Research and Evaluation for Busy Students and Practitioners

A Survival Guide

By Helen Kara

Published

Jan 31, 2023

Page count

304 pages

Edition

3rd Edition

ISBN

978-1447366249

Dimensions

244 x 170 mm

Imprint

Policy Press

Published

Jan 31, 2023

Page count

304 pages

Edition

3rd Edition

ISBN

978-1447366270

Dimensions

244 x 170 mm

Imprint

Policy Press

Published

Jan 31, 2023

Page count

304 pages

Edition

3rd Edition

ISBN

978-1447366256

Dimensions

240 x 172 mm

Imprint

Policy Press
Research and Evaluation for Busy Students and Practitioners

Research doesn’t exist in a bubble but co-exists with a multitude of other tasks and commitments, yet there is more need for people to save time than ever before.

Brilliantly attuned to the demands placed on researchers, this book considers how students, academics and professionals alike can save time and stress without compromising the quality of their research or its outcomes. This third edition:

- is fully revised with new chapters on research and evaluation ethics, creative methods of collecting data and how research can make a positive difference;

-includes illustrative case studies throughout the book and each chapter concludes with exercises, discussion questions and a debate topic;

- is accompanied by a fully updated companion website.

This supportive book is designed for any student or practitioner who wants to know how to do research on top of their main job and still have a life.

"In addition to providing research and methodology guidance, the book is a great tool for continuous learning and could be recommended to researchers and evaluation practitioners at any stage of their career." LSE Review of Books

“A must have for all who are just getting into research or who do research frequently. The exercises and feedback from those who shared with Kara, help affirm that the process of research and evaluation is worth the effort put into the process and her suggestions for keeping perspective throughout, so we can still have a life are essential for all researchers.” The Qualitative Report

"Helen Kara’s thoughtful book is based on extensive practical experience, in diverse settings. She guides a researcher through all the stages of a project, dispelling fear and confusion." Woody Caan, Editor, Journal of Public Mental Health

"Workplace-based researchers will find this book invaluable. Demystifying the research process, Helen Kara provides a guide for the busy practitioner chock full of wise and pragmatic advice, useful tips and exercises." Kylie Budge, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

Helen Kara has been an independent researcher since 1999 and writes and teaches on research methods and ethics. She is the author of Research Ethics in the Real World: Euro-Western and Indigenous Perspectives (Policy Press, 2018) and Creative Research Methods: A Practical Guide (2nd edn, Policy Press, 2020). She is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. In 2015 Helen was the first fully independent researcher to be conferred as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

1. Introduction

Chapter summary

Introduction

Being a researcher

Why do practitioners do research?

Insider and outsider research

Table 1.1 – Comparing insider and outsider research

Doing research or evaluation

Managing and commissioning research or evaluation

Terminology

Structure of this book

Case studies

Exercise

Discussion questions

Debate

2. Overview of research and evaluation

Chapter summary

Introduction

Quantitative or qualitative?

Solo or collaborative?

Involving participants or service users in research and evaluation

Highly time-consuming methods

Randomised controlled trials

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Ethnography and participant observation

Social return on investment

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate

3. Research and evaluation ethics

Introduction

Research ethics management

Ethics through the research process

Researcher wellbeing

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate

4. Methodologies, Approaches, and Theories

Chapter summary

Introduction

Methodologies, Methods, and Approaches

Positivist methodology

Realist methodologies

Constructionist methodologies

Interpretivist methodologies

Transformative methodologies

Ontology and epistemology

Table 4.1: methodologies, ontologies, epistemologies and methods

Action research

Figure 4.1: the action research cycle

Evaluation research

Figure 4.2: the evaluation cycle

Mixed methods research

Arts-based research

Digitally mediated research

The role of theory in research and evaluation

Theory, research, practice

Figure 4.3: research, theory, and practice: a cyclical relationship

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

5. Topics and Proposals

Chapter summary

Introduction

Choosing a research or evaluation topic

Refining your topic

From question to data

How much data?

Qualitative or quantitative methods?

Sampling techniques

Probability samples

Non-probability sampling

What is evidence?

