (1995) The contribution of action research to development in social endavours: a position paper on action research methodology, British Education Research Journal, 21(3): 339-55.

Spector, P. (1981) Research Designs. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage

Susman, G. and Evered, R. (1978) An Assessment of the scientific merits of action research, Administrative Science Quarterly, 23(4): 582-603.

Oxford English Dictionary

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