Doing research at university may mean just finding something out by looking for it in a book. However, when you are asked to do research by your tutors, you are usually being expected to find something out empirically. This means that you are expected to find something original and from your own experience (i.e. not a book author’s experience). To do this you need to look at the world, ask people questions and keep notes. It means using your eyes and ears. With your eyes and ears you gather data (or information) and with these data you can answer your questions and support (or not) the claims you made at the beginning of your research. When data are used in support of a proposition in this way, they become evidence. Evidence is very important in research. The process of collecting data is sometimes called fieldwork. Let’s look at some of the principal ways you can collect data in your fieldwork. You can collect them through: ◗◗ interviews ◗◗ diaries ◗◗ questionnaires ◗◗ observation ◗◗ official statistics – also called ‘secondary data’. Let’s look at these and how you might use them.
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