Writing a proposal

Research funders

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

6. Managing Your Research or Evaluation Project

Chapter summary

Introduction

Planning

Figure 6.1 – Gantt chart for a research project

Organisation

Time management

Figure 5.2: time audit example

Support from employers

Creative time management

Reward yourself

Look after yourself

Conclusion

Table 6.1: What works, and what doesn’t work

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

7. Background Research

Chapter summary

Introduction

Document review or literature review?

Record-keeping

Figure 7.1: example of a literature grid

Critical and strategic reading

Box 7.1: process of written communication

Finding academic journal articles

How to conduct a document review

How to conduct a literature review

Using libraries

Making notes

Knowing when to stop

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

8. Secondary Data

Chapter summary

Introduction

Table 8.1 – Pros and cons of using secondary data

Online secondary data sources

Secondary qualitative data

Archival data

Open data

Application programming interfaces

Large-scale surveys

International surveys

Working with secondary data

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

9. Primary Data Collection – Conventional Methods

Introduction

Collecting quantitative data

Counting

Measuring

Questionnaires

Table 9.1 – Pros and cons of questionnaires

Questionnaire tips

Collecting qualitative data

Interviews

Table 9.2 – Pros and cons of interviews

Interview tips

Focus groups

Table 9.3 – Pros and cons of focus groups

Focus group tips

Documents as data

Table 9.4 – Pros and cons of using documents as data

Documents as Data Tips

Observation

Table 9.5 – Pros and cons of observational data

Observation tips

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

10. Primary Data Collection – Creative Methods

Chapter summary

Introduction

Collecting data online

Table 10.1 – Pros and cons of online data collection

Smartphones

Table 10.2: Pros and cons of smartphones

Enhanced interviews and focus groups

Table 10.3: Pros and cons of enhanced interviews and focus groups

Diaries, field notes, journals and logs

Table 10.4: Pros and cons of diaries, field notes, journals and logs

Visual data

Table 10.5 – Pros and cons of visual data

Mapping

Table 10.6: Pros and cons of maps and mapping

Mobile methods

Table 10.7: Pros and cons of mobile methods

Case studies

Table 10.8: Pros and cons of case studies

Collaborative methods

Table 10.9 – Ranking matrix

Table 10.10: Pros and cons of collaborative methods

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

11. Quantitative Data Analysis

Chapter summary

Introduction

Preparing quantitative data

Coding quantitative data

Quantitative data analysis

Descriptive statistics

Figure 11.1: frequency distribution table

Figure 11.2: bar graph

Figure 11.3: pie chart

Figure 11.4: scattergraph showing strong positive relationship

Figure 11.5: Bivariate frequency table

Inferential statistics

Table 11.1 – Parametric tests and non-parametric equivalents

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

12. Qualitative Data Analysis

Chapter summary

Introduction

Preparing qualitative data

Figure 12.1: metadata record for photographic data

Coding qualitative data

Figure 12.2: data coded using a coding frame

Figure 12.3: data coded using emergent coding

Table 12.1 – Pros and cons of two kinds of coding

Box 12.1: managing outlying codes in practice

Qualitative data analysis

Content analysis

Thematic analysis

Discourse analysis

Narrative analysis

A real-life example of qualitative data analysis

Data synthesis

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

13. Writing for Research and Evaluation

Chapter summary

Introduction

Myths about writing

Table 13.1 – Regularly expressed myths about writing, with my responses

The writing process

Table 13.2 – Structures for research reports, dissertations and theses

Structure

Plagiarism

Citation

Findings versus recommendations

Editing

Polishing your writing

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

14. Disseminating Research and Evaluation

Chapter summary

Introduction

Summarising research or evaluation

Barriers to disseminating research and evaluation

Presenting findings in person

Sharing findings online

Table 14.1 – Pros and cons of different presentation methods

Data visualization

Dissemination methods

Table 14.2 – Pros and cons of different dissemination methods

Disseminating workplace research

Disseminating academic research

Dissemination ethics

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

15. How can research create positive change?

Chapter summary

Introduction

Research impact

Research into policy

Implementation

Knowledge exchange

A holistic approach

Conclusion

Case studies

Exercises

Discussion questions

Debate topic

16. Conclusion

Bibliography

Further Reading

Glossary